Practicing Astrology in New Age Shops: An Astrologer’s Earnest Experience
Metaphysical stores catering to the ‘New Age’ movement have become increasingly popular, with the lucrative lure of glittering crystals, ‘spiritual’ wares, grinning golden buddhas, clairvoyants, and ‘spiritual’ healers/ teachers claiming to contain the wisdom of enlightened gurus. In brief, this branch of spiritual fast-food promises a quick-fix to one’s ailments and stressors. Yet, independent of this spiritual trend, practicing astrologers often begin consulting via these third-party vendors. While astrologers are favorable business amplifiers from the perspective of metaphysical shops, working via third-party vendors is often an astrologer’s starting-point of necessity.
Abrogating subjective views regarding the facade of the New (c)Age agenda, this post’s objective is to provide experience-based information for aspiring astrologers considering consult routes via third-party vendors. Equally, this article attempts to educate individuals on the the reality of astrology consults in said establishments. Hopefully, not all factors below will apply to you. I have, for the purposes of this article, refrained from elaborating on subjectively negative personal experiences. Instead, I have chosen to expand upon some of the potential challenges that might be encountered in this peculiar workplace. This compilation is the result of working in three metaphysical stores that cater to the New Age consumer, while attempting to collect information from previous employees of said establishments. Unsurprisingly, all contributors have chosen to remain either fearfully silent or anonymous. Nevertheless, anonymous suggestions have been credited where applicable.
If you must start your astrology practice via third-party vendors (i.e., New Age/ metaphysical shops) be prepared for the following possibilities:
- Astrology-related misinformation and its potential misuse for profit. A most recent example would be witnessing a receptionist sell products on the basis of the full Moon’s use “for banishing and releasing”. Often, this bout of quackery will reverberate even after you, the astrologer, takes time to explain (to said clerk and/ or anyone in proximity) that the full Moon is, in fact, a period of fruition (whereas, contrastingly, the waning cycle is used for banishing). However, this misinformation extends, most deleteriously, to using malefic events like eclipses as ‘abundance’ promoters. If you’ve an ounce of common sense fused with morality, this will make you uncomfortable not simply since the information is egregious, but because, again, as an astrologer, your name or brand is now intertwined with a business that fails to provide accuracy on astrology-related topics. Likewise, misinformation applies to store-related new and full Moon social media posts. Having Saturn at the apex of a lunation, squaring and opposing every planet and its mother is, for example, usually disregarded (for whatever reasons, be it sheer ignorance, too much ‘negativity’, or unfavorable business). Instead, from the perspective of metaphysical vendors, astrological events somehow, miraculously and continuously manifest as ‘abundance, love, and light’, conveniently promoting ample consumerism. Understandably, it’s business, but shouldn’t there be some moral and ethical guidelines, especially considering that this type of establishment caters to the ‘evolved’ and parades itself as such?
- Not being allowed to promote your work beyond store parameters. For example, not being allowed to distribute personal business cards or anything that promotes your brand (website, social media, etc.) independent of the store. Note that while some stores are Saturn-stern about this policy, others do remain considerate. In my process, I have experienced both.
- Receiving 50-60% of what is charged per consult (naturally, this will vary according to store, but usually, there is a significant percentage rate). This should be considered relative to the time spent preparing charts (prior to sessions). For example, a 60-minute $100 session usually requires the work of two hours (prep-time and client session). Equally, consider transportation costs, particularly for longer commutes. This becomes a significant issue when consultations are cancelled, as, for example, the stores I’ve worked in lack pre-payment options and fail to employ cancellation fees. See below.
- Significantly high rates of cancelled consults, partly as the result of lacking pre-payment options. This is particularly frustrating when you have spent hours the day prior to, say, one, two, or even three sessions preparing charts. This can actually occur (again, from personal experience) with a single client multiple times (that is, a client schedules, cancels, and re-schedules, ad nauseum). Again, there is nothing you, as the astrologer, can do about this, aside from choosing not to prepare charts in advance (which has ethical implications on its own since, first and foremost, you want to establish personal integrity while extending a reputable name to the overall astrological vocation and community).
