karma-1For a long time now I’ve lived by the three-fold laws of karma. It’s really quite simple – what you put out into the world you get back times three, kind of a natural, built-in comeuppance system. And on the whole it’s done what it was supposed to, which is to encourage practitioners to always be good and kind to others and think about possible ramifications their actions might have (not that you or I need some invisible force threatening us to be decent people, but the metaphorical scythe hanging over your head makes you think more seriously.) I’d like to think I am a good person, and the lack of apparent negative karma in my life would corroborate that.

But then my daughter died. Losing a child was probably the worst thing I could imagine having to endure and now it is my life. And I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what horrible hurt I could have brought to someone to have gotten it back three-fold in the form of my infant’s death. Life has again shown me that in matters of spirituality and faith, absolutely nothing is set in stone.

When you believe in a structure like karma, there’s a certain level of security and assured justice. It’s simple. You commit an act, for good or bad, and the all-knowing, all-powerful universe judges that action and returns the same energy to you times three. This kind of system assures that good people get good things and bad people get bad things. Only, we all live in the real world, and we all know that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The very real question this poses to me (in a philosophical sense) is that if we put good energy into the world but still receive such horrible, negative experiences back without rhyme or reason, what is our reason for continuing to be light bringers when the shadows keep punching us in the stomach? I know, of course, that there’s something to be said for lessons learned, and it’s not about how you fall but about how you get back up. I’m not advocating for everyone to abandon karma, just to think for a minute how hard it can be – how hard it is – to be a good person when you’ve suffered terribly.

There are other questions too that I’d never thought about that indicate to me karma is more a tree in a bad storm than ancient stone. Are we responsible for actions we did not commit ourselves, but were committed in our name? Can we be responsible for a loved one’s actions in a karmic sense? Is it possible, counter intuitive as it seems, to incur negative karma for something horrible you haven’t yet done? When push comes to shove, is karma simply another belief structure we invented to give ourselves a measure of peace? How you perceive such potentially awesome power would depend on your own experiences, right? Which are of course different from mine.

So many philosophical questions. But this is the thing about Wicca that organized religions fail to understand. There is no right answer. Truth is relevant. There are as many “right” answers are there are people in the world.