Throughout this series I have given suggestions to save money on items for the practicing pagan that are both legal and ethical. I am choosing to put this on my blog which is free for all, and will most likely stay that way.
But that is a choice I, the writer, has made. I do not depend on income from my blog to make ends meet. (Actually, at this point I get no income from my blog.) If I publish a book, unless I make it free as part of a promotion, I expect to receive income from it. Even if it is $.05 a copy
In the internet age, plenty of people give stuff away as a marketing strategy. But these are decisions the creator and/or rights holder has made. It might be in exchange for an email list sign up or review, or an attempt to build a digital footprint to increase sales. They will be either through the maker or publisher directly, or through a platform that does such giveaways with creator permission like Bookbub.
Creators Need an Income
A fun fact: artists and creators have bills to pay. If they can’t make enough off their creations to pay the bills, they won’t be able to stay in business. Creation is not a switch, it is a skill. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but everyone must work on it.
For a legally bought physical book, you have a right to resell your copy. It is perfectly legal to sell to a used book store, trade, or give it away. As long as you don’t claim the work for your own, photocopy and sell more copies, or use the book to create a different format (like an audio book).
Most of the time you don’t own an ebook. You lease them. An ebook purchase is a license to read an ebook on a platform/in a particular file format. Joanna Penn has been doing a series of podcasts on NFTs, where using block chain you can own a digital item, but that is still in its infancy. Because you don’t own an ebook, you can’t sell it or give it away. In 2019, Microsoft shut down their ebook store, and while they offered refunds to keep customers happy, any books bought were poof!
If you see a website with free ebooks to download, and they aren’t public domain materials, or it isn’t direct from the author, through a platform, or the publisher, it is piracy.
Stealing Magickal Supplies is a Bad Idea
For one, stealing an item leaves a taint of bad energy. For another, tarot decks don’t appear from the ether. Someone has to design, print, write the descriptions, and package the cards. Many recipes for various ritual and spell oils are the result of practice, research, and time, in addition to the raw materials used. Even if a statue or wand is machine carved, someone designed it. Also, do you really want to anger someone who runs a magick shop?
I have heard a tool could be more powerful if it is given. That makes much more sense than stealing. The act of giving either means someone recognized the item had a better home, or made something they gave to another. The good intention of the exchange will leave some energy. But that is giving, not stealing.
Paganism is a very niche market, and stealing work prevents resources from going to the very small and devoted pagan community. To be frank, being a pagan author is not a big money maker for the 99%. The pagan ghostwriters scandal showed that there are entities seeking to make money off the interest in paganism that don’t have the interests of the community at heart. A gift for a gift is a very basic tenet of many pagan traditions. Even a thank you is helpful.
Spiritual Services Are Still Services
Divination, magickal workings, and conducting spirit work are all services and should be compensated appropriately. They are all skilled services that require specialized training and knowledge. We don’t have institutions to support full time clergy (yet) so pagan clergy must be paid for their services. While some traditions frown on payment for learning magick, there are other ways to compensate and show appreciation to teachers. Gifts, helping to clean the space, etc.
In the internet age, people are so used to getting things for free, I think they often don’t realize the work it takes to put things together. The industrial revolution has been wonderful for making goods more available and affordable, but it also means people forget how much work it really is to craft something by hand. Being able to go to Youtube and find a video on how to make something can lead people to say “oh, that isn’t so hard” when they haven’t actually done it with their hands.
I am not saying if the cheap knock off is what you can afford that is the same as stealing. If you get an item made from China, buying it from your local witchy story that at least puts money in the hands of the community. This entire series is about choices. Even if you don’t have money, you still have choices you can make to acquire what you want or need for your practice that aren’t stealing.