Who better to discuss the witchy proclivities of our democratic candidate than another witch? If you’re paying attention, you may have noted that the witch archetype has been discussed a bit more than usual during the recent Hallowe’en season. And now, on the eve of the Samhain cross quarter (when many witches celebrate the Celtic Feast of the Dead, which is a pagan pre-cursor to the secular festival of Hallowe’en), and as we approach what may be the most significant presidential election of our lifetimes so far, it is time to harness the energy of the waxing moon in Aquarius (following a powerful New Moon in Scorpio on October 30, and leading to a Full Moon in Taurus on November 14th) and become the change we want to see in the world. And that means speaking truth to power, witches!
I’ve been thinking on this topic for a while now and have been cheered by the excellent writing on the topic I’ve seen so far. Alexandra Petri’s evocative, hard-hitting piece on nasty women deserves to be read aloud in every classroom and dinner party in America. My fellow Pathos Pagan blogger Jason Mankey posted on our candidate’s portrayal as a witch in news media, noting that the term “witch hunt” is entirely appropriate in both its metaphorical and actual implications.
Okay, Hills, I’m sorry to have been silent on this until now, but I have been watching and reading the news and skimming the swamp that is social media with increasing horror, as your inspiring campaign has had to ratchet up its intensity in the wake of a fomenting miasma of sexist vitriol that, as far as my knowledge of history is concerned, is only rivaled by the Matter Of Salem. In short, Madam Secretary, spectral evidence is dominating everyone’s newsfeed, and the hills are alive with torches and pitchforks.
We live in extraordinary times, in which all around us the burgeoning capabilities of technology seem to be blinding us to the atmosphere of superstition and glut of absurdity passing itself off as news. And I call on my fellow witches to dispel the glamour of hype and hyperbole surrounding this experienced and eminently qualified candidate. I call on my sisters and brothers in pagan solidarity, to vote for a woman whose ascent to the glass ceiling, casting shadows in the shape of a broomstick-hugging hag and reflections of a Valkyrie in a turquoise pantsuit, has been stunning in its resilience and integrity.
Better historians than me have outlined the many parallels of the witch hunts of old and the one currently taking place this election season. And the figure of the witch that seems to loom large in the collective subconscious these days, especially among those whose hatred of Hillary Clinton remains vague and inarticulate, is noteworthy. Even self-described progressives who supported Bernie Sanders used shockingly juvenile witch-burning rhetoric to castigate Clinton.
I’m not able to fully comprehend why, several decades after many hard-won victories of feminism, as we’re anticipating the probable election of our first female president, an achievement that redeems the suffering and sacrifices of our suffragette forbears, we’re seeing an appalling revival of obnoxious 1960s-style sexism everywhere we look. It vexes me, and angers me, and scares me.
And speaking as a modern witch, the parallels to the madness and hysteria of 16th Century Europe and 17th Century North America are nothing short of appalling. The characterization of this strong woman as a cruel harpy, as corrupt and dishonest, as physically grotesque, as conniving and dispassionate, strikes me as an expression of a sickly cultural zeitgeist that has been battered and bullied into believing such disrespectful discourse is somehow acceptable as the new normal. It is not.
Witches are outsiders and outliers. They dwell on the fringes, and arrive via the backdoor with healing salves and spoils of the hunt, or baskets of cookies (or maybe bottles of hot sauce). They are fashionistas of a most unusual bent, strutting down our streets in basic black, or suffragette white, or clad in the colors of the sky. Their smiles are disarming, their songs mesmerizing, their silence no longer an option.
Hear us, Cotton Mather and Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump. We will not be burned, or hanged, or demonized in the name of your fear. We will not allow you to continue your heartless, narcissistic exploitation of our planet, or your disgusting rape of Mother Nature and her daughters. We will rise up, chanting the names of our gods, bundling our hopes and dreams in sachets of muslin scented with lavender, stained with our blood and tied with our grandmothers’ red hair ribbons. We will dance in the forest and we will howl at the moon. We will plant trees and flowers and medicinal marijuana. We will clothe and feed the poor. We shall overcome, and we will march bravely forward, standing tall on the shoulders of our brave predecessors: Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Simone de Beauvoir, Jezebel, Sappho, Mary Magdalene, Joan of Arc, Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, and countless others whose love, rage and dignity glow bright and fierce in our hopeful hearts.
We are stardust. We are golden. We are the granddaughters of all the witches you could not burn. And we are not going back.