There are several aphorisms which state that one should not haggle over price or barter for anything which is to be used as a tool for magic or the craft. As an inveterate garage saler (which I have been practicing at least as long as I have been studying things occult and spiritual) I have a real problem with this 'rule'. I would like to share some thoughts which reflect my personal point of view about bartering.
First, the rule when applying to unethical use of psychic talents or 'occult' abilities, should stand. Using your 'superior will' or 'irresistible hypnotic eye' to coerce someone to selling to you at a better price, against their will or best interests shouldn't happen.
But, to have a blanket stricture against bargaining over price, may be overstating the case. Remember, Gardner and Co. were British Upper Class, which has culturally disdained 'those in trade', as being socially inferior. In America, our culture was consciously excised of those feelings, so our outlook is different.
In mainstream American culture, one can still bargain in one marketplace, in fact it is expected--that of the Automobile market. The fact that so many people are intimidated about buying a car probably stems from inexperience at bargaining. Also the perception of the unevenness of the abilities between buyer (amateur) and seller (professional salesperson) adds to the anxiety. Add to that a whole array of psychological ploys which play on cultural stereotypes and intimidation (Just who wears the pants in your family, anyhow?), and you have a set of phobias which have arisen from buyers anxiety.
Surprisingly, as competition between retail stores for consumer dollars has increased, some stores now accept limited bargaining. "We will meet or beat any competitor's price" is a form of bargaining. Just bring in their ad. Consumer reporters have even been known to advocate offering less on sale or clearance merchandise, or for last minute shopping (like just before the holidays). Some retailers are so interested in seeing it go out the door, they will willingly take less. And getting discounts on discontinued items or 'floor models' is another form of bartering. So bargaining exists in the mainstream marketplace. Would you insist on paying full price for a magical item, even though it was on sale in a retail store? Of course not.
Intent is everything here. If you bargain as a way to feel psychologically superior (hey I really got the best of that guy), you are probably being unethical. However, if you enter into the spirit of the thing, you are not out of line.
If you really want the thing, but honestly feel the price is too high, then I wholeheartedly recommend you politely make an offer. The worst they can do is say "no". If you garage sale, you know the phenomenon where a person will charge ridiculous prices for mediocre stuff, and not come down one cent in price. But you still have the right to ask if they will take less, and your ultimate right is to not buy if the price is outrageous. You, too, can 'just say no'. My feeling is, if the Gods want you to have it, you will find a way.
Personally, time and again, I have been to sales where a thing I wanted was overpriced and the seller would not take my offer. Then I would politely say, well I just can't make that price and move on. And, if I really needed it, or really wanted it and was 'playing by the rules', sooner or later I would find the same item, or a better one, at a better price. Ethics have their rewards. And I always silently say a heartfelt 'thank you' to the Gods whenever I come across a particularly good buy.
I have lived by these ethical bargaining rules for many years and have never failed to see reward. When I would refuse to buy out of pure cheap meanness, I might end up with a dry spell. Or if I were just haggling to save a few pennies I might have reverses. But when I went with feelings of respect and reverence for the process and the players, I would invariably come away with real bargains.
You also develop 'instincts' for bargains. I got so I could literally 'smell' a bargain, and when I acted on those hunches and dug a bit or gave a garage another look, I would invariably find the hidden treasure. THAT use of psychic talents is certainly ethical. Sometimes items become hidden in the clutter, and if the person wants to sell it, and you can 'divine' that there is something neat you have missed, by all means, go for it.
Remember, haggling was a common practice of the folk of old. And one person's trash is another person's treasure.
I have gotten some of my best magical items from garage sales. These items I keep and use and treasure, and have never felt 'bad vibes' or a 'lessening of the power' because I might have bargained over price. With magic, Intent is everything, and when I was polite and respectful, I invariably was rewarded for my actions.
So there are some of my thoughts on bargaining over magical items. I know from personal experience it can be done successfully. As long as both buyer and seller feel satisfied with the transaction, then no harm has been done.
© 1995, 2002 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.
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