An Empowering Definition of Karma

A misrepresentation of karma serves those who want others powerless and desire an immoral society.

It’s no surprise many people reject the idea of karma. An oversimplified understanding of it is disempowering—e.g., shaming people visited by unfortunate circumstances. Let’s look at a definition of karma that is empowering and joyful.

Karma is usually defined as “If you do good, good comes back at you. If you do bad, bad comes back to you.” While I believe that is an important truth, it is also so oversimplified as to be dangerous. Psychic physics aren’t that simplistic. Instead, it seems to me karma is the unfolding of the specific repercussions of whatever you do. Example:

If you cut down a tree, you end up with wood. That’s one possible repercussion. That’s one possible repercussion. But, when the tree falls down, it might hit you on the head, which adds an additional repercussion. Or the tree might hit someone else, and then their son kills you in revenge.

Or you use the wood to build beautiful furniture, which you sell, and its buyers are happy, and you have money for groceries, which helps support the local grocer.

We’re all aware of the threats posed when too many trees are killed. Those threats, too, are possible repercussions. And, if cutting on a smaller scale, a space you clear can be a bane—or a boon—to the forest’s animals. If some of them leave as a result, each refuge will have its own impact on its new home. E.g., a possum who takes up residence in your yard could eat a lot of ticks, which might lower your chance of contracting Lyme disease.

Karma, as defined in this post, has three large benefits. It helps us
1) Understand that reality is an unfolding series of events that we affect.
2) Take responsibility for how much our actions impact the rest of existence (All Our Relations!).
3) Claim the beauty, power, and magic of such an intensely intricate weave.

Replacement of those three enormous strengths with “The bad you do comes back at you, as does the good” can rob us of power as well as the chance to be morally accountable for the chain reactions caused by our actions. There are also enormously positive chain reactions, in which we can take healthy pride. Misrepresentation of karma serves those who want others powerless and desire an immoral society.

Embracing karma’s full ramifications might seem grandiose but is actually humble. Humility is knowing one’s strengths as well as one’s weaknesses.

Humility is also knowing one’s place in the universe, but not in the way it’s meant when someone tries to make you feel worthless by saying, “You better learn your place instead of being uppity!” When we understand karma, we can see our place in life’s weave in terms of our immense power to do good or wrong. Again, humility is acknowledging both your strengths and weaknesses.

Another way understanding karma can help us see our place: we might start to actually experience the incredibly vast and complex weave of life. That can be simultaneously self-enlarging and humbling.

Self-larging because we can see ourselves both as part of something magnificent and as a magnificent element of the larger magnificence.

Humbling because, for one thing, the grandeur of the cosmos provides perspective that can remove any over-inflation of self. For example, we might start to sense there are millions of factors influencing the outcome of any situation; we can see how powerless we are by comparison to all those factors. (I cannot use that as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for consequences of my own actions.)

The humility gained by acknowledging the consequences of my actions and inactions, and by acting accordingly, improves my life. For example, when I make reparations for wrongs done, I more fully engage in life, which frees me from any unhealthy preoccupation with self that has trapped me; I get swept up in the World Tree—the larger picture, the Gods’ plans. Being caught up like this is humbling on some level. But it is also empowering and even ecstatic.

The idea of “Your good acts generate good acts coming back at you, and your hurtful acts generate hurtful acts coming back at you” remains important. But reducing Karma to only that ends up blaming and shaming good people for the unfortunate events they suffer. Life is more complex than that. The World Tree—life—is a sophisticated organism. It consists of many parts: branches, trunk, leaves, roots, bark, sap, etc. Those many parts are made up of innumerable cells. All this weaves together in a complicated synthesis. Our own actions are only a part of that tapestry.

Spell to See One’s Karma
and Enjoy Life’s Weave

There are constant contradictions that, in fact, are not contradictory. Each one, when riddled entirely by the intellect, seems unable to abide as a reality. But, if entered into as an experience, the supposed contradiction has the chance to be understood, because we get to experience it as a living, breathing fact.

Later, that reality may seem impossible again. That is because, when we retire too fully from action into intellect, we might lose touch with reality again. Our minds are wonderful tools to use constantly, but they get in our way when we think the only way to discover whether something is a truth is to keep it spinning in the mind instead of applying it as an experiment.

So it goes with understanding karma: sole intellectual analysis of it will not work. But when I try to live according to it, it makes sense experientially. That is one of a witch’s powers: to know something is true because you feel it with your gut and in your soul. Witches use their fine minds without being trapped by their limits; instead, we use the whole being—mind, spirit, and body. The following spell helps us do that.

