PAYMENT AND SACRIFICE
We, the willing, are led by the unknowing to do the impossible, for the ungrateful. We've done so much with so little for so long we're now totally qualified to do anything with nothing.
(small notice seen in several builder's shops)
All the most successful psychiatrists in America agree that charging the patient a high
fee has a strong therapeutic effect.
Here are two comments, from the despairing to the cynical, about an attitude people have to receiving and giving. And there are you, dear reader, faced with a Querent whose cards you're about to read. The time has come to cross your palm with silver. From alternative flower-children to nice old ladies retired in Southpier-on-Sea, from London secretaries doing it for their friends to earnest amateur psychiatrists only trying to help their friends, I hear a united cry *How horrid!*; I have visions of a vast horde of people gathered in the street outside my publisher with placards denouncing me for my greedy capitalist ideas.
Hold it, let me tell you a little about people. This whole area is like a minefield, with every step bringing you the possibility of setting off a highly explosive bomb. I think it will be necessary to go slowly and, like a bomb disposal expert, defuse every mine.
First of all, the value that people set on anything depends on what they must sacrifice in order to obtain it. Many people in my family have been artists, and so gradually over the years we have collected paintings by members of the family and by friends whose paintings we have bought or been given as presents. The paintings just hang on the walls because we like them; sometimes we have more paintings than we know what to do with. We hang them in the hall, the bathroom (honest) and the spare bedroom. Till one day we realize that all those paintings done by one's great-uncle are now famous and much sought-after works; the member of the family lent, sold and gave the works to the nation. It's a shock to realize that the painting of flowers is by Vincent van Gogh, or the charming portrait is by Mondrian; they suddenly become too valuable to be hung in the bathroom or the hall. We have to insure them, hang them in good light, have strangers traipse round the house in their pursuit of Art; their equivalent of a century ago would never have given these paintings more than a few seconds scrutiny. Their value is changed because the sacrifice which people will make in order to acquire, or even see, these paintings has changed; the paintings themselves have not changed in any way.
Similarly, a friend of mine had, hanging proudly in his living room, a signed and numbered print of Picasso; to me it looked a quick dash of the pen, something quite interesting but no more interesting than some of the work of my five-year old niece. I hasten to add that I like both their works. One day my friend found out the print was a forgery; instantly the piece was banished to the dark part of the hall. Why was the piece suddenly worth so much less?
The advice and insight a Reader can offer depends very much on the sacrifice a Querent has to make. In an earlier chapter we saw the difference between a man receiving advice from his tealady and from an eminent psychiatrist. Now think how many more sacrifices, in time and money, the man has to make to see the psychiatrist. Very few people will sneer at an expensive painting; the scoffers rarely turn down the opportunity of having such a costly painting gracing their home. Psychologically, it becomes very hard to ignore advice from a man who charges £20 an hour; you will have to think deep and hard before you do so. It is just this, the idea of forcing people to think, that is the real service a Tarot reader can perform for the Querent. It is for this reason that payment for reading the Tarot is not an unnecessary evil, but a positive part of the service.
The second reason why such a payment is required has to do with the relationship between the Reader and Querent. In our lives we make a distinction between two types of transaction. The first type is when we have to give something to another, or receive something from another. The second type is when we pay our way, and either give, or receive, value for money.
When we have either to give or receive, we make a transaction of a very dishonest nature. The giver can feel superior, since he has been noble, kind, and good; the receiver has to feel humble, and grateful, and render thanks. One of the marks of the superior man is his ability to give without making the recipient feel inferior, and his ability to receive gifts without making himself feel humble. Most of us are just ordinary slobs who go through this identifying of role every time we receive or give.
All of us have grown up in cultures where we are told, 'It is greater to give than to receive', or some such equivalent. We are impure little beings, so we tend to be selfish and want to own everything. Yet our parents and teachers enjoin on us to give, give, give till it hurts. We grow up to feel, every time we give, both pride and pleasure in overcoming our ancient selves. We feel guilty, each time we receive, that we have given in to our ancient sin of wanting everything. That is why in groups and societies devoted to developing the psyche, one of the most prevalent types is the person who wants to give; they are the most irritating, since they don't know how to receive.
John Steinbeck, in his books about the waterfront and the bums who lived there, books like Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, made the point that 'it is greater to receive than to give' since it demands a much more developed person in order to receive graciously. Until both Querent and Reader can give and receive, the contra-flow of emotions from recipient to giver will often cause all manner of unhealthy emotions. These can be easily avoided by allowing the Querent to pay. Firstly the Querent can then feel he has in turn given something to the Reader, thus cancelling the transaction. Secondly, the Querent can then feel that he is being treated as an adult, who has paid his own way, rather than as a child who is dependant on the unpredictable goodness of grown-ups.
