According to Gerald Gardner, in the Summer of 1940 the witches, druids, occultists and other magical practitioners of Britain joined forces for a series of simultaneous workings designed to stop Hitler from crossing the English Channel. “Operation Cone of Power” – which may or may not have actually taken place – was fictionalized in Katherine Kurtz’s excellent novel Lammas Night.
In the Fall of 2004 a group of American magical practitioners felt a threat similar in kind if not in degree – the strong belief that American democracy was threatened by warmongering politicians and religious fundamentalists (both foreign and domestic). Drawing on the heritage of Operation Cone of Power, Isaac Bonewits started a YahooGroup called Spells for Democracy. Here’s the groups purpose, as stated on the website:
This group is to discuss the use of ethical magic(k) and Pagan prayer to affect the political process in the USA, as based on the writings of Isaac Bonewits, especially his “Spells for Democracy” page at his website (“www.neopagan.net”). Discussions should focus on specific magical strategies, tactics, (& logistics?) to produce observable results that will move our nation closer to its ideals and away from either a Christian theocracy or a robber baron empire. The policy of this discussion group is that it *can* be ethical to perform magic/invoke Divine energies upon people without their permission, and that it is *unethical* for Pagans and magical people to sit on their hands doing nothing when the wealthy and powerful control all other means of fighting for freedom.
After the 2008 election, motivation for more spellwork was low and much of the discussion degenerated into run of the mill political banter. Today, the Spell for Democracy group came to an end. I’ll let Phaedra Bonewits explain:
Spells for Democracy was founded by Isaac Bonewits as a way of coordinating major spellcastings in the service of the democratic process. Isaac is now gravely ill. He is no longer online, nor is he likely to be again.
Spells for Democracy has strayed far away from what Isaac originally intended to be. That’s ok. Groups take on a life of their own. However, we no longer want this one to continue under Isaac’s name.
From today, this group is a read-only archive of previous posts. Spells for Democracy, as envisioned by Isaac Bonewits, is over.
We wish you all well, and hope you find another home for your discussions.
Our magical workings were effective largely because they were specific and targeted. “World peace” is a beautiful thought, but as a magical goal it’s far too vague. But “bring conflicts of interest to light” and “make candidates tell the truth in debates” is small enough and focused enough that it’s possible. It wasn’t Operation Cone of Power, but it helped and I’m proud to have been a part of it.
Sadly, the election results haven’t produced the on-the-ground changes many of us hoped for. My political cynicism is pretty high right now, so I’ll just say that things would be worse had those elections gone the other way. But that’s another topic for another day.
For today, raise a glass in honor of Isaac Bonewits and the patriotic witches, druids, and other magical practitioners who worked their craft for the common good under the banner of Spells for Democracy.