Questions you’ve asked on Things You’ve Read: karma

Q: I read that if you take a spell from someone else and use it, you are sharing in the karma from the person who wrote that spell.

A:  Seriously?!  You read that?!  Good lord, stop going to that website.  That’s utter bollocks, sorry. In fact, most anything said by most contemporary neopagans about karma is utter bollocks, sorry to say. And this bit about a spell’s karma is about the height of absurdity in a vast sea of absurd stuff written about karma by folks who don’t have even a third-rate education in religion but are still gonna try to talk about it. And the information is out there, free for all, since we have libraries and the internet. Yet people can’t even be bothered to learn before they go spreading bullshit about a concept that comes from a major world religion adhered to by millions of people right this very second.

“Hmm, I could study this before I open my mouth, or I could just repeat whatever I saw on tumblr.  What a dilemma.” (cue Jeapordy theme)

First of all, karma doesn’t even work like that.  Karma has to do with ethics, action, and volition; it has to do with intention. A set of written instructions has no karma. It cannot serve as a vector for someone else’s karma. Karma is not mana or juju from a roleplaying game where an object or even a speech act accrues it or absorbs it, and it’s not a separate energy that two people could divide between them or share.

And even if a spell (or cake recipe, or auto repair manual) had or could transmit karma, the most fundamental principles of karma would dictate that the same recipe could be followed by two different people with two different ethical results depending on an extremely complex interplay of factors. In other words, two different people can take the same action — like using the same spell or pinching a baby or throwing a jellyfish back in the water — and have two different karmic results from it.

Second of all, and most importantly for our purposes here, karma has no place in traditional conjure. You are welcome to believe in it. Heck, you are even welcome to believe in the new-age bastardized Western version of it that modern neopagans will feed you when they relate it to the Wiccan Rede or so-called Rule of Three or whatever.  (It has nothing to do with either one of those things.)

What you can’t do is import that into your conjure work and call it traditional hoodoo. It’s not traditional hoodoo and it’s also not a traditional Eastern view of karma.  People will say things like, “you can’t deny the rule of karma any more than you can deny the law of gravity,” and that is just plain wrong. There are so many problems with that analogy it’s hard to know where to start.

But you can’t even begin to conceive of how karma works until you’ve taken reincarnation into account. (If you don’t believe in reincarnation, stop using the word “karma.” What you’re talking about isn’t karma – it’s some shit somebody made up.)

Presuming that karma=”as you sow, so shall you reap,” and that all the sowing and reaping happens within a short, predefined period of time in which you are an observer for the whole thing unfolding (like your single lifetime) is just preposterous. Karma does NOT mean “I was mean to the guy who asked me to prom, so when I am in college, I will get dumped/stood up/whatever and that is my karma.”  It does not mean “I will reap the rewards of good action in this lifetime” or “If i cast a ‘black magic’ spell, it will return on me.”  That is just ridiculously oversimplified.

Karma is far too complex a concept for me to explain briefly in a blog post, esp. when that blog is dedicated to the concepts, theory, and practice of hoodoo and karma has no place in traditional hoodoo. It is difficult for me to say anything about karma without drastically oversimplifying it; it is an extremely complex concept.  But I will note that the idea of “This bad or good thing happens in this life because of my bad or good actions in this life; what I reap is a result of what I sow in the present” — and this is essentially what people are saying when they try to apply karma to the practice of spellwork — is explicitly refuted in Buddhist teachings.  In fact, the teachings are explicit that one is NOT required to “repay” all the past “debt” of one’s karma; to proclaim otherwise is to deny the possibility of emancipation. In the Anguttara Nikaya, III.101 (Lonaphala Sutta), is written:

  • Monks, for anyone who says, ‘In whatever way a person makes kamma, that is how it is experienced,’ there is no living of the holy life, there is no opportunity for the right ending of stress. But for anyone who says, ‘When a person makes kamma to be felt in such & such a way, that is how its result is experienced,’ there is the living of the holy life, there is the opportunity for the right ending of stress. – trans. Thanissaro Bhikkhu

And here is another translation:

  • O priests, if anyone says that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is no religious life, nor is any opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of misery. But if anyone says, O priests, that the reward a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is a religious life, and opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of misery. — trans. Henry Clarke Warren, in Sacred Writings: With Introductions and Notes, Charles William Eliot, ed., P.F. Collier & Son, 1910.

