“All over the world, local groups are struggling . . . to keep our communities, our environment, and our humanity from being destroyed by corporate globalization. . . . Most of them are small and barely visible, but together they are creating the largest movement the world has ever known. Many of these groups are inspired by a philosophy that replaces the scientific and reductive rationalism of seventeenth-century Western male philosophers (such as Descartes and Bacon) with the ways of knowing of Indigenous Peoples (which include the perceptions of trees and animals) and of women, based on intimate connections with Nature and ideas of healing and caring that were part of European village culture prior to the sixteenth- and seventeenth century witch hunts.”
One year ago this month, at midnight on February 24th, 2017, about thirty of my friends and I gathered around a bonfire in a backyard in Baltimore City to cast a binding spell on Donald Trump and all those who abet him. It was the culmination of an extraordinarily surreal week of intense international press coverage, nonstop phone and email interviews, all accompanied by my growing sense that I had not merely written a humorous spell that had gone viral, but had unknowingly assisted in the birth of something far bigger.
When I first posted the text of the spell here on Medium, I assumed it might generate minor interest in the progressive pagan and magical communities, and maybe some appreciative chuckles from my network of artists and activists. Instead, with a viral rapacity that could not have existed before social networks, it exploded exponentially and became a novel, rapidly growing social movement under the umbrella hashtag #MagicResistance.
Something had emerged from our shattered collective psyche as we comprehended the enormity of the unspooling Trumpian dystopia — a deep and widespread desire to employ our spiritual energy as an act of resistance.
Every waning crescent moon since that February evening, people around the world have gathered at a minute before midnight (US Eastern Time) to focus their consciousness in a ritualistic effort to bind Donald Trump and his kakistocratic cohorts from doing harm. Some gather in groups, but most do the ritual alone or with a significant other. Afterward, many of these witches, magicians, artists, and activists gather on Facebook and other social media to share photos of their altars (many of which are beautiful works of art in their own right) as well as their their emotions, visions, and experiences. For the majority, the spell is liberating and energizing, a reclaiming of personal power and an affirmation of their deeply held values in the face of the firehose of negativity from the White House, the GOP, and the 24/7 “news.”
Far from being ineffectual “slacktivism,” the ritual (and others developed by participants) helps many of us stay focused, committed, and invigorated for our everyday activism and resistance. It has become a spiritual balm and a monthly reminder of our committment to fighting injustice and the the ongoing dismantling of our liberal democracy.
And though the term #MagicResistance is new, ritual and magical acts aimed at oppressive powers and tyrants date back to antiquity, as will be described in my upcoming book, Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change (Llewellyn Worldwide, Fall 2018). From Greeks and Romans of the ancient world inscribing lead tablets with binding spells against government officials, Medieval peasants creating wax effigies of hated monarchs, enslaved Africans calling to the loas in their fight for freedom in Haiti, to British witches raising a “cone of power” to prevent Hitler’s invasion of their homeland, magic has always been employed by the common people against their oppressors. One can debate its efficacy, of course, but its tactical appeal is deep and timeless.
From the beginning, it has been clear that the #MagicResistance is much bigger than Donald Trump and his crooked cabal. Trump is merely the symptom, like the eruption of a pus-filled boil, of currents that have always flowed beneath the thin veneer of social progress—racism, militarism, materialism, misogyny, patriarchy, homophobia, xenophobia, and a host of other -isms and -phobias exemplifying the anti-evolutionary sicknesses of our species.
Donald Trump is every boss who leers at his assistant’s breasts, every bully screaming “faggot” at a crying kid in the locker room, every bank manager redlining an African-American family trying to buy a home, every bigot telling a Guatemalan immigrant to “speak American or go back to where you came from,” every Wall Street trader ignoring the pleading eyes of a homeless veteran, every healthcare bean counter rejecting the claim for a sick child, every pharma executive jacking up the cost of cancer drugs, every guy in a pickup truck “rolling coal” as he passes a Prius, and every pedophile barging into a dressing room full of young women “because he can.”
Our resistance is bigger than Trump, and will still be required when he is relegated to the garbage heap of failed tyrants. Authoritarianism, white supremacy, and xenophobia were globally resurgent before Trump ran for office. The richest of the rich keep taking more from everyone else, and the poor keep sinking further into misery. Accelerating climate change threatens every person, and every living creature, on our planet.
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our crises are of the spirit, and require spiritual solutions.
So tonight, I’ll stand before my altar, alone, but knowing thousands of others are saying the same words, in unison, around our beautiful, fragile planet, dedicating themselves to the long, hard, but essential fight before us.
As we say together:
In the name of all who walk
Crawl, swim, or fly
Of all the trees, the forests,
Rivers and seas
In the name of Justice
So mote it be.
Michael M. Hughes is a writer, speaker, magical thinker, and author of the upcoming Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change (Llewellyn Worldwide, Fall 2018). The American Spectator said, “He may play footsie with the devil, but at least the man has a sense of humor.” You can sign up for his newsletter, check out his YouTube channel, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. The official Bind Trump group is also on Facebook, so if you’re looking for a group to work some magic with, that’s where you’ll find them.
Happy binding, magical people!