Many pagans think about running their own business. They often dream about providing products and services for their faith community. These products and services run from workshops and teaching to creating ritual tools and items for the religious practices. Many of them don’t ever believe that someone would want to cause them stress or ill will. When that trouble does come how does a small business protect themselves and manage to stay afloat?
I interviewed Lila Elwood one of the owners of Wild Witchery to find out more about her battle and how this has impacted them going further.
Loona Wynd: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your Business?
Lila Elwood: I have been a practicing Pagan for about 25 years now. On my mothers side of the family we are Iroquois and I was raised in native tradition. By the time I was 12 European Paganism/Witchcraft piqued my interest and I started down that path with no regrets.
I attended American University where I received my BA in Religious Studies-concentration on Ancient Mediterranean Religions with a minor in Ancient History of the same region. I am married and have 2 children and currently live in Yorktown VA- where our Business Wild Witchery is based out of.
We are primarily an e-commerce business specializing in creating Ritual Oil Perfumes, Candles, Bath & Body, Skincare, Hand Wrapped Amulets & Crystals. I have been making these items inside and out of Business for about 10 years now.
Loona Wynd: What inspired you to start Wild Witchery?
Lila Elwood: I had a business prior to this called Lady Leigh’s Apotheca, which was primarily an apothecary & didn’t focus too much on the metaphysical side, but offered similar items: bath and body, aromatherapy perfumes, plus teas and healing items. But I wanted to focus on the metaphysical. I wanted to offer really great products that were infused with Magick because i believe every aspect of your life has the ability to be infused with magick and sacredness- right down to the soap you use, lotion or perfume you apply or the jewelry you wear.
My friend now business partner and I had been talking about/dreaming about having a metaphysical shop together as our skills complimented each other, she focuses on crystals and jewelry and i on the herbal/bath body aspects. So this time last year we just went for it and started laying the foundations of what Wild Witchery now is.
Loona Wynd: You claim that you and your partner received a Cease and Desist letter. What was it for and about?
Lila Elwood:Yes, My business partner & I received a letter via email claiming copyright and trademark infringement on 2 of our products, Amatus & Yule Ritual Perfume Oils. The letter demanded that we stop selling these items, remove them from all social media & pay the complainant $5,000 + their legal fees potentially. The letter also claimed issues with “Trade Dress”
Loona Wynd: Can you explain what they meant by “Trade Dress”?
Lila Elwood: I wasn’t sure what this was either until talking with our lawyer, it is the look and feel of the product.
Loona Wynd: Did they give you a further explanation about what it could entail? Feel and look of a product could cover a lot of things.
Lila Elwood: The complainant feels that our products look the same as hers – we DID at one point, use the same cap style on our bottles as theirs, and we also tie ribbons around our bottles to fill in void space. However, the bottles and caps we buy are available through multiple suppliers that sell to the public, and there are MANY other business’ who also use this same bottle/cap style for their ritual oils and perfumes as well. in recent months however, the complainant has changed their cap style and discontinued use of the ribbon so really, there should be no conflict with this.
Loona Wynd: What actions have you taken to defend yourself and your craft? It seems something named after a holiday such as your Yule Perfume Oil couldn’t be trademarked as holidays are open to anyone who follows those traditions, and there are many religious traditions which celebrate Yule.
Lila Elwood: We did a lot of research as to what constitutes trademark/copyright infringement. While the complainant holds NO federally registered trademarks/copyrights, they are alleging these charges based on seniority. They came out with these products first – which the law allows – sort of.
Common Names do not count in the eyes of the law – and as we all know, Yule is a common word/name/a holiday in our spiritual tradition. Many Pagans also make use of other languages when naming their products, i have half a dozen products named in various languages, which is how Amatus, which means Beloved in Latin, was named. Yet, it is uncommon enough to be misconstrued as trademark infringement.
After consulting with our Lawyer we agreed it was probably best to discontinue the use of the name Amatus, so we have removed our Amatus line from our Website and Etsy.
Yet there is another well known business who is selling a ritual oil using the same latin name as one of the complainants products of the same nature! But we want to keep the peace.
However we will NOT be doing the same with Yule. Yule is a sabbat and it belongs to everyone. No one person can trademark our holidays and the products we create inspired by those holidays.
We gathered examples of other Yule Ritual Oils from other Pagan businesses as evidence that we, nor the complainant are the only ones marketing a Yule Oil Blend
Loona Wynd: Is the Amatus line going to be discontinued completely or are you thinking about renaming it?
Lila Elwood: We will simply rename it and re-release it.
Loona Wynd: What is the next step for you in this fight?
Lila Elwood: Our Lawyer will be offering the complainant a settlement we discontinue the use of Amatus. But that’s it. Examples of other Yule oil products will be included in defense of out product & other business’ right to create sabbat oil blend, and we will not be paying them any money. We just released our Ostara oil so we’re honestly waiting on the other shoe to drop to speak!
