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questions you’ve asked + most folks should just stop using the word “karma,” period

buddhism catholicism charlatans chicken feet client education customer info FAQs gumbo hinduism ignorant AF karma mix and match bs neopaganism paramahansa yogananda product news religious appropriation self realization fellowship spiritual supplies spirituals

Reminder: this is a mirror site for the blog. The actual blog with ongoing comments, archives, etc. is at seraphinstation.wordpress.com until I figure out how migrate it to the domain I'm paying for and not using, sigh... here's this post.

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 seraphinstation.com 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,  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.

Whew. Let me pause here and say that I’m not saying only born Southerners are qualified to do anything or that people shouldn’t learn about Southern-style conjure if it wasn’t the first thing they learned or anything like that. I am not beating up on folks who come to hoodoo from other traditions. The only thing I’m taking a swing at here is people who import shit from other traditions that do not fit hoodoo and slap ’em on there anyway, people who start innovating without bothering to study and learn first. It’s disrespectful in addition to being generally illogical and incoherent.

And then I really take a swing at folks who do that and then proceed to position themselves as authentic traditional practitioners or whatever. Folks, y’all do it however you want at home. That’s totally cool. There is more than one way to skin a cat. But if you get on there and say some bullshit, some of your customers don’t know any better, but some others are gonna see right through your shit and you are damaging your credibility. Start handing out stupid, incorrect advice about religions you don’t know squat about – man, you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re messing with people’s *souls.*

There’s a surprisingly easy fix for this, actually – it’s called using qualifiers and not posturing to set yourself up as the be-all end-all of knowledge or whatever. Hoodoo is not and never has been a one-true-way type of thing where you add 2 ounces of this under this astrological sign while pacing exactly 12 feet deosil.

I’ve been researching and writing about gumbo lately elsewhere, and I’m reminded of how probably no two families make gumbo exactly the same. Everybody knows this. Now people do get one-true-way about certain elements sometimes, when they shouldn’t – tomatoes or not in gumbo is an example. Some gumbo has ’em, some doesn’t, and some folks will pronounce “Real gumbo does not have tomato under any circumstances” until they fall over dead. But they are saying that as a proclamation of faith, even as a wish, perhaps, but they know full well that lots of folks put tomato in and lots of folks still call that gumbo.

There comes a certain point, though, where you change so much, or make one change so significant, that you’re just plain in “radical innovation” territory after that. And that’s fine. It’s your dinner. But what you do NOT do unless you’re a dumbass is insist that the holy trinity is ginger, turmeric, and cilantro. Matter of fact, you should just own up to making some shit up if ginger, turmeric, and cilantro are anywhere near your “traditional” gumbo recipe. And you should be prepared for some folks to protest that you’re pushing it too far to call it gumbo any longer.

If you served that bowl of stuff to your grandma, would she say it’s gumbo or would you have to persuade her of it? A customer who grew up with this stuff should understand your ingredients and methods. Even if you invent new recipes and fun names, they’ll recognize the coherence underlying it if it’s conjure. They know what Van Van is supposed to smell like. You give ’em some grapefruit scented shit with some quartz crystal in it and call it hoodoo, they’re gonna start giving you the stink eye.

Oh, you don’t have any clients who grew up with this? Fine. Have some integrity and self-respect, then, all independent of your particular clients.

And here’s another good reason to use qualifiers and be responsible – if you did in fact come from a family that had a certain way of doing it and nobody has ever heard of that before, you *should* share that. That can be incredibly valuable information for folks who make a study of this kind of thing. Just like there is such a thing as all-herb/greens gumbo with no meat, even though hardly anybody outside of a particular region of Louisiana has ever heard of it, maybe your family really did “cleanse” mojo bags even though that entire concept is totally alien to conjure. If that’s so, I’d be keen to know more. I’d ask at what point / in what generation and in what geographical location this practice came into your family, ’cause it would be a fascinating study of a unique element. Maybe your mother’s mountain town got a big donation of books from a very eclectic collector and so now there’s a whole generation of rootworkers and healers three valleys over who have their own identifiably distinct folk magic practice that maybe ought to get its own name, even – a new species.

