Someone Is Doing Witchcraft Wrong!


  • Everybody!  Trump’s tweets about Issue X are just a distraction!  We need to focus on Issue Y!  Eyes on the prize!
  • Please!  Don’t have a demonstration!  Demonstrations are not useful anymore.  The press won’t cover it and it will just give Trump’s people an opportunity for violence.
  • Hey!  Trump’s tweets aren’t a distraction; his tweets are the issue.  We need to counter them.
  • You can’t call it a “Women’s March!”  That will make men feel unwelcome.  Also, you are not doing enough to include Group Z!
  • You shouldn’t hit Nazis.  That will make people think we’re violent and against free speech.
  • Don’t knit silly pink pussy cat hats!  That takes away from the seriousness of the Resistance.  It’s too girly.
  • Town Halls aren’t the answer; we need to elect Candidate A to the DNC!
  • Hey!  Everybody!  Everyone needs to quit telling other people what not to do to resist Trump!  That’s counterproductive.

It’s almost impossible to log onto the internet these days and NOT read that someone, somewhere, is somehow doing Resistance wrong.  It’s the old “someone is wrong on the internet” theme writ large.  And it’s not surprising.  Trump and his administration are such serious threats that, of course, we all want to figure out the most effective way to resist.  But, as my grandma used to say, there’s usually more than one way to skin a cat.

Recently, we’ve had a bout of this on the Pagan interwebs.  Ever since a group of Witches publicized a spell to bind Trump — we’ll call it the Orange Candle Spell for simplicity — we’ve seen dozens of posts explaining that ZOMG, those people are doing Witchcraft WRONG.

I want to say a few things about this.

First, as I’ve explained before, if you find any form of Resistance work — magical or, you should pardon the expression, mundane — problematic or not to your liking, then you should probably not do that Resistance work. Fortunately, there are many, many ways to resist what’s happening and to work to bring about the changes we want to see.  Someone brilliant once said that you should find the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need and you should DO THAT THING.  So if the Orange Candle Spell is not your thing, that’s OK.  You be you.

One shadow issue that occurs and re-occurs, however, throughout the history of modern Paganism is this need to be “authentic,” to claim “authority,” to assert that others are wrong because they aren’t “real” Witches/Druids/Heathens/Magicians, etc.  It’s not difficult to figure out.  We’re still not really sure we own/can claim ancient Paganism.  We know that others view us as “fringe,” not really a valid modern religion.  And so even Uncle Gerald was put to creating a more ancient Stone Age lineage than he could really support.  For decades, we played games about whether our grandmothers had initiated us in the woods or whether we could trace our tradition back to some matrilineal coven that survived the Burning Times.  Books written in the 1960s and 1970s were passed off as ancient grimoires and Witch Wars were fought over who had or hadn’t initiated whom.  If any silly teenager who watched Buffy or Charmed, or who read a Lewellyn book or a web page, could just light a candle and say, “I’m a Witch; I’m a Witch; I’m a Witch,” well, how special could we still be with our third-degree initiations and our years of study???

And it seems to me that a good chunk of the criticisms of the Orange Candle Spell come from that place.  The son of some Big Name Pagans put up a post that was stunning it its “Respect Mah Authoriteh!” vibe.  “I’ve studied this all my life and I say it won’t work and you should LISTEN TO ME!”  He wasn’t alone.

Sorry, I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, and I’m really a big proponent of scholarship, but we need to get over this.  You know that old woman who lived on the edge of town?  The one that your great, great, great grandmother went to see when the lord’s son raped her daughter and she knew she’d get no justice from the lord’s courts?  That old woman to whom she paid a chicken and some firewood to make the lord’s son impotent because, throughout most of history, that’s what “justice” was for disempowered people?  Well, that old woman, I hate to tell you this, but that old woman was not an “experienced occultist.”  She couldn’t trace her lineage back past her mother’s mother.  She probably couldn’t read and the spell that she worked, while it may well have worked, owed much more to her sincerity and strength than it did to being a carefully-constructed work of high magic.  She likely mixed a bit of bad church Latin into her spell and blended saints in with some local deities.  She probably didn’t have a good list of correspondences and almost certainly didn’t have the correct crystals and incense for the working.  In fact, that silly teenager who’s read a bit of Lewellyn is almost certainly a far more educated occultist than that old hedge Witch.

So let’s get off our high hobby-horses.

We’re going to need a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of work to turn this mess around.  Let’s not waste time telling so many of them that they can’t do the work unless they’ve sent away for the mail order initiation or spent thirty years in the wilderness learning four different kinds of runes.  I’d prefer for them to get interested in this work and maybe use that as a springboard to further study.

Another criticism making the rounds is that the Orange Candle Spell is a bad idea because of the Rule of Three.  I’ve explained my thoughts on this before, so I’ll just repeat that any kind of Resistance work — magical or mundane — can have blow back.  You need to choose accordingly which work is your work.  But let’s not lose sight of the fact that magic is quite often a tool of people who lack mundane power precisely because magic avoids dangerous blow back.  You may not have the temporal power to challenge an evil-doer, but magic will let you work undetected for justice.  I do not believe that the Universe is either malevolent or stupid and I don’t believe that those who work for justice need to fear that work.

