Part Two: Dharma Versus Chaos Theory (The Divine Rite of Witches)

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Photo credit and all copyrights belonging to:

“The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.”
Slavoj Žižek

“Each smallest act of kindness, reverberates across great distances and spans of time –affecting lives unknown to the one who’s generous spirit, was the source of this good echo. Because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage, years later, and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.”
Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
Friedrich Nietzsche

I’m interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that appears to have no meaning.  It seems to me to be the road toward freedom.
Jim Morrison

After rushing through that last blog on Karma (after all, this is just a blog, not a book), I received quite a few “upset” responses.  After all, the threat of “karma gonna get you” is a hard one to let go–especially when what the speaker is (in fact) enacting a curse, predicated on a Buddhist principle, not predicting the future.  Calling a spade a spade is often too much to swallow, I reckon, but I’ll be damned if I’m backing up on account of discomfort.  And I am a lot of things, but chicken?  You got the wrong gal.  Let’s push further into this strange territory, shall we?

At first, I thought Part Two would deal with Dharma-that universal law of natural order and ethics.  But then, I’m only proving the obvious . . . and we’ve already agreed that I’m not Buddhist.  (Besides, I grow weary of repeating myself on this count.)  Rather, I feel like chewing the fat on something much more, um, chaotic.  Like: kairos.  And the Butterfly Effect.  (And how they are the same thing.)  Ready?

In yesterday’s blog, I brought up a strange form of Karma, in which Witch X had “not considered “‘destructive’ (aka UPAGHATAKA) Karma: that which can intercede and lay a flying arrow into the ground.”   It would follow, then, that this destructive Karma could also choose to intercede by assuring its mark.  Which way this turns out lies completely in chaos theory:  everything matters, nothing matters.  It is the perfect storm.  This is the one place that I am wholeheartedly in agreement with a Buddhist theory:  because it’s so intriguingly in line with the Greek concept of kairos.  (And much, much more in line with witchcraft.) In fact:

 “In archery, it refers to an opening, or “opportunity” or, more precisely, a long tunnel-like aperture through which the archer’s arrow has to pass. Successful passage of a kairos requires, therefore, that the archer’s arrow be fired not only accurately but with enough power for it to penetrate.” [1]

(Man, I love that last word.)  Can such a moment be divine?  Why, yes, Batchildren.  It certainly can.  If you understand the craft outside of religious strictures and more as that which science has yet to control.  There are too many of us out there still circumspectin’ on our magic as if it’s under some civilized doctrine.  And in the words of a wise old Southern witch I once knew:  It ain’t, chile.  We is Divine.  We is the hand of Her.  She don’t let just any ol body be dat.

A follower of this blog, whom I assume is also a friend of my heart, named Carrie wrote on my last entry that, at the end of the day, it’s about intent.  I firmly agree.  But, I heartily understand that most witches need to believe that something is out there, predetermining everything, hauling off the trash and deciding what’s for dinner.  Otherwise, all that responsibility falls heavy on our shoulders–this can feel rightly uncomfortable.  Carrie broke through that comfort and called it all out: we are the orchestrators of Kairos.  Hopefully, our intent is good . . . or at least, justified.  Which leads me to another little scientific/magical quandary:

The Butterfly Effect.

“Ideas [that] require people to reorganize their picture of the world provoke hostility.”
James Gleick, Chaos: The Making of a New Science 

I suppose that this “effect” could be classified as Dharma’s symptom, but I find it redundant.  There is, in fact, a (super?) natural order to this kind of chaos.  There are, in fact, administrators of this kind of chaos.  And there are, in fact, good and evil factions of their effects.  However, simply because we are wary of our own powers does not mean that we cannot come to grips with the discipline of them–but we can never truly predict their outcomes.  In my circles, we call this risk the “witch’s duh,” a phrase I coined four years ago in a conversation with an old friend.  And this is where it gets really weird.  (Don’t worry, the next blog will be about chicken, or sex, or anything y’all want.  Just let me get this off my C cups, kay?)  And I reckon this is where most folks think Karma is showing up, kicking ass and taking names.  But that’s not quite right.  Let’s tease this out with a story:

Samhain before last, I cast for land.  I gathered the dirt, was clear about the area, didn’t add too many qualifiers (screws the pooch, energy is very forthright and single-minded) and proceeded to align my psyche and my molecules in such a way that has insured success in the past.  And I forgot to say that I owned it.