Hopefully, that is the end of it. We do not want a huge dispute. We’re a micro business, small fish in the pond compared to the complainant who compared to other business’ in our niche, is a large corporation.
Loona Wynd: Given the small size of your business it must have been a shock to receive the letter. What went through your minds?
Lila Elwood: I was SHOCKED. I panicked, they were demanding $5,000 from us, we’ve made just under that amount in sales- not being that familiar with the law, I thought this was a formal lawsuit. i was envisioning us having to close up shop, being bullied out of business by the larger corporation
My business partner was not as shocked as i was. In hindsight we should have seen this coming, we had noticed in recent weeks personal friends of the complainant liking some of our social media statues and asking to join our Facebook groups.
Loona Wynd: So they had spies? Friends checking you out and seeing what you were about? Are any of those people still in your groups etc?
Lila Elwood: It kind of seems that way to us.we never admitted these people to our groups and they have been blocked on social media
Loona Wynd: Are you taking any actions to protect yourself in the future?
Lila Elwood: Protection- YES! Our lawyer has implored us to trademark the names of our products – at least at the state level. In VA it costs $30 to trademark a product within state lines. My partner was apprehensive to go this route with trademarking the names of our holidays, and i agree with her, they belong to the community. However, the lawyer has assured us we do not have to enforce these trademarks, but they are there for if/when another situation like this comes about.
Loona Wynd: What advise would you give other small businesses should they receive a Cease and Desist letter or any actions along those lines? Lila Elwood: If you receive such a letter, research and consult with a lawyer, absolutely. Don’t Panic! It is not the end of your business, and don’t give in. Consulting with a Lawyer or having a lawyer draw up paperwork is not as expensive as you’d think. It cost us $250 to employ the help of a lawyer. But also, i do suggest researching the name you’re considering. We did not do that because we figured “we’re small & no threat to anyone” & also because we were naive thinking that no one would take issue with our business.how wrong we were! So research unique names, if a business is offering a similar product named the same thing, move on to the next name, no matter how perfect it was. And definitely look into getting state trademarks on the names of your products, if only for your protection.Loona Wynd: Is there anything else you would like to say about this situation or add?
Lila Elwood: It is my opinion that the complainant is trying to corner the market on the type of items that we offer and is trying to scare the small business’ who offer similar items out of business. We all have a right to be here, we all have a right to create magickal products and market them – which certainly includes sabbat products named after the sabbats. To think you are the only person who has rights to these names and holidays makes you arrogant. Live and let live.
It seems like no matter what we do in this world there is always someone who will try to rain on your parade. This author firmly believes that if you want to run a business you should try and go for it. Live for your dreams and follow your path. Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Learn from articles like this and take their advice. There is room for us all as we all have something different to offer.
If you would like to support and see the products and services provided by Wild Witchery: Wild Witchery
The words renaissance business woman is not something that many toss around, but that is exactly the phrase I would use for the person who I will be interviewing. Her name isCharissa Iskiwitch and this is why you want to know her.
For those who do not know the woman behind the curtain of one of the most dynamic growing organizations founded for Pagan businesses, who is Charissa Iskiwitch?
I am a practicing witch, healer, teacher and business owner. I was born and grew up in Northwest Georgia. I learned a love of nature and plants from my mother and grandmother and a love of doing things with my hands from both sides of my family. I live on a 21 acre farm in Southern Appalachia with my husband and a whole herd of cats and dogs.
Let’s start at the beginning. How long have you been a Pagan and a business woman? And when did the two intersect?
I have identified as Pagan since the mid 80’s when I met a phenomenal wise woman that took me under her wing. She invited me into her Circle and treated me as if I was one of them. The entire Circle taught me all about their ways from the folk uses of herbs and animals to the spiritual side of gratitude to our gods. I was always extremely spiritual and active in whatever church I was involved in even as a child and teenager. This path touched me in a way I had never been touched before and sparked something inside me that has never gone out even all these years later.
My father was a business owner and he instilled in me the need to work for myself. I have had jobs. But I have also always done my own thing. As a teenager I worked in fast food restaurants while building up anAvonbusiness. I worked at the library in college and started a dorm room business cutting cadets’ hair and sewing patches on their uniforms. (I went to a military college) I later sold other lines like Princess House and Pampered Chef, made crafts with my sister and sold them at craft shows, started a firm to oversee tax credit properties and keep them in compliance with government regulations and went into business with my husband making coffee mugs with photos on them. This was all before the internet so marketing was much more expensive and on a smaller scale.
