The people in the city I've moved to are cheap. Exceptionally cheap. Exasperatingly cheap. This is not something they would take as an insult, either. It's actually an odd point of pride.
It's a prairie city, but that doesn't explain it completely. I've lived in a few prairie cities, and this one takes the cake.
It's a fairly provincial city - meaning, it has some very set, old school attitudes. Most people are born and raised here. Not a lot of "outsiders" come through, and there is not a lot of exposure to what's going on in the rest of the world. It's a petri dish culture, so what grows and develops here is distinctly of this city.
That has its pluses and minuses, to be sure. There's a deeply-rooted socio-political alternative culture, especially as related to social justice issues, which I, of course, like.
(There are also a tonne of freemasons here - who have teamed up with the New Age - which I don't dig so much, but that's another story...)
I'm a minimalist, so I understand non-consumerism. But this is not non-consumerism. People still want stuff. They just want it for less than the stated price. They want something for nothing, basically. The chiselling down has been developed into a fine art here, and I find it difficult to deal with when interacting with people face-to-face. It's very slippery.
To be clear, this is coming from people who are actually quite comfortable financially. In addition to rampant poverty, there is a lot of money here. A lot of it is old money, though, so they keep it on the down low.
There are a number of high-end boutiques that do very well in this city, and you'd better believe people are not haggling over price there. The pubs and restaurants are doing fine. Bands are playing to packed houses. The malls are humming.
People can always find the money when they really want something, and this is why I do not give discounts.
One of the biggest problems is that people here do not seem aware of the value of astrological information from a professional astrologer. This happens, in part, because there are a lot of astrology hobbyists out there, and they're often willing to practise on people for free or for cheap. I'm not a hobbyist, though. And when people here in El Cheapoville ask me what my rates are, I can feel their minds being boggled.
One woman in her senior years was absolutely baffled by my price for a 15-minute reading.
"But...but, fifteen minutes is a very small amount of time!"
What I'd like to explain in this post is the process that goes into a professional astrology reading - at least, from me - in hopes that it will help explain the value of the readings.
For the people who are boggled by the prices, I would like them to be aware of these points:
1. The process of doing an astrology reading requires a very concentrated and focused energy. It's energy-intensive work, and it deals with multiple layers. Readings require psychic energy, keen emotional intuition, analytical skills, strong navigation, and the use of my special mix of astrological techniques - and this energy expenditure needs to be compensated accordingly.
2. I don't do cold readings. What this means is I don't set up a half-hour reading, print off the chart and then interact with the chart only for that scheduled 30 minutes. For me, that actually wouldn't produce the most effective reading. The information presented in a reading isn't pulled out of thin air. There's a whole process involved of studying charts, finding the pertinent information to be integrated, and then coming up with a coherent presentation of that information. To prepare for a reading, I put in between half an hour and 1.5 hours of intensive prep work. I may look at one chart; I may look at four. It all depends what the person is asking and where I need to go to find the information. I consult the ephemerides. I make notes. And then I let things percolate. By the time it's all consolidated into the reading, it is hopefully effective and to-the-point.
3. The full value of a reading may not be apparent immediately after, but the information from an astrology reading will stay with you and assist you for months or years after the reading. Good astrological information and perspective can help you make stronger, more well-informed decisions, keeping you out of situations that are not in your best interests and saving you time, energy, heartache and money. A single point in an astrology reading can explain and validate huge parts of your life experience, providing self-awareness that can literally change your life's course for the better. It's potent stuff.
4. I'm a self-taught astrologer with my own style which means that, though I've been influenced by other astrologers (we all have), I have developed my own system of astrology that you cannot get anywhere else.
5. Astrology is not a hobby for me. This is how I make my living, along with other supplemental work, and it's how I expect I will be making my living for a while to come. So I don't do astrology readings for fun. This is work. Consider it along the lines of metaphysical dentistry.
Another situation I'm running into that I'm surprised is still so ingrained here is the idea that if what you do has a "spiritual" aspect to it (what doesn't, really?), it's wrong to charge money for it. This actually makes no sense to me. Everyone is entitled to live life as he/she sees fit, but I truly resent people putting their stuff on me regarding this subject. To me, work is work. Work requires energy, and it requires a reciprocal energy exchange in the form of money if one is to survive in this society. People saying this stuff are generally financially supported in other ways, often doing "spiritual" work on the side, and can afford to take that type of stance. That's not my scenario.
6. Hey, I'm Willow. I'm a cool chick, and I know my stuff. I ask for what I think a session with me is worth. If you don't agree, you can seek out a cheaper alternative.
Anyway, I realize most people who read this blog already understand this stuff. I just wanted to put this out there because of the friction I'm coming up against in this new city. For the quality of the reading a person receives from me, my rates are very reasonable, and I'd like to reinforce that point.