But this is not usually what’s going on, though. What’s usually going on is people come to this as a recent fad over the last 10 or so years and do not bother to understand the underlying theory and history independently before they start playing mix and match bullshit.

right human hand
This is me drowning in the bullshit. Or, er, construction paper. Whatever. Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

So they sell you oil to cleanse your mojo bag, or tell you mullein is a perfect substitute for graveyard dirt, does exactly the same thing, or they mention karma or the law of three.

This is valuable info. Not about hoodoo — they don’t know jack shit about hoodoo — but they are clearly labeling themselves as newcomers to the field who have not made respectful study of it before going into business within it. They are telling on themselves. You should be grateful you got the tip before you wasted your money.

Again, not saying innovations are evil. I’ve invented a few things myself along the way. But you’re not innovating if you don’t understand the underlying concepts in the first place. You’re just making shit up.

There’s a reason you cannot just substitute mullein for graveyard dirt in an old spiritual bath recipe (more than one reason in many cases), and it’s way more complicated than “what other ingredient can do this similar thing?” Folks are free to make up whatever they like. Just don’t pretend it’s traditional conjure – especially if you’re going to claim to be an authority and sell stuff to people.


Okay, back to the question.

First off, the sentence “Black Arts oil is used for karma” doesn’t even make sense. What is the seller saying exactly? That it gives you bad karma to use it? That using it lets you avoid bad karma somehow? That it can turn bad karma to good karma? So we’ve established that there is no concept of karma in traditional hoodoo at all, but I think we also need to establish that your seller doesn’t understand what karma is either. [1]

So yeah, this is garbage advice from a hoodoo perspective, but it would be garbage advice from any other perspective, too, because the writer doesn’t understand the first thing about karma. And this is ultra-common, for first-world folks coming from a vaguely neopagan direction – or really from any direction – to have a pretty flawed and vastly oversimplified concept of karma. Really, “karma” in neopagan terms, or even in generic just-floating-around-in-American-parlance terms, is almost a completely different thing from karma in Hinduism and Buddhism. But somebody is gonna sell you something that has some impact on your karma, huh? God forbid they crack a freakin’ book when they encounter a concept and use it to try to sell something. They believe what they believe and they know a word for it. The fact that it is all kinds of disrespectful of ancient religions practiced by nearly a quarter of the world’s population doesn’t bother some folks at all. But if it’s your karma you’re worried about, *you* should probably crack the book for your own sake then 🙂

So now I’m taking aim not only at unscrupulous merchants who throw trendy keywords into item descriptions where they don’t belong – I’m also taking aim at anyone who hands out info/advice about karma (or anything else they’ve yanked wholesale out of context from another religion/culture) without bothering to do an ounce of work or study on understanding it first.

It’s not accurate to say it’s simply a word for “as you sow, so shall you reap.” It’s not accurate to say it has any comparison to Wiccan stuff. It’s not even entirely accurate to say it’s a word for “what you do comes back to you,” because that understanding of it is bound by limited human perspectives of linear time and consciousness and ego and reality, and you cannot fully understand karma from that limited human perspective. (It’s also problematic to leave the verb “do” uncomplicated and unexamined there in the phrase “what you do” – English speakers with no knowledge of Sanskrit or any real context will be led to make problematic assumptions by that phrase. And really, we also can’t leave the word “you” unexamined and uncomplicated there, because understanding this concept of karma from the perspective(s) of the cultures from which it springs seriously challenges underlying and deeply embedded Western cultural paradigms about identity and selfhood and cognition and memory and emotion.)

This is already longer than I intended and I still have a bunch more emails to answer, so I’m going to put two things here. First I’m going to quote something I wrote on this a while back. It’s pretty blunt, but I’ll contextualize it for you if that bothers you. [2] Then, I’ll link to something much nicer that was written for Americans.

Q: I’ve read that if you take a spell from somewhere else and use it, you are sharing in the karma from the person who wrote that spell.

