BALTIMORE, Md. On February 24, 2017, the “Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him” was first cast. On every dark moon since then, large numbers of people have recast that that spell. The Next one will occur October 6, 2018 at midnight Mar-a-Lago time (EST). This decentralized ritual experience occurs simultaneously in many locations around the globe. It even has its own Facebook page for info on upcoming dates for spell castings. The magical resistance has begun.
Michael M. Hughes and others wrote the original script for the Trump Binding Spell, which took the internet by storm that February. Over a year later, in September, Llewellyn published Hughes’ book Magic for Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change. The Wild Hunt recently spoke with Hughes about his book, his life, and the Trump Binding Spell.
Hughes described the present time as “a crisis moment when we need to merge our spiritual principles with our political participation.” He considers the book as a primer of sorts for his style of eclectic magic. People can adapt the rituals and spells in the book to a variety of traditions. The book is part history and part teaching guide.
Readers can buy the book at their local new age, occult, or Pagan bookstore. They can also order it on-line from major retailers. Some public libraries may eventually have the book for people low on cash. Hughes favors buying the book at brick and mortar stores rather than over the internet. That helps to sustain local magical and Pagan communities, he says.
Hughes is a product of, and a participant in, the bohemian culture of Baltimore, which nurtured the cinema of John Waters and Lady Divine. He feels strongly connected “to their sense of humor and irreverence.” In fact, Hughes says that he knows Waters and runs into him in Baltimore.
Contrary to mainstream media reports, Hughes does not consider himself a Witch. He considers himself an “eclectic magician.” He has studied Witchcraft, but it was not his path.
Along with Witchcraft, he also has studied Chaos and Ceremonial Magic. From all of his studies, Hughes mined certain “universal themes and methods” for commonalities across many traditions. When he experimented with these commonalities, they worked with some gods but not with others, he explains. Hughes says that he found some “currents were immediately alive and humming with power.”
From this pragmatic approach, Hughes has developed “open templates” for rituals. An open template consists of a structure flexible enough that people from different traditions can use it. People can modify the templates as needed.
Reactions from magicians, Pagans, and Witches
While many praised Hughes and the other creators of the Trump Binding Spell, the work has also generated much criticism from Pagans, and Witches. Most of that criticism arises from different approaches to rituals and spell casting, and some comes from pro-Trump magicians, Pagans, Witches.
One complaint involves the focus of the spell. Some people think it would be more effective to empower the political resistance than to bind Trump. Hughes rejects the “either/or” aspect of this particular idea. He explains that taking part in the Trump Binding Spell does not preclude traditional activism such as direct action, protest marches, or citizen lobbying. He sees the spell as “the magical arm of the larger resistance movement.”
Hughes argues that the Trump Binding Spell does, in fact, empower the political resistance. He considers it to be defensive magic against Trump’s “existential threat” to democracy and its values. And, he describes Trump as “the epitome of an autocratic, xenophobic, nationalistic narcissist, and sociopath.” When faced with this type of attack, Hughes argues that ““you bring all of your tools to the fight.”
Another criticism from magical and Pagan communities has involved the use of Christian specific terms in the spell, such as “Heavenly hosts or Demons of the infernal realms.”
Hughes countered that complaint by saying that the authors inserted the term “infernal” to freak out those Christian fanatics who support Trump. He finds the extent of their hypocrisy “mind-boggling” and evidence of their ignorance of the Christian social gospel. The Trump Binding Spell includes other similar playful and humorous elements, such as the use of a stubby orange candle. It also substitutes “You’re fired!” for the more traditional, “So mote it be.” Hughes believes that “humor has a place in magic, especially when aimed at humorless narcissists.”
However, he does clarify his use of the term “demons.” Hughes uses the term to mean something closer to the Greek daimones, which are spiritual entities who serve as intermediaries to the gods. These “demons” differ from the Christian concept of demons as evil beings.
A third criticism arises from the invoking the elements in an unusual order. In the Trump Binding Spell, the elements are invoked in the following order, “water, earth, fire, air.” In response, Hughes explains that this is the order he personally has always used. Furthermore, he believes that the actual order of invocation lacks importance. The Trump Binding Spell was designed as an open template and, as such, people can modify it to fit their traditions
Finally, some magical practitioners have criticized the alleged targets of the spell. Certain lines in the spell’s script call for the binding of Trump’s enablers. Critics have interpreted these lines as targeting Trump supporters in addition to members of the administration and Congress.
According to Hughes, these lines do include “those in his administration and Congress” who are complicit in the caging of child immigrants and other atrocities. He also said that the spell would indeed bind others who support and enable Trump’s policies. “If you approve of dumping coal waste in mountain streams,” Hughes tells TWH, “well, those of us who think that’s absolute lunacy will attempt to stop you.”
As might be expected, pro-Trump magicians, Pagans, and Witches have attacked Hughes for his work. He says that he dismisses them as laughable and irrelevant, “I can’t help you, if you’re a member of a spiritual tradition that is earth-centered and you support the current president and his dismantling of environmental protections and denial of climate change.”
Magical Resistance Trending
At least three similar books, all of which support magical resistance in some form, are being published in the next year. Laura Tempest Zakroff has edited an anthology called The New Aradia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance. It is due out September 2018. Gary Lachman has written Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump. Lachman’s book examines occult influences in current global affairs. Finally, author and activist David Salisbury is writing a book called Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance that is due to be published in the spring of 2019 by Red Wheel/Weiser.
Hughes considers himself lucky to have participated “in the birth of a powerful new movement.” He considers the Trump Binding Spell to be just one part of a larger global awakening. “As Pagans and polytheists, we understand that we live in an ecology of souls, so we need to call upon all our allies in this fight.”
Hughes remains an optimist. He said, “We are gods, we are magic-makers, and it’s time we grew up and started taking responsibility for our future.”