Within 24 hours of President Trump’s inauguration, resistance movements exploded onto the national, and even international, landscape. The Women’s March on Washington was so large that attendees could not march because they filled the entire marching route. The same was true in Los Angeles, and sister marches attracted hundreds of thousands of people all across the country and around the world.
Within the first week, the new president started a war with the National Park Service, suspending their social media privileges. The NPS fought back by creating “rogue” Twitter accounts assigned to unknown federal employees and quickly gained thousands of followers. This pattern was followed by a number of other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and U.S. Customs. According to NPR, there are now over 80 of these accounts actively tweeting facts about science, climate change, and other topics that administration would prefer to silence.
Other examples of resistance abound. A science march is scheduled for April 22. Airport resistance placed a snag in the administration’s travel ban. There is even a ballot initiative in California with the intention of seceding from the United States. Last weekend, witches across the globe participated in a collective hex on the president.
The resistance is not limited to the courts, the streets, and social media. Witches and other magickal practitioners are plying their craft and organizing movements for magickal resistance. One of these efforts is the We Are Aradia movement. Born from the idea of Storm Faerywolf and the work of Laura Tempest Zakroff, We Are Aradia works with the energy of a vital piece of Witchcraft lore toward the goal of resisting the oppressor.
Aradia, Gospel of the Witches by Charles Godfrey Leland is a foundational piece of Witchcraft lore. It is one of the inspirations for the practice of Wicca and Witchcraft. Aradia, daughter of Diana, is sent to teach methods of magickal resistance to those who suffer at the hands of oppression by the church. “Thou shalt make them die in their palaces,” Aradia is told. “And thou shalt bind the oppressor’s soul…For I have come to sweep away the bad, The men of evil, and I will destroy!” (pp. 4-5). With this inspiration, the founders of We Are Aradia hope to organize Witches and others into a magickal resistance against what they perceive as the oppressive policies of the Trump administration.
Author and Faery teacher Storm Faerywolf began the idea with a tweet. Concerned with “our government lurching abruptly to the (alt) right,” Faerywolf felt that many people are “legitimately scared and a wondering if [they] will continue to be safe in our country.” After reading a post stating that someone was “feeling like we need a real life Aradia right now,” Faerywolf responded, “I guess we need to be Aradia for each other right now,” and initiated the hashtag #WeAreAradia. “As we in the United States are finding ourselves on the very precipice of totalitarianism,” says Faerywolf, “now more than ever is the time for all of us to stand up and fight tooth and nail for the rights of the people.” Aradia, and her mythology of active resistance, became the model for a modern resistance.
Laura Temepest Zakroff, an artist and Patheos blogger, picked it up from there. “I saw Storm’s Twitter post,” she explains, “and it struck me like lightning that yes, this is another step toward claiming our power.” Zakroff continues, saying that, “It’s very easy to get bogged down by all the news and negativity, to succumb to inertia,” but Faerywolf’s post inspired her to write a post on her Patheos blog, and begin organizing a movement. “When a flame is lit, suddenly everything moves faster,” says Zakroff, “and can continue to grow if we keep breathing into it.” As part of lighting that flame, Zakroff wrote a new poem to inspire the movement: The Charge of the New Aradia.
According to Faerywolf, the goal is simple: “To raise awareness that there is no outside force that is coming to ‘save’ us, so we will need to do it for ourselves,” so “we are Aradia.” Zakroff is looking to create specific goals for the movement. “I do think the next step is coming up with a specific game plan or, dare I say it, a manifesto,” she says. On a practical level, she says, “it’s important for Witches and other practitioners to stand their ground, and help others.” She advises them to “draw upon both physical and metaphysical means to protect, guide, teach, and inspire.”
“We need all of our magic to make this happen,” agrees Faerywolf. “We will need healers, diviners, ritualists, oracles, artists, poets, counselors, teachers, priest/esses, and, yes, warriors.” He tells those who wish to get involved to “Write spells, and poems, and share your thoughts where others can hear them,” and also to “write letters and enchant them to influence those who read them.” Yet, he also cautions people to be safe, to “know your rights,” and to “get informed and help others get informed.”
As an artist, Zakroff has brought her skills to the movement. “I got it in my head to create a graphic that represents a diverse collection of people forming/creating #WeAreAradia across colors, genders, paths, and other identities,” says Zakroff. She has created a website, a Facebook page, and a sigil for use in workings. She has begun a “Curse of the Week” campaign. The first curse read: “May false knights in white shining armor get cooked in fires of their own devising.”
Such a campaign brings up a delicate topic. In Leland’s myth, Aradia is very clearly sent to teach the oppressed to work harmful magic on their oppressors. As a foundational piece of Witchcraft lore, Aradia makes it clear that the myths which inspired the modern Craft encouraged the downtrodden to harm their oppressors magically. Cursing and hexing can be controversial in Wicca, and Witchcraft in general, because of what many perceive as a rule of “harm none.” So, where an important foundational myth outright encourages cursing, many modern practitioners believe the practice to be taboo.
Faerywolf believes cursing to be “a vital part of the witch’s repertoire.” He believes that citing such things as the Threefold Law and Wiccan Rede as prohibitions against cursing is “quite frankly a fundamentalist fallacy born of a particularly effective, and ultimately insidious, public relations campaign.” Admitting that not every Witch will choose to engage in the practice, “to issue a blanket statement about the validity of those who do only serves to weaken the whole” and is a “Wiccan-derived dogma” that is “rooted in the privilege of those who have likely never been on the receiving end of any form of actual persecution.” While it should be “reserved for extreme cases,” Faerywolf believes it is acceptable “in those instances where the cause is just”
According to Zakroff, “whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ or ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ is mainly a matter of perspective.” While she does not believe in harming others for no reason, she does believe in “helping to push to create balance.” She advises practitioners to “illuminate a situation so it can better be seen, to bring justice and to let the energy decide the best form to take to accomplish the task.”
These two practitioners, as well as those whom they have inspired, believe that now is the time when those in a politically vulnerable position must turn to the lessons given to the first Witches by the deity who brought them their power. “I will sleep soundly,” concludes Faerywolf, “knowing that I will have been true to my values and have done everything in my power to resist the rising tide of fascism that looms over us all.”