A final criticism of the Orange Candle Spell is that by making it public, its workers invite Christian “prayer warriors” and Nazi occultists to do counter work.  This, in my opinion, is the most valid criticism.  I’ve written recently about the fact that Dion Fortune decided, when combatting Nazis during World War II, to make her working public.  Could a Nazi spy have gotten onto her mailing list and been receiving her weekly letters?  Yes.  We know the Nazis were interested in the work of British occultists and astrologers.  And we know that Christians, Breitbart “news”, and others found out about the Orange Candle Spell and vowed to counter it.  I’m not sure, in the Age of the Internet, that this can be avoided.  Even if we were all to communicate via some secret ListServ or snail mail, we could be found out.  I, at least, an not willing to concede that this means that I should just give up and do no magical Resistance work.  I’d be interested to hear what others think.

Picture found here.



25 responses to “Someone Is Doing Witchcraft Wrong!

  1. Bless You! You sum it all up so perfectly! I’m happy to have found the online Pagan community since without it I’d have none, but I have been puzzled from day one about the in fighting. And thank you for validating my muddled form of witchcraft! Not that it needs outside validation but it is terribly easy to feel you must be doing it wrong! And I so agree that things just don’t rebound in the way so many believe! So thank You Again For This Post!

  2. Thank you for this! My big ethical piece is to do a risk/benefit ratio…given the stakes of doing nothing, I’d rather see us try some things rather than be worried about the perfection of it. And i have to say…as a resident of DC who is pretty intimately tied with parts of this land-base…I’m not feeling an effect from the prayer warriors. I, actually, think that our national ancestors (and we should be working with them) are rising up to protect the Constitution. We should be feeding them as well as Athena Polias/Columbia, Lady Liberty, etc.

    I actually got contacted by TASS (Russian state news agency) about it, wearing my scholarly hat. I don’t think they ended up running a story on it, but I’ll share what I said to them, because I think it aligns nicely with your points.

    My comments to the TASS reporter:
    “Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I am happy to comment, although I am not personally involved in this effort. I think it is important, however, to look at this current situation in historical context.

    Throughout history, magic is often the last resort for oppressed people who do not have formal power in their society. Binding spells have a long history across cultures and their purpose is not to cause harm but to neutralize, or bind up, the ability of someone who has superior formal power to hurt you, your loved ones, or those who you are trying to protect. Part of the mythic history of contemporary Paganism is that they trace their spiritual lineage back to pre-Christian people who were oppressed by institutionalized Christianity. From a mythological perspective, Pagans’ sacred stories about their resistance to forced Christianization form an important piece of their collective identity. Therefore there is a natural feeling of solidarity among Pagans with those who are oppressed or are at risk of being oppressed.

    Seen through this lens, the fact that there are Pagans who are seeking to bind the capacity of a leader in formal power to harm vulnerable people is not surprising nor is it new. This kind of work has always been a part of magical traditions. What is new is that it spread through social media. Contemporary Paganism is non-institutional and participation in any activity is up to the conscience of the individual. On this particular working, there has been a great deal of conversation on social media amongst contemporary Pagans debating the appropriateness and desirability of this action, but that is not significantly different than a Christian deciding whether or not they are going to pray in relationship to something political.”

  3. Christina Kingsmount

    So glad you wrote this.

    There were so many variations on the ritual binding that I was a tad worried at first! The point of course, is that so many were/are united in an effort with similar intention.

    There is a glamour on that man and his henchmen, and it must be countered. Yours in Solidarity.

  4. I did my own “ritual”. At one point I found myself in a dark “space”, either in a very large cavern or outside in the wilderness. Then I saw some candle light and realized I was among those “praying” or doing “rituals” to help save our democracy. There were no faces, just lights. By the end of my “ritual”, I saw thousands- millions of lit candles that took the shape of the milky way. The candle lit milky way was mirroring the real milky way in the night sky. It created a force of goodness and love. There was more, but I’ll just leave it at that. I put ritual in quotes because I know hardly anything about binding spells but I thought I’d try. I didn’t use any real candles, no props at all really. Sometimes I go back to the millions of lit candle and hope that goodness will prevail.

    • Julia, this image is so beautiful in my mind. I love it. Thank you for sharing. That’s exactly perfect in every way.

    • What a light you are dear woman, what a blessing to have cognized that vision and consciousness. Obviously, you didn’t need the rest of the “ritual ” to get you where you needed to go. Stay true to this always. Goodness will prevail, I am certain of it. There are so so many of all different beliefs who are here at this time to support just that very thing. Goodness, with honor and room for all. Just hang on, it’s coming. ♡♡♡

  5. I am just a novice but, intuitively and spiritually, I cannot believe that there is only one way to do anything in this world; that is just childish foolishness, surely. More to the point — I don’t believe that magic enforces many precise ‘rules’; it just Is. And that’s more than enough for this endeavor and any other.