Optional: after putting a purple candle in a candle holder, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of lavender by the holder’s base. If you prefer, use the candle and no herb.

Recite the following. To what extent you can manage, say it from the bottom of your heart.

May I honor and celebrate
my place in the weave of all existence.
May my Pagan heart thrill
to the beauty and magic
of the intricate, powerful weave that is life.
May I see the ripples from all I do.
May I take responsibility
for my place in the weave,
so that I act with good intention
and make reparation for wrongs I’ve done.
May I understand that these words I say echo through the World Tree, as do all words and deeds.

Now say, “So mote it be” (while lighting the candle, if you’re using one).

Let the candle burn down. Or extinguish it after a few minutes to relight again, should you want to repeat the recitation some time soon. If leaving the building or going to sleep, extinguish the candle and relight it when you have a chance. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Emptiness Is Alive: Releasing the Self

emptyliveBoSNwsltrSmI needn’t fear becoming empty that God may reside within me. God Herself is empty.

The Bible lied about Her emptiness, portraying Her as a mere absence that a patriarchal Deity breathed life into in order to create the cosmos. That myth would keep me from my emptiness: I’d revolt against it or, thinking I strived toward it, pursue a loss of wholeness.

I prefer this myth: She is the vast eternal living void, the Tao, the first source; from Her virgin womb came all that is.

In releasing self, I am not making space for a bullying God who’ll eradicate me. I do not need Him to bring me to life. In my emptiness resides all life and all power and all love. So mote it be!

You’re a Blessing

You’re a Blessing, Just as You Are

Meditating in preparation for a Faerie shamanism class I was going to teach in a few minutes, I affirmed three things I’d like to share with you. They’re useful in all areas of life, not just when teaching. For context, I’ll show how they relate to teaching first, then discuss how they affect everything else.
BlessingsSm1) Instead of thinking I should hide my oh-too-human faults, it is so important just to be myself when I teach. if I pretend to be someone not riddled with faults, then the foremost lesson I’m delivering is the pretense of perfection. That is a destructive lesson, indeed!

2) Though I’m known for creating innovative shamanic modalities that radically change people’s lives for the better, what has just as much value to my students is me being comfortable in my own skin. The nature of our presence conveys as much as any of our words or methodologies will. Feeling at home in myself conveys the vital messages of self-acceptance and self-love. Those messages are core to inner transformation, happiness, and success. The three reminders in this post focus on us not trying to be “someone else” in order to be “worthwhile.”

3) In that vein, I need to trust my light. You see, even when people think their lights have been dimmed, I still see them shining brightly. I assume the same must be true of me. So, when teaching, I try to relax and trust that my light shines whether I notice it or not. One of my responsibilities as a shamanic teacher is to affirm the light in all of us. I can only do that job if I’m trusting my own light.

Whatever lesson I have planned, it is driven home if I’m at home in my own skin, trust that my light is shining, and do not hide my faults.

And so it goes in the rest of life: when one forsakes pretenses of perfection, trusts that one’s light is shining, and is at home in oneself, one bestows more blessings than all the words and ceremonies ever could. So mote it be!

BtmNewsltr

Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers

The following was a post I made on the Faerie Nation Yahoo group in 2008. I’m blogging it now because the problems it addresses keep on happening, I recently heard instances of it that broke my heart. And they did not all happen to a newbie! I hope my thoughts helps someone.

Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers
Francesca De Grandis, May 5, 2008

For hundreds of years, fairy glimmers in the woods have beckoned, reflecting our secret longings, illuminating our honest needs. Puritanical moralists caution us about the evils of the fey. But we know better than that: The good folk can help free us from repressive religions and absurd social strictures. In addition, when we are barraged by a logic that denies magic and miracles, that fairy glimmer reassures us, telling us that mysticism is real, and that the wondrous is possible.
 
But not all the realms of fairy have beneficent dwellers. There is an Unseelie Court. And not all fey-touched magicians can be trusted, whether they call themselves fey, faerie, feri, fairy, or faery. (To define Unseelie in an oversimplified manner: Just as the Faerie Queen and her Seelie court might help us, so the Unseelie Queen and her followers are more likely to malevolently perpetuate great tragedy for humans.)