Currently my husband and I run Charissa’s Cauldron (http://CharissasCauldron.com ) and Kit’s Flea (http://kitsflea.com ). Charissa’s Cauldron carries things I make as well as some other magickal supplies. I make natural remedies, hoodoo waters and some other little tidbits. I do some art but have not ever listed it in my shop. I might decide to at some point.
Can you tell us a little more about your business?
I started Charissa’s Cauldron shortly after we moved out into the country. I have studied and worked with plants and other natural materials for years. As an herbalist moving to a property that has both fields and woods was a dream come true. The first line of products I decided to offer was flower remedies. I have worked with and made flower remedies for years for family and friends. Having access to so many different plants gave me the opportunity to have an ever expanding line of remedies to which I later added crystals.
Since then I have added a line of Goddess, Lunar and Elemental Waters to the brand. I sell retail through the website and have several shops and vendors selling my product on consignment. I offer a unique program for retailers allowing them to not only make a profit from items sold in their store but also from sales made on my website.
What was your first brush with the wonderful worlds I like to call the American Neo Pagan Diaspora?
I was a part of what most Pagans would call a coven when I got started. We just called it Circle. I went through 5 years of rigorous training. The people that I circled with then had some unfortunate experiences with the greater Pagan world and instilled a little bit of fear in me about networking outside the Circle. So later, when I was forced for geographical reasons to become solitary I stayed that way for quite a while. Then I found a small shop that promoted a more social approach. I kept quiet about my experience and played it as if I was brand new because my people had told me that I would not be accepted and could even be harassed.
I realize now that was a mistake based on their limited experience with a local traditional Gardnerian coven. It did make it harder to be taken seriously as a leader later on because some people remember me being “new” in those days. I know that sounds crazy but people tend to do a lot of stupid things based on fear.
This led to your involvement and eventual leadership roles in your communities. Tell us what that was like.
When I first started seeking out others after going solitary I found covens galore but not much locally for solitaries. Finally a friend forwarded something from Meetup.com to me. It was a time and date at a local restaurant for witches to meet in our area. I went with two friends and we found that that restaurant and time and date had been set automatically by Meetup.com. There was one couple there. There was no real life organizer setting up the meetings or planning any kind of activities. So, my two friends volunteered me to step in as organizer. That was in 2004.
The following year Meetup.com started charging organizers to use the service so we moved to a Yahoo Group as our means of communication. Shortly thereafter we changed the name of the group from Marietta/Roswell Witches Meetup to North Georgia Solitaries (http://NGSolitaries.com). From there we grew into a group that traveled together to festivals, put on festivals, put on open rituals every Sabbat, did community service work and helped local businesses network. We started a charity – Pagan Assistance Fund and ran that for a few short years.
Looking back, when you were earning your stripes in leadership and the social webbing of the various causes and societies, what do you wish you could have told your younger self if you had a time machine?
Do not be afraid to be who you are. Do not let others bully you because your pedigree does not fit into their experience. If you want to teach, teach. If you want to heal, heal. Helping others build their dreams is something you are called to do but do not let it derail your own dreams.
How different is it now?
The popularity of Wicca being the exclusive club that is somehow better or more legitimate than all others has shifted. It is no longer unpopular to admit that your practice is not Wiccan. As for leaders, I believe that true leadership is about walking the walk you talk about.
Too many leaders are out there telling us what to do and how to behave but not doing the “boots on the ground” work. We still do not have a lot of the resources available to us as Pagans that the more mainstream businesses, religions, musicians, authors, artists, journalists and events have.
What things have improved? What things have seemed to regress or degenerate?
Society in general has changed both in positive and negative ways due to the internet. Before the internet it was harder to find other Pagans to network with. You had to actively seek them out in person or using snail mail. Now you can find thousands on social media from the comfort of your own home. On the flip side of that arguments can escalate within minutes because social media allows for instant responses before people have a chance to think things through.
What do you feel about the current state of Pagan leadership right now?
I believe there are many good people trying to do good things for the Pagan community. There are so many more Pagans than there were 40 or 50 years ago. Consequently, there are more people stepping up into leadership roles.
When it comes to our role in the landscape of U.S. Society, do you feel we are coming into our own as a group to be listened to in the places of power, or are we still back at the Starhawk point of activism?
I believe we still have a way to go. The current political climate in the country makes me believe that minorities of all kinds, especially religious minorities have much more work ahead of us before we can expect widespread acceptance.
Do you see any new “Starhawk” level leaders on the field right now?
We owe much to the leaders that pioneered the freedoms we now enjoy. We still have a lot to do and need leaders to step up and work to create a cohesive community for Pagans and remove the barriers that isolate us from mainstream society. We have quite a few leaders that work through interfaith organizations to bring down some of the barriers.
Where have we progressed, in your view, when it comes to our festival relevance insofar as incorporating our gatherings with that of, say, the level of the local Baptist Picnic, or Elk’s cookout, in acceptance?
