I will not regurgitate the ills and woes of the world today. I have done that before on this blog and, chances are, you are already aware at some level. Even if you try to hide under the blankets of #stayingpositive or #thehustle, you’ve sensed that a great something is afoot. More accurately, not to slip entirely into paranoia and delusions of grandeur, you’ve sensed there is a call on the wind. I believe this is how you answer the call.
Just as I will not recap the previous episodes of “The 2020 Shitshow” I will also attempt to avoid defining the title entirely. Instead, I will refer you to the Gods & Radicals Press, who do a much better job of it. There, you can read articles processing current events through a clear-eyed perspective and a selection of several amazing books about the intersection between different types of paganism and anarchism. Of particular note is Witches in a Crumbling Empire by Rhyd Wildermuth and Pagan Anarchism by Christopher Scott Thompson. Read them, absorb them; take your time to digest the concepts and meanings and truths. You need to see with eyes unclouded before you can cast good (read: effective) magic as medicine for the moment.
All of this is not to say that pagans must become anarchists, or that there is a historical or inherent sympathy between these two worldviews. Of course, there is some. Paganism has been many things at many different times and throughout many different places/cultures in the world. Paganism also isn’t anarchist. The state religions of countless civilizations, from the Romans to the Inca, attest to an uncomfortable alliance between the monopoly of violence inherent in empire and the pagan cults of the State. So, you’ll get no argument for what witches “ought to” do or believe here.
What I am saying is that we must act as if we truly believed in the anarchist thesis: that coercive institutions, like governments, do not have an inherently better claim to authority and power than “the People.” As an operant anarchist witch we must empower our magic toward this sort of radical liberation, rather than allowing it to support such systems or remain passive in the face of crisis. In other words, to come back full circle as some witches (and nature) love to do, becoming a operant anarchist witch is the answer to the call on the wind, the answer to our troubled times.
The Operant Anarchist Witch
What does becoming one entail?
For starters, it means no longer being passive in the face of injustice or any given crisis we know our witchcraft could help mediate. Notice I don’t mean “help remedy” there, but simply to mediate. The second aspect is to realize that neither magic, nor most human endeavors in general, should start out by trying to remedy anything. That would involve imposing one’s idea of what is right and wrong on situations, imposing limited solutions on complex problems, and often limiting the agency of people and non-people in their context. Banish the thought.
We do not automatically know better because we are well-read or magical, but we must be committed to empowering the process through which people and non-people work through a crisis. Our knowledge and attitudes are heavily influenced by the ideas dominant in our environment, and who has vouched for them? Who can guarantee that the ambient culture we’ve all been marinating in is a good prescription for anything? The moment itself should refute that notion. Solutions will be found in a future space, and it will require dialog between everyone impacted, spreading the power and authority to make decisions as evenly as possible in our varied cultural/environmental landscapes.
The operant anarchist witch is devoted to maintaining the (often divine) principle of Justice and Equity in all things. Dynamically, holistically–naturally. All by itself, such an intervention would go a long way toward putting into practice anarchist philosophy. It also removes the crushing response-ability of having all the answers within one or a few limited vessels, be they people, ideas, or moments in history.
How you put into practice this second principle of operant anarchist witchcraft is the third aspect of this magic: blessings and blights. You must be fearless when confronting crisis or injustice in the world, and profoundly trust in your magic’s ability to have an effect in the world. Otherwise, there is no true magic being worked and the label of witch/craft is a gross misappropriation. Herein, your magic must dare to travel through the dangerous paths of retribution, when earned, and true empowerment without envy. You must remember that you have already grasped at the raw fire of the gods and must now share it with the world.
The magic of such a witch would silence the voices of those who commit atrocities against humanity and nature, and amplify the voices of those who seek harmony via the work of justice. It is the cursed on one hand, and magical coaching on the other, as needed. It is the calming and the stirring of powerful emotions. It is not, however, the limpid liberal idea of balanced viewpoints. The witch, endowed with oracular true sight and discernment, must pierce through veils of deceit and reveal ill intent where it lies.
There is one final principle of the operant anarchist witch: attunement to magic. That is, while spells exist for every occasion described above, a “magical living” is more precisely what is called for. This is not to mean the magic of self-gratification and fixation on commodities that uphold a rapacious consumerist lifestyle, but the magic inherent in cosmic power. The dynamic rhythms of the energies and forces of the universe produce a natural harmony in the world, which is the true source of magic. Noticing it, and becoming one with it, is the highest calling for the witch. Wielding it for the sake of deconstructing artificial and coerced authority is the live current of this calling. Maintaining the current, and allowing it to direct how power flows through and around the witch, is the goal.
Though perhaps little more than a modern myth, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches is a wonderful blueprint for the type of witch envisioned here. Like the titular Aradia, the operant anarchist witch knows power was given to them to be wielded. Indeed, power was given to all beings to be shared. As witches, we can help the world remember that fact, but only if we come out of the shadows and become the fire.
Thwart Trump’s Meddling with the 2020 Election
Hex/Curse Every Cop Murdering Black People or Minorities
Invoke Swift Divine Justice for Immigrant Children in Cages
Cast Malefic Magic at Known Rapists Escaping Justice
Reveal Human Trafficking and Help Demolish Them
Protect the Rights of Local Endangered Ecosystems
Strike Back Ruthlessly Against Abusers High and Low
Inspire Civic Disobedience for Any Given Cause
For more ideas, or even specific spells that could be used to work these magics, I recommend another little book, Zakroff et al‘s The New Aradia. Get it, devour it, and use it!