A:  Good lord, stop reading that mess.  That’s utter bollocks, sorry. In fact, a lot of what contemporary pagan bloggers and tumblr-ers say about karma is utter bollocks, sorry to say, and this bit about a spell’s karma is about the height of absurdity in a vast sea of absurd stuff written about karma by people who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

First of all, karma doesn’t work like that.  Karma has to do with ethics, action, and volition; a set of written instructions has no karma, nor can it serve as a vector for someone else’s karma. Karma is not mana or juju where an object or even a speech act accrues it or absorbs it, and even if a spell (or cake recipe, or auto repair manual) had or could transmit karma, the most fundamental principles of karma would dictate that the same recipe could be followed by two different people with two different ethical results depending on an extremely complex interplay of factors.

Second of all, and most importantly for our purposes here, karma has no place in conjure. (Or in any pagan religion, for that matter.) You are welcome to believe in it. Heck, you are even welcome to believe in the new-age bastardized Western version of it that some folks will feed you, when they relate it to the Wiccan Rede or so-called Rule of Three or whatever.  What you can’t do is import that into your conjure work and call it hoodoo. It’s not hoodoo and it’s also not a traditional Eastern view of karma.  I have seen/heard people purporting to be speaking from a position of expertise on spiritual work or ethics say, “You can’t deny the rule of karma any more than you can deny the law of gravity,” and that is just plain ignorant and wrong. 

We can’t even begin to conceive of how karma works until we’ve taken reincarnation into account. Presuming that karma= “as you sow, so shall you reap,” and that all the sowing and reaping happens within a short, predefined period of time in which you are an observer for the whole thing unfolding (like your single lifetime) is just preposterous. Karma does NOT mean “I was mean to the guy who asked me to prom, so when I am in college, I will get dumped/stood up/whatever and that is my karma.”  It does not mean “I will reap the rewards of good action in this lifetime” or “If i cast a ‘black magic’ spell, it will return on me.” It does not mean “everything you do comes back to you,” and it especially does not mean “everything you do comes back to you times three.” Not only did people not bother to understand karma in context before they stole the word and began misusing it by saying crap like that, they then started adding extra crap on top of the first crap.

Any view of karma that simply labels things “good” and “bad” should give you pause. Those are not very useful terms here. Even using “virtuous” and “not virtuous” is problematic. The Bhagavad Gita makes it clear that one’s karma is inseparable from one’s particular — not universal — duties or moral obligations, if you will. What is virtuous action for a soldier is not the same as what is virtuous action for a child, or a public servant. So any universalizing tendency or summary of “the law” that people resort to to explain this is probably not going to be very accurate.

Any explanation of karma that suggests you are even in a position to understand all the factors in your own karma in this lifetime should make you suspicious. Any view of karma that does not take into account how the cycle of karma plays out in the conditions of rebirth, and how those conditions in turn affect a person’s karma in this life, is not worth listening to. Don’t believe in reincarnation? Then you aren’t talking about karma. Stop calling it that. Give the word back. It’s not yours.

It is difficult for me to say anything succinct about karma without drastically oversimplifying it. It is a complex philosophical concept, not a vocabulary word with a simple translation/definition, and there are different metaphors and different practices outlined in different sacred texts.

But I will note one articulation especially that is very common and that is way off course: “This bad or good thing happens in this life because of my bad or good actions in this life; my actions will return to me and I must reap what I sow and repay my karmic debt.” This is essentially what people are saying when they try to apply karma to the practice of spellwork — and this is explicitly refuted in Buddhist teachings.  In fact, the teachings are explicit that one is NOT required to “repay” all the past “debt” of one’s karma; to proclaim otherwise is to deny the possibility of emancipation. So the people saying “the law of karma is as undeniable as the law of gravity” — that’s either deeply ignorant or just so imprecise as to be utterly meaningless.

In the Anguttara Nikaya, III.101 (Lonaphala Sutta), Buddha says:

O priests, if anyone says that a man must reap according to his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is no religious life, nor is any opportunity afforded for the entire extinction of misery. But if anyone says, O priests, that the reward a man reaps accords with his deeds, in that case, O priests, there is a religious life, and opportunity is afforded for the entire extinction of misery.