And so, we found the perfect country house run by a perfect bitch who was firmly against any “worship” activities of a pagan.  Last Samhain, I re-cast to own the land.  We are signing tomorrow, but it wasn’t without a serious cost to something intangible that I held dear.  The Butterfly Effect.  (Faster than a speeding bullet–or at least, Karma–and damn cleaner in its chronology.  Respect.)

Or try this:

Several years ago, I cast to help someone with a questionable “situation.”  I did so according to the facts I was given, threw my lot down, and have been in muck and mire ever since.  Only when I extricated myself from the relationship did my own situation begin to improve–but the fallout still lingers.  My ethics were not in line with hers.  Chaos ensued.    Many lives were affected.  The Butterfly Effect.  (My magic has aged like fine wine since this moment.  I no longer put my lot with those who are not balanced.)

Did I know the risk every time?  Why, of course I did.  Did it stop me?

Real witches are afraid of very little, as they answer to no hell and even less saints.  If they are good, make them your neighbor.  But even then: do not cross them.

It’s simply this:  I think that most of us, those of us who are truly witches in our DNA, are afraid of our own power.  We need to blame Dharma–or Karma–or Wyrd–or Christ or Buddha or Muhammed.  The truth?  Well, it’s like I teach my students:  I will teach you how to level the world–and then ask you NOT to do so.  The older I become, the more mistakes I make, the more apt I am not to fuck up magic.  But, and this is critical: At least I know the risk.  And the result?

Firmly on my shoulders.  No omnipotent Santa in the sky is to blame-nor can save me.  No “force” victimized my hand.  No predetermination of my actions from a past life has me in its clutches.  All on me.

Very lonely out here.  But I’ll be damned if I’m hollering “victim.”  Perhaps, in the end, this is the difference between heathenry and witchcraft, Christianity/Buddhism/Islam and witchcraft and all the in-betweens:  I know what I am capable of doing/being.  I am the wind that breaks the oak, the water that suddenly spins into vortex, the earth that cracks, the fire that roars.  I am the hinge pin of Nature, part and parcel of its chaos, embedded firmly in the flutter of a wing.  Denying responsibility is redundant, and my Goddess would kick my ass if I tried it.  No more apologies.  No more excuses.  No more qualifiers.  I am what Science forgot–on purpose.

I am a witch.  Hope you guessed my name.

“At such times the universe gets a little closer to us. They are strange times, times of beginnings and endings. Dangerous and powerful. And we feel it even if we don’t know what it is. These times are not necessarily good, and not necessarily bad. In fact, what they are depends on what *we* are.”
Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight


1.  White, Eric Charles. Kaironomia: On the Will-to-Invent. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1987.

25 Comments on “Part Two: Dharma Versus Chaos Theory (The Divine Rite of Witches)

  1. Don’t fear the reaper! Denial can evolve in a person as much as knowledge and an understanding of that knowledge. Denial is a system of control that we create for ourselves, surrounding ourselves with it like a box. Thank you for being so witchy and balls about it.

  2. The witch’s duh. Oh Sister Witch, lmao, I do that. Especially if I’m emotional, I leave off an important detail. I am really loving these two parts.

  3. Oh the witch’s duh. I am very familiar with that one, especially if I’m emotional. Details, details, details. You dun good with this two parter, sisterwitch. The young ‘uns heads are spinning a bit.

  4. I so enjoy your writing. It hits true to the soul. I think many of us have had similar things happen. It takes courage to admit our own mistakes that opened the door to allow it to happen and strength to sometimes trust that you have done what you need to and trust that things will work out the way they are supposed to. Our first reaction many times is to lash out. Standing firm and waiting out the storm is much harder. Keep up the inspiring work.

  5. You put this so eloquently and laid it out so clearly for any who might question what keeps you from, as you put it, leveling the world. I have been asked that sort of thing, “why are you able to not hurt people? what keeps you from going on some sort of rampage or crime spree?”, and my explanations fell on deaf ears.

    Bearing the responsibility like we do is a heavy mantle on our shoulders, and can be utterly terrifying, but I prefer to have it on me if I screw up, instead of a bearded guy in the clouds flinging smiting at me.

      • Yes, we both seem to have been forged in the same blast-furnace, I feel a lot of kinship towards what you share, because it could be me talking about my own life. Some struggles aren’t quite the same, but the essence of us overcoming our difficulties is very close.

