Trump’s Presidency Has Spawned a New Generation of Witches

On midnight last Friday, all over the United States, an alliance of magical practitioners called the Magic Resistance gathered Tarot cards, feathers, orange and white candles, pins, water, salt, matches, ashtrays, and unflattering photos of President Trump. The objects are prerequisites for a binding spell, an incantation typically used to keep someone from harming themselves or others, like a magical straitjacket. They use the pin to scratch “Donald J. Trump” into the orange candle (baby carrots are a sanctioned substitute) and read aloud a spell first posted on Medium. It begins: “Hear me, oh spirits of Water, Fire, Earth, and Air, heavenly hosts, demons of the infernal realms, and spirits of the ancestors … I call upon you to bind Donald J. Trump so that his malignant works may fail utterly.” It ends with burning the unflattering Trump photo and telling it, “You’re fired!”

The binding ritual is the 33rd of its kind, the Magic Resistance having performed during each waning crescent moon since February 24, 2017, but in the eyes of the witches and other occultists performing the rite, each instance has been a success.

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, the Youth International Party, better known as the yippies, decided that the Pentagon was in need of an exorcism—and a levitation. They requested a permit to lift the Pentagon 300 feet in the air; the permit administrator only granted them a levitation of 10 feet, maximum. That October, as part of a much larger march, some 35,000 protesters tried to encircle the Pentagon, but were quelled and arrested by security. It didn’t matter. “The levitation of the Pentagon was a happening that demystified the authority of the military,” Allen Ginsberg, one of the exorcism’s organizers, said. “The Pentagon was symbolically levitated in people’s minds.”

Magic (and particularly witchcraft) has been a form of protest for decades, probably centuries, but protest magic has burst into the media and broader public consciousness only twice in recent memory: during the 1960s and now, during Trump’s presidency. In the ‘60s there were the yippies, but also the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell—W.I.T.C.H.—a pointy-hatted wing of the women’s liberation movement. These days, as The New York Times recently noted, it seems like everyone is a witch: friends, coworkers, baristas, the covens of Tumblr and Instagram hawking crystal amulets and spell books, tweeters casting emoji spells, protesters holding up signs with slogans like, “We are the granddaughters of the witches you failed to burn.” Evangelical Christian news sites are denouncing the rise of witchcraft and Satanism; Netflix and other studios, bolstered by the success of shows like The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, are ordering witch flick after witch flick; President Trump is constantly declaring himself the victim of a “WITCH HUNT!” This is the new era of the witch.

Of course, witchcraft, Wicca, and the occult never really went away. They’ve just had variances in their level of acceptableness. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia, witchcraft is still considered a serious crime, and sometimes a capital offense. This April, two Indonesian domestic workers who spent a decade on death row after being accused of practicing witchcraft against the Saudi Arabian families who employed them, finally had their sentences commuted after the Indonesian government intervened. In the US, UK, and elsewhere, cultures have slanted toward being witch-neutral or witch-positive. In Scotland, people are calling for a memorial for women executed for witchcraft 400 years ago. In Portland, Oregon, a flotilla of hundreds of witches paddle-boarded down the Willamette River last weekend for charity. In other communities in the United States, revealing that you practice magic is seen as dangerous and referred to as “coming out of the broom closet.” Point being: The politics of the occult are weird and complicated and region-specific, but, unless you’re eight and it’s Halloween, they pretty much always exist. Which makes sense because witchcraft (and witch hunts) are all about power. Right now, lots of people feel like they don’t have any.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired