Economic Egregores: How Belief Drives the Power of Money and What We Can Do About It

“[S]ince it has become increasingly clear that stocks, and even money itself, is entirely based on a perception of value, which is by nature subjective and mutable, the only question becomes how that perception of value is influenced? And who is doing the influencing?”

From Sable Aradia

Dollar Bills by Dawn Hudson. Courtesy

A thoughtform is a semi-autonomous manifestation created when someone — or several someones — will it, or believe it, into being. As of that point, it is no longer entirely subject to the will of its creator(s), but in essence, acts and reacts in its own way. It has no physical reality as we understand it, but it has a virtual reality; it might as well be real because we engage with it as if it is. Which, in a sense, makes it real.

An egregore is a thoughtform that has been created by a group, and it influences the thoughts and actions of the group that engages with it. But it is also influenced by the thoughts and actions of these same people.

This is not a unique concept to the occult: William Gibson wrote about what he called “semiotic ghosts” in popular culture. To me, it was evident he was talking about egregores. I wrote an article about this recently at Between the Shadows.

The examples of a corporation and a meme are probably excellent ones for a modern reader. A corporation exists independently of its creators. The Board of Directors, the shareholders, and the employees who work for it, can change completely — leave, die, or be replaced — and yet the corporation continues.

In our modern age, money is also an egregore, and this is why it has no physical value (after all, money is no longer backed by a gold standard.) Its perceived value governs its real value on the world market. The two are effectively one and the same.

It’s extremely difficult for one person to significantly alter the nature of an egregore. A person who wants to will such a change would have to convince a majority of the other people who engage with the egregore that its nature has already changed. For example, these major brands either started their lives as Nazi corroborators, or developed significantly as corporations while doing so, but of course we no longer make these associations with them.

There was an excellent object lesson in the transformation of an egregore in the 1990s in Brazil. Plagued by runaway inflation, Brazil embraced a daring plan; they created a new currency to restore people’s faith in money. They called it the Unit of Real Value (Unidade real de valor)(1). And it was entirely fake. No bills or coins were ever printed. It was intended to absorb the effects of hyperinflation and was set at a fixed value of parity to the U.S. dollar.

Instead, people developed more confidence in the URV than in the cruzeiro real, which was the legal-tender Brazilian currency, and it replaced Brazil’s legal currency. Officially it was “extinguished” and replaced with a legal-tender currency called the real on July 1, 1994.

A semi-virtual currency exists in Canada in the form of Canadian Tire money. This is effectively Monopoly money that is given out by Canadian Tire as a reward for shopping at their stores. It’s a fraction of the value of what you bought; a very early loyalty program.

But many places in Canada began accepting Canadian Tire money as well as real money, because why not? Canadian Tire doesn’t really care where it came from, because at one point or another it came from their store, and you can still exchange it there for real goods.

Unfortunately Canadian Tire is now trying to force their clientele to go to a card system instead, citing a risk of criminal enterprises making use of their alternate currency as an excuse. I’m sure that’s a real threat: criminal enterprises profit enormously from the existence of shadow economies that don’t depend upon the whim of the World Bank. But then again, so would we.

One might also consider the bitcoin bubble. Bitcoin is an entirely virtual currency that has a certain perceived value; and it has that value because of that perception.

That’s not a new concept either. Stock values are also entirely influenced by perceived values. One of the flaws in our current economic system that is coming to a point of reckoning is that stock values can plummet, not because a company has lost money, but because it has not gained as much as people thought it would. Twitter and Facebook both recently bore a significant loss of stock value because their growth, falsely projected on false identities and bot accounts which political pressure has forced them to limit, was not as great as those false projections had assumed it would be.

Insecurity Dollar Symbol by John Hain. Courtesy

What this tells us is that any free market theory is fatally flawed. It is assumed in the study of free market economics that stock value changes based on information. Traders become aware of trends, new technology, expansions, etc. which will increase the income-making potential of a corporation.

But since it has become increasingly clear that stocks, and even money itself, is entirely based on a perception of value, which is by nature subjective and mutable, the only question becomes how that perception of value is influenced? And who is doing the influencing?

The question then becomes for the magician: how can we best utilize egregores? Can we make significant changes to the harmful effects of existing egregores, such as the value of currency and how it is determined?

Marx said that in order to address income inequality, workers must control the means of production. But he failed to visualize the development of technology and the value of virtual goods. How do you control the means of production when all the production is virtual?

I think the answer is that the common people must direct the egregores instead. Right now, we have been absorbed by the semiotic ghosts of futility, apathy, and the inequalities of capitalism. And Money has become a god in and of itself. To combat this, we must embrace new egregores, and helpful, older egregores, like the Enlightened Rebel and the Will of the People.