        I love reading your blog, when you write about the magic you use, or your Southern values, it always makes me smile.

  6. “I will teach you how to level the world–and then ask you NOT to do so.”

    That is the essence of Unseen University, the premier wizarding school in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (you quoted a bit of the witches’ philosophy from “Witches Abroad” in part 1, which actually applies to the wizards as well).

    The wizards are taught all of these devastating spells–and then, even more importantly, they are taught how to *refrain* from using them, often in a dynamic way–because the creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions feed on magic, so actively not using any magic is the best way to begin any strategy against them (“Equal Rites,” Terry Pratchett). There are probably people in this world who, like those creatures, feed off of any magical energy directed at them, and in those cases your best bet is something mundane, like a half-brick-inna-sock (“Sourcery,” Terry Pratchett).

    I rather think that this skill of dynamic (and hell, even passive) non-use is something that’s sometimes a bit lacking these days. It’s all well and good to know how to do something, but it’s just as important, if not more so, to know when and how NOT to do so. This is why I think it’s important to have a teacher and to not acquire all one’s magic knowledge from books. Books can teach you the spells, but they’re not so good at demonstrating situational appropriateness.

    Using this stuff inappropriately is just asking for bad juju points, in my experience.

    (Yeah I deviated from the topic for a bit, but I came back to it in the end. See?)

    (And hey, 2nd Discworld quote at the end there. You’d definitely love that series!)

  7. It’s hard to be a grown up sometimes. The honesty, the intimacy, with oneself that is required to be a witch in more than just the popular sense (harmless in itself, I suppose, but like living on tasty but empty calories LOL) has scared me from the path more than once. But I keep coming back. Because denying power that’s built right into your being is beyond useless. Such denial does a violence of its own–almost as bad as misusing/abusing power. My biggest witch’s duh–and there have been some doozies–is accepting that though I have been good, I have not been brave. Maybe it’s taken seeing my crone years on the horizon. They whisper, chide, and at times scream: sister, time is ticking and you need to attend to your business, because it WILL attend to you. I think what I love most about your posts, Seba, is that they remind me that the only thing this witch stands to gain by sticking her head in the sand is a big kick in backside! Carrie

    • And I love your responses, so that when I forgot all these things I know, I can read your words and shake it all off and stand again. Always, stand again. BB, my dear magical sister.

  8. There’s others out there that have the whole ‘I take full responsibility for my actions’ credo rather than ‘Karma’s gonna get ya, neener neener neener!’ (did anyone else hear this in one of those annoying little kid-voices?)????
    I am clearly living on the wrong side of the planet, but at least I’m lucky enough to have married the only one I’ve as yet met over here. It’s no longer quite so lonely for us both. 🙂

    Thanks once again for provoking thought and giving voice to the logic and ‘adultness’ of how I feel about being a witch. I do love having thought provoked!

    • lol, Charlotte! I always hear that kid-whiny-voice, too! Some of us are more of a “Do no harm, but take no shit” mentality.

      If I ever get on that plane, you are the first one I want to share a drink with, my friend. 🙂

  9. Out of the dozens of responses that leapt into my head tonight I can sum them up thusly:
    “don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin'” and
    “either come to me correct, or don’t come to me at all”.
    I have always equated Kharma with indifference…should someone feel wronged and feel the need to lay blame and say Kharma will take care of it yet actually Do things to push it along…they don’t get it. Anyone who has done wrong to a specific someone or something: the wrongee doesn’t have to do anything…except sit back and wait. Justice always shows her blind face….sort of like prayers being answered…may not be exactly as you asked but it always comes to pass.
    xxoo I think I needed a quantifier this round. 😉

  10. I love your blog Seba! Kass’s response is exactly how I feel about the use of magic, although I am a book-learned witch. I was feeling like my magic would never be used until you pointed out that this also builds karma, in the prior post, and now this makes sense. I think I have in-acted so many times that things seem to go just fine, there seems hardly a need to cast except for occasional protection – when I feel under the weather – or to ask a little rain for my plants. Also, is it true for most witches, that, when you seem about ready to cast a spell you’ve been itching to cast – everything just clicks right into place before you can light the first candle?

  11. For some reason, this reminds me of something that I was once told by a ceremonial magician/Witch/energy worker: “Do what you will, but know what you do.”

  12. I have learned so much from you but two themes really resonate: personal power and intent. I’d be a much different itch without that wisdom, thank you for that! XOXO

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