On karma, crossed conditions, and remediation

This is a slightly edited version of a reply to a client in a convo that touched on uncrossing work and the concept of karma. It is necessarily a vast oversimplification, but it is probably more easily accessible and definitely less of a rant than other things I have written about karma here or on Big Lucky Hoodoo.

This is coming to you from a rootworker *and* from a woman who was given the name Karma at birth lol… so despite the fact that hoodoo has no conception of karma at all, being a folk magic practice based in Christianity, I do know a little bit about the concept 🙂

The concept of karma in Buddhism depends on reincarnation or transmigration or rebirth as one of its fundamental tenets. I am vastly oversimplifying a complex concept with an incredibly extensive history of development, but there are a number of important implications here that I’ll just mention.

– The concept is incompatible with scriptural Christianity.

– One’s karma is not just about one’s actions in this lifetime. That means our ability to understand how our karma stands or how it’s playing out is incredibly limited from our temporal, limited human perspectives, based as they are in our current lifetime. The very situations we find ourselves in in this lifetime, indeed the personality and character that we have in this lifetime, are shaped and directed by actions we took that we no longer remember, from a different time and place, in a different lifetime. So Karma does not mean “as you sow, so shall you reap” in the way most Westerners mean it. It definitely does not mean “as you do in this lifetime, that will be done to you in this lifetime.”

– Uncrossing work cannot free you from karma. That’s not how karma works. *Karma is not a crossed condition.* The word itself in Sanskrit means “action.” You have accumulated merit (or lack of merit) based on *your actions* (which can include certain kinds of thoughts). Demerits can’t be zapped out of existence, but they can basically be overwhelmed or outweighed or balanced by meritorious actions. And intention matters. The Buddhist definition of karma could possibly most fairly be rendered as “intentional action.”

– This is not to say they must always be YOUR actions; acts of merit can be dedicated to someone else, such as an ancestor, and someone could dedicate their acts of merit to you.

– In Buddhism, you could perhaps fairly say the whole point is to ultimately arrive NOT at a state where you’ve accumulated more merit than demerit, contrary to popular belief, but at a state where you are karmically neutral. Then you no longer feed into this cycle and no longer have to suffer rebirth. You basically *no longer have karma* at that point. This is probably the biggest point on which Buddhism deviated from the earliest Hindu conception of karma, which could arguably have been boiled down to something like the familiar “good deeds get you into heaven; bad deeds send you to hell.”

Now I don’t say this to be a bratty pedant or because I like to go around telling people they’re wrong. I say this stuff because the concept of karma that Westerners have kind of absorbed as part of popular culture can be limiting, even harmful. In fact, it can be *profoundly damaging.*

For myself, I’m fairly agnostic on the matter and on exactly how it would fit in, if it even did, with concepts of the afterlife and human and nonhuman spirits and ancestors and all the rest. I think most Western non-Buddhists should just stop using the word, because most Western non-Buddhists don’t know what they’re talking about. Those who are truly committed to the concept have, I believe, an obligation to understand it fully and as accurately as possible. And to those people, I would also emphasize meritorious/virtuous action as being at the core of anything you might call “karma remediation.”

So if this is you, it’s actually good news, I would think, because while Uncrossing is not the answer, good deeds, on the other hand, can actually get you somewhere 🙂

In some branches of Buddhism, meditation on a certain aspect of the Buddha can purify past/existing karma. In quite a few branches of Buddhism, confessing of misdeeds and a resolve to do better going forward can purify karma. It maybe isn’t too much of a stretch to map that (loosely) on to practices like Reconciliation and Penance in the Western Christian tradition, with Penance taking the form of some kind of service or donation or deed to benefit someone else rather than any kind of self-flagellation or internally-directed suffering or anything. Suffering is definitely not the point with karma, and in fact the whole goal is to get to a point where you can leave that suffering behind.

It’s kind of hard to explain both accurately *and* succinctly. I have a relatively recent blog post that goes into just a sliver of what the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures have to say about karma if you’re interested in that (though there’s also ranting):

questions you’ve asked: bunch of folks should just stop using the word “karma,” period

St. Martha Altar Service Begins Tonight: Steady Work, Fair Pay, Balance of Power, Peaceful Home, Domination

Big Lucky Hoodoo

This work begins the night of July 29th,the feast day of St. Martha, but there are several different modes of different lengths running concurrently here,so you absolutely can book late,as long as you see slots still available for the service you’re interested in.