We are already starting to see a little more acceptance. However, the social climate has taken a bit of an ugly turn recently causing some of the more vocal mainstream religious groups to target anything they do not understand and consequently fear.
When will we get there?
I believe it will get worse for all minorities before it gets better.
Do you believe it will be in our lifetimes that Paganism is on a par of freedom with other mainstream religions in this nation?
I would love to believe it will but I believe we will need another generation or more before the people running the country have evolved past the fear of differences.
What role do Pagan Businesses and Media play in making that happen?
I can only base my opinion on my own experiences. I find that behaving professionally and speaking with tolerance effects more change than accusing and pointing fingers.
By being afforded first hand vision of how the sausage is made, so to speak, what has given you the perseverance to continue?
My father served in local government and instilled in me the need to serve community. As early as my teen years I did what I could for my community. From organizing a movement in my high school to make an unused corner of the property into an outdoor mini-park for students that wanted to spend their lunch or study hours outside, to traveling with my church group to lower-income communities and do chores like clearing an overgrown yard, painting houses, home repair and helping with the localMeals on Wheelsprogram. After college I started a pet rescue operation in St. Louis helping to reunite lost pets with their owners and get unclaimed pets out of the pound and into foster homes while we looked for forever homes. When I joined the Pagan community it was natural for me to be drawn into service.
No matter what kind of community service you are doing there are challenges.
Organizers and leaders must overcome those challenges for the good of their community.
I continue to serve because I love community and people and feel that it is our duty as humans to try and bridge the gaps between different facets of the world so all can enjoy a safe and helpful community.
For a while you were doing events with Pagan Pride Project. How was that? And how did it affect your views on Pagan businesses?
Actually, I did not organize a Pagan Pride myself. I support the Pagan Pride Projectwhole-heartedly. For several years my organization, North Georgia Solitaries, provided labor for loading and unloading at Atlanta Pagan Pride. One year we hit the road and attended Savannah Pagan Pride as a group and got there early so we could provide loading and unloading help. We find that having a group of people helping vendors to unload and set up keeps traffic moving so other vehicles can pull up and get unloaded.
I was on the board of Church of the Spiral Treethat put onAuburn Pagan Pride a few years ago but I have to say that Linda Kerr did most of the work on organizing that. I just helped out by providing ritual, a children’s activity table and a couple of workshops. I offer my graphic design services free of charge for programs and marketing to any Pagan Pride that wants it. I always donate product for fundraising to as many of the Pagan Prides I can.
I organized two local events, Beltane Bash and Pagan Pathways Festivalin addition to an open Sabbat celebration every Sabbat as well as an annual Litha camping trip for several years.
My health the last few years has kept me from staying as active in the local community as I would like. I am able to attend events if I do not have to travel too far, but the physical elements involved in putting on events was too much for me. When I decided to start Charissa’s Cauldron I was looking for ways to network. I did not find anything more than a few Facebook groups where you could post ads. I wanted more. My father taught me that if you cannot find the kind of organization you are looking for to create one.
I have been a member of many business networking organizations, some geared for women and some for local businesses. They work. I created a network for women business owners in my local community when I was running my family’s insurance agency after my father died. It just made sense for Pagan businesses to have a network.
Was this mainly an intellectual motivation that drove you, or was there something more at play?
I like to say jokingly that when I started my own business I got lonely. That really is not that far from the truth.
Running a successful business means you must wear many hats. Not all of us have the knowledge to wear all of those hats effectively. For online retailers you need to have a place to sell online, create your product and market your product. If you do not want to use a selling site like Etsy or Amaranth you need to have a way to put up a website. You need to find suppliers that do not eat up your profit margin, learn how to take effective photographs and edit them, write effective copy, and learn how to market in a way that allows you to sell your product and still have enough left to restock and have a little left over as profit.
Having a network means we share our knowledge. We are building lists of resources such as suppliers. By adding an ezine such as PBN News we have a place we can help promote each other, keep up with community news and share information about events some of our businesses might want to be a part of.
Our main website has pages that list all kinds of resources. We have built some social media channels we use to promote community businesses, artists, authors, presenters and more.
When you hear the words, Pagan Business, what do you feel is the mental image most people have now?
I believe vendors and brick and mortar stores offering Pagan type goods come to mind first.
How do you want to change that?
Anyone doing something that requires getting the word out falls into the definition of business I want the Pagan Business Network to use. This includes musicians, radio stations, authors, artists, podcasters, bloggers, presenters, teachers, clergy, causes, events, vendors, online stores, brick and mortar stores and so much more.
In your experience as a successful business owner, what do you observe to be the most difficult barrier to the success of niche businesses?