To change the perceived value of money, and who has it, we need to re-think what we’re basing that value on. Right now, the world thinks of money in terms of national currencies, so the perceived economic well-being of nations is what drives the world economy. This creates haves and have-nots by nature. It’s dependent on the idea that some nations have more economic value than others.

It’s also, in part, determined by corporations. The more big corporations a country is perceived to have, and the bigger their stock values, the more valuable their currency is perceived to be.

Canadian Tire money erodes that economy just a little bit, because it takes a small fraction of the value of currency out of the hands of governments and stock traders, and puts it into the hands of consumers. Still not great; still capitalism, but a more decentralized capitalism.

Bitcoin is an early attempt to rethink the way we value currency. It has established a currency value on information. Bits of data are what form the essential unit of a bitcoin. But the flaw of this approach is that those who control information can control the value of a bitcoin, which is why it has already achieved a speculation bubble that makes it completely unattainable for regular people.

Perhaps we should come back to Marx. Perhaps we should be basing the value of currency on labour-units. One hour of labour might equal one credit, which could buy one full meal. Think of how wealthy artists would be! Of course I can’t think of a way to track that which wouldn’t risk intense violations of privacy. No change of this nature would be quick or easy, and each would have its own drawbacks and unintended consequences that we would have to consider, and deal with.

The question for us is: what do we consider to be of real value? And what would we like the economy of the future to look like? Which egregores should we give power to?

  1. I think it’s worth noting just how difficult this reference was to find. I remembered hearing something on a YouTube video about this and I went searching for a reference to write this article. I typed “South American country that created an alternate currency” into Google. This yielded an article called “How Fake Money Saved Brazil,” which originally came from the NPR website. It’s referenced by a plethora of other blogs and articles, but you can’t get access to that article anymore; just a couple of forums where people sneer at the idea, despite the fact that it demonstrably worked. I finally found the name of the currency — “Unit of Real Value” — in a snippet from a site that might be an archive of the Wayback Machine from a site called I searched this on Google and finally found the Wikipedia entry, listed only under its Portuguese name. Now why was this so hard to find? The most benign answer I can come up with is racism. I suspect it’s a lot more complex.

Sable Aradia

I’m a Pagan and speculative fiction author, a professional blogger, and a musician. I’m proudly Canadian and proudly LGBTQ. My politics are decidedly left and if you ask for my opinion, expect an honest answer. I owned a dog, whom I still miss very much, and am still owned by a cat. I used to work part time at a bookstore and I love to read, especially about faith, philosophy, science, and sci-fi and fantasy.

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How to Buy a Religion


What’s wrong with Sephora’s witch kit?

Is it crass to reduce a religious practice to $40 of mass-manufactured perfumes and Tarot cards? Probably, but haven’t Pagans been debating “pay-to-pray” back and forth for years? Sure, an independent Etsy artisan needs to make a living. But doesn’t Sephora also have to tap new markets to survive? The scale’s different, but what about the essence?

Is the mall any worse than the metaphysical shop?

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.

Karl Marx

Capitalism alienates.

It takes parts of you and makes commodities out of them. Your time, your physical activity, and your mental energy all get sold on the labor market like Tarot decks and perfume. Your body contains more than itself – it carries your community, the work and care of your loved ones, everything they do to keep you physically and psychologically functional. Without all that, how would you make it out of your door every morning with enough resiliency to work? After all, capital is hungry. A business needs to grow, or else other companies out-compete it in the market and force it into bankruptcy. The ones that can grow, survive. The ones that find more ways and things to eat, grow. They need your ability to work, to produce goods and services they can sell. All of the ingredients that go into your work, they consume.

Capital imposes its needs onto the dispossessed, the ones who don’t own businesses or rental properties and so have nothing to live on but their ability to work. The whole community depends on the money its wage-workers earn, so it has to organize its collective life in whatever way maximizes their employability. Wage-workers are exploited, and they incarnate entire communities of labor, exploited alongside and through them.

Religion is one way the dispossessed survive. Capitalism cuts you off from your basic nature: your capacity to flourish, to form relationships as a free being. It demoralizes in both the current and the older sense: the mindlessness and futility of wage-work, housewifery, and unemployment teach despair and induce depression, but when capital reduces you to an instrument, it de-moralizes you in a larger sense. The more of you that goes to satisfy capital’s hunger, the less of you is left for self-cultivation, creativity, and relationship-building. You are alienated from yourself.

