on “success rates” and “guarantees”

I will freely admit that I have not always made myself popular in all the internet conjure-folk magic-and-hoodoo-oriented places.  Part of that is because I have a low tolerance for bullshit, especially when it’s bullshit couched in directive, authoritative language. Part of it is because I am a professional educator by formal education and training — I teach college students in my day job — and I am (perhaps too deeply) invested in critical thinking, honest qualifiers ("I was taught" versus "it is this way and anybody who says otherwise is a poser/liar/fake") and sufficient theoretical grounding.  Part of it is because I don’t always take enough time to reread what I’ve written before I send it out on internet forums, and I have thus – often quite unintentionally – pissed people off, which is even worse given my degree in Communication 😮  (when I am directly gunning for someone, they know it.  I very, very rarely set out to do this, though. Usually it’s a communication misfire, and part of that is that I do in fact have a temper.  I’m not alone in this, but I do own it as something that has occasionally gotten the better of my best intentions).

I am prefacing this post with the above because I am fairly sure it’s going to piss some people off. But I have had some very cordial and very educational disagreements with a number of colleagues and acquaintances, and I choose to have faith that any disagreement I get on this will be ultimately instructive.  Collegial would be nice, but ultimately educational will do. (Bottom line: I can disagree with someone on a matter of theory and/or practice and still have a great deal of respect for them as a person and even a practitioner.  Really.)

So here’s a question that’s not quite frequently asked, but is asked often enough, and has important enough implications, for me to post it here.

Q: something along the lines of "What is your success rate?"

A:  Success rates vary depending on the type of case, how well the client follows instructions, the details of the case, and also on a definition of success.  The whole business of advertising success rates is usually a mark of a scam artist.  I would never hire anyone who had "93% success rate!" on their card or flyer, because that is by definition a shady statistic.  But let me give you an example of why/what I mean, so you don’t think I’m being evasive. For instance, tonight I sent a very long email to a client who is adamant that she wants breakup work on her ex and his new lover to help her reconciliation case.  I read for her, and saw that while she might get the breakup accomplished, she was not likely to get it on the timeline she wanted – it was going to be slow work and there wasn’t going to be a decisive blowup but rather a steady, slow erosion of trust.  Furthermore, I saw that she was not likely to get her ultimate goal – the reconciliation – even if the breakup did work according to her wildest dreams.  I asked her to think some questions and issues over, and I told her I would consider doing the work if a number of things were addressed, not least of which was being willing to set a time limit, and the underlying idea being her emotional and psychic health first and foremost.  I work from a fairly Hippocratic place, ethically – if a work will ultimately help the client, I may undertake it even if I am pretty darned sure it won’t accomplish what they want it to accomplish.  If a breakup spell helps this client finally get closure – even in the form of having her ex tell her he has definitively moved on and to stop calling him – then I may undertake it with the larger goal of closure in mind.  The client has not hired me yet to do the breakup work, but I know her and this type of case well enough to tell you, with certainty, that she will not consider the work a success if she does hire me for it, because she is not going to get what she wants when she wants it.

I have another client who hates spiritual baths. I have read for her repeatedly.  I strongly recommend a 7 day course of spiritual cleansing baths.  She won’t do them; they’re too much trouble and she doesn’t believe she needs to be spiritually cleansed.  I have told her that if she doesn’t, then her chances of success with the love-drawing work she’s itching to do will be much, much lower.  The success rate is largely in her hands.  Will I do the love drawing work even if she doesn’t take the baths?  Probably, because it won’t harm her.  And also, I’m not perfect.  My own work has surprised me plenty of times.  But if she comes back in three months and has had no lasting results, and again wants me to repeat the work and again won’t do the spiritual cleansing, I probably *won’t* do the love drawing work again, because my cards are telling me it will be a waste of her money, and while she’ll probably find somebody else to do the work (workers waiting to reconcile lovers in 48 hours with a 99% success rate are very, very easy to find on the internet and in the classifieds), I won’t keep taking a client’s money if I don’t genuinely believe that my work is helping them.  You can read about why one such similar spell failed by following the "reconciliation" tags. For what it’s worth, the person that spell was for emailed me last week and asked for assistance on another issue. She and the ex never did get back together, but now, four years later, they are both in new relationships, and she is still my client.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of why I’m allergic to the question of "success rates." There is no such thing as a number or percentage.  It’s like asking a family doctor for his success rates – so much depends on stuff that that question doesn’t allow to be considered, and the job of a rootworker is more like that of a country doctor general practitioner than a lawyer or a boxer.  I can tell you I have done thousands of tarot readings and hundreds of protection spells, and I have clients who have been my clients for more than ten years.  I also have reading clients who got one reading and never came back and I have no idea why. And I have rootwork clients who dislike me – sometimes for my bluntness, as I’m sure you can imagine if you actually read my blog 🙂 , sometimes because the work didn’t do what they wanted it to do or because it did nothing at all, sometimes because I refused to take their cases, the list goes on!

And then there’s the fact that the slight majority of clients simply never report back (though this depends on the type of work – folks who set lights for people get a larger percentage of "drop ins" with no extensive info and no followup than do folks who mostly do, say, honey jars or court cases.  I personally think rootworkers who advertise a success rate are displaying fairly unethical behavior for these reasons, and I would be extremely suspicious of any worker who advertised a success rate with a number attached to it.

Miss Bri at Milagro Roots has a valuable post on timing in spellwork, and how to gauge success within certain passages of time.  I wholeheartedly agree with her that "a reasonable amount of time" depends a lot on what type of working you are doing; some types of spellwork will manifest more quickly than others (healing a family wounded by generations of abuse will not happen in three days, three weeks, or three months, but an empathic and intuitive reader will be able to help you see the bigger picture and conceive of what progress in such a complicated case would look like).

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