Targeting your demographic is crucial. Today there are so many Pagans working to build a business of their own it makes it harder to get the attention needed. Then there are big box places you can shop that are able to offer goods at lower prices. I find that one of the best ways to stand out is to become known in the community. If you are running a shop online get involved in online communities. Not as a troll or someone pushing their business but more as someone that shows they care about the community and are willing to share knowledge and be present in discussions.
You need to build credibility for buyers to feel comfortable buying your product. Presenters and teachers need to build credibility to entice speaking engagements or students. Musicians and authors will sell more of their work if they are viewed as approachable.
The Pagan Business Network was designed to do what?
PBN’s mission is to build resources through cooperation and collaboration. In other words, bring the Pagan business community together rather than treat each other as competition. We are always stronger together.
You built an empire. Just how expansive is this?
I would say that I am building a network. I want to bring people together so we can all help each other find success in our chosen paths.
Can you tell us about your vision in the beginning vs. now?
Honestly, when I started this I really only expected to build a small group of businesses. I did not anticipate how hungry our business community is for something like this.
Instead of the 20-30 businesses I expected we have over 2000 businesses participating in one way or another. With that growth the vision has grown.
I was looking for a group of businesses to share knowledge and skills. With the sheer number of people that have become a part of this we have expanded the vision to include providing actual promotion as well as a place for writers and budding writers to publish, a way for musicians to get their music heard in more places, and a place for business owners to be spotlighted so they can start building a larger presence. I hope to see PBN add a few more resources to the table in the future.
What unforeseen challenges have arisen due to this labor of love?
As I mentioned before my health comes into play limiting what I can do. My biggest personal challenge is setting limits for myself and not trying to do it all.
In what ways have you been able to master them? What has been your main support system?
I cannot take responsibility for mastering anything. I have found a great team of people that are inspired by a similar vision. That team makes all of this doable. In that team I have found some friends that I hope to have for the rest of my life. My husband keeps a close eye on me and calls a time out when I put my health at risk. My mother supports anything I do regardless of how crazy it seems. My chosen brother (meaning not by blood) always supports my wacky ideas and joins right in to help without question.
You are very gifted with creativity, which you have manifested in many ways. How did flower essences become your forte?
I am not sure that they are necessarily my forte. I do many other healing methods as well. I was first introduced to Bach Flower Remediesyears ago when I was looking for some help dealing with grief. I felt that I had to step up when my father died and take care of my mother, settle his estate and run his business until we decided what to do with it. My sisters were not able to do any of that at the time. I feel emotions deeply and found it hard to deal with the business at hand while grieving. I found Bach and took them for a couple of years. While I was taking them I read every book I could get my hands on and searched out as many websites as I could about them. I started making them and experimenting with my own. I decided that I was going to incorporate them into my healing methods.
I am a Reiki master and have certifications in several other methods of healing including herbalism, color therapy, sound therapy and crystal therapy. Essences just seemed to fit right in.
Have you found that a change in the way they are accepted in the last few years?
I never really saw any acceptance problems. Although I have seen some of the mainstream media personalities endorse Bach Flower Remedies.
What inspires your selections of herbs and blends for your products?
I tend to work primarily with what I have access to. I often tell students they should start with the plants in their backyard before worrying about others. I can find all the plant ingredients I need for just about any working within walking distance of my back door.
You have so many projects and creations, what management system do you use? Is there a small pixie with a rolodex in your pocket or what?
No, but I would love to find someone to keep my calendar up to date and organized. For now I use Google calendars together with Google drive. It seems to work for me.
Recently a change came about in the disposition of your businesses. Can you share what is going on right now?
My husband called a time out on me after a run of being in and out of the hospital this summer. We decided that it would be best if I handed off the reins of PBN to someone else. Rhiannon Hood, an exceptionally talented business owner has agreed to take on the leadership role of the Pagan Business Network. I am moving into more of a right hand position to assist her.
How has your role changed in PBN?
I will continue to be extremely hands on. I am currently launching a couple of columns for PBN News and a show on PBN Radio.
What is your wish to see happen going forward? And how do you plan to contribute to this vision?
I would like to see PBN continue to work towards promoting our businesses, giving writers a place to publish and podcasters a place to air their shows. I want to work towards better promotion for our authors and musicians.
I want to see PBN bring more Pagan businesses together to help each other reach our goals.
As for how I will contribute, I will continue to utilize all the business skills I have to help the Pagan business community.
We’ve talked a lot about you and your businesses and your creations, but let’s get into some more heady stuff now. What part do you feel your connection to the Divine has had in your life so far?
I have always had a strong connection with the Divine. When I was younger I focused more on the Christian god because that is what my family did. Now I work more with the Pagan gods. I have always felt that my experiences are blessings and I should use that to help others. That is what led me to teach and to do the clergy work I do.
