Karma is a concept originating with the Hindu religion, inherited by Buddhism and Jainism and appropriated by many modern Western magico-religious traditions. Each of these defines karma somewhat differently. Karma means "action or deed" and it refers (at its most simplistic) to the actions and intentions in this life that affect our position after death and rebirth. "Good" karma can lead to an improvement of circumstances upon rebirth while "bad" karma can lead to rebirth at a lower station. Depending on the tradition, this does not necessarily mean "good" and "bad" as in moral and immoral or kind and cruel, but refer rather to behavior appropriate to one's place in the universe or station in society. Thus, "good" karma for a soldier, might not be the same as that for a doctor, a man's different from a woman's, etc.

Modern Western magico-religious practitioners often embrace karma as a system of reward and punishment for may equate it with such concepts as The Law of Attraction, The Law of Return or The Law of Causality. In this definition, karma often brings about punishment (karmic retribution) or reward with during a person's lifetime instead of, or as well as after death.

In the West, instant karma refers to getting one's "just desserts" immediately after the causal action.

Among Western magic-users, spells to speed up "karmic retribution" appear to be quite popular.

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