— trans. Henry Clarke Warren, in Sacred Writings: With Introductions and Notes, Charles William Eliot, ed., P.F. Collier & Son, 1910.

Admittedly, it’s not necessarily immediately clear in English what the distinction is. You might have to read this more than once to see it, and you should read the entire passage this discourse is from to get the context (instead of letting somebody else on the internet summarize it for you – that’s how all this mess got started in the first place). Here’s an online translation by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

And reading in the larger context would rightfully include reading the earlier religious works to which the above words were a response, such as tracts that lay out karma as a strict series of cause and effect: eg, a man who steals grain will be reborn as a rat. It is this simplistic view of karma as strict cause and effect that Buddha was objecting to. Yes, the cycle of karma is how the cosmos works, basically, but in Buddhism, the entire point is to escape that cycle. Nowhere is the moral of the story simply “as you sow, so shall you reap.”

He goes on to say that in one case, “a trifling evil deed done by a certain individual takes him to hell.” But in another case, the same deed done by a different person “is experienced in the here & now, and for the most part barely appears for a moment.” He then goes on to explain the difference, and you should read the whole section at the very least. So *obviously* this is not an “irrefutable law” in the same sense as the law of gravity. You do *not* simply “sow what you reap” in the way that Westerners tend to mean it.

You should also understand that this is my understanding from my study and I do not speak for all Buddhists or Hindus etc. This stuff will be illustrated differently in different texts and I doubt everyone always agrees on all nuances. I’m not Buddhist or Hindu and I don’t have Sanskrit. I have, however, made a rather more than typical effort at understanding what is meant by karma, since my parents gave me this name and raised me to educate myself before I opened my trap. But you should certainly study and read for yourself.

That is, you should study and read for yourself if you want to really talk about karma and not some predigested Western misappropriation and dumbing down of it. You should worry about how this affects your daily life and actions if you are seriously studying Hinduism or Buddhism (which you should if you presume to speak about it!). But if your interest in this is only as a student of hoodoo or some other type of folk magic, then you only need to know that karma has no place in it, at least not as it is typically understood in the West by bloggers and people trying to sell you oil and candles. Even the general definition you will see in dictionaries, of karma as meaning that every action will return to the doer with equal impact, is a grossly oversimplified misunderstanding.

While it is true that a man reaps the seed he plants, it is not only his conscious action that has a bearing on what he reaps; there is also the quality of the seed; the choice of seed; the inherent intellect of the man from birth that influences his understanding of planting; the education of the man during life that influences his understanding of planting (and the karma of his parents has an effect on all of these things); the moral disposition behind the planting of the seed (if any); the desire that informs the action of the planting (if any); the type of ground in which the seed is planted; the effects of weather patterns, soil quality, rainwater, irrigation, and environmental predation; whether he afterwards pulls out the weeds and waters the crop; etc.

Action is important, but so are birth, personality, effort and intention, time and conditions, beauty and ugliness. If one sows a seed for good but later repents of that good, no good recurs to him as a result of that sowing. If one sows a seed with no desire at all, that action has no karma.

In any event we should not presume that with limited human temporal understanding, we will have the slightest grasp of what causes and effects are at work in our lives or the lives of someone else.  In short, do not let someone give you a one-sentence or one-paragraph definition of karma.  If you want to understand it, don’t accept some modern Western, pre-digested version of it from somebody who doesn’t demonstrate they know what the hell they’re talking about. Study it for yourself in context. If you are not willing to do that, fine, then just drop it. But don’t take some half-baked crap and try to apply it to a religion, worldview, culture, or practice that has never heard of it. To do so is insulting to conjure, insulting to Buddhism and Hinduism, and insulting to the intelligence.

Now here’s something much nicer written with an American audience in mind that might illustrate what  I mean by limited human temporal understanding. The SRF stuff is coming from a Hindu rather than Buddhist perspective, as well.