  6. Reblogged this on aunt polly's rants and commented:
    I couldn’t have said it better !

  7. Mama always said , it’s takes all kinds (magick) to make this world…and what a boring place it would be if it was all the same…..she also said , taking yeah sh*t to tha street was a no no…..Blessings

  8. Thank you for this!

  9. A wise article that cuts right to the quick of the matter. I am a lifelong Pagan myself with the “right” ancestors and can tell you, it’s the intent and the will and focusing the will that makes magic work, the rest is window dressing to help the individual focus the will. It is not the trappings, it is the internal work one does to have an iron will that makes a great witch.

  10. Yes, yes, yes!!!

  11. Thank you so much, this is great, and something that I needed to hear today.

  12. Thank you, I am that hedge witch on the outskirts of town. 😁

  13. Thank you for the whole post, but especially this: “Someone brilliant once said that you should find the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need and you should DO THAT THING.”

  14. This is a timely and sensible commentary, and the links at the end should galvanize anyone to add anything to this work. Who am I? A school teacher who carries her wand in her thrift store purse.

  15. I speak to the last point, about Christian countering efforts, the working being made public and so on. In my experience it is always worse to declare yourself and your intentions, otherwise you are on the same covert level as the potus/admin.
    To be able to stand squarely in the light and state that this group and their positions, their intentions are not acceptable to oneself is necessary. To take actions of bracing against is again reacting with same/same. But as I understand here, the request is for no harm to be done, to anyone, to any Being. This is ALWAYS appropriate. And I believe it raises the vibration of the intention to a much higher place than that of those who would seek to contol, manipulate, and indeed do harm. It is nor like to like, and so whatever the counter effort that might be cooked up, it is not as strong. Dense, but not as strong.
    Thank you for your observations, I agree wholeheartedly. I believe this horror before us will in the end be the tipping point that has and will continue to galvanize people into an Awakened state of Awareness. Will Trump and his ilk Awaken? Impossible to say. But for the rest of us, it is serving to get us up off our rear ends and state very clearly what we do and don’t want our world to look like. And that’s a very very good thing. So Mote It Be.

  16. Oh good grief. I need my other glasses. In my opening statement above, it reads “I find it worse” when what I meant to write was WISE. A very important distinction, and no way to edit now. Sorry, hope if you read the previous you see this. : p

  17. I do tire of the infighting. I think each person must do what they feel capable of doing. In the age of the internet, yes, it will be at least partially public. But that is alright – ages ago, some pagans I knew were aghast that my wand and other tools of the trade were in plain sight. I told them that anything I needed to be secret kept its OWN secret — I was not one that needed silken bags and the like.

    I feel this work, and other spell workings are the same — secrets that need keeping will keep themselves. I have to believe all the individual bits as each one works alone, but in one cause, will meld together like dancers moving to the same music.

  18. Ladies, my experience tells me that although some spells might work, they won’t give you the direct result that you asked for.
    Let me give you an example:
    We cast a spell with the objective of taking Trump out of office. The spell works. Then is the vice-president that becomes the president. What happens is that he has more extreme right ideas, more xenophobic and he is against women rights?
    So be careful about what you ask for..
    You should not concentrate in one individual, because what you are going to have is not the individual you asked for, but someone else that fills your desire. The universe’strings have a funny way to fulfill your wishes..
    We should concentrate and ask for harmony, equality and happiness for all the world. Not for a single country but for the whole universe.
    It should be a mantra, a little song where the melody is equal all around the world and accessible to all beings. Hugs!

    • @guanche_lady

      Yes, that seems to me to be absolutely right. I’ve been focusing my magic work on neutralising harm and on waking up the wider populace and the other elected representatives to the importance of the highest values that the USA embodies.
      As I’ve noted elsewhere on the comments on this magical battle, I’m English. So I’m inputting from a different perspective from (most?) other folk here. If anyone has any thoughts on how I might most helpfully provide magical assistance, do let me know. From the moment of the Poisonous Toad’s election, within my meditation times I have been focusing enheartening power to the people of the USA and focusing weakening (“making impotent’) energy towards Toad and his entourage. The latter is important – the VP and others around the So Called Ruler of the United States (SCROTUS) need to have their ability to neutralised as well.
      BUT, never physical or permanent harm to any of them. Just neutralising. And the most effective way for the to happen is is the way that happened in Andersen’s tale about The Emperor’s New Clothes. Once enough people see Toad and the Toadlets clearly, his power will dissolve.

      • @guanche_lady

        Reply to self! I realised that elsewhere (on the initial blog post about the Magical Battle) I posted as Margarita. I’m now posting with my Twitter “handle” so that anyone who wishes to do so can contact me.

  19. I am not saying to avoid doing magic for the greater good, but I agree that this being public was a bad call, among other things. If you are interested in my detailed opinion and paranoia, please see today’s post to my blog. I will not post the link here as I do not want to appear to be advertising. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Mahalo.

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