Would you say that you have been walking a path that has been predestined to a point, or are you totally in a freewheel roll?
I believe that a path with choices along the way is offered by the powers that be. It is up to me to make choices on which way I go. Each choice I make creates or removes choices. I would say that my path has been an extremely winding and wandering type of path due to the fact that everything interests me.
How have your recent experiences affected your spiritual practice? Or has it been the other way around?
I believe that each affects the other.
As I get older I find more and more beauty in the world around me and more compassion for what others are going through. When I was younger things seemed more defined in my mind of who and what was good and bad. I see life and people differently now.
Friends come and go, but spiritual relationships are more lasting and enduring. Do any pillars in your life come to mind that you would like to talk about who have served as mentors, teachers, comrades, and inspirations?
There are so many. I would start with my parents. They taught me about community, compassion and creative thinking. My grandparents taught me the value of hard work. One grandmother taught me to look at my differences as gifts and not handicaps. The other, along with my mother taught me the love of nature and working with plants.
You are something of an inspiration yourself. And you are still going. What counsel do you have for the aspiring person, of any age, who seeks to step out on faith and pursue their dreams?
Be smart about it. Have a detailed plan of what you want and how to get there. Keep a backup so you do not hurt yourself financially while you get started. Have faith in yourself and do not let anyone tell that you cannot do what inspires you.
What affirmation would you give them in the face of detractors and underminers?
One step and one day at a time. Let the negative energy and comments flow off you like water off a duck’s back.
Many people have a theme song, or genre of music, that they turn to get them going and rev them up to win. What is yours?
I love country music when I want to get my energy level up. I love the ballads of some of our Pagan musicians as well as classical when I want to relax.
And if you had a theme song for your life up to now, what would it be?
“Thank You For This Day” by Karen Drucker
So, what is next for Charissa?
I will continue to build my businesses in 2017. I would like to get my product into more retail stores and have a plan in the works for that. I will continue to work with PBN to help others find success in their businesses.
Is there anything you would like to add that we may have missed?
Time for a shameless plug. You can find my products at CharissasCauldron.com and our flea market at KitsFlea.com. If any of your readers want to connect with me feel free to friend me on Facebook. I usually have a tab up when I’m working in case anyone needs assistance.
Respect is a fickle emotion, it rivals its cousin, Reputation, insofar that it is enduring or fleeting based on the subjective opinion of others. Social mores are tricky at times, especially when doing business in a neighborhood that has a socioeconomic demographic that is more affluent than the business owner’s beginnings. It is not uncommon to find oneself navigating the derision and contempt of the more affluent clientage and peer when moving to a new place.
The way that we handle the discourses in which we engage with those who may find us lesser is a crucial skill to develop. As a client, when we encounter poor treatment, we can easily take our custom elsewhere. However, as a business, the ever-present need for business can sometimes lead to decisions choices about how much is really acceptable to tolerate from a client. From peers, this has the potential to become exceedingly unpleasant, and damaging to our brand.
Anneliese V. has been a practitioner for over 15 years in various parts of the state in which she lives. First, as an independent reader, then later as a staff person in an obscure metaphysical business. She has painstakingly made small steps toward becoming an independent business brand of her own, and now opens a business in a middle class part of town. It is a step up from the lower end stores in which she cut her teeth. A gleaming window sign, a clingfilm sticker from the Pagan Business Network, new fixtures, and a well stocked shelf are physical manifestations of her pouring a lifetime of savings, hopes, and dreams into her shop.
Within a month, Anneliese V. develops a respectable base of clientage. Her Romany inspired broom straw skirts and her passion for streaming Sacred Grove Radio instead of local contemporary music has given her clients a taste of her own unique style. Return customers bring referrals and all is well. However, shortly after the midpoint of the second month, her clients have begun to drop. The cheery little shop has begun to feel a down, and she does not understand what is going on.
That is, she doesn’t until the local blogger grapevine bearer drops into her ear the local news. It seems that a long-established store nearby has begun to disparage her name and business. A whisper campaign seeking to discredit her experience and product quality, by this competitor, has led to a loss of public confidence. She confronts the owner, and to her shock, he doesn’t deny her accusations. In fact he actually gives her a tongue lashing publicly at the local metaphysical fair and tells her that she is fit for nothing better than “garbage candle store magick, and everyone knows it”. He then attacks her style of dress as a costume fit for only a tramp from the poor side of the tracks.
Bending and bowing without a fight
Taken by complete surprise, Annaliese V. walks out of the fair. The local gossips feast upon the rumors and whispers that follow, adding to them. Emboldened, the shop owner publicly shreds her reputation at every gathering. Each time, she walks away. Finally, dejected, she comes to you to get a reading, as she has lost faith in her own abilities to read clearly.
