“If anyone says that a man or woman must reap in this life according to his present deeds, in that case there is no religious life, nor is an opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of sorrow. But if anyone says that what a man or woman reaps in this and future lives accords with his or her deeds present and past, in that case there is a religious life, and an opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of a sorrow.” (Anguttara Nikaya)
Although it is stated in the Dhammapada that “not in the sky, nor in mid-ocean, or entering a mountain cave is found that place on earth where one may escape from (the consequences of) an evil deed”, yet one is not bound to pay all the past arrears of one’s Karma. If such were the case emancipation would be impossibility. Eternal recurrence would be the unfortunate result. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm
When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate. Jung
(The above quotes, I will admit, adhere to more of a Jainism concept of Karma in which free will, added to the past and spun into the present, creates a more balanced view of checks and balances. Way less Hindu than the norm. But, then, I’m not actually Buddhist. Very few folks who throw around the word “karma” actually ascribe to Buddhist spirituality.)
Ever notice that when someone else’s life goes array they holler foul? Call upon Karma to straighten someone out? Yup. Me, too. The strange thing about Karma is that it does not allow for someone else to be injured unless they earned the injury, either in this life or the past one(s). Let’s have a little chat about Karma, witch style, shall we?
Alrighty then. Imagine that Witch X decides to curse Witch A. Now, Witch A is happily tending her garden, raising her younguns, and variously enjoying some fine, down-home Karma of late. Witch X has cast upon her and her family in a vengeful fit of rage–ah, but she has not considered “destructive” (aka UPAGHATAKA) Karma: that which can intercede and lay a flying arrow into the ground. While there might be some temporal disturbance for Witch A (a feeling of foreboding and such), the ultimate vengeance does not land and therefore has no power–except on Witch X. Boomerang syndrome, anyone? Now. Remembering that we have free will, Witch X may then attempt more. She/he may attempt any number of muggle asshattery that can temporarily cause some discomfort for Witch A. However. If Witch A has done her shadow work, has atoned for her past deeds, has extricated herself from people and situations that were poisonous to her soul? Intercession. Every single time. Does this mean that every time something horrible happens to you that you deserve it?
Well, staying with this Buddhist concept, yes and no. Classic Karma theories hold that we answer to reproductive karma–that of our ancestors–as well as past lives and present actions. It depends. And this is where I break from the Buddhist concept. (Luckily, I am not Buddhist.) Maybe.
So, when a little girl is horribly raped–some monster enacted karma (action verb) upon an innocent, we are to assume that she asked for it? Her parents? Her great-grandmother? This equation doesn’t hold neatly. According to Buddhist (Jainism) philosophies, every soul may do evil to another. According to Cherokee law: that monster just broke sacred energy. Stay with me. It’s only a mindfuck if you are strictly Buddhist. Personally? I’m a witch. Let’s forge further:
Another little scenario I’ve witnessed too often of late: Someone catches a cold. Their “enemy” hollers Karma! Kay. Except that the cold just strengthened their immune system, thereby sustaining their health through the winter when the flu hits. Or, try this one: Some bad farmer turns you into the IRS. The incompetent witch (the one who dialed the 1-800 number) hollers Karma! Except, you file a Schedule C and end up getting back more money than you originally extracted from the government. Or, someone accuses you of breaking the law and spreads it all over your community. Except, the accuser has broken that particular law over and over and you (in actuality) did not. They get arrested, their community finds them to be rather monstrous and you walk away–a bit bruised–but relieved that their threats have finally met the dirt.
See the pattern yet? Hang in there.
Now. Imagine that all of that happens to you within a month. You are angry. You are justified. Do you retaliate? Hell, no. Your Karma meter is ticking. And honey-chile? It’s in the black, not the red. The hardest part of working within the system of Karma is being still. Very, very still. Why?
Because, Batchildren. You are gaining good Karma. Wait . . . what’s this? You aren’t satiated by an almost pseudo-Christian justice system? Sigh. I reckon you aren’t Buddhist. (Confused yet?)
Now. Within the Cherokee Nation, there was this lovely concept (law?) called Blood Revenge. Most folks who research hard enough will find: 1. It was outlawed on September 11th, 1808. (Yes, I see it.) Most of us also know that Cherokee seers continue to enact it magically when and where absolutely necessary.
Abolishment of the Law of Blood Revenge by the Cherokee National Government on September 11, 1808Be it known, That this day, the various clans or tribes which compose the Cherokee Nation, have unanimously passed an act of oblivion for all lives for which they may have been indebted, one to the other, and have mutually agreed that after this evening the aforesaid act shall become binding upon every clan or tribe, and the aforesaid clans or tribes, have also agreed that if, in future, any life should be lost without malice intended, the innocent aggressor shall not be accounted guilty.Be it known, also, That should it happen that a brother, forgetting his natural affections, should raise his hands in anger and kill his brother, he shall be accounted guilty of murder and suffer accordingly, and if a man has a horse stolen, and overtakes the thief, and should his anger be so great as to cause him to kill him, let his blood remain on his own conscience, but no satisfaction shall be demanded for his life from his relatives or the clan he may belong to.By order of the Seven ClansSource: Seven Clans of the Cherokee Society by Marcelina Reed
Therefore, no longer is the Law enacted formally by a whole clan–on paper. Malice seems to hold a certain qualifier in this order, as does the strong hand of the English. However: the Cherokee left a chunk of guilt upon an aggressor with malice. (I truly love this omission.) So, how does this fit into the concept of Buddhist Karma?