You might have to read this more than once for the distinction that is being made here to sink in. And you really probably have to read it in its larger context, which is why I’ve cited my sources and linked to versions you can get to and read yourself.  And reading in the larger context would rightfully include reading the Buddhist works to which the above words were a response, such as tracts that lay out karma as a strict series of cause and effect (eg, a man who steals grain will be reborn as a rat; it is this simplistic view of karma as strict cause and effect that Buddha was objecting to).

You must also understand that this is my understanding from my study and I do not speak for all Buddhists or Hindus etc. I have, however, made a rather more than typical effort at understanding what is meant by karma, since my parents gave me this name and I began making study of it by the age of 5. But you should certainly study and read for yourself. You shouldn’t take the word of ANY random internet person on this matter.  Karma is an important concept in an important religion on the planet you live on. You should know what it is.

But if your interest in this is only as a student of hoodoo or some other type of folk magic, then this is your main takeaway point: conjure has nothing to do with karma, at least not as it is typically understood in the West by modern-day neopagans (or by anyone with just a quick, surface understanding they’ve absorbed from popular culture). For that matter, most of what you’ll see on Pinterest or random blogs to do with witchcraft has nothing to do with karma, not really. It has to do with the ethics of some — not all — contemporary witches and pagans, and some — not all — of those folks are trying to turn it into some universal law, which is just utter bullshit. It’s such a profoundly wrong view it’s astonishing to me how it keeps getting circulated and then keeps getting *even worse.* (20 years ago, someone would tell you doing a compelling spell was bad karma and it would come back on you. Now, they’ll tell you it will come back on you *three times.* Or 7! or 21! rofl, wtf even is that? You can believe that if you want, but don’t call it karma ffs.)

And by the same token, the idea that there is such a spell that could give someone karma or have some effect on their karma is totally, completely absurd. That’s just such an imprecise use of the term “karma” that it’s rendered totally meaningless.

Even the general definition you will see in dictionaries, of karma as meaning that every action will return to the doer with equal impact, is a vastly oversimplified reduction that is, in many Eastern religious literary contexts, actually *wrong.* Let’s just take the context of that passage I quoted above, so a Buddhist one, and let’s run with that analogy of sowing and reaping.

While it is true that a man reaps the seed he plants, it is not only his conscious action that has a bearing on what he reaps. There is also the quality of the seed; the choice of seed; the inherent intellect of the man from birth that influences his understanding of planting; the education of the man during life that influences his understanding of planting (and the karma of his parents has an effect on all of these things); the moral disposition behind the planting of the seed (if any); the desire that informs the action of the planting (if any); the type of ground in which the seed is planted; the effects of weather patterns, soil quality, rainwater, irrigation, and environmental predation; whether he afterwards pulls out the weeds and waters the crop; etc.

Karma is important, but so are birth, personality, effort and intention, time and conditions, beauty and ugliness. If one sows a seed for good but later repents of that good, there is no good that recurs to him as a result of that sowing. If one sows a seed with no desire at all, that action has no karma. That’s how two people can perform the same action with two different karmic outcomes.

In any event, you should not presume that with limited human temporal understanding, you will have the slightest grasp of what causes and effects are at work in your life or the life of someone else. The overwhelming majority of us cannot hold on to a sufficiently enlarged perspective long enough and often enough to be able to *really get* all the intricate interplay across lifetimes and among families, etc.

In short, do not let someone give you a one-sentence or one-paragraph definition of karma.  If you want to understand it, don’t accept some modern Western, pre-digested version of it. Study it for yourself in context.

If you are not willing to do that, fine, then just drop it. It doesn’t fit conjure, which largely has its roots in a mostly traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. It doesn’t fit Wicca, which is actually way more conservative and old-fashioned about this matter than a lot of religions. It doesn’t fit anything as a “universal law.” Don’t take some half-baked crap and try to apply it to a religion, worldview, culture, or practice that has never heard of it. To do is insulting to conjure, insulting to Buddhism, and insulting to the intelligence.

on “bulsh*t” spells, scams, “impossible” magic, consultations, and budget spellwork

More questions I've gotten…

Q: "so i came across your site and ive been scammed several times [etc, snipped, the usual]  so i want to know if your legit and if you can take me serious than others and help me . if there is a spell you kno or ritual to grow taller to the height i wish too grow." 

A: Sweetie, there is no such thing as a spell to make you grow taller (or grow your body parts, or be irresistible to any person ever and always no matter what, or to reunite lovers in 24 hours guaranteed, or to get a vampire demon lover, or to get a ring with a wish-granting genie in it, or any of that other sounds-to-good-to-be-true stuff you can get on ebay), and anybody who tells you that they can make you grow taller with magic is lying to you (and making six times the money I make, because I won't prey on people who don't know better). Magic simply does not work that way.

