Witching Life Priorities and the Harm of Digital Theft

Witching Life Priorities and the Harm of Digital Theft May 6, 2019

Balancing the needs of a mundane and magickal life is tough. The more we try to accomplish, the more purposefully we’ll have to manage our time and resources. Tip top of our concerns will be how we make our living, and care for ourselves and our families. For every witch, there will need to be an even flow of both giving and receiving in order to live a happy, healthy, witching life, with our priorities well in order. Foremost in a sovereign life, is how we value ourselves and our neighbors.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my priorities lately. I tell myself that this investment as a witchcraft writer is a valuable contribution. But then Patheos Pagan discovers another website plagiarizing our work, and another site giving away free downloaded copies of the published books we are trying to sell. Each discovery hurts my feelings, and leaves me discouraged. What are your values and priorities, witching community? Here are mine:

Frustrated woman surrounded by falling books
CC0 Creative Commons – Pixabay

1. My own health and well-being.

They always say that in case of emergency, place the oxygen mask over your own face before assisting your children and others. This modern life in America will seem like a continuous emergency. So, I will attend to my physical needs of rest and sustenance, medical care, hygiene, exercise, meditation, deeply breathing some fresh air, hobbies that de-stress me, etc. If I don’t have the necessary strength and chill to deal with the rigors of this ridiculous panic called life, the rest of this list need not go on. If you are killing yourself to live, you are doing it wrong. This isn’t selfish, it is intelligent and logical.

2. My children’s health and well-being.

I brought these little people into this world, and while they depend on my care and protection, they will get first dibs on any blessed thing they need from me. Mind you, I said “need,” not want. Those are two different considerations. But I will be there for them (or I will make sure someone else is on the job) as their nurturer, coach, and defender, no matter what. This also goes for my pets and any other living beings who depend on my care to survive.

3. My partner, and the other adult members of my family, and my dear friends.

Yes, I put the other adults in my family after my kids. I assume these people are sovereign adults in their own right, who are also putting their own health first, and not expecting me to be their mommy or servant. Let’s also assume for the sake of this general discussion that my partner *is* another parent of my kids. They should also put the well-being of our kids before me. I say this because we are each 100% responsible for the care and safety of our children 24/7/365. I’d defend my kids FOR their other parents as fast as I’d defend them FROM their other parents, should the need arise. I expect the same in return. Mind you, if your partner IS the means of care and sustenance for your children (breastfeeding, or the stay-at-home-parent) then caring for your partner, IS how you care for your kids.

There is a Southern adage, “If Mama (and Papa) ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy.” It benefits the children when all of their parents are strong, happy, healthy and well-supported. So, oftentimes the means to healthy children, is an investment in yourself and your partner. However, most of the time, parenthood requires your own ego to sit down, shut up, and make many personal sacrifices. Funnily, the same can be said for a witchcraft practice.

4. The paying work I do to support the health and well-being of #1-3.

I’ve got to make sure there is food on the table, a roof over our heads, and the necessities for a successful life. An adult’s gotta do, what an adult’s gotta do. Gratefully, my paying work (Witchcraft, writing and Shopkeeping) also nurtures my heart, mind, and spirit. Not everyone is lucky in this regard. You can assume for this discussion that most of the witches, priest/esses and writers you know also have a mundane day job.

But this full-time witch and priestess business is a tricky field to be in. Not all of my “work” is paid work. However, in the hierarchy of what gets my time and attention, what is paying the bills comes first. Think of that when you ask me to do something for you without any offer of compensation, and there is precious little time left on my schedule. (I’m looking at you, every major university who’s ever asked me to lecture in your religion classes for free, and every student and journalist who’s asked me for an interview!)

5. Witchcraft and Priestess work.

Some of the personal witchcraft I will be doing, will fall under the #1 category of self-care. My vows and obligations to my Deities in devotion are most often integrated with #4. I also see that everything I do to create a safer, more beautiful world, is also to benefit the people of #1, #2, and #3. However, everything I do as a priestess within my coven, teaching our students, or serving my Deities, has to be done AFTER I’ve fed, clothed, bathed, and driven my whole clan to school, or work, or picked them up from practice, or took them to doctor’s appointments, or shopping, and cooking, and housekeeping and other LIFE things that keep us all alive…because most of the time I’m a single mother, hear me roar. I offer my service to my coven freely by my choice. But, getting a hot minute to myself to hold personal rites is a rare occurrence. Which makes it a good thing that I consider every thing about life on earth to be an act of magick.

6. Writing about witchcraft to share openly with the world

Last, but not least, we finally get to the fun part. Writing is my passion, my creative offering, and is also my spiritual devotion. I’ve trained as a writer since the eleventh grade. Writing about witchcraft is what my patrons ask of me as their priestess, and I endeavor to fulfill that promise. I bleed out the intimacies and intricacies of my spiritual practice into words on the internet where anyone on planet earth can read it *for free.*  But Patheos does pay me per click, otherwise I wouldn’t have time to do it.

