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Although witchcraft has been gaining popularity among millennials for years, the 2016 presidential election has led to an increased interest in the occult as an alternative means of harnessing power for those disenfranchised and disenchanted with the established pathways toward empowerment. “It’s a way to be spiritual and feel connected to things that are larger without being bogged down in the dogma of a specific religion,” said Ana Matronic, a member of the band Scissor Sisters and a founder of Witches Against Fascist Totalitarianism, or WAFT, for short.
As a kid, Matronic was drawn toward the darker characters that pop culture had to offer. Her favorite puppet on “Sesame Street,” for example, was The Count, and while watching “Sleeping Beauty,” she was most concerned about the well-being of Maleficent. In part because her mother was a horror buff herself, Matronic always felt more comfortable around images and stories that elicited goose bumps rather than butterflies. “I was born a witch,” she said. “Things that were normally sort of scary or dark reminded me of home.”
Pre-election, Matronic’s occult practices centered around Tarot cards, meditation and what she dubbed “wizard parties” ― costume parties with a mystical bent. Under President Trump, however, the itinerary has changed a bit.
By far the most publicized spell designed to thwart Trump’s agenda is called a binding spell ― meant to prevent an individual or an energy from causing harm. Witches around the nation organized, with help from the mystical powers of Facebook, to conduct a mass binding spell on Feb. 24 and every subsequent waning crescent moon. Fox News even cheekily speculated the spell was responsible for the failure of Trump’s Health Care Act. There’s a somewhat cheesy recipe for the binding spell floating around the internet, involving a shriveled Cheeto (or baby carrot) and an unflattering photo of Trump.
As part of the magical procedure, each participant also establishes a specific, non-magical action she plans to take following the ritual, that will in some way contribute to the spell’s larger goals of empowerment and compassion. One witch committed to canvassing in conservative districts in anticipation of the 2018 election, another promised to educate herself more rigorously on the procedures of local government. “Part of the process of witchcraft is finding our power,” Yates Garcia said, “seeing where we can apply our energy and agency in order to make change.”