Pop-culture resurgence: Internet tabloid Vice offers dozens of witchcraft-themed articles. Source

Sephora sells to women.

The social base of religion (Pagan and otherwise) is not only the dispossessed in general, but specifically the specially-oppressed along racial, national, and gender lines. Even when the ministers and bishops are men, it’s women who cook meals for sick parishioners, clean up after services, teach Sunday school, and fill most of the pews. Capitalism, by definition, only pays for waged work. But, the health and functionality of wage-workers is costly; it takes a vast expenditure of unpaid work in the home and the community to feed and support wage-workers, take care of their kids and elders, and ease the emotional strain of their alienation. So, there’s a division of labor between paid and unpaid work, and it falls along the lines of gender. Culture, ideology, and discrimination harmonize with the pervasive reality of anti-woman and anti-LGBT violence, forming an elegantly self-reinforcing feedback loop; gender roles both flow from and reinforce the overall social system. Those who don’t fall in line get hurt.

Religion sits at a key point in the cycle. It allows the racially and nationally oppressed to rely on each other for support, fellowship, and existential meaning without their oppressors in the room for a few hours each week (is it a coincidence that in the US, Black people report being “absolutely certain” of God’s existence at a higher rate than self-identified Christians do?). Religion takes the edge off of alienation, offering a relationship with something bigger than you, your job, and your daily life – a bedrock of connections and values deeper and older than capitalism. At the same time, it transmits gender roles and racial social segregation from generation to generation, helps the dispossessed stay psychologically healthy enough to work, and gives bourgeois clergy a medium to preach patience and forbearance towards oppression rather than revolution and collective action. From time to time, though, it takes on an opposite role, providing mass movements with a moral language and the institutional infrastructure they need. Religion is politically contradictory. It keeps the dispossessed in line – except when it’s helping them liberate themselves.

Paganism has an even sharper gender skew than most religions. After all, it actively encourages women to take on sacerdotal and leadership roles (not to mention its historical ties to lesbian feminism and LGBT culture). Sephora sells to women, so selling women’s religion is an intuitive next step, especially given that pop culture is currently more infatuated with witchcraft than it has been since the 90s. When Sephora sells Paganism, it’s offering more than a deck of cards and some quartz.  Sephora is no less responsible for capitalism’s crushing alienation than any other business. It helped create the ailment. Now, it’s promising a $40 cure.

Metaphysical shopfront. Source

Unlike most religions, modern Paganism’s basic institutional anchor isn’t the congregation. Rather, it’s the metaphysical shop. Jonathan Wooley explains:

The authors, makers and the shops that stock their wares could operate without moots and open rituals; but moots and open rituals – in their current form – could not exist without the “Pagan Business”.

The point here is not that those who make their living through Paganism are being greedy or venial. On the contrary, writing words, speaking spells, crafting holy things, and making ceremonies that heal, enlighten, and empower is important work, and those working in these ways cannot survive on mere air and good wishes. The problem arises from how we are currently supporting the work that they do, and the centrality of this (commercial) arrangement in our community. Before all else, you have to pay. By relying upon the Market to directly transmit our lore, to fund our gatherings, to supply our goods, we become complicit in it. It means the fortunes of our traditions turn not with the wheel of the year, but with the shifting fashions and stock prices of the global publishing and wellness industries. Our community is directed less by the will of the gods, and more by Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. The heartbeat at the core of our living traditions becomes the ring of a cash register.

This dominance of the logic of the Market within Paganism is not surprising, even if it is disquieting. Paganism is one of the few religions to have arisen within the Modern Age, when Capitalism was in its ascendency. This has very real consequences for us all. Let us not forget the prototypical “gateway experience” for a seeker – traditionally – was buying a book from an occult book shop. The fact that the internet and Amazon have replaced the knowledgeable local bookseller is to be lamented; but it is not so meteoric shift as we might suppose. Whether your spirituality is expressed through buying knowledge from a kooky shop on Glastonbury High Street, or from Amazon, your spirituality is still being expressed through shopping. Equally, this shift demonstrates the extent to which our infrastructure is dependent upon the vagaries of the market to survive: the rise of the internet has caused many Pagan bookshops to close; depriving local communities of an invaluable opportunity to meet, learn, and socialise. Indeed, it is precisely because we have relied on the Market that this transition – from a friendly, in-community, low-profit enterprise, to a distant, global, high profit one – has taken place. The very means by which our lore is spread has been transformed for the worse by the dictat of the Market.

In other words, Sephora and a PantheaCon vendor don’t differ in essence – only in scale.