I’m also trying to write a book for publication and sale, but both take a huge time investment. It may be years and years…and years and years…before the likelihood of compensation at all from our writing. Legend has it that publishing books is just as unlikely to garner a living wage, as blogging and witchy shop-keeping. I spent at LEAST 300 hours writing this blog before I saw enough “click” money to take my family out for pizza. Thanks to the necessities of #1-5, any writing I do gets the slim pickings of time and energy left-over after the demands of a life well-prioritized.

Book with pages folded in a heart
CC0 Creative Commons – Pixabay

Where are your priorities, witches?

Now I post the question back to you: How do you prioritize your time and resources? How do you value yourself, your talents, your offerings of energy and skill? How do you value what the Witches and Priest/esses in your community are providing for you to enjoy? Do you think their time and expertise are your entitlement? Or should they be paid in the same way you expect to be paid for your work? Do our kids not deserve to eat as much as your kids deserve to eat?

An Example: If your business is carpentry, and you build kitchen cabinets for sale as a means to support your family, would you give away free cabinets to any witch who asked? Do you owe them a free kitchen? What if they sneaked into your workshop, and just helped themselves? Or maybe they just stole your custom design plans off of your drafting table, made a .pdf file, and sold them on-line while hoping you wouldn’t notice? I’d call the cops if I were you. I’d release the flying monkeys.

The Harm of Expecting Free Services, Plagiarism and Digital Theft in the Witching, Pagan and Magickal Communities

Listen up, dear readers of Witchdom! You, YES YOU! play an important roll in how much original new content can be generated for your benefit by writers and teachers like myself.

Expecting Free Services

Do not expect a Priest/ess and Teacher of the Craft to GIVE YOU their expertise and time. Whether it be to read your cards, or teach you the craft, or officiate your hand-fasting, without a fair exchange of compensation for their time. Otherwise, you devalue their expertise and their family’s lives. They don’t owe you anything. A fair energy exchange is a foundation stone of responsible magickal and spiritual practice. In this society, money is the energy that pays the rent. So if that is what a priest/ess is trading for, pony up! I’m looking at you, pagan festival circuit that does not pay, or even comp the entry fee, of your workshop providers! This is harmful to us.

Plagiarism

If you copy and paste the work of a blogger, and post their entire article on your own website, or FB group or page, without attribution and permission, this is plagiarism. Plagiarism is a crime. There must be a working link back to the original source, or else you have stolen their time and their kids pizza money, right out of their mouths. Even if you do bury the author’s name at the bottom of the post, or a pitiful “from Patheos,” it still looks like your own content up until the last line. This is for your own profit, and you have stolen “clicks” from the author. Without a link, you only helped yourself. This is harmful to us.

Bloggers need and want you to SHARE our articles far and wide! You can pull out a short, quoted excerpt at the top, but PLEASE, make sure the author’s name and the link are the FIRST thing your audience sees. Bloggers get paid by the click, folks. It might just be 0.003 cents, but godsdammital, our babies need a new pair of shoes.

Digital Theft

But worse than anything is the criminal copyright infringement involved when you download an illegally shared *free .pdf* of an entire book that is currently being offered for sale by a publisher. If YOU DIDN’T PAY FOR IT, that is THEFT, in exactly the same way as someone breaking into your shop and stealing a cabinet. This is harmful to a whole team of us.

Book authors may only get $1 or so per printed book, but legions of people in the publishing industry worked long and hard at their paid jobs to create that tome of knowledge, and put it out there for you to find. If you don’t pay anything for it, then you just stole from every one of the people on that production team. Their kids are hungry, too.  Much more of this rampant digital theft, and publishers will shut down and go become carpenters or some such thing you CAN’T digitally steal from them. Then there will be no more new content for you, or anybody else. Won’t that be sad?

Libraries pay for books. If you can’t afford to buy a copy, or buy the official digital Ebook, then go check it out at the library. However, there are NO excuses for participating in the hundreds of online sites that rip off, and distribute downloads of magickal, pagan and occult titles. Call that shit out when you see it. If you saw a burglar stealing your neighbor’s livelihood, you’d call the cops, or get in there and stop them, right? This is no different.

Let’s all get our priorities in order, shall we? Let’s learn to value ourselves and our witching neighbors a whole lot more. Please stop exploiting our content creators. If you participate in those sites by downloading a free copy of a book, you are no better than a parasite. If you are curating those download sites, you are burglarizing writers and publishers of our precious time. Enough parasites will eventually kill the host. Don’t be a parasite. Do as ye will, but please do not harm us like this anymore.

Witchdom! We can live symbiotically. Please care that we are real human beings, with the same struggles, obligations and needs as yourself. We are also worthy of the same consideration and compensation that you would expect for your own work. Make sure to pay for the expertise that is helping you along in your own path. We would do the same for you!

~Heron

About Heron Michelle
Heron Michelle is a witch, high priestess, mom, artist and shopkeeper living in Greenville, North Carolina. Connect with her on Facebook: Witch on Fire, and follow her on Twitter @HeronMichelle13. You can read more about the author here.
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