You throw the coins and employ complementary techniques. All indications are that it will be difficult to undo the damage, as the juggernaut of misrule in the local metaphysical community seems to be falling in step behind the rival shop owner. You advise her to take a spiritual bath in hyssop and lavender, and tell her she has no hope of prevailing. You tell her that she should accept defeat and return to the neighborhood she started in before, and to not attempt to rise above her social and professional station. Success lies in being small and keeping quiet.
She leaves, intent on shutting down her business. Annaliese V. resigns herself to giving up her dream and you never see her again. A month later, her shop is shuttered.
Some things are worth fighting for
Taken by complete surprise, Annaliese V. walks out of the fair. The local gossips feast upon the rumors and whispers that follow, adding to them. Emboldened, the shop owner publicly shreds her reputation at every gathering. Each time, she walks away. Finally, dejected, she comes to you to get a reading, as she has lost faith in her own abilities to read clearly.
You throw the coins and employ complementary techniques. All indications are that it will be difficult to undo the damage, as the juggernaut of misrule in the local metaphysical community seems to be falling in step behind the rival shop owner. Still, people are not programs on software, and the future is not cemented.
As a professional practitioner, you know that spiritual counseling is a major component in your field. To counsel Annalise V. properly, you give her all sides of what is facing her. This involves you doing a more in-depth continuation of the reading so that she can get a balanced view of her choices. The fight will be long, but it is winnable. The decision is hers.
Annaliese V. sits quietly for a few minutes, the rascette lines on her wrists barely touching the cloth on your table. She seems to gather herself and rises. She decides to fight for her shop, and to combat this attempt at the destruction of her reputation by this rival. She purchases a small set of ceramic baking molds from you in order to begin a campaign of poppet workings.
As she is completing her purchase, you exchange mutual respect and banter casually about how good in this world always faces negativity with courage. You decide to gift her with a bottle of Confidence Nature’s Essence to help her along. She decides to set a return appointment date to check her progress in case she needs to change course. In a whishing of paisley glory she walks out of your parlor with a renewed sense of optimism, and you have just formed a professional association of mutual respect with her.
I’m Autumn Rayne and I will be posting “Pagan Poetry” every week. I have recently collaborated with a very talented graphic artist whom I met through this website PBN. He’s got an eye for beauty and knows just what image fits perfectly with my writing. His name is Robert Vilches. Please feel free to comment or share your thoughts as I will be posting weekly. I’m excited about this new partnership and I could not have done it without this wonderful network of people.
Today we continue our interview with Moma Sarah. In this segment, we cover advice and the importance of education for aspiring practitioners, ethics, and professionalism. She also lays down some heavy reality regarding the roots of the traditions she practices. Let us continue.
What would you suggest novices start with if they feel called to take up these studies?
I have a recommended reading list on my site in the “About” section and there are links to my blog, Facebook page and YouTube channel on my site as well. I post a ton of educational content on my Facebook page. Reading and beginning to make offerings is where to begin.
What teachers would you recommend? And do you teach?
I don’t know of any other teachers, personally. I’ve taken a hiatus from teaching simply due to my workload but plan to return to it this fall by teaching at our local cultural and healing center, Rootead.
What would you like to see more of in regards to the level of scholarship among the current generations of aspiring workers today?
I can not emphasize enough how important it is to educate the self on the history of a practice or religion. One can not understand WHY they are doing what they are doing without the history and traditions behind it. The traditions and esoteric science are why it works andthat base knowledge and respect must be obtained. Learn the theoriesand science and you will be able to formulate a successful practice.
Any views you would like to share in the way that Hoodoo is being marketed right now?
It’s obviously becomes very popular over the last 10 years. As an American, I think it’s wonderful so long as people are willing to lookat why it’s here and where it originated, which was with the Middle Passage, slavery and the Great Migration.
What do you say to the folks who feel that the practices should be less racially inclusive?
I can only speak for my practice which is hoodoo and New Orleans Vodou. I am a devotee of Marie Laveau who was an”octaroon”, meaning shewas seven parts “white” and one part “black”. Our entire religion is based on creole people like me. This includes Spanish, American Indian,African, Jewish, Irish, Romany among many other races and cultures. Ican only speak for my practice and religion and my practice and religion is a vivid tapestry of the people who came to this country,voluntarily or involuntarily.
Each one, and every mix in between, isvalid and has a right to educate themselves on whatever religion they choose. Whether or not someone thinks I am qualified to speak on theseissues because of my race is irrelevant. My race has nothing to dowith my qualifications in African diaspora, Comparative Religion, Theology and Africana studies which are far more important than mygenetics.
How do you address discrimination? Is there still a large amount of it?
