Regular readers of this journal may remember the series of entries in the spring of this year about the attempt by opponents of the current US administration to cast hexes on President Trump and an assortment of other people and causes they hate. Well, they took another shot at it, in an attempt to keep Brett Kavanaugh from being confirmed as a justice of the US Supreme Court. You can find the ritual posted in full here
, and of course the success of this latest working can be measured quite precisely by the latest headlines
When one of my readers brought this latest working to my attention on Thursday evening, my immediate response was to say that Kavanaugh would be confirmed shortly. Several readers have asked me to explain what it was about the ritual that made me so sure it would fail. That’s a worthwhile question, not least because it touches on some important details of magical theory and practice, and so seems worth a discussion here.
Magic, after all, isn’t just playacting and dress-up games. It’s meant to make things happen. If a given working doesn’t get results, it’s worth taking the time to understand what went wrong—and if a whole series of workings don’t work, it’s crucial to figure out the flaws that made that happen, so you can do something else instead.
That’s crucial here, because the magical workings done by the self-proclaimed “Resistance” have been abject failures. There’s the working to keep Kavanaugh from being confirmed, which flopped so noticeably; there was the working to hex the NRA, after which the NRA had its most successful month of fundraising in many decades; and there was the attempt to put a binding on Trump himself, which has had no effect worth noticing.
Snce his inauguration, after all, Trump has brought North Korea to the negotiating table, forced Mexico and Canada to accept a new trade agreement in place of NAFTA, imposed tariffs to protect American industries, abolished the individual mandate for Obamacare, carried out a far-reaching program of deregulation, resumed the enforcement of US immigration laws, and had 76 federal judges confirmed so far (with many dozens more working their way through the confirmation process), including two Supreme Court justices. That’s a very substantial scorecard for the first two years of a first term, especially when you remember that he’s done this against the concerted opposition of the entire political establishment and the corporate media.
What’s more, there’s some reason to think that these workings might actually have helped the causes they were intended to harm. Notice the timing: the binding spell on Trump went noisily public on February 16, 2017, and it’s been since that time that Trump has racked up most of the accomplishments just described. The curse on the NRA went online on February 15, 2018, and March 2018, as already noted, turned into a banner month for donations to the NRA. Even more to the point, when the attempt to bind Kavanaugh’s confirmation was published on the web on Wednesday, October 3, the outcome was still very much in doubt; promptly thereafter, the Republican holdouts fell into line, a Democratic senator joined them, and Kavanaugh was confirmed.
This kind of thing is far from unknown in magic. Those of us who’ve been around in the magical community for a while have all seen our share of love spells that ended up making the target hate the caster, prosperity spells that resulted in poverty and bankruptcy, and so on. Magic isn’t whatever you want it to be; it has its laws and its limits, and if you ignore those you can very easily get results that are the opposite of those you intended.
Broadly speaking, there were two major problems with the Kavanaugh binding. The first, a problem that pervades the entire genre of heavily publicized online magical workings, was precisely that it was public. If you’re doing magic in a controversial cause, one in which you have reason to know that there are other people working magic for the other side, publishing all the details of your working for everyone to see has precisely the same effect as showing your cards to all the other players in a poker game. If the other side knows what you’re doing, and how, and when, and where, and why, they can easily construct workings of their own to mess with your ritual and make it ineffective.
Every time I’ve mentioned this in relation to the current fad for political magic, proponents of the workings in question have denounced my comments in strident terms, insisting that the old rule of magical secrecy is outdated, inaccurate, and just plain wrong. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, though; with Brett Kavanaugh sworn in, the NRA sitting on a fat pile of unexpected donations, and Trump chalking up yet another victory, it’s kind of hard to treat the denunciations just mentioned with any degree of seriousness. Something about the magic of the “Resistance” clearly isn’t working. Yelling that it just ain’t so, and the mere fact that Trump is getting nearly everything he wants doesn’t mean anything, isn’t exactly a productive response to that reality.
The failure to maintain operational secrecy would probably be enough to sink the Kavanaugh binding all by itself, given a sufficiently skilled and motivated group of mages on the other side. There’s an even more serious problem with the binding spell, though: it contradicts itself.
There’s a difference, after all, between truth and justice on the one hand, and partisan hatred and prejudice on the other. If you’re going to invoke truth and justice in a magical working, you need to behave in a truthful and just manner, or the results won’t be good. In particular, if you invoke truth and justice and the rest of your spell makes it clear that what you really want is to destroy someone you hate, that working is going to blow up in your face like a well-flung hand grenade.
The entire logic of the ritual linked above, and of the shrill and furious diatribe that introduces it, assumes in advance that every accusation and every scrap of partisan polemic flung at Brett Kavanaugh must be true, because Trump. That’s hardly just, nor is it truthful. Neither you, dear reader, nor I, nor the author of the spell have any way to know whether the accusations against Kavanaugh are true or not. While it does seem to be the case that the great majority of women who accuse men of sexual assault are telling the truth, it’s emphatically not true that all such accusations are honest; there have been a number of well-documented recent cases where accusers have recanted, or been proven beyond reasonable doubt to have lied.
Assuming that all such accusations must be true is as prejudiced, and as far from justice, as assuming that all such accusations must be false. Insisting that a given set of accusations must be true because you hate the person who appointed the target of the accusations to the Supreme Court, in turn, has nothing to do with truth or with justice; it’s politically motivated hate speech, and nothing more.
You can do an effective magical working based on honest hate. I don’t recommend it, because I guarantee you won’t like the blowback, but it can be done. In fact, doing such a working and accepting the blowback in advance, calling it down upon you as the price you’re willing to pay to strike at the object of your hatred, is very potent magic indeed. (Just don’t try to wiggle out of the blowback when it shows up; you won’t escape the consequences but you might succeed in weakening your spell.) If you’re going to do magic based on the kind of seething hatred and frustrated rage that’s so visibly on display in these workings, then, you’ve got a choice. You can accept the truth about your motivations and, at least in the privacy of your own skull, drop the pretense that you’re guided by anything better; alternatively, your magic will fail. Take your pick. This is one of the reasons that traditional occult schools in the Western world, and in many other cultures as well, stress the attainment of self-knowledge as an essential first step in magical training. To become an effective mage, it’s crucial to learn how to get past the fancy labels we all use now and then to dress up our hatreds, our cravings, and our fears. You can learn that by paying attention to the teachings of traditional occultism; you can also learn it by slamming face first into the consequences of your mishandled magic until sheer pain forces you to notice. Those who won’t learn the lesson the first way can pretty reliably count on learning it the second.
I've had a couple of people try to post screeds of varying length about Justice Kavanaugh and the like. That's not what we're talking about here, folks; the subject of this entry is the spell meant to stop his confirmation and the implications of its failure. There are plenty of places online where you can post diatribes for or against Kavanaugh, and so attempts to drag the discussion here back to partisan political issues will land straight in the trash can. Thank you.