The environment and the Law of Return

I had been thinking of offering a list today of my favorite “green” folks on Twitter, until I got this message from’s GreenScope:

The law of karma gets restated in a hundred different ways. In environmental terms, it’s simple: whatever you do will literally come back to you. So look for cleaning products that can go safely into the water supply system. Baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice work on almost anything and are completely biodegradable.

I’d written previously about green cleaning products — and yes, baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice make for some excellent “mean green clean.” Apart from the elimination of toxic chemicals from your home environment (commercial cleaners are full of the stuff) and the fact that make-at-home cleaners are also friendlier to your wallet, it’s absolutely true that homemade green cleaning products are easier on our landfills and water treatment centers.

Instant karma’s gonna get you.
—John Lennon

We do reap what we sow. The impact of our chemically-dependent — for lack of a better term — lifestyles is showing up in our waterways and fish populations, in everything from algae blooms to reduced fertility rates. And I don’t have a comprehensive list of all of the chemicals and other materials that waste water treatment facilities are able to filter out, but I don’t imagine they’re able to scrub the water of absolutely everything.

In Wicca and other branches of Neo-Paganism, the Law of Three states that whatever you send out into the world will come back to you three-fold. This admonition is aimed against the practice of questionable spells — usually curses and the like — but can also be effectively applied to day-to-day living.

Do I want to treat the Earth with respect, and then have this same consideration returned to me three-fold? Yes, please. Do I want to trash the planet and then have three times that level of destruction visited upon me? Not so much, no.

There’s a split in the scientific community over whether global warming is a reality — which I don’t understand. There’s also a split amongst those who recognize that climate change is indeed happening, between those who attribute environmental impact to human beings and those who believe it’s a natural, cyclical phenomenon.

I’m in the “yes, climate change is real, and humans have contributed to it,” camp. And I believe we are dealing now with the consequences of the quick rise of industry and technology from generations past (alongside rampant consumption of natural resources) with no heed given to environmental impact — and that future generations will continue to deal with those problems as well as with whatever additional damage we do today. The results of the solutions that we come up with now may not really be felt until after our lifetimes, but that’s the environmental legacy we leave for those who come after us.

Karma can be a bitch, but it can also be a blessing. You get back from it what you put into it. We just have to figure out what kind of environmental return we want to have visited — perhaps even three-fold — upon our descendants.


Intentional Weather

We had some unusual weather here in the metro Portland area this past weekend. Some friends of mine were holding a Beltane potluck party on Sunday, the day after a freak windstorm blew through town. This morning, I received an e-mail from the host:

There were a lot of people “praying” for good weather for the gathering.  If, “pray-tell” those prayers worked, the result of holding off the bad weather predicted, may have lead to the current weather extremes.  But even more interesting, what about the weird, violent, and untypical weather phenomena that occurred the day before?  This was a kind of Microburst, a type of tornado that does not twist—it is more like a (high-tidal) wave-front.  Such are extremely rare and even caught our weather bureaus off-guard.  We and 30,000 other nearby residents lost power, one person was killed and property damage was high.  Could this have been a result of the prayed-for weather modification PRIOR to the needed good weather and therefore outside the expected linear time progression?

I do believe that we are all part of the system in which we live and exist. Whether we like it or not, we absolutely impact the world around us, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Rather than using this space to debate the effectiveness of “weather magick,” I’d like to instead explore this idea of having an impact.

There is no action without reaction. I’ve often shied away from working magick, simply because I’ve been afraid of messing with karma, other people’s intentions, and so forth. I was raised not to interfere. Indeed, I’ve been so focused lately on reducing my environmental footprint — so as not to have any impact at all (or a very minimal one) — that I’ve lost sight of what being a part of the system is all about.

If I live my life being so careful not to have any kind of an impact, I’ll get my wish: I’ll have no impact on my world whatsoever. I will not leave my mark on the earth — for better or for worse — nor on society or the people I love. Is that the life I want?

As the story goes, I can spend a year lying in bed doing nothing, or I can spend that same year showing up every day for what I want and for what I want to create in this world. Either way, a year has passed. It’s up to me at the end of that year to decide whether or not I’ve spent my time wisely.

Every action we take, every breath — just the fact that we EXIST — is like throwing pebbles into the pond. We cannot know in those moments what kind of waves we might be creating farther out. But if we weren’t making waves, we wouldn’t be living.

Human beings have no choice but to have an impact on the environment in which we live. There’s just no way around that — taking ourselves out of the game entirely is simply not an option. But that impact doesn’t have to be a negative or destructive one. By becoming more conscious of our choices and actively crafting the intentions behind our actions, the impact that we have can be very positive.

We will stumble. We will make mistakes. That’s all part of nature’s imperfect perfection.

Sometimes what we want to create or change immediately in front of us can have far-reaching consequences — good or bad — that we could not have foreseen. Whether it’s in prayer, ritual or just day-to-day living, I like to include the phrase “for the highest good of all” and/or “this or something better” — so that the Universal forces at work (which have a broader view than I do) can make adjustments as needed.

What kind of intentional magick have you been working?