To sum up: No, there is no magical oil that will have an effect on your karma, PERIOD. That’s freakin’ absurd and it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to do rootwork or Wicca or anything else. Karma does not even work like that at all. Somebody is playing some mix and match bullshit and you deserve better. Fire them.


[1] Just to head this off – in going by the name “Karma,” I am not trying to import anything about karma into hoodoo. My conjure has zero karma in it. My name really is Karma. My parents really named me that. I had a fairly unusual religious upbringing, and I was the kid looking her own name up in the encyclopedia before I was in first grade.

You had to look things up all the time just to keep up in my family. My father was from a long line that had been on the books as Catholic in New Orleans since the 1700s and in France prior to that since the 1500s, but who’d suddenly become Baptist two generations prior for reasons I do not know. And my father took us church-hopping. We’d go to a tiny AME Zion church on the edge of the county for a month, one room, white clapboard, all the little old ladies in their fine hats flapping their fans. I learned “Wade in the Water” in that church – one of my favorite spirituals.

 

Six months later we’d be in a proto-megachurch in a well-to-do suburb in the heart of midtown with state-of-the-art sound system and really awful Christian “soft rock,” surrounded by a congregation raising their hands to heaven and speaking in tongues.

 

One weekend, the youth group decided to lay their hands on me and pray for Sweet Jesus to drive the demons of doubt from my body. I prayed for Sweet Jesus to get me the hell out of there pronto.

You can probably suss just from these two comparative experiences where my sympathies, tendencies, and influences were already (smirk).

My mother was from a line largely of Spanish Catholics and Irish mostly-Catholics, with the occasional French Catholic, a few folks who had probably not been Catholic until they met somebody in our family and converted, and I think one identifiable Anglican for sure. Her father’s people had ventured over into Protestantism for a few generations while they were settling rural Alabama, but you have to picture the scene. Here’s her father as an adult in the suburbs looking for all the world like he grew up in rural Alabama plowing fields as a boy, barefoot, with a straw hat and a mule named Doc. (He did all of those things, except I think he probably wore shoes.)

He wore denim overalls, still the straw hat, still grew veggies, drank the same lowbrow beer everybody in his neighborhood drank, and read popular paperback Westerns. But he also read Edgar Cayce, Persian poetry, yes, the Paramahansa Yogananda who was really getting around in the ’50s and ’60s, Mysteries of the Unexplained, Kahlil Gibran, and National Geographic. So of course I did too when I was over there, which was constantly. I didn’t know it then, but it was a weird-ass religious upbringing.

(If you’re waiting for a story of how unusual my grandmother’s religious tastes were, you won’t get one. She was born Catholic, lived Catholic, and is Catholic right this second, living in a residential home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are superheroes.  Even so, she might be more Catholic than them even. She doesn’t know who I am anymore but she still recognizes the most obscure apparitions of the Blessed Mother ever recorded from the furthest extremes of the folk art traditions in which she encountered them. Her mother was of an era and milieu which meant her house was stuffed full of home altars with statues on them, some of which had their own clothing, and it was perfectly rational to own 15 different sets of rosary beads. Do you know how many saints there are? I don’t either — thousands – but I bet my great grandmother did. The parish priest came to her house for Sunday dinners, and when he retired from parish priesting, would send her postcards from wherever he was in the world letting her know how things were in Rome or Pittsburgh or wherever and asking about the kids. She was like OG Spanish Catholic except ethnically not strictly Spanish. But her Spanish grandmother moved to Mexico from Florida for the last part of her life because Florida wasn’t Catholic enough. That family made the pope look like a slacker.)

Meanwhile, during the week, I was being educated by Jesuits and Sisters of Mercy (there’s a misnomer for you! Sister Gabriel had a yardstick and she was not afraid to use it!), my father was reading Paramahansa Yogananda, and my mother was teaching yoga to us and the neighborhood kids she used to babysit.

