We live in a time of incredible binaries in politics. It feels as though hate speech, selfish politics, and destruction comes at us every time we engage with current affairs. Amongst the frustration and terror there are witches and activists calling out for direct action.
Once upon a time my instincts would fall towards wanting to fight destruction with destruction; to meet hate with cursing.
Then I met a group of people who changed my whole magical worldview.
I asked Amara, who started what I’m going to loosely define today as the ‘Love Warrior Movement’, to share with me some of her thoughts on what it means.
The conversation starts with a quote from SJ Tucker, Amara is a big fan:
“If the roses in the rocks can bloom,
Then I’d better get bloomin’ too.
Persist, Resist, and Bloom”
It certainly describes the way many of us in the world are feeling right now. With so much hatred in politics some days I wonder if we’ll ever be strong enough to fight injustice and inequality.
“The love warriors are a group of compassionate people who currently reside within seven countries and come from diverse pagan backgrounds. We came together through the wish to be the change we want to see. We’re stronger together.”
The group have worked for many different political and environmental events over the last few years, often with the rituals written and led by those who have a personal connection to the events. Sometimes this takes place with each person working individually but with the same goal and process, but in pre-Covid times this also involved international travel for some members.
Having a network of people who fight alongside you feels incredibly empowering.
There’s one important rule however, all magical work needs to be done with positive intent and focus only. No binding, no cursing, no destruction.
As someone whose natural instincts often fall towards smashing things I struggled originally with this concept. Amara explains why the decision was made to focus in this way:
“I try to have this energy in my living and spiritual working because I truly believe in it. That doesn’t mean I’m not furious and full of rage multiple times a week. But working out of a place of hate and fear rarely helps. When you do that your focus is not on positive change but on hurt. This is a weak position to begin magical work from and we are not weak.”
When I met the love warriors, I seriously reconsidered my attitude to magic up until that point. Much of it had been focused on head on collision. I banished, I blocked, I exploded. I dealt with things which stood in the way of freedom with force instead of meeting them with love.
“Working against something limits the possibilities and shifts the focus onto the thing you want to change”, explains Amara. “Instead we should be focusing on the change and our goal. Don’t strengthen the thing you want to destroy, strengthen the things you want to grow. Sometimes it’s a twist, a slightly different angle, just outside the box.”
I asked Amara how she achieved this change of focus. It was a mindset which I found difficult when I first started working with the love warriors. Changing from combative to growth was trickier than I’d imagined.
The key, Amara says, is the group itself
“Working as a group has the major benefit of several minds working together to find the solution. One mind alone may not have found it. There’s a big energetic network which connects all living beings and by working together we find it easier to see how to balance the negative and send the power to the people in need.”
This part is important. It’s easy to see political magic as imposing your own will on the world. That’s something the love warriors strive not to do. Our opinion on a situation may be biased, but our reading of human beings suffering is usually correct. Instead of overturning governments or changing votes, as a group we strive to empower and help those who are suffering. Sometimes the result of their empowerment would naturally be the removal of current laws and systems, but this is not the focus of the intent.
On the eve of the US election result, I feel it’s important to ask Amara how she would go about working for the removal of a government whose policies marginalise vulnerable groups.
It’s easy to look at this as someone else’s problem, but when we as love warriors look at our own governments and political parties we see authoritarianism and othering as no longer a problem of history but part of our own lives.
“Name the exact thing you want and be very clear about that. Consider the consequences. We don’t want to work with anger because we don’t want anger (for example civil war) to become a consequence.
What we really want is justice, equality, democracy, and freedom of speech. So, our work would strengthen this. It would work by empowering people to take responsibility for their actions, to see the others working for the same cause and unite them. Our working would be bold and full of hope.
Harming the government in any way is not an option for our workings. We try and bring power and hope through love, and to strengthen those already doing these things on a mundane level.
Real people have the power to be the change.
Our magical work strengthens this. Look at the Wall of Mothers in Portland, or the peaceful protests in Belarus. We work to make our hope enthuse their hope.”
I must admit, I’d always considered this kind of thinking to be “fluffy”, as though it wasn’t as effective. I had more respect for people who were willing to do the hard things and were brave enough to curse.
And yet, I look at Amara and the love warriors and I realise, it takes more bravery and strength to shake off the anger and pain and replace it with hope.
“Positivity in this case doesn’t mean all love and light,” Amara says. “It means finding progress and positive change. It means being constructive. I don’t believe in the rule of three, but I do know we are all responsible for our own actions.
This is about constructive change. I can’t act out of fear and forget to check the side effects for innocent bystanders for example.
Replace hate with love. We have enough hate in the world already.
Cursing is effective, no doubt. But it comes with a price, always.
Positivity is powerful.
Love is powerful.”
Whilst I’d personally never tell any magical or spiritual person how to work, there’s certainly something within my soul which resonates with this.
Whilst Amara doesn’t follow the rule of three (that which you do comes back on you three times), lots of Wiccans in particular use the rede “An’ it harm none, do what thy will”. It’s something I personally reject (possibly because it’s roots lay in Crowley’s “do what thy will shall be the whole of the law” and I have a one woman grump with Crowley)
It’s used often to argue against magical direct action. E, a key member of the Love Warriors prefers to think on it as a reason to get involved
“[the rede] is not so much do as you wish, instead its ‘live in a way (and have fun whilst doing it) that no one is harmed. This obligates me to fight for those who are discriminated and marginalised.
Magic can change reality. It’s not to be used lightly. Using it in a political way to make the world a better place is community service. I strongly believe this is an important part of Witchcraft. Doing magic only for myself would feel shallow to me and not according to my ethics.”
I think of it a step further and consider the person I want to be.
Energy flows through me to enact magick. Whilst I don’t shy away from that which is scary or hard to deal with, I want my soul to be cleansed and empowered. That which I put into the world I become.
I’m not perfect by any means. Like Amara admits, I’m often full of rage at the injustices in the world, particularly so those which take away human rights.
Allowing myself to feel that rage but then transforming it into positive action – if not via magic then by writing blog posts – means I no longer allow it to define me.
I asked Amara how her day to day life affects the way she chooses to work magically.
“I’m working two jobs, the first is dealing with politics in the back office and the second is as a speaker for liminal passages.
I can’t withdraw myself from reading the news. People’s needs are a strong motivation to keep on going.
Being a mother, I want my kid to live in a good society. One that’s supportive, equal, and eco-friendly and where we have solidarity.”
Listening to Amara, I realise I too want these things for my children.
Once upon a time I thought my generation would be the one to change the world. We haven’t even started.
A recent Patheos blog post started a conversation on whether or not witchcraft should be political. It’s an argument I’ve heard many times before.
S, another key member of the love warriors sees the debate as such:
“From what I see politicians are rarely ethical. In my experience, ethics are a big part of the way Witches work. So, for me being political and taking a political stance by doing magic involving political issues brings ethics into existing unbalanced and unhealthy situations.”
Witchcraft is a tool.
As a person I’m political.
My words, my art, my hopes and fears are all political.
Love warrior T explains it another way
“Witchcraft is political because everything is political. It’s not a choice. If you can choose to not be political, you are very privileged.”
There are many people in this world whose basic human rights are on a knife edge between one political party being elected and another.
I can sit in my house by the sea and purse my lips at the misfortune of others, or I can stand up and be the change I want to see.
Many people do not have that choice. It’s fight or die.
This is how the love warriors were forged. Paraphrasing the words of founder member Elly, “we looked at the world and we got angry”. We took this anger and transformed it into something stronger, hope.