not-BS spotted on tumblr: lab-grown gems with a side rant on so-called “closed practices”

I have an entire category on this blog for “BS spotted on Pinterest,” under which I also post BS spotted on tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Tumblr has lots of BS. I’m especially (not) fond of the posts about hoodoo that copy/paste or screenshot or quote a portion of a book and then close with stuff like, “remember, kids, if you weren’t born into this culture/aren’t the right race or ethnicity/are trying to be a convert/whatever, it’s appropriation: Do Not Touch because it’s a closed practice” and similar such BS bits of racist, essentialist, historically ignorant, anthropologically blind, genealogically clueless posturing, gatekeeping, and virtue signaling.

(Clue brick: an entire culture can’t be a closed practice. That doesn’t even make sense. Unfuck your muddy thinking and imprecise language, or you are just part of the problem. Full disclosure: If I never see that bullshit neologism “closed practice” again it will be too soon. I especially don’t want to hear it about hoodoo from non-Southerners, ’cause those folks tend to get the South wrong all the damned time.[1])

But tumblr has some not-BS occasionally, and it’s only fair that I point that out every once in a while, too. So here I bring you some not-BS from tumblr.

I posted the whole thing so you’d have the context, but the spiritual folks and magicians and such reading along should have a pause and think about this last bit I’m emphasizing here. I’m not telling you what to do – I’m just suggesting we all give the underlying principles at work here some genuine thought. Resist sloppy thinking and false dichotomies and think about your theoretical underpinnings as a practitioner.

(And, you know, your ethics.)

[1] Yes, cultural and religious appropriation is a thing, and it’s a thing we should care about. I’ve written about it here and especially on Big Lucky Hoodoo. But this BS, ignorant, imprecise bumper-sticker preachy virtue signaling crap I see on tumblr constantly is just ridiculous, and it’s so incredibly off-base sometimes as to actually contribute to the freakin’ problem. More on this in the near future.

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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚

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 youā€™ve asked: bunch of folks should just stop using the word ā€œkarma,ā€ period

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

Aaaand here we go again, folks. Some of this is part retread, but since the two-blogs thing is confusing AF and I probably need to edit and consolidate comments on the Big Lucky Hoodoo blogs (plural) and then just post the edited updates here as new posts…, I guess I might as well just answer some of these again lol

But the first ones are new.

Q: Are you going to have _______ for sale soon?

A: I am still just going one thing at a time as I locate, clean or dispose of, and set up or replace one batch of ingredients at a time. Turns out I do have a few candle-making supplies still. The issue there is not even knowing where to start. Should I pick a formula out of a hat or should I wait until somebody asks for something in particular? (I’m pretty much waiting until somebody asks for something in particular lol)

It turns out I have *way* more materials to make bath/floorwash crystals than I even imagined, though, as I discovered today, so some of those will be going up at the shop soon. Which ones I post first, though, could be up to you if you have a preference.

I do have a few chicken feet. Later this summer,Ā  I’ll have some more that I am *very* excited about, because they will be coming from a source I know firsthand to be cruelty-free and devoted to humane practices. I know for a fact these chickens have as good a life as it is possible to have as a chicken bred for meat. And I know they are slaughtered cleanly and quickly with skill and compassion. They do not spend their final moments in terror. Matter of fact, they are *individually prayed over,* I shit you not, and individually thanked for the gift of their life that in turn sustains other life. This is no assembly line anything. These birds’ lives are not taken for granted.

And while I totally get that not everybody is comfortable with materia magica like that, for those who do participate in the carnivorous economies and want to use these quite traditional curios, this is the most ethical way I can even imagine to obtain these things. And I am really, really grateful to be able to source them from a place like this – from someone i know to be a person of real compassion who is powerful in prayer and deeply, deeply connected to the life around her and the land under her feet. (I actually want to interview her for this blog one of these days when some of the dust has settled around here. She’s really, really freakin’ cool and she has taught me *a lot* about living life “out here.”)

Q: Are you taking clients for spiritual work?

A: Apparently I am. I hadn’t planned on hanging the shingle out just yet, but someone wrote and asked, and it was the kind of case you help with if you can. So I kind of took that as a sign. It may well be one client at a time for a while, though. Not all services require that formal situation, though. Light settings, e.g., you can just book. More info’s available on the Services page of the shop.

Q: Can I burn frankincense and myrrh together?

A: Yes. What are you thinking here that makes you question whether you can do this? I worry I’m not understanding the real question.

Q: I read that Black Arts oil is used for karma. Can it cleanse my karma?

A: OMFG. No. The short answer is no. If you do traditional Southern spiritual rootwork, you just take you a big old marker (mentally) and mark out the words “karma” (mentally) and anything that suggests karma can be “cleansed”- esp. with something you buy. Cross ’em out real good, okay? There. Now try to forget you ever heard ’em. And think about who you want to be giving your hard-earned money to when you’re reading crap like that on the internet. You deserve better.

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