The resistance is forming. It’s official: the electoral college confirmed the election of Donald Trump. The times call for action from everyone who cares about social justice and the web of life on the planet. Here are seven ways we can stand up to the tide of oppression using our best tool – magic!
Magical Resistance Tip One: Look to our traditions for guidance.
Magical folk have been the underdogs in the Western world for the last two thousand years. Resistance isn’t a new circumstance for us. We’ve made progress, it’s been easier the last few decades to be publicly Pagan, but before that it was dangerous to be labelled a Witch or heretic. All our traditions have ways to hide and ways to fight – secrecy, mutual support, and defiance of authority are built into the foundations of what we do.
Witches, remember that Aradia is the goddess of escaped slaves-turned-thieves. Rosicrucians, remember the order was founded to reform falsehood and bondage. Thelemites, remember “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” is the law of freedom for all.
Magical Resistance Action One: revisit the early works of your tradition. Read or re-read:
Magical Resistance Tip Two: Call on a warrior spirit.
Pray, talk to, or invoke a god, celestial being, daimon, angel, hero, or personification of virtue. Since we’re not literally going to war we are not looking for a god who will help unleash violence. Instead we want a force that gives us the courage to stand against violence – to build the resistance.
The Greek god of war is a good example. Ares can send a soldier the mind-hazing madness that permits the clash of combat. But the god of war can also be invoked to temper anger in others and in ourselves. The Homeric Hymn to Ares prays: “Restrain also the keen fury of my heart which provokes me to tread the ways of blood-curdling strife.”
We can dial into the specific aspect of deity that maps onto our needs. Ares Gynaikothoinas supports women who take up weapons to protect themselves. I think of him whenever I see images of the Kurdish women soldiers defending their homes.
Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian cities often had guardian deities who protected them. The wise warrior goddess Athena watched over Athens from her temple on the hill towering over the city. Deities and spirits who support warriors include: Meopotamian Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte; Egyptian Horus, Neith, Mentu, Mut, Sekhmet; Greek Artemis, Athena, Nike; Celtic Macha, Morrigan, Teutates; Hindu Durga, Shiva, Kali.
I am confirmed in Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. When the bishop who performed the confirmation said “Ra-Hoor Khu is with you” I felt a presence settling around me. In the Book of the Law Ra-Hoor Khuit says: “Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth. Nu is your refuge as Hadit your light; and I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms.” That presence fuels my courage every day.
Magical Resistance Action Two: Make an offering, prayer, or connection to a warrior spirit.
Magical Resistance Tip Three: Use art to affirm peace, justice, love and life.
A warrior defends family and community against violence and oppression. We may be clear on what we are fighting against, but it’s also important to know what we are fighting for. What is our vision of the world? Here is mine: I believe passionately that every human being has a right to exist, to live without fear in a peaceful place, to have air, water, food, shelter, and health care, to love whoever they will, to express themselves to their fullest potential. Here is where art comes into its own: each time we draw, paint, write, sing our vision of the world we help to bring it into being. Light dispels shadow.
Magical Resistance Action Three: create an image, poem, blog post, video, meme expressing your vision of human rights. Here are some resources:
- United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- Parliament of the World’s Religions Declaration Toward a Global Ethic
Magical Resistance Tip Four: Join a group.
Those of us who belong to covens, groves, orders, and other groups of like-minded friends can band together to do magic for peace and protection. For example many people are meeting to support the water protectors blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you don’t already have a group there are many Facebook groups springing up, of Witches, Thelemites, and peoples of many diverse traditions, sharing ideas and support. Here’s one: Witches Working To Save Our World.
Magical Resistance Action Four: use your social media network to ask what groups your friends belong to.
Magical Resistance Tip Five: Get out into the street.
There are numerous direct actions occurring all over the country – women’s marches, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, Idle No More gatherings. Facebook events list places and times the gatherings happen.
The first time I went out to a direct action I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone, would I feel awkward? Actually I was greeted with enthusiasm and handed a sign. Now that I’m a veteran of numerous street demonstrations I know that people who stand in public are almost always happy to welcome any peaceful person who shows up.
I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t nervous when I held up a “Black Lives Matter” sign in public. Some people honk in support, others shout their disdain. There are places where police have stepped in with violence to disperse the demonstration so I am aware of the possibility of violence. Even with that awareness I have found direct action to be the most potent source of strength for the resistance.
While direct action isn’t magical in itself it is an opportunity to engage in magic: wear protective charms; sing an invocation to a warrior spirit; chant the outcome we desire. Direct action grounds the work in physical manifestation.
Magical Resistance Action Five: locate a direct action near you. Keep looking until you find one that inspires you to join in.
Magical Resistance Tip Six: Affirm the spirit of justice.
Many of us have a sense of the world gone wrong, of a harmony or accord being broken. There are ancient and strong spirits who act directly to protect peace and oppose injustice. The Egyptian goddess Ma’at personifies the pattern of the cosmos and acts to repair disruption. The Greek goddess Themis performs a similar function, along with her Roman counterpart Justitia, Lady Justice.
Offerings to Ma’at, Themis, Justitia and other spirits who pattern the cosmos are less about making altars with pictures, statues, and incense and more about right action. The little offerings are immediate: sending money to Oceti Sakowin Camp, picking up the phone to a lonely friend, visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home. The profound offering is living a life that matters – remaining compassionate while fighting fiercely for human rights.
Magical Resistance Action Six: take an action to help someone.
Magical Resistance Tip Seven: Connect with our ancestors.
Those of us who work with magic rooted in a particular family or culture can work directly with ancestral spirits. The people who have gone before us support those of us who walk in the living world. We can also work with our chosen ancestors, the teachers of our lineages. The Pagan philosopher Boethius wrote a book while he was imprisoned on a slanderous charge. I am finding his Consolation of Philosophy to be as relevant today as it was 1500 years ago.
Magical Resistance Action Seven: create or visit an ancestor altar.
Here is what I created for magical resistance actions three and seven: I read the story of Boethius from For the Love of the Gods.