UNITED STATES — President Donald Trump continues to raise hackles among progressives — as well as some conservatives — during these first hundred days of his term in office. Some of his opponents in the Pagan and polytheist communities are working magic against the 45th president, and in the tradition of hexing Brock Turner, some of that work is being done very publicly.Gala Darling broadcast a “bind Trump” ritual on President’s Day, capitalizing on the holiday to focus energy on the effort. Based on the participant locations she rattled off, the effort was an international one.
Binding is a form of magic that is less ethically problematic for practitioners who subscribe to the threefold law or similar injunctions against manipulative magic. “Binding spells are traditionally used to prevent someone else’s energy from interfering with yours,” she wrote on her site, “and when there’s a dangerous narcissist dictating the direction of the USA, I think it’s high time to employ a powerful binding spell.”
Last Monday was not the only opportunity to get involved in such a public effort, however. Another binding spell is scheduled to take place on Feb. 24, the start of the waning crescent moon.
It’s been popularized by author Michael M. Hughes, who wrote, “It was allegedly created by a member of a private magical order who wishes to remain anonymous. I make no claims about its efficacy, and several people have noted it can be viewed as more of a mass art/consciousness-raising project . . . . but many are clearly taking it very seriously.”
Both of those binding spells are broadly intended to keep the current president from doing harm, and they share components, such as thread, candles, and pins. Where Darling’s spell provides only general guidelines regarding the casters’ intentions, the spell shared by Hughes is quite specific, including such details as:
Bind him so that he shall not break our polity
Usurp our liberty
Or fill our minds with hate, confusion, fear, or despair
And bind, too,
All those who enable his wickedness
And those whose mouths speak his poisonous lies
There are witches, root workers, and other magical practitioners who don’t believe that a binding is the only alternative. A trend to refer to Trump simply as “45” to undermine his perceived ego has more extensive magical expression in a hex of obsolescence, for example.
However, many of the online examples were written before the election, which is itself may be a commentary on their effectiveness.
What many of these spells offered do have in common is a rich variety of symbolism. Carrots and orange candles are used to evoke Trump’s hair. The fact that tarot decks have a trump called the Tower is too tempting to ignore. And, in the tradition of political advertising, unflattering pictures of the president are sometimes incorporated.
The result of decades of self-branding provides a wide variety of icons and images for use in such magical work targeting him, including delivering written intentions to Trump Tower.
The hurling of curses at the so-called leader of the free world does raise ethical questions separate from the political ones. As noted previously, adherents to the threefold law of return and similar edicts are mindful that what they work will revisit them in turn. The Wiccan Rede, “an it harm none do as you will,” also stands as warning against working negative magic.
That doesn’t sit well for people who agree with Witch and shaman Mat Auryn, who last month wrote, “As we continue down on our path, many of us start seeing the flaw of fulfilling the Rede as we meditate upon it. The act of existence is harmful by nature. The act of eating kills something, regardless of our dietary choices. The body itself tends to be constantly breaking down and destroying life as it exists.”
To help place the ethical issues in context, we turned to author Ivo Dominguez, Jr., who has written a number of books on the practice of magic.
The Wild Hunt: What’s your ethical position on doing this kind of magical work in general?
Ivo Dominguez, Jr.: I believe that it is ethical to perform operative workings if they adhere to the same ethical and moral framework that you would apply in any other arena of life. I apply the same guidelines and codes to whatever change that I want to make in the world whether I use words, deeds, or wands. The larger the potential impact on myself or others, the more carefully I review my intentions, methods, and possible outcomes. The powers raised by passion and will are essential in powerful workings, but a strong container and focus of action is just as essential. In this regard ethics, morals, and careful consideration of the possibility of unintended outcomes is just as important as good magickal tech and ritual-craft.
TWH: Whether or not you’d do something like that yourself, are there pitfalls that you think people who work such magic commonly overlook? Unintended consequences, that sort of thing?
ID: The most common pitfall is failure, which wastes time, energy, and can be demoralizing. In a way similar to rituals that work well for a handful of people but fall apart when offered as a large group ritual, political magick requires different approaches. The spell that works well for quelling angry gossip in the workplace, or keeping obnoxious neighbors at bay, etc. does not often provide a useful template for political workings. For operative magick to be effective when applied at this scale, modifications must be made to both the planning and to the execution of the workings. The methods for analysis and implementation need to be a mixture of mundane practices in combination with low, middle, and high magick.
There have been successful workings in the past such as the witches and magicians that fought against Hitler in World War II, the practitioners of Vodou that started the Haitian Revolution, Maria Soliña and her coven who defeated an attack by the Turkish fleet against Spain in the Middle Ages, and many more. I personally know of numerous instances in the last several decades where magick worked to bring criminals and political figures to justice. These efforts often involved, many well-trained and talented people in close, coordinated, and cohesive groups. Although there is great potential for mass workings arranged through social media, more often than not it is like a gargantuan orchestra with no conductor and works about as well.
TWH: For binding specifically, is there one piece of advice you’d give to avoid disaster or improve the chances of a positive outcome?
ID: Often there is little or no blow-back from many of these efforts because the magick never hits take-off velocity or falls apart against the large and powerful shields created by the hopes and adoration of a public figure’s supporters. When the working is powerful but poorly designed and hastily implemented, there is a greater possibility for blowback. I have taught a nine-part series on operative magick, each part a day-long class, and still just scratched the surface. It is hard to give a single piece of advice other than pick something that matches the scale of your resources and knowledge.
Those supporters of the president that Dominguez referenced do include Pagans and polytheists, as we noted after the election, some of whom may be trying to bolster the commander-in-chief magically. The situation could be likened to nuns praying for their favorite team to win, except that polytheists pray to many gods if they pray at all.
Despite his skepticism that mass spells such as these will succeed, Dominguez said, “There is often a valuable emotional and psychological boost that comes from doing magick against oppressors, wrongdoers, and the like even if the magick does not work.” For his part, though, “I am more excited about doing workings to strengthen and support our people so that we can change the world in lasting ways. That said, there are times when direct opposition is necessary.”
For those who don’t wish to join the fray on the magical plane, there remain many other ways to support favorite causes, including volunteering and making donations to them; just ask Mike Pence.
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The work of journalist Terence P. Ward was made possible by the generous underwriting donation from Hecate Demeter, writer, ecofeminist, witch and Priestess of the Great Mother Earth.