This Halloween, the witches are coming — to the poll field.
Utilizing the hashtag #WitchTheVote, witch-identified people are encouraging others who’ve an curiosity within the occult to get knowledgeable about political candidates and solid their vote within the U.S. presidential election Nov. 3.
Initially launched by a gaggle of witches from Salem, Mass., in the course of the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections, #WitchTheVote is a cross-media initiative that identifies and promotes — as one witch tells us — “witch-worthy” political candidates: those that are progressive and social justice oriented. It’s becoming political activism in a city recognized for the Salem witch trials and modern witch tourism.
Greater than a hashtag, #WitchTheVote can be, in line with the group, a “collective intersectional effort to direct our magic in the direction of electing candidates who will push our nation and our planet ahead into the witch utopia all of us envision.”
Right here, intersectional feminist politics work alongside magic and artistic media manufacturing to interact in political activism that features advocacy round points like reasonably priced housing, reproductive rights and #BlackLivesMatter. #WitchTheVote runs a daily podcast and has additionally made and distributed zines with data for potential voters, together with tips on how to register to vote and tips on how to test to make sure your mail-in poll was acquired.
This collective effort illustrates the methods by which “magical resistance” has grow to be a well-liked, women-led type of mediated, political activism because the election of Donald Trump in 2016.
The resurgence of the witch
#WitchTheVote is located inside a resurgence of witches in fashionable tradition over the previous 4 years. Between Netflix’s teen drama The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, magnificence retailer Sephora’s Starter Witch Equipment (which was finally eliminated on account of backlash), the revival of the cult classics teen witch film The Craft and TikTok spell traits, the witch is having a cultural second.
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Books akin to Pam Grossman’s Waking the Witch (2019) have attracted widespread media consideration, whereas public curiosity in astrology and tarot readings has additionally grown.
Esthetically, witchcraft and mysticism flow into simply on visible social media platforms akin to Instagram and TikTok, the place vibrant crystals and elaborate altars make for stunning pictures and movies. From a branding perspective, the witch’s recognition is smart inside a bigger cultural curiosity in spirituality, wellness and mysticism.
However there may be additionally a case to be made for the very political nature of the witch. The archetype of the witch has a historic relationship with feminist activism. As an unruly determine and menace to the patriarchy, the witch is resistant, and has been utilized in feminist protest because the Sixties.
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At a second of regressive politics marked by a resurgence of white supremacy, xenophobia and anti-feminist sentiments, coupled with the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic and the looming local weather disaster, it’s unsurprising that ladies and different marginalized people are turning to witchcraft as a approach to make sense of — and act upon — our present political, social and financial milieu.
The digital coven
It’s maybe the collectivist sentiment of up to date witchcraft — belonging to one thing larger, collectively — that’s interesting. Certainly, #WitchTheVote’s mandate as a “collective intersectional effort” suggests the pressure of doing one thing collectively, but attuned to the totally different experiences, together with these associated to race, class, sexuality, age and talent, that individuals might face.
And whereas not the one software for mobilizing a collective, expertise has grow to be a major connector for covens lately. Social media platforms, particularly, present what some witches confer with as “globally accessible magic.”
By embracing expertise whereas recognizing its limitations and inherent oppressions, witches are participating in new rituals with the intent of retaining their channels clear for max revolutionary energy on a person and collective stage.
For instance, upon Donald Trump’s election in 2016, witches started a month-to-month ritual of casting a spell to “bind” Trump, stopping him from pursuing his agenda that many witches imagine to be dangerous. Some witches used platforms akin to Fb Messenger and Twitter to attach with different spell-casting witches at a delegated time every month, making certain that the “mass power of the individuals” is harnessed.
Spells and rites
Traditionally, spells typically required little or no by way of industrial items. As an alternative, witches relied on fundamental home goods like candles and feminized rituals akin to sweeping to interact in witchcraft. #WitchTheVote’s “A Multi-tasking Spell for Mutual Assist Throughout COVID-19” lists a pen, paper and “the rest that makes you’re feeling like a witch” as mandatory supplies. Different spells suggest candles of any dimension and color and dust out of your yard.
The emphasis just isn’t on the supplies themselves, however as a substitute participating with rituals that assist witches really feel empowered by practices that present a way of routine, stability and objective in unpredictable instances.
Within the digital age, utilizing the Web as one other avenue to apply witchcraft looks as if a pure extension to the custom of constructing do with the sources out there to you. We might even consider emojis, shares, likes and retweets as potential applied sciences of magic when used with energetic intention to manifest social change.
And these practices are extensions of activist use of applied sciences akin to feminist listservs, e-zines, chatrooms, homepages, feminist blogs and now, social media.
Casting spells and votes
In a political, cultural and financial second by which many individuals really feel a way of hopelessness concerning the future, #WitchTheVote encourages activists to floor themselves by ritual and magical resistance.
They remind us of women’ and ladies’s prolonged historical past in subverting repressive politics by targeted collective motion. In casting their votes together with their digital coven on Nov. 3, Salem’s activist witches hope to #WitchTheVote, one poll at a time.
Jessalynn Keller receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Analysis Council of Canada.
Alora Paulsen Mulvey doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.