It’s time to provide a corrective to the pagans and witches who support Donald Trump.
As I was recently engaging in online discussions about the ethics of participating in the anti-Trump binding rituals that have made headlines, many of them sensationalized, since Inauguration Day 2017, I came across various individuals who claimed to be pagan and also Trump supporters. While this may be naive, I must admit I was astounded to first encounter this pairing of identities. How could anyone who claims a pagan path be so short-sighted and inconsistent in supporting a political leader so alien to the overlapping ways many pagans and witches view the world and the universe?
It’s nothing new, of course, for marginalized people to act in hypocritical ways contrary to their own self-interest and stated values. This is precisely how the Republican Party continues to exist to the extent that they dupe poor and working-class white people into voting for them. (I know this story well as a working-class white kid who grew up in Idaho.)
As a queer person, I know there are inexplicably gay Republicans, despite how rabidly that party attacks us on a consistent basis, and even gay members of the growing fascist movement known euphemistically as the “alt-right.”
I also know that so many people, tragically, cannot see past the ends of their own noses and seem unable or unwilling to put themselves in another’s shoes. This is made evident by white feminists perpetuating racism against women of color, gay people spewing transphobia, and baby boomers with economic security complaining about the whiner millennials who are six figures in debt from gaining an education and who cannot find basic employment despite our relentless work ethic and graduate degrees in hand.
And of course there is the case of the white Indiana woman who thought her own life would get better by voting for Trump and then was actually surprised when her husband was subsequently deported to Mexico.
But my question for my fellow pagans and witches is: how are you possibly able to claim a spiritual path of cosmic alignment while also supporting a president who viciously amplifies turning neighbor against neighbor?
With all our ideals and proclamations about seeing the divine everywhere and in everyone, we are supposed to be better than supporting and perpetuating oppression. Yet we are often not, as evidenced by situations such as the scandal surrounding Christian Day, the Salem- and New Orleans-based witch-cum-entrepreneur accused of misogynistically harassing Wiccan high priestess Lori Bruno. (In a strangely telling full-circle, Day described himself as “the Donald Trump of witchcraft … I say what I feel about whatever.”)
Do we raise our children with respect for women when they see their parents donating money to a presidential candidate who has sexualized his daughters literally since infancy?
Do witches drawing down the moon and communing with feminine energy actually respect that energy when they rationalize giving free passes to someone who has been accused of sexual violence and harassment by numerous women, including, at one time, the allegation that he physically attacked and raped his first wife Ivana?
Then there is the issue of the environment. What are we doing when we elevate nature as sacred and then support a president who appointed Oklahoma Attorney General and anti-environment villain Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency? The man who has sued the EPA thirteen times and whose nomination has been the target of protests by current EPA employees?
What are we doing celebrating the wheel of the year and the cycles of life while championing a president and a political party whose solution for improving the Affordable Care Act is to simply do away with it, in the process dooming 24 million people to fend for themselves and resulting in an estimated 43,956 deaths per year, according to a conservative estimate based on data from the New England Journal of Medicine?
What are we doing as pagans and witches when we know, intimately, what it’s like to be scapegoated and cast out as “other” by a dominant religion not our own, yet then turn around and support a man who demonizes almost every marginalized group in existence, from women and Mexican immigrants to Muslims and people with disabilities?
How dare any of us stand idly by when others are subjected to twenty-first century witch hunts, told they are “bad hombres,” or rapists, or terrorists, and not worthy of being saved from the unimaginable terrorism they are actually victim to in their home countries?
And let us not forget that Trump chose a Christian extremist as his vice president, a foe to basic civil rights who probably reminds many of us of the outrageously toxic Christian cultures we fought so hard to escape from growing up.
If/when Trump is impeached, remember that Mike Pence and his theocratic horror show will emerge as the next presidential nightmare to attack so many of our precious communities with all the pent-up relish they’ve been praying to unleash since the Cold War and which they’ve been wanting to return to since Bush the second.
It is ludicrous to me that any pagans and witches could claim with a straight face that we honor and center certain principles specific to our path, such as the self-knowledge discussed by Wiccan author Scott Cunningham in his “13 Goals of a Witch,” when we participate in willful ignorance and make excuses for a narcissistic charlatan and pathological liar who cares more about the adulation of frenzied crowds than taking accountability for his manifold disturbing actions. Granted, Wiccans are far from comprising the totality of pagan and witch experience, but I can’t think of one pagan path that celebrates deceit, selfishness, and harming others for personal gain.
(Okay, so the disturbing white supremacists who latch onto paganism are a major exception to this. But that is for another piece, perhaps one I will write very soon!)
It is important to note that while the formal separation of church and state is a necessity for any thriving democracy — and is thus currently under attack by this administration — the daily practice of spirituality is not wholly separate from the political. In following our spiritual paths we stand for something, and that “something” has political implications that we cannot afford to deny. This is not a hypothetical discussion; this has life or death repercussions for many. The British witches who fought back against Adolf Hitler’s anticipated invasion of Britain through Operation Cone of Power understood this.
Do we want to live in the real-world version of The Handmaid’s Tale? Or are we going to align our spiritual practices with the basic empathy and social justice that is at the heart of the majority of our paths and fight back?
Where will you stand in the arc of history?