There ARE spells to work on your personal presence, your self-esteem, the way you carry yourself and the way you appear to
others, your sense of mastery and confidence, your physical health and strength, etc.  If you are young and have not finished growing, there are ways you can focus on maintaining the peak of health and maximizing your potential. But if you are done growing, you are done growing.  If you have a medical condition and/or are undergoing medical treatments to effect your physical stature, there is work that can be done to boost the skill and wisdom of your physicians and keep your own health and receptivity at top levels.  Aside from that, you are looking for something that exists only in Harry Potter books and such.  And you should run, not walk, away from anyone who would prey on your naivete and desire in order to profit on it by promising to do something that is in violation of the basic principles of magic.

Same family as an earlier one I got this month:

Q: "what oil will make me beter looking and grow my penis?"

A: No product will increase your penis size or physically change your features, and most of the people who advertise that kind of thing are better at writing advertising copy than casting spells.  But there are spells that will boost your confidence, charisma, sex appeal, and aura of glamour, and many products in those lines, when used as body products, also are good for hair, nails, alluring scents, complexion, or stuff like that too, depending, and with a well-designed spell, will change the way you project yourself and the way people perceive you.  Buying a bottle of oil itself isn't going to do it, but you could build a simple, "pre-night-out" attraction/grooming ritual with candles, oils, and powders with things in the Attraction, John the Conqueror, Samael, Rubeus, Kaliprix, Kiss Me Quick, or Follow Me Girl/Boy type families, depending on what you're after.

Q: I read a spell site that said no real spellcaster would charge for curse removal, so how can you charge for curse removal?

A: You read one person's opinion.  If you want my opinion, here it is: what you read is judgmental, and frankly pretty ethnocentric and ignorant, and I say that no real, professional spellcaster who actually does this for a living would say something demonstrating such ignorance about the myriad magical/spiritual traditions that differ from – and probably significantly predate – their own tradition.  I don't know where you read it or what they do all day, but I do this for a living, and if I worked for free, I would not be able to do any work at all; I'd be closing up shop with a quickness.  The supplies I use cost money, no matter what type of spell I'm using them in, and I charge for my time and work, no matter what kind of work it is. I have to eat.  That doesn't make me unethical and it doesn't make me "fake." I just don't work for free – I'm not independently wealthy, and I charge for my time and work.

Now, if you are a customer or client or have been reading for a while, you already know that because I am a worker who also makes/grows most of her own product/product ingredients, and because I come from a rural background where we mixed up stuff with what we could get, not what was for sale at the drugstore with a hoodoo label on it, I am able to accommodate all kinds of budgets.  For clients who want to do their own spells, I do consultation sessions to coach them.  For clients who want to make their own oil or bath or the like, I will do consultation sessions to coach them too, and the "coaching session" is a path I recommend for clients who are hurting for money, because if you need me to stick to things you can get at the grocery store, i will.[*]  If you need to get uncrossed and you are broke, there IS help for you.[**]  However, this is not the same thing as my doing a full-blown Uncrossing ritual for free.

But I DO work with folks.  In fact, working with folks is what this is all about – being a professional worker is not about handing out "one size fits all" spells.  If you write me and want free advice, that is what you are going to get – a general recommendation for an approach that may be helpful for what you describe but may not be given any number of unknown factors that I can't look at (or, honestly, read a long email about) without a consultation.  But if you book a consult with me to talk about your case, you will get recommendations specific to your situation.  I tell folks all the time, when they ask "what is the best spell/product for me," that the best spell/product is the one they can and will use properly and that the case will be responsive to.  No point in me sending you some incense if you can't use it because you have asthma, or prescribing baths if you won't take them – nor in setting you up with Commanding work if the cards show that it will backfire, or with Reconciliation work if your case is hopeless.  But the bottom line is I do this for a living, which is part of what "professional" means. [***] 

Q: How do I avoid getting scammed by a fraud or unethical worker or reader?