The nitrogen cycle. Source

When Paganism is commercial, it’s filling religion’s conservative role, reconciling the dispossessed to their oppression. After all, if shopping is the way out of alienation, then capitalism, if not benevolent, is at least neutral. Collective action isn’t even on the radar.

But that’s not the only Paganism.

We’re all of us embedded in a living relational web – humans, the biosphere, the land and sea and sky, the gods and the dead. The nitrogen cycle and the water cycle have a sacredness. It’s holy when through death, an organism becomes food, transmuting into new life. The Sun is slowly spending itself. It feeds plants and algae with its energy, and that energy sustains the same animals who then nourish plants when they die and decompose. Gods are at once embodied in and emergent from each nexus of the process, standing at the fulcrums where nature moves humans and is itself moved. Paganism is what the mutually-conditioning cycles of ecology and evolution teach you when you pay attention to them, learn their rhythms, find where you are inside them. Prayer, devotion, myth, and ritual all orient you towards that ground of your being and make a sacrament of your participation in it. Reciprocity is cosmic, both an imperative and a fact. Do ut des, I give so that you may give, is at the heart of both polytheist sacrificial theology and the Mystery that governs the process of life.

You were born with a capacity for eudaimonia: balanced, all-sided human flourishing, the Greatest Good of ethics and philosophy. You can develop eudaimonia if you cultivate virtues: self-knowledge, self-control, justice, and right relationship. Capitalism is a social process that alienates you from that capacity, but it doesn’t destroy it. It does, however, determine the form that it needs to take.

Self-development, ritual and political practice, and reverence for the Gods, the dead, and the natural world are the foundation stones of revolutionary virtue. Paganism holds a radical seed: given the reality of capitalism and empire, the communist organizer, the Stoic sage, and the nature-mystic devotionalist must all become the same person. Each component of revolutionary virtue is incomplete by itself. They need each other, just like plants, decomposers, and nitrifying bacteria.

And it’s all unbuyable. The people trying to sell you Paganism are promising to cure your alienation with more alienation, only in disguise. They can sell you a Scott Cunningham book, a handmade pewter pendant, or a $40 “starter” box, but do those contain the Mystery? At best, they’re dispensable props. At worst, they’ll actively mislead you; like any religion, Paganism can teach you to accept your oppression or it can teach you to fight it.

If you really want to buy something, get Marcus Aurelius or an ecology textbook. Read myths. Go out and see how mosses and lichens grow on trees and how trees that die feed mushrooms and bacteria, fertilizing the soil. The relational web spreads out from there. It reaches to the sun, the atmosphere, the microorganisms, and the gods who take their embodiment in that dynamic interplay. Find your nature, your inborn potential for virtue, eudaimonia, and right relationship. You are in the web. Root yourself. Capitalism uproots you and disrupts your nature. It’s throwing the whole world’s processes so off-kilter that if it isn’t stopped, the ecosphere will endure – but it will be so changed that humans won’t be able to live in it.

Paganism lives in that knowledge. It’s a method – you learn the context of human life and you choose to act accordingly. Sephora can’t sell it to you, but neither can the vendors at Pagan Pride.

You can’t simply opt out of the alienation capitalism imposes. But, you can choose what to do about it; you are existentially free. Paganism can be a path to knowledge and revolutionary virtue, or it can be an “opiate of the masses.”

Sephora wants to sell you one of those. But you’re free to choose the other.

Sophia Burns

is a communist and polytheist in the US Pacific Northwest. Support her on Patreon:

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Rituals Against The Prisons

Editor’s note: We received these rituals via an anonymous email and are passing it along to our readers. We also recommend invocations to Dionysos Eleutherios (Dionysus the Liberator), as well as Hecate, Brig Ambue, and other gods of outcasts, those considered “criminal,” and gods who rule over the transgression of walls and boundaries.

We have also made this post available as a downloadable .pdf designed for printing as a flier. See the end of this post for the file and printing instructions.

Solidarity with prisoners and those who fight prisons everywhere.