Eagle with Iris in Great Darkness, Francesca De Grandis. For info about a limited first edition print of this painting, click on it

Sate your hunger for luminous mystery and faerie mysticism, and for the fellowship thereof. But don’t let that ferocious appetite, authentic though it is, blind you to the following fact. Some people with immense glamour and fey power are pawns of the Unseelie Court. Perhaps this happens because power has made them so haughty that they are unwitting dupes for the forces of evil. Or perhaps they themselves become outright evil. Whatever the reason, it does happen.

Silence allows it to continue. I might sound strident but: I will not tolerate Fey practitioners who participate in molestation of children, sexual harassment of students, disregard for magical safety, and flashy curriculums lacking a moral compass that withstands the rigors of daily life. I am available by phone (814-337-2490) if you’re concerned about yourself or a friend when it comes to such people. Newbies to the community are vulnerable, and I post this warning for them and for anyone else who needs support around these issues.

While many cautions against the fey realms can be rightly interpreted as disguised attempts to suppress us, and to make us milquetoast, there are valid cautions. Dark mysteries needn’t be an excuse for a teacher to dominate. Wild hearts don’t mean that a teacher can ignore your sexual boundaries. Powerful magic needn’t lack caution. The quest for utter fulfillment needn’t lead to hollow longings or addiction.
 
There are dark mysteries that are wholesome, wildness that is authentic, satiation that is both attainable and ethically possible. Powerful magic can safe. Fey fellowship, wild lovers, and powerful teachers can be both otherworldly and good. Find them all!

Francesca De Grandis, May 2012

So mote it be.

In Her service,
Francesca De Grandis

**********

Here is another blog by a woman named Mae that also addresses this issue. (It also says very kind things about me. Mae, thank you again.)

 

 

 

Ta Da!

Announcing the renewal and relaunch, the cosmic—and cosmically comic—revitalization of this here ol’ website. Come one, come all, join the Chaos Circus. To explore the wonders, the fantastic, the massive changes I made to this site, use the newly-added, new-fangled nav bar above. Yup, we got modern conveniences to go along with the ancient mysteries you will find here.

Stardusted Traveler, come get your weary soul shined. Have your spirit refreshed by its own beauty, then shanghaied by its own magic.

Have your peculiar ways oohed and awed at—everyone here, including you, is the main attraction.

Sit in the front row to get a good view. I’ll sit with you. Or get in the circus ring: introduce yourself in the comment field.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am the authentic, the original, the amazing and death-defying Francesca De Grandis. That translates Great Freedom, your purveyor of shamanic wonders and mystical madness. Curator of curiosities, middle management for the Chaos Gods, seer, guide, and utter fool.

I make up fancy phrases to describe myself, like bardic brat. They’re true as tar.

My mother was a fortuneteller, my father hit the road when he was 12, hard traveling. His mother was a “showgirl.” After the war, dad went down south and got into trouble. We don’t know what it was, but the story is “he hung out with hillbillies.” I do remember he loved folk music. This is all truth, it’s family history, told the first time on the web right now. I am an old woman, too old to hide those tales anymore.

That’s a bit of my tale, a bit of my myth—real and honest. Be your myth here. Dragons, Faeries, poets, and other inhabitants of the fantastic, please walk your myths alongside mine, I long for company on the spiritual path.

Tell me a bit of your story in the comment field. I welcome and invite you, praise you and incite you—Join the cosmic circus!

 On a more serious note, Terry Pratchett wrote “Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things.” Ok, quoting Terry is hardly a way to convince most people that I even can be serious. But
I take my work as a shamanic guide and healer seriously, and I am good at it. And I have
fun. Walking an ecstatic path frees you from restrictive either/or rules. And building a convincing persona as Oh-Great-Shaman wouldn’t leave time to serve community. Can I hear a “So mote it be?”
Middle Management for Chaos Gods, Francesca De Grandis

Middle Management for Chaos Gods. Self-Portrait

Magic can be quiet, subtle. I am blessed that, amidst my loud joy and silliness, some people “see” me—just another flawed human whom, for some reason, the Divine uses as a shaman.

I’ll be blogging here, while I continue to blog at my other site . Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds.

As we prepped the relaunch, I started blogging here—just four blogs sharing my personal process renewing the site, and what we revamped. I hope you read them. And this blog has info that will help you find your way around.

Whether you travel with me only on the web, or move into oral tradition with me, whether you post here or I never know you visit, I’m grateful for your wild wyrd ways. Thank you so much for coming!

Please explore the site. I’d love it if you posted feedback. You will be dazzled by dancing Deities, heartfelt happenings, genuine living breathing paradox, and more.