Paganism in the Age of Trump

Paganism in the Age of Trump January 20, 2017

I’ve been trying for the last few months to put my feelings about a Trump Presidency into words. I’ve vacillated between outrage, being hopeful, and walking around muttering in a constant state of despair. As I write this Trump has been President for a few hours and all I can say is “so far so bad.” And I think that’s a fair judgement to make considering his cabinet appointees, his disaster of a press conference, and his inauguration remarks which seem to resemble a speech from the villain Bane in the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises.

Hope is an ideal I’ve always tried to find room for. When Trump “won” the Presidency back in November I tried to be hopeful. Perhaps he’d grow up and begin acting Presidential . . . that obviously didn’t happen. Tweets about Saturday Night Live, “his enemies,” and shouts of “Fake news” to a CNN reporter are all the evidence I need to know we’ve got the same old Trump (and maybe one that’s worse). As a President only marginally connected to a party I held out some hope that perhaps he’d pick a different sort of cabinet. Instead of draining the swamp he decided to promote the swamp’s filthiest, most unqualified residents. Anyone hoping for economic populism with Trump was instead served a big scoop of Goldman-Sachs.

Where did my country go?
Where did my country go?

As a Pagan I fear this new age of Trump, and I think for good reason. We Pagans are a religious minority, Trump and his appointees don’t give two shits about our religion (at best) and many of this supporters actively despise us or think we are worshipping the Devil. I can hide my Paganism in a closet, what I most worry about our my friends that are visible minorities: people of color, my trans brothers and sisters, Muslims, women . . . . the list is pretty long.

I don’t think Trump is going to round us up and put us all into camps, but it’s the little things that are going to add up over time. It’s possible that we might be denied rights for being Pagan (or gay, or a person of color, etc.), or be denied services that we need to thrive as a community. I’ve got a feeling that today’s GOP would be more than happy to pass a few laws allowing businesses to discriminate against us for basically no reason. This goes beyond wedding cakes too, down to the wedding facility. What if we can’t plan our outdoor Pagan ritual because no business or city (in what should be a “public park”) will rent to us? I don’t think I’m over reacting. (And yes I know this is a small issue compared to many of the rights that we stand to lose if Trump gets to reshape the Supreme Court into a Tea Party rally. Not to mention the 20 million people who will lose their health insurance so millionaires can see their taxes lowered.)

Don't mess with a black cat.
Don’t mess with a black cat.

It’s not just being denied rights, things, and opportunities, it’s about dignity being stripped away. Think about being stopped and frisked for no reason than other than the color of your skin. It’s not just a hassle, it’s a public declaration by a police officer that you are less than human. You are being singled out because an authority figure thinks that you are probably a criminal for absolutely no sane reason. I have a feeling that lots of people in America are going to have their dignity assaulted the next few years, and losing one’s dignity can break a person. Be strong out there everyone and if you have extra strength to give, give it!

Trump’s behavior, comments, appointees, and actions are all worthy of outrage, but outrage has to be channeled effectively for it to be productive. It has to be more than Facebook memes and petitions that no one will ever look at. It has to be backed up by actions. Actions involve calling elected officials to register your opinion, protesting, donating time and/or money to causes you care about, and perhaps most importantly simply being a decent human being. Saying hello to someone and treating them as an equal sometimes goes a very long way.

And I’m of the opinion that screaming “Racist” at the top of your lungs at every Trump supporter is not productive. Wanna know how to end a conversation before it starts? Start by calling someone a Nazi or a racist. Calling people names isn’t going to fix a damn thing. A lot of the people we should be having conversations with are not going to engage us anyways, but I’d like to at least keep the door open. Insulting their intelligence (“only dumb people voted for Trump!”) isn’t going to help anything. Alienating potential allies because they don’t agree with you 100% is unproductive too. As Michelle Obama said “We go high when they go low” (or something like that). I think that’s worth remembering over the next four years.

Tangled up in a bag.
Tangled up in a bag.

As an American it pains me to say that Donald Trump is my President, but he is. He’s not the person I voted for, and he’s near the bottom of the list for people I’d want in that office, but he’s still my President because I haven’t renounced my citizenship. But because he’s my President (and yours too if you are an American) we can try and hold his feet to the fire and call him out for his inevitable (continuing?) lies and corruption. (I still believe in my country . . . there I am being hopeful again!)

I’m also going to take solace in my Craft in the age of Trump. As Tempest Zakroff wrote on her blog A Modern Traditional Witch:

“But real change, real witchery happens down at the roots. The reason you are called to witchcraft is not to gain power through others, but to call upon the power residing within yourself. To grow it, use it to manifest change with our will. We don’t make prayers, asking our deities to grant us boons and give us things, to use their power instead of our own. We stand up and take responsibility for our own actions, we make change happen through us. We may ask for their assistance and guidance, but we’re the ones in the driver’s seat, we’re the ones flying the broom. It’s up to us.”

As a Pagan and a Witch in the age of Trump I’m going to stand up and take responsibility for my actions and try to be a catalyst for change. I’m going to be a good ally, I’m going to listen to others (and that includes those who disagree with me-there are conservative Pagans and now is not the time to alienate all of them), I’m going to put my energy and my work out there to try and protect those who need protection. This is not being a “social justice warrior” this is being a damned human being who cares about the people around them. Everyone deserves to live with a degree of dignity and have access to opportunity.

Trump is a roadblock to that dignity and opportunity, but obstacles are what make us stronger. When there’s a barrier in the way of a Witch the Witch knocks that shit down. Let’s be good to one another and knock some shit down. That’s how we’ll survive in the age of Trump.

Better than looking at Trump.
Better than looking at Trump.

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