Soon after midnight one night in late February, out of the grimly palatial Trump Tower in Manhattan, a Trump supporter was yelling at a small group of anti-Trump protesters clustered on the sidewalk. In certain ways, the confrontation has been rather common: “You only like democracy when it works in your favor!” The Trump supporter, an enthusiastic, bespectacled lady with her hair in a ponytail, bellowed at one point.
By many measures, however, the scene was odd. The protesters were sitting with a makeshift altar, brandishing candles along with a tarot card, and had just completed casting a spell upon the US president. Their only detractor, who later described herself as a “Christian mystic,” was aggressively wielding a little, round mirror, whined repeatedly that she was reflecting their magic intentions back on them.
“I hope to protect Donald Trump,” she explained.
Across the nation, based on reports, something similar was happening: Countless witches and other occult fans had vowed to partake in a simultaneous mass ritual at midnight on February 24 in order to “Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him.” (The purpose in doing a binding spell, since the spell directions carefully noted, is not to damage a person, but rather to keep them from harming other people. “This is not the equivalent of magically punching a Nazi,” the Medium post containing the ritual incantation stressed.
By the time the mass ritual was performed, it had turned into a media sensation, covered anywhere from BuzzFeed to Breitbart, also had attracted just one high-profile star to the cause (Lana del Rey, of course). It had also become, to a particularly fervent men and women, a high-stakes struggle over the nation of this hugely unpopular president soul–a rightwing Christian group, incensed by the “blasphemy against God,” declared they’d be praying to counteract the spell. This ridiculous development buoyed the dominant media story, which framed the event as a unique spectacle or novelty: “Witches and Christians Are Prepared to Battle over Trump,” or something to that effect, wrote several headline editors.
However, this is not the first time witches have meddled in Trump’s affairs, and the magic Trump resistance is far more fractured than most media coverage would indicate. Exotic witches, like much of the left, vehemently disagree on the best way to deal with the embattled former reality star and his government; a few find the rhetoric of this binding spell overly divisive, but some fear that the populism of this mass ritual may dangerously dilute any desired magical outcomes.
Michael Hughes, the magician who promoted the Trump-binding ritual, conceived it as a rather straightforward act of self-defense against the present administration, which he describes as “an obvious danger.” He wasn’t, he said, anticipating the backlash in the occult community. Since the spell began to go viral, witches started flocking to the comments section of the Medium article Hughes had published to express their dismay and terror. A number of them were concerned the spell’s imprecise wording–that the ritual chant initially requested that Trump “fail utterly” without specifying what–could have unintentional, cataclysmic implications for domestic security; others cautioned that the planets were not aligned correctly on the designated date. Nearly all the ritual’s detractors, however, stressed that the spell, being overly negative, was running afoul of the “Rule of Three,” that says that whatever energy someone puts into the world will go back to them.
Some critics of this ritual implied that, rather than a binding spell, the mass magical action should concentrate on enlightening Trump and making him aware of the harm he is doing to other people, together with all the hopes that this might inspire him to alter his autocratic behaviours. Hughes scoffed at the idea. “The idea that magic has to be all love and light, and we should be trying to enlighten these people who are clearly damaged and crazed individuals who are breaking everything they touch–that seems kind of silly to me,” he told wholeheartedly in a telephone interview.
Other witches decried the fact that the ritual, by heading viral, had involved far too many budding or inexperienced magic users. “The idea of circulating this far and wide and bringing in thousands of magic users is appealing,” wrote John Beckett, a respected Druid, in a post on Patheos. But he cautioned, “not all magic users are equal.
In effect, the left-leaning witchcraft community has been rehashing several contentious political arguments about how to manage Trump, only with spells–there were also the “they go low, we go high” witches who expected to reason with Trump supporters using enlightenment invocations, and there were also people who had been doubtful about the worth of appealing to the masses with watered-down magic.
However, the spell was not just about binding Trump, as many witches highlighted: “All those who enable his wickedness,” also, were included in the ritual. Pressingly, a few of these Trump supporters had begun to dabble in the occult on their own, and claimed that doing this had aided the current president rise to power. We’re fighting the people around us,” Carrie St. Aaron, a nonbinary witch who had engaged in the ritual, stated.