The Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog asks its panelists to weigh in on if presidential candidate Barack Obama elicits “religious fervor” among his followers. Pagan author and activist Starhawk’s response is that Obama is casting a “good and needed spell”.
“If politicians hired Witches or magicians as consultants, we’d tell them that your deep mind responds to positive words and images, and doesn’t get ‘no’ … Magically speaking, then, Obama is casting a good spell. Whether he wins or loses, he’s filling the psychic and emotional atmosphere with words like ‘healing’ and ‘hope’. The effect is like a clean breeze blowing through a morass of stinking, noxious fumes. People want to believe, because they like the way he makes them feel about themselves … Obama evokes some powerfully appealing archetypes. Think of all those myths and fairy tales about the humble-seeming outsider who turns out to be the true king, throwing out the corrupt rulers and restoring health and healing. We’re a contradictory people – we love underdogs, while we despise losers – but there’s nothing we love more than the little guy who comes from behind and beats all the odds to win the pennant.”
Starhawk also takes some time to advise Hillary Clinton to drop the experienced “responsible mom” meme she has been spreading as part of her campaign, stop attacking Obama on issues of “faith and trust”, and go the route of the visionary instead.
“In the contest of archetypes, women are at a disadvantage, facing a deep, unconscious sexism that limits our collective imagination … if I were Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor, I’d tell her, stay away from that archetype. Responsible Mom is not going to win over Aragorn the Exiled King. Instead, I would urge, be Joan of Arc. Find your vision, and be so passionately driven by it that you would stand forth and challenge kings and armies. Show us your courage, which we know you have. Tell us ‘I stood forth and went into realms where few women dared to go, because I care so deeply about the welfare of all of us.'”
As the March 4th primaries approach, it remains to be seen if Obama’s “magic spell” will hold out, or if Clinton will be able to break through with her own visionary message. But win or lose, it seems apparent that Obama’s “good and needed spell” will continue to resonate, and like all primal archetypal magic, may change the Democratic party, and America, more deeply than we may realize now.