St. Martha in the Bible

Famously depicted in the Bible as getting stuck with all the cooking and cleaning while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him teach, St. Martha is the patron saint of servers, cooks, domestic workers, housewives,  and those in the hospitality industry – those who are behind the scenes making important things go even when nobody notices.

Her devotees will call on her for intercession when they need steady work, especially in these fields, or when they are having difficulty with their work, for instance if pay is slow in coming or a boss or manager…

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NEW BOOK: Medieval Rituals of Catholic Exorcism!

How am I just now hearing about this?! (squeals)

For y’all who don’t know me from back in the day, I’m a medievalist by training and wrote my doctoral dissertation on portrayals of the soul-body relationship in medieval English religious literature. This involved dipping into all kinds of things – poetry, herbals, sermons, penitentials, medical manuals – lots of old manuscripts in multiple dead languages. And it required gobs of original translation because much of it had never seen the light of day in modern English.

So I’m here to assert that medieval Christianity was often way freakin’ weirder than you probably think; many of the ideas we’ve absorbed about what it was like are incredibly off-base for many times and places of the era; and sometimes our operative categories for understanding and talking about this stuff don’t work *at all* and lead to mischaracterization and mistranslation. It’s absolutely fascinating.

Getting access to these old manuscripts can be quite difficult, and reading them is frequently brutal.

So *I cannot wait to read this.* This is me as a little kid, and I’m about to walk into the candy store.

THAVMA: Catholic Occultism and Magic in General

Medieval Rituals of Catholic Exorcism Covers

“Red Cover” – Lulu LinkAmazon Link
“Brown Cover” – Lulu LinkAmazon Link

After a year of labor, the new book’s finally finished! If you’ve ever wondered what scholars talk about when speaking of the “magical components” in medieval exorcisms, then wonder no more!

The new book contains several selections from Medieval exorcism manuscripts, with the complete rituals being given (in Manuals that contained multiple rituals, I gave a sampling).

For those unfamiliar with the Manuals, the primary source-texts of Catholic exorcism, the exorcisms of elves, dryads, and other spirits from folk beliefs, this book can be your introduction.

For those of you already familiar with the Manuals, this may be the first time substantial sections have been put into English, especially the Teilrituale or CLM 10085 – possibly one of the original “Solomonic-Catholic exorcism manuals” – and a full translation for Conjuration of Mirage from the…

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Seven Sorrows Rosary

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, or Chaplet of the Seven Dolours, is a devotion to Mary as the Sorrowful Mother that dates to the 13th century. It became quite popular in Europe during the ravages of the Black Plague.

There are several methods for praying this chaplet. This particular piece reflects my preferred approach to the devotion (and my aesthetic sense). It consists of seven segments of seven cobalt-blue glass beads, each separated by a faceted Czech glass pater bead and a Mexican sacred/immaculate heart milagro. The septets are connected with a repurposed chandelier crystal, and the pendant terminates with a detailed milagro-style focal heart charm (no antiphon beads).

More info available at Seraphin Station.

Another review of St. Expedite booklet

Big Lucky Hoodoo

Thanks for the review, Taylor! And you know I want to hear all about those “crazy things” and how you work with St. Expedite in your region and in your personal practice 🙂

To delve into your own St. Expedite craziness, pick up a copy of my St. Expedite booklet at Seraphin Station.

Want a similar book of Catholic conjure on working with the Sacred Heart of Jesus? You can still get the June Saint of the Month Box, which will come with my new booklet on the Sacred Heart.

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Tonight: Community honey jar services, Ss. Cosmas and Damian service for physical, spiritual, mental healing

Ss. Cosmas and Damian service for petitions related to health and healing (both physical and spiritual), casting off evil, removal of crossed conditions, and protection from plague and other illness.

Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were practicing physicians in the 3rd century and treated their patients at no charge, hence their title of “unmercenary” or “silverless.” They have different feast days within different churches and denominations, and in the Orthodox church, in fact, there are considered to be three distinct sets of saints named Cosmas and Damian.  Of course they all have different bios and feast days, as well. As with most saints from the early centuries of the church, there’s very little or nothing in any historical or archaeological record about their lives — we have rather to deal with legend (and subsequent mystical revelation, in some cases).

But these brothers who were doctors, twins, and ultimately martyrs, have for centuries had the reputation for interceding for the faithful who called on them for healing, and numerous miracles have been attributed to them. They are also the patrons of twins, surgeons, and pharmacists, are widely venerated in Brazil as patrons of children in general, and in some houses and temples, are associated with the lwa the Marassa.

The July community honey jars for Relationships/Love and Prosperity/Success also start tonight. As usual, there are Pay What You Can options for the prosperity jar.

