Magicians of the world are casting spells against Trump — and you can too

Meeting Michael M. Hughes, whose ritual involves burning an “unflattering photo” of Donald Trump and saying : “You’re fired”

Photo : unrelated bonfire in UK

A few days after Trump was elected president, a magician decided something should be done about it : he would create a spell against Trump — and invite fellow magicians of the world to do it at the same time, wherever they are. He was surprised to find out how many people were willing to follow his lead into the “magical resistance”.

It all started on February, 17, 2017 when Michael M. Hughes posted an article on Medium calling for a mass binding spell of President Donald Trump.

The blog post described a ritual mixing very serious elements with a touch of humor — and a clear disdain for the newly elected president. It did not clearly claim that the ritual could really work, and admitted some could consider it “more of a mass art/consciousness-raising project, similar to the 1967 exorcism and levitation of the Pentagon, rather than an actual magical working”. At the time, it seemed to me like a logical response to similar half-occult half-ironic magic endeavors such as what was going on on 4 chan /pol/ with “meme magic”.

Spreading on Medium, the blog post started being shared along the American pagan community, and magicians from different traditions thought it was a good moment to act. Ten days later, some of them even took the spell to the Trump tower — organizing themselves on a Facebook group called “Bind trump”.

Something *wicked* was clearly happening.

It attracted the attention of the mainstream media, being covered by Rolling Stone, TIME, The Boston Globe and many others, even Breitbart who referring to the effort as “black magic”. What’s even more surprising is that, almost a year after, the Medium post that started it all keeps being updated with new dates for “binding rituals”. In some cases, some magicians intervened to shield Trump against those attacks.

I wanted to know more about the ritual, its seriousness, the movement surrounding it — but also ask its founder whether or not he felt it had been working at all those past month.

Theødor. Why did you create the Medium article « A spell to bind Donald Trump » ?

Michael M. Hughes. I created the spell because I felt as if reality was breaking down around me with the election of Donald Trump. I felt compelled to do something, but whatever I did had to reflect the bizarre, unreality of his becoming president. I kept thinking back to previous artistic and symbolic actions, like John and Yoko’s Bed-in for Peace, and how the Yippies had exorcised and attempted to levitate the Pentagon — a humorous and absurd but culturally resonant reaction to the horror and surreality of the Vietnam war. As a practicing magician, I thought perhaps creating a spell would be a unique way to express my resistance. After tossing the idea around with some fellow occultists and witches, I discovered I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines. So we crafted a spell based on a number of different traditions and, since I’m a writer, I finessed it and published it on Medium. I thought maybe a few hundred people would find it interesting. Instead, it blew up and went immediately viral. It’s now the largest magical working in history, and it just keeps growing.

What happened ? It seemed that your project encountered great attention from different magical groups, and that you kept updating the page.

The spell was immediately embraced by many occultists and magicians, especially witches, but even Christians and many people who had never performed a ritual in their lives. There was also a lot of resistance from a number of witches, pagans, and magicians. The criticisms were varied: some said it was ineffective magic, some said it was a negative spell and would rebound on its casters. A particularly demented and vocal group of Trump-supporting Golden Dawn magicians threatened me and even blamed me for the death of their dog. It was incredibly surreal. But for the most part, the spell was embraced by the magic community, with a few glaring exceptions.

Who are those magical groups ? How do you make people from different magical tradition work together ? Is it only in America ?

The magical community is very diverse and free-thinking, so I was heartened to see how many people from wildly different traditions, and from all over the world, embraced this spell. The ritual was purposely created as a template that could be modified for any tradition. There are Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist participants, and hundreds if not thousands of individuals and groups have altered the ritual to fit their traditions. And that ecumenicism is a beautiful thing.

How do those « binding » ritual works ? How does it compare to the 1976 levitation of the Pentagon ?

A binding ritual aims to restrain, not to harm. In this case, it aims to prevent Trump and his abettors from doing harm to things many of us care deeply about: the environment, the sick, the poor, civil liberties, women’s rights, and peaceful relations between countries. It follows not only in mass consciousness-raising actions, like the exorcism and levitation of the Pentagon by the Yippies in 1967, but in acts of magical resistance against the Nazis during WWII by occultist Dion Fortune and one of the founders of modern witchcraft, Gerald Gardner.

What tradition of magic did you use to forge this ritual ?

This particular ritual has its basis in a number of magical traditions, including ancient Coptic Christianity, Graeco-Egyptian magic, witchcraft, folk Catholicism, Hoodoo, Conjure, chaos magic, and other traditions from around the world. It was created as an easily modifiable template.

Why an orange candle stub, and why laughter for closing the binding ?

The spell contains elements of humor, such as the stubby orange candle representing Trump’s tiny appendages (I won’t explain which appendages — I’ll leave that to your imagination). Humor is powerful magic. It can reduce the most powerful to objects of ridicule. And narcissists like Trump hate being laughed at — so we energize our spell with mockery and ridicule.

Photo : Michael M. Hughes.

Do you really think it can work ?

It definitely works. Will it work to remove him from office? Time will tell, but I believe all signs point to yes. But it was constructed to work on a number of levels, including a self-exorcism to help participants reclaim their power and disengage from the overwhelming negativity caused by this administration. And in that sense it has been an overwhelming success. Countless participants have shared how much calmer and more empowered they feel after each month’s ritual. And as a consciousness-raising event, it has been extraordinarily successful, as shown by intense media interest from around the world. So yes — it’s working. And when Trump is removed from office we’ll joyfully celebrate our success.

For now, it has yet to prove its efficacy… do you find some confort in that collective effort of different soul in a common direction ?

I disagree — I think the spell has proven its efficacy. Trump’s agenda has been stifled, from his attempts to pass horrifying “wealth care” legislation to his failed Muslim ban. Numerous members of his cabinet have been fired or have resigned. He is rapidly losing the support of his party and is under a number of investigations for potential collusion with Russia and other crimes. His poll numbers are in the toilet. So I think the spell is working quite well. But these things take time to run their course. We have patience, which is why we gather under every crescent moon to do whatever it takes to end this wretched kakistocracy and restore decency and justice to our country. We are the magical resistance, but we are about much more than resistance. We are upholding the principles of justice, decency, compassion, and peace.

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