Like many tarot and psychic readers, I am often asked for a free reading.  The seeker feels they really need a reading, but they cannot afford to pay, and they ask if there is a free option.  Do they also ask for other professional services to be provided free?  I don’t know. There is a prevailing popular idea that spiritual services should or could be provided at no cost, or perhaps they are not worth paying hard cash for.  Yet at the same time, these services are highly sought after – any successful psychic and reader will tell you they are very busy.   Recently I was overwhelmed by requests for free readings, so here I explore some of what this really means for all of us involved in spiritual work.

Mikao Usuri who founded the Reiki healing system found that only those clients who paid, or who provided an energy exchange of some kind, remained well after their reiki healings, whereas those who received a healing  for free, without offering anything in return, actually relapsed.  David Ashworth who founded the Emerald Heart healing system  found that energy exchange is an essential part of the work if a person is truly to grow and develop. Nothing really happens past the initial phase if the client, querent, spiritual student  or seeker does not actively invest in their own learning and growth and just relies on the practitioner.  This has helped clarify for me the importance of energy exchange in spiritual and healing work. If you do not invest anything in the exchange, and just take a free reading, how much is it going to benefit you?  Will you value something that is offered for free?  And how does it affect you in the long term if you take something that is created with love and worked on by someone just for you – but who receives no acknowledgement from you?

So what is the principle of spiritual exchange?

I offer you my commitment, time, skill and the benefit of my hard won experience and training. As a gesture of respect both to myself, and to your own growth and development, I charge a fair fee as an exchange. This then means I can set aside time and focus exclusively for you. In addition, I am continuing to work on myself, and offering my skills to you is part of my own path of service and right livelihood – I continue to learn from everyone I ever work with, and this is another aspect of exchange, as I always pass this forward.

If someone has a talent for reading that they have developed further with many hours of study and practice, and this is how they earn their livelihood, how is it reasonable to expect this to be given for nothing?   I think we are all well served by supporting ourselves through the talents and skills we are best at and that we enjoy because they flow relatively easily for us. This is how the market place works.  I become a specialist so that I can earn my livelihood by serving others to the best of my ability.  You also market your own skills and experience,  in a different field, and so the world goes round as we all contribute to each other’s wellbeing. We all need each other.

If you are experiencing financial lack, which can happen to anyone, and you really need a reading – perhaps to help you improve your relationship with money or find a better job – you can go to organisations such as Biddy Tarot that offer a free tarot reading service. There is an exchange system set up, whereby you offer feedback to the reader. Readers are assigned randomly. Feedback is useful for readers, especially when they are relatively inexperienced, to help them hone and perfect the various microskills of delivering the best possible reading. Yet many querents on the platform do not offer the requested feedback, or they write just one or two sentences that do not help the reader to learn anything new from the exchange. Then the reader feels disappointed because they invested a lot of time and effort in creating the reading and they have no idea whether or not the querent valued it, or how they experienced it. Readers can feel devalued by free sessions where no feedback is offered in exchange. It can even feel a bit like being robbed, or taken for a fool. If you think about it, this illustrates one of the important reasons why professional services need to be charged for, so that the reader does not then feel resentful, and she has a way to support herself through her work, and thus to fund further work. You want your readers to be effective people in their own right who manage a business and behave professionally. Sometimes practitioners who are mastering a new skill will offer free readings while they practise on their clients, and this can also be a fair exchange. Some readers create special offers, such as free Facebook Live readings, as lead magnets to their paid services, and we all love a bargain – but does this inadvertently convey the impression that you do not need to pay for readings?

With so many offerings for sale in the spiritual marketplace, you need to practise discernment in choosing the authentic practitioners and services that will help you the most on your path. Take your time in choosing.  Whether you are currently in need of compassionate witnessing and support, healing, encouragement and challenge, education, or a renewed sense of direction, there is huge choice. There are many things that you can do completely free, such as meditation, spiritual practices and reading for yourself that can take you a really long way, but eventually we all need help from another human being to help us get past blocks, blind spots and resistance. There is nothing that is right for everybody, and your own needs change as you develop. A reading is more economical than, say, counselling or coaching, as you get a lot of information in one download that can keep you going for weeks and months. But are you ready to make use of this information?  If you are not committed to your own growth and development, and ready to put these new insights into action, having a reading may be an enjoyable “hit” but it’s questionable how much difference it will make.

In making a “contract” with your reader, by offering both payment and a clearly worded question, with clear expectations on each side, you give your reader permission to put aside everything else to work with you. 

In times gone by, when the shamans and village healers lived on the outskirts of towns and villages,  people would bring them produce and goods, and in this way their basic needs were taken care of.  However, when the witch hunts began, everyone knew where they lived and betrayed them to the church authorities. In today’s complex and multi-layered world, money is the almost universal vessel of exchange between all tribes and groups. The Inland Revenue detests barter, as the exchange of services or goods in kind is difficult to tax. 

 Money has been described as “the root of all evil” but it is not money itself that is the problem,  as money is just a form of energy and is neither good nor bad.  The problem is that the world is dominated by the human need for wealth and control, and that riches and power are more highly valued than people or our beloved mother earth. However to say that spiritual people should not need or request money, or should feel guilty about charging a fair fee, is a confusion between worth, or spiritual value, and monetary value. So perhaps in essence you feel that something which has spiritual value should stand apart from financial value and remain untouched by it?  While religious organisations have no difficulty in asking worshippers to give money,  the seers, witches, readers, shamans, lightworkers and healers of our day are regarded with suspicion, and even though our services are needed, they are downgraded and dismissed as “new age” or “charlatan”. #Paymetoo applies to us too.  A lot of us are women, working on our own, outside any institutional structure.  Not worth much, perhaps, even if everyone at some time in their life needs the services of a skilled and compassionate healer or a soul reader. I have a vision that one day the healers and lightworkers will no longer be regarded with cynicism because the essential roles we play will be better understood – and valued – because there is nowhere else that people can obtain the healing we all need.

So next time you need a reading, whether free or paid,  consider offering your reader feedback and respect for dedicating her life to using her skills to guide, heal and support you. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking her work isn’t worth much, because you are playing into the hands of everyone who devalues spiritual work. Worst of all, you would undervalue and undermine your own spiritual growth.  Choose your spiritual support system wisely, and then honour and value it as long as it serves you in bringing more light and truth into your life. Your journey matters a lot, and whoever helps you along the way also matters.