I’m pretty sure it’s not news to anyone that this weekend a bunch of witches claimed they were going to participate in a spell and ritual to “bind” our president and any who abet him. Lots of people flew opinions on either side of the yes/no side of the coin. Now me myself, I’m not getting into the ethics behind binding (I have no problem binding or cursing people), and any mentions of “karma” are right out–because everyone screaming about karma is not at all understanding what karma truly is. I’m going to instead focus on why I did not participate in this.
Just in case you aren’t familiar with it, this is the link to the spell in question, originally posted here on Michael Hughes’ blog: link.
The spell itself was horrifically written.
Honestly, if you want to go and read it, please do. It’s been shared a dozen times. And smarter and more experienced wizards, witches, magicians, practitioners have all denounced how horridly it is written. I will be the first to admit that I myself am less of a practicing witch than I am a spiritual person. I don’t do much real magic myself, but I am competent when I want to do something on my own. So take this as somewhat just above “layman’s” perspective on the spell as written.
First off–it’s just flat messy.
The way it is written, the wording, the multiple variations of what each individual who wants to participate is to do. It is not at all cleanly written or organized. Not to mention, magic of a group/mass nature like this should be done similarly (in my opinion) to best affect the results you want. If you have a core spell, say in this case a binding, then the base ritual/spell should be performed the same way by everyone practicing. This is just common sense. The less variations and differences the more successful things should be. Once you start introducing variations it can introduce cross-purposes and cross intents into the mix.
Look at it this way–you already have to be very careful in mass action, because even slightly different interpretations between the agents acting will screw with your results. And that’s just with everyone speaking the same words and doing the same ritual. But then you add in this mess–with so many variations and different points on how to action the spell. It literally screams crossing and just general trouble in trying to focus and direct efforts with the same intent.
There’s a very good reason why the joke goes in pagan/witch circles about “herding cats”. You ask 10 people how to do any one spell, and you’ll get 12 answers. Which is a funny joke–but it’s also got some truth. People in our overall community (speaking generally speaking, and using the idea that all pagans, witches, polytheists, etc that were targeted in the writing of the spell; that all these people think themselves part of the same community. This is a big assumption, but I’ll use it for the writing of this piece) can’t agree on a lot of things. There’s so much the cry of independence and self-determination that it’s an apt joke that really is true.
Now, how on earth is such a broad spell with so many out-boarded variations supposed to center, focus and bring all these various traditions, practices and ideas into 1 solid focus? It isn’t. It absolutely cannot. With everything that can vary in the spell, it literally invites cross-purposes between those who are professing to work together.
The claim that it protects against blow back.
How? I mean, really how? The wording itself does not really do that. And the wording is chaotic at best. It reeks of Charmed-like spell wording. But that’s minor in my annoyance at this claim.
To be frank: the pushing of how this is a “safe” spell is just a way to assuage people who are too afraid to ward themselves and just do the magic. Let’s be honest–standing up for your rights can be dangerous, especially in a regime that is hell-bent on taking away civil liberties. You have to stand up and just do the work. Protect yourself, yes, as you can–and then you go and do the work. If you don’t protect yourself first, well that’s the first problem. But also, not everyone believes in “karmic blow back”. I sure don’t. Karma is an overused word that western pagans really need to stop using, because it’s been co-opted and corrupted out of the traditions of what karma really is. So the sheer idea that we even need to confirm that this is a “safe” spell is also just baiting into a world view that not everyone has.
And then my favorite part, in the ‘Addendum’ section, the explanation of why a binding is a safe spell:
In other words, this is not the equivalent of magically punching a Nazi; rather, it is ripping the bullhorn from his hands, smashing his phone so he can’t tweet, tying him up, and throwing him in a dark basement where he can’t hurt anyone.
Now, just let that sink in for a moment. The justification for a binding being safe, by the site author holding the spell, is really this. I’ll simplify it into the crimes listed in this little analogy:
This (a binding) is not assault. Rather it is assault, property destruction, unlawful imprisonment and kidnapping.
So the very justification that a binding is okay because you’re not straight up “magically punching” someone, because you’re just assaulting him, tying him up and shoving him into a basement. So really, everything’s totally cool, because you stopped the person from talking (using our analogy from the site-holder).
This really just boils down to shoddy-spell crafting, and shoddy justification for why this is totally okay. All in all I am of the firm belief, if you want to bind someone, hex them, curse them, whatever, then just do it. And if you believe that blow back or consequences could occur from such actions, then you had better protect and ward yourself properly, as your tradition dictates. There’s no need to resort to convoluted and actually hilariously wrong justifications.
It’s too damned public.
This blew up. That means it is fully viral. Hell, my local news station posted an article about it online. Tons of people have. The mainstream media has been commenting on it. And all that attention has also led to groups of Christians claiming they would pray in defense of the president to stop this from having any effect. Oh, and of course those of the “community” that actually support the man–they were out in force insisting they would work cross-wise against this binding. Let’s be honest, the best spells are those who are done without the hoopla of publicity that will garner opposition.
It’s bad enough that the hoopla gathered attention of witches or practitioners who support him, who no doubt performed work to oppose the binding. But also, the Christian groups who swore they would pray against the spell. Now, at its heart that’s no problem. However, there are immeasurable more Christians than there are pagans in this country. And they have a better focus than the pagans in trying to do this binding. They have 1 God to focus on, and prayers that would all be quite the same. So there’s inherently more focus in their work than in the cluster-fuck that is that binding spell and all its variations.
