I have an acquaintance who often scoffs at magick used for political purposes. His belittling of anti-Trump spells does not come from any sort of disagreement with the politics of those of us which do that sort of thing. He’s just as left-leaning as we are, his problem is that he simply doesn’t believe in magick.
A magick-free Pagan life has always struck me as a bit odd. Magick is the building block of many modern Pagan practices, and is one of the few things that a majority of us hold in common. However, Paganism is a big-tent and there’s always been room in it for atheists and the more mundane. Someone not believing in magick is fine by me, but my friend’s ridicule of it comes from a place of not understanding how magick works.
Magick is more than simply lighting a candle and waiting for something to happen. It’s the beginning or the renewal of a quest, it’s not the endpoint. Even if sending energy out into the universe does absolutely nothing (which I don’t believe, but that’s not the point here), the rest of the spell is still doing something:
Magick galvanizes actions. The spell is a cosmic kick-in-the-pants to participate in the process. It’s a reminder to donate money, ring doorbells, send text messages, or to simply vote. Every book about magick and Witchcraft reference backing up your magickal work on the mundane side of things. (As above, so below)
Spellwork encourages us evaluate ourselves. When the Trump administration proposed erasing trans-people many of us participated in a spell to counter that. The process of working that spell made me contemplate how I can be a better ally, and I bet I wasn’t the only one. Spells get in your head, and they stay there, and guide us on a conscious and subconscious level.
Magick is empowering. To put it simply, magick makes us feel like we have some control over our lives. People who feel as if they have no control often spiral downwards, or give up, or don’t do the things necessary to preserve their own self interests. A person who feels in control of their life is more likely to vote, express ideas, and be involved.
So magick does all sorts of things, that’s why it’s magick.
There are many who lament the political in Paganism and Witchcraft. As the person who operates the Patheos Pagan Facebook page I probably see more of this than the rest of the writers here. Anytime a political-leaning post goes up there is always a small contingent of folks who gnash their teeth and act as if they are being forced to read something against their will. I realize that not every Pagan out there is liberal, or even moderate, and there are probably more Pagans that voted for Trump than I’m capable of imagining, but it’s easy enough to simply not read something and then move on with one’s day. No one is being forced to read anything.
However, Witchcraft and Paganism have always been political. In the early modern period women were executed as Witches for embracing their sexuality. Magick has been a part of the human experience since the very beginning, but after Christianity it was often something on the margins, and to publicly practice it had consequences. Sex and/or magick in a society that disliked both became a political act.
The first modern Witches entrusted their covens to a High Priestess and danced around the circle naked. Again, I don’t know how this can be seen as anything but a political act. Much of the Modern Pagan movement was shaped by the 60’s counter-culture, which of course was very political. Polyamory and altered states of consciousness are both giant middle fingers waved in the direction of the establishment. Of course they are political.
The giant melting pot of Paganism is a grand experiment, and a very liberal one. It’s a space full of Witches, theists, non-theists, Druids, hard polytheists, Heathens, Re-constructionists, Christo-Pagans, libertarians, conservatives, and liberals. We are all in the middle of an amazing petri dish that harkens back to the definition of the word liberal:
1. open to new behavior or opinions and willing to discard traditional values
2. concerned mainly with broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience, rather than with technical or professional training
Being a Pagan (or whatever else that sits under the umbrella) is a provacative act that takes us all out of the mainstream. People can fight that being political all they want, but it is political.
The first societies to vote were pagan ones. While many Modern Pagans romanticize the cultures of the Greek and Romans, they both had serious issues (women as second class citizens and slavery immediately come to mind). But they began a movement and an idea that would grow in time and become more inclusive, and as I write this, still has a long way to go.
However, as Pagans, voting is a part of our heritage. It’s not a Christian practice, it’s a pagan one. I hope all of you all take advantage of it, even those who disagree with me.