The last major reason concerns only full-time Tarot readers. Such a person needs to live; if you agree, with Johnson, that you fail to see the necessity, then obviously you don't seek to make use of the services of the Tarot. But others do, and in order to make such services easily available, there is room for full-time readers. Very often, if you meet a famous guru, you do not pay for this privilege; others, his immediate followers or members of his congregation, do. If you consult a psychiatrist on the National Health, you do not pay him at the time, but you will have paid taxes, or other people will have paid them. If the Reader of the Tarot came to your house, and stayed the night and ate with you, you would have provided his necessities; the cost of food and space would be greater than the cost of a reading, yet it is 'invisible*. For a guru to trust in God, and live all his life on the generosity of people who recognize his genius, is not easily possible in our Western society. 'Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's', then you can afford to 'render unto God what is God's/
You may object, after all this, that you don't need the money; if that is really so, you can give it to charity, since the poor are always with us. But don't tell the Querent; it is none of his business to know what happens to the money, and probably your only reason for telling him the money is going to charity is to try to look less rapacious and more noble in his eyes.
The matter of payment should be brought up openly and directly. A statement such as *I always charge £5.00 (or whatever)' when people ask you if you can read their Tarot will stop idle curiosity and encourage people with real problems. Real problems are problems which it would be worth £5.00 to find an answer. You can then add, 'In your case I will reduce it because I can see that you cannot easily afford it, but I can see that you really need it.'
If people complain that this is far too much, ask them how much they paid last time they saw a hairdresser, or what is the price of seeing a good film followed by coffee and cake. Especially if people complain of the high price, do not lower it. It is almost always a particularly unpleasant trait in their character to always 'price' everything, including friendship, loyalty and honesty, and then try !o bargain down to a market-stall price. The best treatment for meanness is to charge more.
I think that it is by now quite obvious that what I have talked about as 'payment' is really 'sacrifice'. Once you see it in that light, hen the whole thing changes, and we can examine the problem in a much more elevated manner. Incidently, the priests in the olden days always received their share of the sacrifice for personal living expenses; priests also need to live
How much to charge in order to make the contribution a 'sacrifice* and not just an expense is a matter for the intuitive insight of the Reader, Obviously, the same fee, which is a prohibitive amount for an under-paid student nurse, is small change to the idle wife of a rich company director. Following an ancient religious practice, I find that a fee representing about 10% of their income after taxes is about the right balance. If you generally charge a reading fee of 10% of the average (median) income of the country you live in, then you can reduce it as you see fit. Raising it is more difficult, and in order to force the very rich to make an appropriate sacrifice calls for ingenuity.
One way out is to realize that a sacrifice can be made using other media than money. For a rich businessman, it can be time, for an idle person it can mean some physical task; for a vain person it can mean looking less beautiful; for some people it can mean a refusal to be paid.
Usually the businessman is short of time; then he must sacrifice time. Charge him your standard fee, but insist that your only free time is on Monday morning; that is a real sacrifice. Perhaps you haven't time yourself during the day. Fine, then you can ask him to pick up, personally, an article from an occult shop that you have ordered by phone. Check afterwards that he picked it up himself, and didn't send his secretary.
An idle person should be given an appointment before eight in the morning, or be told that until you have finished the task of folding five thousand business letters you can't begin to read, and could he give a hand meanwhile.
Sometimes the shock of not being able to pay their way, but having to receive something for nothing can act in a positive way with people. The sacrifice should be tailored to the individual, so that in following the task, part of the 'cure' advised during the reading is undertaken. But it shouldn't be made blatant. Instead, at some time after the reading and during the subsequent conversation the idea should be introduced that if sacrifice isn't made, then their subconscious will feel too ill at ease to make full use of the advice offered during the reading. All the Querent's efforts will be in vain; in other words, there is no sneaky way of obtaining the advice at a cut rate. It is almost like buying a cheap book guaranteeing to make you rich. It is written in Russian, and by the time you can read enough Russian to understand the book, you can make a good living as a translator.
I shall end this chapter by telling the story of the Prince who fell ill. He had a charming wife, was head of a rich country, there were no enemies, and his people loved him. However, he fell ill, not badly enough to die, but he was unhealthy enough so as to make life miserable. No doctor seemed able to cure him, and many tried, but in vain. One day, a strange doctor came, who offered to cure him. The treatment was to consist of a secret salve which was contained in the handles of two wooden clubs. The Prince was to swing the clubs twice a day for half-an-hour; as he swung them the salve would penetrate his skin and eventually cure him. Sure enough, after three months, the Prince became better. Only then would the strange doctor reveal the secret of his cure. 'Exercise,' he said, That's all you needed. You wouldn't have believed me if I had told you then. Now just make sure you get some every day. '
Please, just try to be a little imaginative in your sacrifices. A sense of humour helps.