On the side of the binding. Sure, it’s great that people all want to jump in and lend their hands at casting the binding. But really, how much good are newbies with no experience? I would never dare myself (at the moment) in participating in a group spell like this. I’m experienced, I have my own knowledge in spell-casting. But I am not nearly experienced enough in group workings, even on a small scale, to be an effective or even useful partner in this group working. And newbies? There’s no way in hell they should be anywhere near a group working like this. Just because you want to do something does not mean that you should participate, when you will invariably do more harm than good. Newbies with little understanding of spellwork, or even the skills and experience necessary to be an effective partner, have no business mucking around in huge works. I say this because the intent of the spell “bind the president and all who abet him”. That is a lot of people. And if you think about it, the spell to take on that many people, if you’re not prepared and skilled enough, and if you believe in blow back, that’s cataclysmic blow back waiting to smack you in the face if you’re a newbie.
The sheer scale.
Stop and consider what is meant by “all those who abet him”. Just stop and think on the scale of what would have to be done in that point. Because sure, one could shorten that down to the president + all in the government who abet him–that’s only a few hundred people. But then add in lobbyists, the hanger-ons in politics, billionaires and business partners…now you’re into thousands. And that’s just the close connections. If you really think about what the spell is claiming, there’s a major problem.
All who abet him. That is technically every person who voted for him in the election. Think about the sheer volume that would require: nearly 63 million Americans voted for him (here’s CNN for the numbers). So by broadest definition, you need to cast this spell to bind 63 million people. That is massive, and really totally impractical. Can any one group do that? Perhaps. I could not do it, and yet I would believe that a sufficiently large, expertise-laden, and clear working group all working from 1 identical spell might have the power to do it. But there’s not anything like this in the spell shared.
And what does binding those who ‘abetted’ him mean? Does it mean silencing his supporters? I don’t want that. I want there to be discourse. Free speech is the cornerstone of our democracy. Binding his supporters to shut up, to have no agency, that is not something I want. Nor is it ideal. Does it mean stopping them from acting? Well, then it’s too little too late. We are stuck with the lawmakers that were already actioned/voted into office. We are stuck for at least 2 years (midterms). So what does “stopping” his supporters now mean? It doesn’t mean a lot.
The spell is a joke. From poorly written, poorly focused and shoddy spellwork, down to ridiculously impractical intent–it’s a joke overall. There is no possible way that it would succeed. It’s beyond comprehension that people would think it would work.
I’m not saying that I think it a bad idea for individuals to work magic as they see fit. If you want to cast a spell to bind our president, that’s cool. Go ahead and do your working. Or if you feel like protecting the president is your calling, go on. I don’t agree with that one, but that’s an individual decision. If your coven wants to do something together, please, feel free to work your spells and magic. That is truly the beauty of our freedom–we can do whatever we wish.
The attempt to make this a huge working, with all those variations, is doomed to failure. What focus might have been given, it’s all lost and dissipated in the sheer volume of variations. Not to mention, the goal itself is impossible. It’s too vague, has too many pitfalls and ambiguities in wording. What to me is a binding, will not be the same intent in binding as others. I might decide it is to stop him from accomplishing anything; another person might instead direct their intent on stopping him from accomplishing anything harmful (and what then is “harmful”? that changes by person, too). So the vagueness all across the board makes this impossible and quite frankly, due to its vague nature, a waste of time, energy and resources.
What do I do instead?
That’s a totally different question, and one that’s much clearer. Magic is all great and good, but first and foremost we have to fight on the “mundane” level.
You fight with your local people, on the street. You protest, you call and write to your representatives in the House and Senate. Hell, call and fight for your rights to your in-state representatives. You keep pressure up on governors, mayors, AGs, etc all by being active. Be an active, involved citizen. Fight for rights, fight for liberty, fight for assurance that all people will be given the rights that we are all afforded underneath our constitution. Keep the pressure up on elected representatives.
It is possible that our whole citizenry has never been as angry, engaged and involved as a whole as they are now. It certainly has not been the case in my lifetime–not to the scale we are seeing now across the board. Keep up the pressure, keep on fighting, and continue to be active and involved. That is the most important thing. Being a physical presence on the ground is far more important than any magical efforts.
Continue to donate to organizations that are fighting. I personally have donated to Planned Parenthood and to the ACLU. We have to continue to fund our organizations that are fighting. We must support those who take a stand against the bigotry, misogyny and hate that this president has brought in. Continue to support your local officials who take a stand. I support whole-heartedly Washington State’s AG Bob Ferguson and our governor Jay Inslee, both of whom have stood up for civil rights and are willing to take the tough stand against the president and his illegal and unconstitutional measures. My support lies with my state officials who are fighting hard.
If you can march, march. If you cannot march, donate to organizations or support those who can. Do what you can to support the resistance and calls for protest. Even if it just means that you put a dollar or a minute of your time out there to help–do it. We have to remain vigilant and continue to put pressure on by open demonstrations of our anger and refusal to accept what is being done as “status quo”.
Above all else, we must persevere. We must persist. It is not possible this time, like so many others, where the populace gets tired of fighting and then things go quiet. That is now complacency sets in, and that is now this presidency will get away with things. No, we have to remain fighting for as long as it takes–even if that means we fight for 4 years and fight like hell to get a different president in 2020.∗