Don’t get the wrong idea about Catholic school. While the nuns were threatening us with the Baltimore Catechism, those Jesuits taught us classical logic and philosophy and world religion, and not in a “we’re learning about these people so we can be sure who’s going to hell” kind of way. It was honestly, in retrospect, a fabulous classical liberal arts education. Sadly for working-class Americans, the Sisters of Mercy have largely given up the mission of educating the offspring of American Catholics and are focusing more on education and healthcare in less developed countries. And sadly for the state of my mother’s eternal soul, if she went to their website right now, she’d probably say they were Communists just like the current pope. Her words. Please pray for my mother!

It was dizzying. Like I’ve said elsewhere, I was raised a sort of maverick hippie-flavored Catholic. And like I said here, I had to read the encyclopedia to even have a hope of keeping up. And I’m positive that I still missed *a lot.*

[2] When I wrote this, I’d been selling folk art and spiritual supplies and a few services like light settings on eBay for 10 years at that point. *Every single day,* I got multiple emails from multiple people wanting these things:

  • for me to answer them and do a free reading, basically, to tell them “something about themselves so they’d know I was for real”
  • for me to give them a money back guarantee so they’d know I was for real
  • for me to explain how to spot a fake who would rip them off (guess what? a money back guarantee is a huge warning sign of a fake that will rip you off)
  • to know if I have been awarded any ratings or awards by some global spellcaster rating society that doesn’t freakin’ exist that they read about on some charlatan’s page, and they still believe most of the stuff on that page even though they have become convinced that that person is a fraud
  • to know if I can post a listing for a very, very unique glitter-covered magenta polyclay thingamajig from the garage sale of Marie Laveau’s only living descendant a factory in China, an item that will summon and control every djinn, spirit, demon, spell item, spirit item, and cursed item, from my coven or not, just like this person who did this listing at this link (my coven?! what?)
  • to have their very own witch fairy genie angel unicorn gypsy voodoo hellhound spirit bound to them for life to do their bidding and grow their genitalia, clear their complexions, gift them with a Maserati and a six-figure income overnight, and love them and keep them company (and in some cases become their supernatural lovers)
  • to know if I will make a “voodoo doll” that will control another person’s body and will to the extent that they’re basically asking me to help them magically lobotomize and rape someone
  • **to be able to do all of this without incurring any bad karma** or having anything “backfire” on them

I’m not even kidding. They want to imprison a spirit inside an object, order it around fearlessly and with no consequences, *and* have it enjoy its imprisonment — and sex. Don’t forget the sex. With the enslaved spirit who has no choice but to do your bidding. Or they want the equivalent of a magical roofie so they can enjoy themselves with the limp, responseless, vacant body of the porn zombie they’ve created out of what used to be a human being with a soul.

This is sometimes just ignorance/romance + a lack of sitting down and thinking things through. But this sometimes straight up psychopathy. There are some seriously messed up people out there, and when you hang up a shingle to do any kind of spiritual consulting (especially on a site like eBay), some of them will find you. And unless/until you develop multiple measures to screen them out/avoid them, they will fill up your inbox asking you to do things you probably never imagined — because this isn’t Harry Potter and spiritual work doesn’t work like that, but also in some cases because *you aren’t a freakin’ sociopath* so your brain doesn’t even go there.

They are enabled and encouraged – and in some cases even created – by charlatans who posture as authorities on some religion or body of cultural practice and post egregious romantic bullshit about them, profiting off of their “mysteriousness” and their customers’ desperation and/or ignorance (and/or total lack of any empathy whatsoever). And in many cases, these are religions and cultures from “less developed” parts of the world where little kids are dying of dumb shit like rotavirus because *there isn’t any soap* and a hurricane just put what little functional infrastructure they had left under 6 feet of putrid water.

But this asshole can tell whatever lies he wants about people's lives and religions so he can have more Big Macs and iPhones. Screw the customers who don't know there's no such thing as a "voodoo shaman" or a governing body that rates and ranks them and crowned this one "king of the voodoo shamans," and screw actual living vodouisants and screw that little kid dying of something $5 could cure.

So yeah – I get mad sometimes. I get upset about people playing mix-and-match bullshit with other people’s religions, *for profit* no less, and that is what I’d been dealing with when I wrote this above bit.


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