The Keys and Crossroads service for St. Peter is still underway as well.

Double rewards points are in effect until midnight.

Learn more or book now at Seraphin Station.

Ss. Cosmas and Damian Healing Service begins July 1st

Big Lucky Hoodoo

Have a vigil light fixed, blessed, dressed, and set on my altar for Saints Cosmas and Damian for petitions related to health and healing, both physical and spiritual, casting off evil, removal of crossed conditions, and protection from plague and other illness.

Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were practicing physicians in the 3rd century and treated their patients at no charge, hence their title of “unmercenary” or “silverless.” They have different feast days within different churches and denominations, and in the Orthodox church, in fact, there are considered to be three distinct sets of saints named Cosmas and Damian. Of course they all have different bios and feast days, as well. As with most saints from the early centuries of the church, there’s very little or nothing in any historical or archaeological record about their lives — we have rather to deal with legend (and subsequent mystical revelation…

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News & Reminders re. Shipping/Handling and Policies

Here’s my latest attempt to make this as clear as possible and stave off reading comprehension problems.

International Shipping

*Due to importation laws that place an undue administrative and financial burden on very small e-commerce businesses, I can no longer ship to Poland, Slovakia, Germany, France, Greece, Spain, or Lithuania.*

Handling Times

If your order contains:Handling time is:
0 custom items14 days
1 custom item25 days
2 custom items40 days
3 custom items55 days

Please note:

  • I do custom work. This is not Amazon.
  • I handle every aspect of your order myself. I do not have employees.
  • These handling times are estimates, not guarantees.
  • Plants, insects, wildlife, and the weather don’t work for me, don’t do things to spec, and don’t follow orders.
  • I’m a rootworker – literally. That means most of my day is spent outdoors tending to and harvesting plants or in my altar and work rooms doing work for clients and making things for customers. I am not on the computer or at a desk all day.
  • You will be notified when your order is ready to ship and sent a tracking number.
  • If you haven’t gotten a tracking number, your order is still processing.
  • Labels can be printed in batches several days in advance of the actual ship date.
  • Tracking is not real time.
  • There are probably orders ahead of yours in the queue.
  • There are probably emails ahead of yours in the queue.
  • COVID, war, and other global events have disrupted supply lines and availability of inventory and packaging materials all over the planet. Everything takes longer and costs more. This is not the same world we were living in three years ago. Please don’t take it personally or be a jerk about it.
  • Sonia does not live here. In order for us to stay on the same page, share the same inbox, keep all these systems and platforms and apps playing nice with each other, and make sure nothing falls between the cracks, we need you to follow directions for orders and communication.
  • All sales are final.

Custom Work

Prices on customized items like mojo bags, pakets, and custom oils are about to go up. People who don’t read item details and policies and don’t follow directions are creating too much extra work and giving me too many headaches.

But established clients and customers and generally reasonable people will be provided with ways to offset many of these increases, for instance through the loyalty/rewards program and subscriber-only discounts. I want you to know how much I value your business and your understanding of how all of this works and what this job entails. Y’all are who I’m working for and I appreciate you so much.

Shipping Rates

  • 95% of domestic orders will ship for a flat rate of $5.
  • 4% will ship for $10 max.
  • Expedited shipping options are available (but they do not account for or change handling times – just shipping method/carrier/speed).
  • Free shipping on domestic orders of $100 or more.
  • International shipping rates are quite competitive; more details here.

How to Get Banned/Suspended

  • Nagging, harassing, shouting, getting rude or hysterical
  • Repeatedly failing to read or follow instructions, item listing details, and/or policies
  • Filing a dispute or chargeback without talking to us first
  • Filing an “item not received” claim on a custom item, especially when that item
    • is completely custom-made from scratch for you based on your petition and situation
    • requires and takes into account the casting of your natal chart and calculation of ongoing/upcoming astrological transits
    • includes herbs, oils, essences, minerals, and curios which are rare, expensive, and/or not always frequently used in conjure
    • may involve further divination/spirit work and/or the creation of talismans/sigils
    • was ordered two weeks ago, for the love of freakin’ God

If you are blocked and you feel there’s been some error or misunderstanding, or if you have since located and read our Terms of Service and now understand the issue and our policies, we are open to discussing the reestablishment of your customer account.

Mailing List/Newsletter

I have begun the process of revalidating the subscriber list, and newsletter emails should resume in July. You will probably get an email asking you to confirm your interest in receiving the newsletters by resubscribing to the list. These should go out over the next week or so.