Watch out for anybody who guarantees their work with a money-back refund.  Watch out for anyone who promises a 100% success rate.  Watch out for people who promise to reunite lovers within 24 hours.  Watch out for people who offer to do spellwork that fixes your problems with no effort on your part.  Watch out for anyone who offers to sell you a trapped wish-granting powerful sexy vampire genie for $100 that is bound to an antique ring that came from a voodoo priestess's house, or the pyramids in Egypt, or someone's dead great aunt who was a sorceress from Atlantis and/or related to Marie Laveau and/or the Salem witches, etc,  and who passed it down to the favorite grandchild (etc).  [Think – if you had that kind family heirloom, would you *sell* it?  And if magic were as easy as buying an enchanted item and never having to lift a finger, well, I wouldn't be working  🙂 ]  Watch out for someone who claims to be world-renowned psychic to the stars but who you can find no record of existence for that predates the one-month-old website.

Watch out for someone who never calls you on your shit.  If they think everything you propose is a great idea, all the time, and never give you another perspective, or make an alternate suggestion, or let you know that what you want is going to be hard to do, or suggest that you may have had some role in your breakup but encourage you to jump on the "everybody is out to get me" pity-party, then you may not have a fraud exactly, but you do have somebody who will flatter you to get your money and who will thus be of limited assistance in the big picture.  Now, it's possible that you may never get a reading or work done where this becomes an issue or where you'd even have a chance to see if this was happening – it depends on the nature of your case or issue.  And I"m certainly not saying your worker or reader should try to make you feel bad or small.  There is a real need for a reader / worker to be able to give you even bad news in such a way that it does not crush you or belittle you, or that is at least sensitive to the effects of the bad news.  That is not what i mean.  I'm talking about people who only ever tell you what you want to hear.

Watch out for anyone who judges all readers/workers of all paths by standards that are applicable only to a certain path or religion and says stupid things like "No ethical reader would ever recommend an uncrossing spell" or "no ethical worker would ever do hexing work" or "no ethical spellcaster would ever use animal bones" or "no real priest or priestess would ever charge money."  Those are ethics belonging to a few people, not everybody, and they are profoundly ignorant about and dismissive of/insulting to traditional Southern-style rootwork as well as many religions of the African diaspora.  How much somebody charges is not a reliable index of whether they are fake or not.  Whether they post their birth name and a physical address is not a reliable index.  Where they were born is not a reliable index.  Whether they have a psychic grandmother is not a reliable index. 

But there are quite a few things you can look for when searching for a reliable, ethical reader or worker.  Here's a page from Lucky Mojo outlining some common scams.  Here is the AIRR code of ethics, which I personally subscribe to as does every member of AIRR.  While there are good workers out there who may not susbscribe to every item on these lists exactly as written, a worker with any real experience should be able to outline some sort of code of ethics or terms or principles for you if you ask, so that you know where they are coming from — this may be outlined in a bio, or listed on an FAQ, or they may write about it less formally on their blogs or sites; the point is that you should be able to get some idea of where they are coming from somehow, either in something they've written and provide, or by asking them questions about how they work. 

Happy hoodooing!

_________________________________________

[*] This does not mean you can book a consultation and say "give me your formula for Fiery Wall of Protection" and I will go "Ok, here you are."  It means you approach me with a list of what you have and I tell you what of it you can use to make what you want.  Or you say "I need to make an inexpensive uncrossing formula with stuff I can get today, at the local market," and I will work with you, even if takes more than one trip to the grocery store or more than one email.

[**] Crossed conditions can be serious, and can prevent a person from getting ahead in all kinds of areas of life.  I will work with you to figure out some way for you to get back on your feet no matter what your budget (but seriously – between this blog, luckymojo.com, the lucky mojo forum and other forums run or hosted by real workers, and the blogs of all my colleagues that I have linked to, it is a question of a little bit of time spent researching.  You can get an uncrossing ritual with a few clicks, so it's not really reasonable to expect someone to do the research for you for free when you can do it yourself, you know?  But if you come to me with an idea already in mind and want to run an ingredient substitution by me, and you can send me a short, direct email, then I am likely to respond without your needing a consultation — if you are talking about a serious condition or emergency.  But not every desire merits reduced rate of pro-bono work.  If you are looking for Reconciliation, for instance, that is not an emergency – no matter how much you may feel like it is, sorry 🙂  Neither is lottery work. 

[***] The other part, in my opjnion, refers to ethics and bearing, as in "conducts self and business professionally," but that is 1. another post, and 2. hardly cut-and-dried, not open to interp, and not disputed at all in all circles.  Obviously the unnamed worker who said "no real spellcaster would charge for this" actually meant "no professional/ethical caster would, in my opinion and according to my code of ethics, charge for this."  How one charges has absolutely no direct, causal effect on whether or not one is capable of doing effective spellwork, though how and what one charges can sometimes be part of a matrix of warning signs.