- Repeatedly receiving errors in client birth data, partially as a result of not being allowed to directly receive and verify birth information from the client (as per store protocol). Note that not all stores have the same protocol, and, luckily, you might be placed in an establishment that permits initial interaction. The reason some stores do not want you to initially speak to the actual client, however, is to maintain customer loyalty. Should the client decide to consult independently with the astrologer, naturally, the store earns less profit.
- Multiple texts throughout the week, in order to receive what is often either incorrect and/ or incomplete information. What appears to be a single day’s work in a shop, is in fact, considerably more time-consuming. Note that this is highly dependent on the organizational skills of store receptionists. This can (and has, in my experience) fluctuate accordingly.
- Receiving ‘encouraging’ news from clients such as, “They told me you didn’t need my birth stuff”. To be fair, note that this is rare, and has, in my experience, only happened thrice.
- Multiple amounts of free and/or significantly reduced-price readings are often expected from establishment owners. While it is considerate to remain flexible in pricing, especially with those lacking sufficient resources, evaluate the fairness of a free or reduced-price reading for someone who is more than monetarily capable of compensating your time.
- Do not expect a dialogue-based consultation. While astrology best works as a participatory dialogue, kindly accept that store clientele will have little to no knowledge of astrology, and can be rightfully skeptical. Be prepared to provide as much meaningful information as possible, anywhere from 30-90 minutes, depending on length of session. From my experience, your ability to delineate charts will always outshine any reservations, and usually, clients will gladly provide their feedback upon the completion of a session.
- Clients requesting to have friend(s), significant other(s), or family members join a session. Establish your ethical principles, and simply explain the confidential nature of consults. Likewise, keep in mind that if a session is cancelled (on the grounds of unethical principles, or anything else, really), and the establishment owner loses money, you might be met with repercussions.
- While unjust, your in-store promotion is highly dependent upon the level of profit you generate for the store. *Suggested by anonymous. This is probably an easy point to bypass, and is completely independent of your actual value (in terms of knowledge or integrity, an irrelevant antidote in the context of any profit-first establishment). Therefore, if your priority is performing an earnest job, this point is comparatively trivial. Clients refer friends and family based on their experience of your reading, which is all the promotion you truly need.
- Your in-store promotion depends on your hierarchical level within the store. If you’re not sycophantic, expect a more challenging experience. Working in a crystal store is essentially one part Mean Girls and one part Rosemary’s Baby.
- Potential clients with the intention of scheduling a consult with you can be ‘advised’ to replace your session with that of another reader. *Suggested by anonymous. Unless you work in these establishments daily as a salesperson, you have little control over your promotion and, as a result, can be subject to potential clientele loss.
Because of the lack of substantial evidence regarding the following point, I had initially chosen to omit it from this article. However, having experienced this multiple times (often alongside fellow co-workers who are now deciding to remain silent and/or anonymous), I feel obliged to mention the following possibility:
- Sometimes (hopefully this is one aspect of the ‘lightworker’ experience that most astrologers will not find pertinent), the more highly competitive ‘spiritual’ co-workers you’re amassed with will perform magickal attacks of the offensive variety in order to deter your progress. *This point is reaffirmed by multiple anonymous contributors. Here, you can choose to remain on the defense, and try not to make waves (ie., strictly adhere to your weekly schedule). However, should you become an ambulatory dollar bill in the eyes of the vendor by amassing considerable store profit, expect to be inquired about your dormancy. In other words, while the vendor offers you more hours, events, and lectures, should your co-workers perceive this as threatening, prepare for astral warfare (if you’re in Miami, or other places where specific occult practices are quite popular, this possibility is substantially greater). As a result, weigh your options carefully, and perhaps consider that this environment is just as toxic a workplace as any other. The facade is the only difference, one that self-implodes rather quickly.
Practicing astrology via third-party vendors can often be a starting-point of necessity. The examples in this article are based on experiences and repetitive patterns encountered throughout the beginning course of my journey as an astrologer. While most of the technical issues can be appeased, make no mistake: this is a surprisingly competitive environment, strictly fueled by money and greed. As humble advice, the best course of action is to work in these establishments temporarily (if you must), with the intention of making independent progress.
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