Newsletter subscriptions are now double opt-in, so new subscribers will get an email asking them to confirm that they do indeed want to subscribe. I’m really sorry for the extra step, but it’s just too crazy with the spambots and people forgetting they signed up or whatever.

If you don’t often open my newsletters or make purchases at my website, you may have gotten scrubbed, particularly if your name did not seem to match your email address in any way, if you signed up with an email address only and no name, or if you have an extremely unusual/unlikely name. Please don’t take it personally, but these are often features of fraudulent and spambot signups, and they’ve been a big problem lately. If you don’t get an email asking you to confirm your interest in the next week or so but you do still want to get mailings, you are more than welcome to resubscribe.

Just a friendly reminder/recap…

Just a friendly reminder/recap of info outlined in the FAQ, the contact page, and the order confirmation email you get when you check out 🙂

I’m happy to talk with folks generally about goods, services, custom work, ideas, ingredients, high weirdness, all kinds of things, pretty much wherever you catch me. But once you’ve placed an order or booked a service, I need you to follow the directions, please 🙂

Social media/Discord/Messenger etc. is not a VIP line to customer service. If Sonia or I need to look something up in the database in order to answer your question or you’re asking about something that involves some kind of transaction or update, then that is not a matter for social media. That is a matter you need to send in an email about so the ticket can be logged, the matter can be tracked, and the action can be taken by the appropriate person, who might not be the person you’re trying to DM.

The instructions and workflows exist for a number of really, really good reasons, promise!

Please see your order confirmation email and/or the FAQ for more info.

K, thanks, love y’all, bye!

June Saint of the Month: Sacred Heart of Jesus

Last Friday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart. I wrote this post on Friday but didn’t manage to actually, er, post it 🙂 Anyway, that feast is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so familiar a symbol that even non-Catholics tend to recognize it.

Usually pictured as a flaming heart crowned with thorns, and often featuring a cross and a wound and/or droplets of blood, the Sacred Heart is a symbol of Jesus’ patient and eternal love and compassion for humanity. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is often practiced to obtain grace, mercy, a peaceful home, consolation in grief, blessings, compassion, and greater depth of faith.

It is related to, but not identical with, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, usually pictured as a heart surmounted with flowers and pierced by a sword.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Most Chaste Heart of Joseph. Public domain.

There’s also a whole “genre” of workings in the hoodoo rootwork tradition that operate under the aegis of the Sacred Heart, often to do with reconciliation or peace between cohabitating or married couples. But practitioners in the folk Catholic tradition have petitioned the Sacred Heart over the years for any number of things: to soften the heart of someone they want to influence, like a landlord or boss; to bless children; to return a lover; even for gambling luck.

The Sacred Heart Saint of the Month box for June will come with a short booklet containing history, prayers, spells, and recommendations for working with the Sacred Heart in the folk Catholic and Catholic conjure traditions. I do not believe there’s anything like it currently available in print.

Read more or order yours now at Seraphin Station.

The Saint of the Month Box

Whether you’re just starting to learn about saints and spirits in the hoodoo rootwork tradition or you’ve been working with them for years, I strive to delight you with something new and covetable to add to your collection with every box.

Since I’ve been working with saints and spirits my entire life, and since I later went on to spend the better part of a decade in grad school studying medieval and early modern traditions around, and portrayals of, saints, I usually do manage to come up with something you haven’t seen before to add to your devotional practices. I have got some pretty neat stuff squirreled away (some pretty weird stuff too).

  • Standard box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history/recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a charm, medal, or curio.
  • Deluxe box includes, at a minimum, a bottle of oil, a fixed, blessed, dressed, and decorated vigil candle, a holy card or mini prayer booklet, brief history and recommendations for working with the saint or spirit, and a handmade chaplet, rosary, or necklace.

Praise for Saint of the Month Boxes

I wanted to say how much I loved the St. Expedite Saint of the Month box! I was completely wowed when I opened it and saw everything inside, especially the beautifully decorated vigil light and the lovely bag with the chaplet inside. It’s a lovely piece and clearly well-made. The booklet on St. Expedite was very helpful, especially considering I am new to working with saints now much confusing and conflicting information there is online about St. Expedite. The only thing I can’t figure out is, am I really supposed to burn this candle? It’s so pretty!

– E.S. 2022

You are supposed to burn the candle, yes! But you can use it as a vase for flower offerings or to hold other materials on your altar once the candle has burned out, if you like!

Please note that items in deluxe kits, such as jewelry, rosaries, and decorated candles, are one of a kind and hand-made upon order, so don’t expect them to ship in a day or two.

Read more or order yours now at Seraphin Station.