I actually do take pro bono work, but you have to either be an existing client who I already know, be referred to me by another worker that I know, or get accepted as a pro bono client by the AIRR Pro Bono Fund and program, which I participate in.  The Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers, or AIRR, has a pro bono fund to help clients in dire straits who cannot afford to undertake work that they really genuinely *need.*  You can read more about it here.  If you send me an email out of the blue saying "Can you help me for free," you are going to get a form letter giving you some links, but you are not going to get a personal response. This is not because I'm mean and ugly – it's because I get about 50 emails a day from people "with just a quick question."  There is no such thing as "just a quick question" unless it is about work that is currently ongoing and contracted and therefore not you asking for free spell advice. 

A *great deal* depends on impressions here; folks who write simply assuming I will read a long, involved email and reply to them with personalized recommendations are likely to try my patience b/c they give me the impression they have no idea how this job works and are not able to put themselves into my shoes for a sec.  When in doubt, ask – a simple, to the point email saying "I have some questions about what product to use to get a promotion" will probably get a response saying "Great, go ahead."  If the next email is short and to the point, you will probably get a friendly response making suggestions.  If you send me a first email that is long and tells me the whole story about something and you want advice on that complicated relationship or job situation, you are going to get a form letter telling you how to book a consultation.  Bottom line : check your assumptions before writing, that's all! and ask before sending me a long complicated email, because it would be a shame if you spent all that time typing it and I don't read it.  I owe it to the clients who have booked consultations to get back to them ahead of new stuff, you know?  And those first two question on this post? I get fifty like them every day.  If you don't want to book a consultation, that's fine – I'll put your question in my queue of things to answer on the blog when I have a chance.

on breakup work; frequently asked questions

breakup work faqs cover 600 x 900 jpgThis post is part of the Rootwork Education series that I used to maintain on livejournal and am now updating and keeping here on WordPress. Work in progress.

Q: A client asks why I won’t often do breakup cases, and why I require a consultation before considering work like that.

A: In and of itself, I don’t have a moral problem with simply the fact that the couple is married or that a client is having a relationship with a married woman or man.  The issue of breaking up couples, particularly married couples, is complex and isn’t really necessarily about “preserving the sanctity of marriage no matter what” or any naive crap like that.  It’s about the fact that relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and that sometimes breaking up a couple will cause harm that is not justified in the bigger picture.  Let me give you some examples.

I have a client come to me to break up a married couple. The client is dating a married man and he kept on promising to leave his wife and never did. I do a divination that reveals that even if the couple were to break up, the guy still wasn’t likely to marry the client he’d been dating, which was what the client wanted.  And coaxing an early breakup in a marriage that was not quite ready to break up on its own causes problems that go far beyond the emotional state of the client who’s left out in the cold.  At the end of the day, I’m looking at work that will cause a lot of emotional turmoil for a lot of people, a lot of expense for a lot of people, and will still not result in a happy client.  That’s not justified work in my book.  There are such things as less-than-perfectly-happy married couples who nevertheless desire to stay married for any number of reasons.  That couple has to be taken into account as well as the client, especially if there are children or complicated financial/extended family concerns (one spouse’s insurance or job is helping pay for the other spouse’s parent’s hospice care or something like that).

A client wants a couple broken up because he thinks the relationship is the obstacle keeping him and his love interest apart or from being in the kind of relationship he wants them to be in. But the love interest has no desire to be in the kind of relationship the client wants to be in.  Breaking up the couple would not benefit the client.

A client wants a couple broken up and the couple is bound by religious marriage vows, which are essentially oaths.  Breaking up the couple means fighting against the religious oaths the couple took to each other.  This is a bad idea.  If one member of the couple indicated they were ready to get out of the marriage and just needed some help, then that might be a mitigating factor. But if that hasn’t happened, and the two people are not ready to completely break their oaths (even though they may very well be violating aspects of that oath), then the client is fighting an uphill battle.

There are many more examples. But hopefully that gives you an idea of why I have to do a consultations for stuff like this.  A consultation will get at what the issues are and give us space and time to talk about your case.  This will enable me to make better recommendations (for instance, the best route might be to draw a new lover to the other spouse so they let go with less fight, or to provide an unhappy spouse with the financial or emotional or medical or whatever things they need to be strong enough to leave the marriage).

Edit: Be sure to read the comments for some additional tidbits, as well.