I get a good amount of “hate mail”. Mostly due to the fact that I present as a “white” woman. This really goes back to the last question. My race has nothing to do with the fact that I have devoted my life to qualifications in these areas of education and study. Thefact is that anyone is free to pay for an education in whatever subject they choose, mine is religion.
I address it by not addressingit. I have no need nor desire to correspond or involve myself with presumption, narcissism or racism. I’ve learned a great deal of diplomacy in this line of work. The best path is not to respond to thediscriminator directly but to address everyone else, through venueslike this, in order to dispel further discrimination and racism.
Do you feel there is an unfair amount of backlash against people who work with both hands? In other words, people who are not limited in their practice to only what can be best described as “white light mysteries”?
Fortunately, I don’t run into this. Personally, I don’t believe in the whole “black” versus “white”. When one performs a working, theyset a new goal in motion, they embark on carving a new path to reach the objective. Every decision and action we make sets off a series ofevents. Even a positive decision on our end, let’s say to dump a caustic friend, will cause both positive and negative effects on others and ourselves.
We will feel upset at first about the decision and confrontation-a negative. The friend will also be angry, feel betrayed and alone-another negative. Even though the end result willbe positive, EVERY change, no matter how subtle, sets a ripple into effect through our lives. This means that all magic is both negative and positive.
As a professional spiritual worker, I work between these negative and positives. I evaluate each scenario that could potentially happen and then work to navigate through these to discover the most calm and successful path to reach my client’s goal. All magic is grey. There is good and bad and light and dark in everything and everyone on this earth.
Do you feel that we are losing something when we don’t embrace full knowledge of all practices?
Absolutely. I have made it my life’s work to trace the formulas and recipes I grew up with back to their roots, literally andfiguratively. I have done many videos and blog entries on the mass marketing of “hoodoo” “conjure” and ” condition” formulas. Many arenothing but dyed water or oil with synthetic fragrances added. Thosewere once a real recipe that someone harvested the herbs for, dried them, prepared them and mixed the formula. Without going back todiscover these recipes, we are fooling ourselves and loosing our own history. A person without their roots can not grow.
When you craft your products, how does it make you feel to know that you are the sole worker of intent and focus on this?
I feel that I am delivering a small portion of history and ashe’ to my client. They have a tool that is in its finest form. The proper tool for the work, delivers easier and better results.
Do you feel that people are short-changing themselves when they buy mass marketed items?
Completely. I think I’ve already addressed this in a previous question but if there are no actual herbs or essential oils in theproducts you are buying, then you are paying for nothing. The herbs are what the ashe’ comes from to create the tool. The herbs are whatare chosen and combined to deliver the desired result, along with yourdevotion and focus.
You give many instructional blog posts and videos to assist people in their studies. What drives you to do this?
I want to empower and educate people. I want people to know that just as you address you health with nutrition and exercise, just as youaddress your mind with meditation or yoga, you can address your spirit and spiritual avenues with spiritual work. We are complex and multi-layered and many of us have been neglecting a vital part of ourbody, experience and existence; our spirit.
When marketing your business, do these lessons give you a boost?
Yes, people seem to really enjoy my blog entries and videos. They often get shared which, naturally, leads to more views of my site.
You also offer spiritual consultation and divination. How important is this service?
100% vital. About 99% of my clients pursue a consultation before choosing a service. Over 15 years of doing this professionally, I havedeveloped an approach that is successful for most clients. Just as anything else, you learn what works best over time and investment inyour career. Clients often do not know were to begin or do not see theroot of the issue and only want to put a band-aid over the symptoms. I don’t do that. We address and resolve the root of the issue or theyare free find another worker.
What issues have you run across insofar as clients coming to you after a bad experience with other readers or workers?
I don’t get it a lot but I do have a few clients a year who claim to have paid thousands of dollars to a worker with no evidence of anywork being performed at all.
Any advice for people on what to watch out for on that level?
Research is important! While no worker can help every single person. A professional worker should have a website, NOT payment throughPaypal or Western Union only, testimonials or reviews you can read, actual photos of their work which are watermarked or copyrighted (notstock photos taken from the internet) and public profiles and socialmedia sites.
The key to your success for the past 7 years would be what, if you had to narrow it down to one thing?
Keeping it real and not doing it for the money. I started Conjured Cardea on a whim so I could share my interest and hobby of making spiritual items. I was certain I’d never sell anything. I just wanted to create and share authentic items.
If you were to choose a person, real or fictional, that would be your inspiration when it comes to your life, who would it be?
Nelson Mandela. To pursue your beliefs, people, liberation, peace and justice over all else. There is nothing else in life.
For people who would like to follow you on social media, where can
they find you?
We here at PBN News Network, and the Pagan Business Network, really want to thank Moma Sarah for taking the time to really talk to us and speak from the heart. A truly inspiring business person, she is the epitome of what a Pagan business person can accomplish. Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.