I reckon it doesn’t. And this is where we were headed, all along.
Let’s break it down carefully, shall we?
1. Buddhist Karma dictates that every bad thing that happens to you, regardless of malice, is of your own (or your ancestors’) doing.
2. Cherokee law dictates (today) that no revenge shall be taken if the offense was not committed in malice. No clan shall demand (of their own hand) satisfaction. This leaves an awesome gap in which to ask for intercession. Divinely speaking. (This revision in law was, I remind you, under duress.)
3. Celtic law was Clan law and held to similar principles.
4. We can get intercession, whether it be from Karma or from muggle asshattery, if we deserve it.
5. Most of us are not, in fact, Buddhist.
(See where we’re headed yet?)
It seems to me that witches, historically both good and evil, have reappropriated the Law of Karma without taking on the methodology or the sacrificial life. (Yes, yes, I know. The threefold law. Whatever. I do not think enough witches research the difference.) I contend, and am willing to lose readers for it, that we are not the average Joe. We are not muggles. We are witches. And we damn sure know the difference between the Universe slapping our ass and Witch X enacting asshattery in the mundane world. In that moment, he/she is not a witch. That’s an asshat with a personality disorder and a serious overdeveloped sense of vengeance. Not Karma, not hooga booga: ASSHATTERY. (Which, entertainingly enough, does cause a micro-cosmological disturbance in their own little magical worlds. Ahem.) They have, through “malicious” action, put forth a very real evil on this plane–and that’s when the tables turn. That’s when the Ancient Laws come into effect. That, my friends, is when you are released from your Gandhi mountain.
“Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman.”
Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad
I contend that the Buddhist Laws of Karma do not neatly fit that of Witchdom. I contend that we often are called upon to “intercede” for ourselves and our loved ones upon this earthly plane. I contend that, while our energy fields may hold scars of past lives and ancestral wrong doings, we are capable of cleaning our consciences through living well and doing well. But I also contend that sometimes a body gotta take out the trash. Anything else is victimhood. Which, in a mindfuck sorta way, equals bad Karma.
I know this post is long. Hang in there. I haven’t gone Southern on you yet. Be still.
Ever notice the natural order of things when some belligerent force shows up and shakes it all down? What looks like chaos, at first, often has some sort of Divine purpose. Let me tell you a story.
I was suffering through cleaning houses to support and feed my three babies, round about 1997. Many of those folks were fine, hard-working good souls beaten down by dual shifts at sock factories and were splurging 30 bucks to have me show up on a Friday and make their tired bones sing at rest. One, however, was the wife of a dentist: bleach-blond, double-D boobs recent enough to look strange, high heels even on a Tuesday and that orange-baked tanning bed hue that made her diamonds look like sugar cubes against a pumpkin sky. One afternoon, I was on my knees just a scrubbin’ and sweatin’ and thinking about how my milk came in for my baby ‘ary time I hit all fours, him lonely at a day care, me lonely on Italian tile, when she sauntered into the room and made a phone call over me. She bantered back and forth, keeping her eyes on my back the whole time, about her furs being properly transferred on dry ice to the Poconos. When she hung up, clicking her perfect nails on the granite counter, she spoke these words to me:
“I’m so grateful that I don’t have to live like you, hunkered down like that. Why, that would just ruin my posture.”
The floor literally vibrated under my scrub brush. And I said: “May you never have to do so–lessen you deserve it.”
Three weeks later, her hubby done run off with the secretary to Australia, leaving her destitute and her back a little bent. Last I heard, she was scratching out a living on a stripper pole and living in the projects. Did I do that? Maybe. Could I have done it if she didn’t deserve it?
No fucking way.
“Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly ‘s done, when the battle ‘s lost and won”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Y’all, in the end it’s about balance. Justice always is. Are we omnipotent to the point of danger? Hell, naw. What folks outa worry about is this:
Do they deserve it? Does our Big Momma listen to our cries under the weight of onslaught? May we seek divine intervention? Are we the intercessors to our own Karma?
I don’t know about y’all, but ten years later I held a doctorate. And a man who would never leave me. And a nice patch of maters. And a Tribe that has grown and loved each other and held onto their olden ways for five solid years. Gotta love that kind of justice. All dirty and sticky and firm-like.
Recently, I’ve had another situation arise (well, never really laid down, but who’s counting) and decide that my back looks fine bent down like that. I reckon that’s the only way my milk comes in anymore.
“When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to.Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
I reckon it’s time for my scrub brush to vibrate a floor. And if you, like me, have been bent just a smidge too long under the whip of someone’s tomfoolery and shenanigans, or worse, maliciousness, remember these words. Say them out loud. Let them shimmy the floor beneath your bloody knees:
We are Divine. We are the Intercessors to our own Karma.
We are Witches.
May our aggressors find something more entertaining to do. But if they don’t, may they enjoy the back of our brooms. (I’ve heard it’s quite the view from land.)