This post is an entry in the Pagan Blog Project.
A few months ago, my washer broke. There was a loud THUD noise, and then black gooey stuff started oozing out from inside of it all over my floor. It stank to high heaven. I assumed it was Amityville related, but just to be sure I google-searched it and found out it was probably oil from the motor.
I did not know how to fix the washing machine, even though there we some tutorials online for replacing the 'belt' or whatever else.
Instead, I called my landlord. ...who called someone else. And now I have a new washer/dryer.
As usual, all this ugly bullshit rambling is to illustrate a point: sometimes, you have to pay someone to do something for you. Whether you can't do it yourself, or simply don't have time, you need to ask someone other than yourself for help. There's no shame in this, either.
So, what if you're the washer mechanic? What if the positions are reversed, and other people are coming to you?
There is (or should be, anyway) etiquette when dealing with this eventuality. There may be a little bit more leeway if you wind working solely on the behalf of friends and family, but if you start accepting payment then you really need to make sure you act professionally so that you don't wind up with a reputation for being a jackass. Jackassery hurts your business.
If someone comes to you for divination or magic work, chances are they're in some kind of trouble. Most people who are not themselves practitioners don't just 'check in' with the universe that way; if it's not a birthday party or something, they're coming to you for advice on a problem.
Whether you like it or not, agreeing to help with that problem means you are mixing up your own life with someone else's. No, you're not marrying them, but you are going to act as a counsellor and even influence their life's events. You shouldn't do that if you can't do so in a respectful manner.
Speaking of that influence thing... This isn't so much an issue if you're doing divination, since divination by nature tends to work as an advice column, but if you agree to work magic on someone else's behalf? You may want to do a little checking in yourself.
We often only hear one side of a story. The absent party cannot defend herself, and there may be details unknown or glossed over. Your client is going to be biased (same as you) and so if you're undertaking anything heavy on the behalf of someone else you probably want to make sure its justified.
I don't believe that we take on all the 'karma' of our clients. But here's the thing - if you're working on behalf of someone, you're not entirely blameless. If something backfires, you're the one who is going to get the brunt of the explosion because you were the one who actually cast the spell. That just seems to be how it works. So, again: you'll want to look for any obvious "DO NOT DO!" signs.
Speaking of keeping your eyes open for warnings... you'll want to do that on a mundane level, too. People are strange. (When you're a stranger...) Sometimes that's not so bad, but other times...
Obviously, you should never do work for anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened, whether that be physically, sexually or emotionally. Money's not worth abuse. You need to know when to say no, and how to mean it. There are also people who you simply cannot help, as much as you might want to - their problems may be beyond your scope of expertise, or they may be suffering from mental illnesses. If a client is going to hurt herself or others? Don't work magic, don't do a reading: report that shit to the proper authorities. Chances are you're not trained to deal with a genuine psychiatric emergency, so don't fuck with that situation as you'll do more harm than good.
Most of your clients won't be suicidal - but they may be upset. As I said before, if someone's looking for a spell, they're probably in the middle of some shit. It will benefit both you and the client if you can really sit down and discuss exactly what it is they want, and why. This lets you get a better understanding of the situation, so you can craft a better solution.
Always be polite. Always be respectful. Be honest, and pay attention. Don't talk up your abilities, and be prepared to have to explain what the client can realistically expect from you. Some people honestly do expect you to work a miracle while they themselves sit on the couch and take no action to back up their desires.
For some more advice regarding counselling clients that can be adapted to spellwork, I recommend 'Professional Tarot: The Business of Reading, Consulting and Teaching' by Christine Jette.