Here’s some real talk: shit costs money. This is true with your spirit dealings as well.
Historically, money has been used in multiple cultures as offerings to spirits. (Also, historically paying the people who dealt with spirits, such as practitioners, was and still is a thing.)
However, it’s not always about the amount of cash you can put out. Trading expensive goods is also something that’s often used. Are you giving that expensive alcohol as a gift – or a bribe? Or is it really for services rendered on your behalf?
Offerings are made for a lot of reasons. They can be made from a place of love or fear. As a perfunctory action to something you’re excited to share. There’s lots of reasons to give offerings. It’s not necessarily part of a commerce-based action. You can simply do it to please the spirit or deity you’re with.
But, what about commerce? What about actions made that are not an offering? How do you trade with spirits? How does money work in the astral? To be honest, it’s not that much different with how money works here.
Commerce isn’t always going to be based on coins or paper money. In fact, most of the time, it isn’t. If you’re operating in a territory controlled by a specific ruler, that territory may offer currency, like any country would. But that currency will probably be worthless outside of that territory.
Trading services or items is probably one of the easiest ways to get something. Can you draw? Suggest that. Can you cast a spell or create a magical item? Did you find a pretty astral stone or grow a particular herb in your astral home’s garden? Try that as a means of trade.
Of course, you can always trade information. Information is, almost always, the most appreciated sort of currency. Tell someone where to a particular river, give directions to someone, mention where you last saw a particular spirit. Even gossip and rumors have their own weight and merit. Best of all, you can use the same information gained with different people and some people will pay very highly for information. The more desperate they are for that information, the more you can charge. It’s a very good idea to keep an eye on what kind of information you have to share and how much that’s worth to some people.
Another option is to get a job. This probably is the least liked option but is certainly going to get you what you want. If you do take on a job for someone, be sure that your terms are agreed upon in a very plain fashion. You will do X for Y and that’s it. Courier is a very popular job for dreamers and spirit walkers like us. You can also be a freelancer of any skill you’re good at or even a mercenary. The tie-less kind of jobs are quite suitable for us as we aren’t consistently able to access the astral.
If you have you own territory or home, you can grow, make, rent, or create something there to sustain yourself. Maybe you’ll grow herbs or you have the only water for miles. You could be the only person in the area that can heal or has light or a safe place to sleep at night. Trade for these commodities and go from there.
You can also see if a local spirit has work for you to do. Working under the service of a spirit ruler or any spirit will be like working in you regular day job. The only exception is the work will probably be different and there probably isn’t a lot of rules in place. Make sure that you know your rights and how to get out of the job if you no longer want it. You can even make agreements to when your job ends if you don’t want it with the person that hires you right off the bat. Help yourself and make these demands and agreements at the start so you don’t have to worry about it later.
You can also make agreements to do something in the physical realm for the spirit. This works very well for us and it’s utterly unique to use dreamers and spirit walkers. Spirits can’t do this for one another usually so it gives us a unique advantage. However, I’ve found that the more you pay attention to a spirit while in this realm, the more control they have over this realm. For example, if a spirit asks you to make them a shrine in the woods and some kids find that shrine, it may give that spirit more power here because more people believe in them. It’s hit or miss as some spirits don’t work in the manner.
There’s pros and cons to each of these methods. You’ll have to talk to people and have a good grasp of people in order to trade information. Working under a spirit ruler may gain you some enemies because of your association but you’ll probably also be under their protection. Grow herbs to sell and you’ll have to actually, you know, grow them. Weigh your options before you decide what to do.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to make trades and arrangements in front of a third neutral party. There are even mediator spirits you can hire for this specific purpose. But, anyone can serve as a third part. These third parties will verify the agreement of the trade (or whatever) and if one side of it is broken, then actions can be taken.
There are also spirits that work like money lenders or even currency exchange. These spirits will vary wildly in temperament so you might wind up dealing with a very nasty spirit or someone who is a complete sweetheart. Currency exchange will usually have a direct price – you bring 8 X and get 5 Y. The spirit making the exchange will take a small percentage of the trade for their own payment.
Keep in mind that breaking promises or agreements is considered extremely bad. Note, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a loophole to your advantage. Faeries are really the experts at this – they won’t do something outright against the agreement but they will find every loophole ever and use it instead.
Theft is an additional problem to remember. Items, even those in the astral, have energy and some people – even some practitioners – can track that energy like a bloodhound. So if you steal something and someone is skilled in tracking energy, they could hunt you down.
Not everything you can trade or do will be useful so cultivating many skills or keeping items around like some pack-rat RPG hero can help you figure out exactly what to offer at the time.
It’s tricky to get the hang of so don’t be surprised if you get up getting proverbially robbed during a deal. It happens. Live and learn. Like in real life, it takes time and practice to develop a good system of deal-making.
Why should you jump through all these hoops? Well, not everyone can create everything in the astral. And some items require knowledge to create that you don’t have. It also fosters relationships within the community. Plus, some things are just easier to buy than make.
The astral is a truly fantastic place and spirits of all kinds exist there. Some will have wildly different ideas of what’s useful or worth currency. Ask questions politely and you’ll probably do just fine.