Ritual of Protection for Prison Rebels

Cleanse yourself and your working space

Make offerings of tobacco to the land and the indigenous ancestors
of the land you are on,
and the lands beneath the rebelling prisons
honor the sovereignty of the indigenous ancestors and their living descendants
deny the legitimacy of the so called United States
denounce the wickedness of its walls

Make offerings of water, wine, or rum to the abolitionist ancestors
especially those whose uprisings bookend the dates of this strike
to Nat Turner and George Jackson and all who fought with them
to the Attica martyrs
to all those rebels named and unnamed who came before

Light a red candle

Ask the abolitionist ancestors to protect and strengthen the prison rebels
to be wakeful as you are being wakeful
to be watchful as you are being watchful
to tend the flame as you are tending the flame

List the names of specific prisoners who have been targets of repression,
including but not limited to:
Michael Kimble, Ronald Brooks, Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Kevin Rashid Johnson, Keith Malik Washington, Randy Watterson, Tod J Martin, and Jase Duras

List the names of specific prisons that have seen uprisings, including but not limited to:
Sterling (Colorado), Hyde (North Carolina), Lanesboro (North Carolina), Central (North Carolina), McCormick (South Carolina), Burnside (Nova Scotia), Saguaro (Arizona), Folsom (California), the Northwest Detention Center (Washington), all 11 prisons in New Mexico, and various other prisons in Halifax, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida

Keep vigil over the candle for as long as you are able

Remain open to messages from the spirits

Thank the ancestors

Allow the candle to finish burning.

Hex Against the Prison System

Gather those you trust

Banish the techno-vampiric-apparatus which lives in your pockets

Plan an attack
against one of companies profiting from prison labor
[these lists are readily available]

find a target near you

scout, witness, intuit, employ psychogeography to discover
which spirits are present
the gaps in surveillance
escape routes

Choose a weapon
egg: to carry the hex
wheatpaste: to adorn walls
superglue: for the locks
paint: to inscribe sigils, mantras
rocks: to open the way for the spirits
fire: to purify

Consult the spirits by way of divination to doublecheck the plan

Wear dark colors for protective energy
and a mask to cultivate a state of ek-stasis (being outside of self)

Light a black candle

Pour out offerings of wine or water
to the darkness
to the night
to the stars and moon
to the crossroad spirits
to the city itself
and the wild things in it
and to the web which connects
our gestures across space and time

Extinguish a burning herb in a bowl of fresh water
with which to
Wash your weapon
While praying:
an attack, a blow,
a jailbreak, complicity
which joins and multiplies
the storm of refusal
against the prison world
wild fire to the prisons
until all are free

Activate your sigils – (A) /// FttP

Carry out your attack

Get away without looking back

Leave your tools at a crossroads

Discard ritual attire

Thank the spirits
the web, the wild ones,
the city itself,
the crossroads,
and starry night

Full Moon: August 26th
New Moon: September 9th
Sun in Virgo—the sign of careful planning

You can download a printable copy of these rituals to distribute widely. We’ve designed it to fold in half as a booklet.

Simply download the file: Rituals Against Prisons. Then, print the two-paged document on one piece of 8.5×11 (“letter”) paper. Make sure to follow instructions on your printer or copier for duplex printing if you have not done this before. Then, fold in half (with the title on the outside right).

Folk Magic and Freedom

“Folk magic belongs to the poor and dispossessed wherever that may be. It doesn’t belong to any one people, isn’t black magic or white magic. It’s magic for the everyday. It’s the magic of the people.”

From Emma Kathryn


Folk magic is as old as time. Sometimes I wonder if magic is the right term, for the practises may not seem magical in themselves alone, and I suppose it depends on your own definition of what magic is. For example, is knowing where to find plants and their practical applications magic? I would say so, but you may not. But whether you believe in magic or not, these practises have their uses in everyday life.

Folk magic was often used by those who could not afford otherwise. When doctors were too expensive or too far away, it was the local wise woman who would be called upon for medicines made from local herbs, treating illness, unwanted pregnancy and what ever ailed the local community. People turned to folk magic when there was no one or nothing else that could help them.

Occultishly speaking, some might say that folk magic is simple, that it is low magic, and perhaps it is, but that does not take away its effectiveness.

Folk magic belongs to the poor and dispossessed wherever that may be. It doesn’t belong to any one people, isn’t black magic or white magic. It’s magic for the everyday. It’s the magic of the people.

I practise witchcraft and my particular flavour, as I’ve no doubt mentioned before, is a mixture of Traditional British witchcraft (non-Wiccan), Obeah and Vodou. A right mixture, I know, but as far apart as they may seem from one another, what makes them so compatible is that many of the practises from each tradition can be described as folk magic.

Each one of those practises, individually makes use of plant knowledge and lore, of connection to the land, of singing and chanting and the power of words, of actions and of nature.

Did you ever read American Gods by Neil Gaiman? Bloody great book, and the series was okay too, but I always thought, and think now, that the message might have been lost (or perhaps I read into it too deeply, or perhaps I just saw the truth in it, because the best stories are true, if only to themselves).

Throughout the book, the protagonist discovers the reality of the old Gods and comes to be involved with their struggle with the new, modern Gods. The one the protagonist doesn’t really get or understand is the buffalo that appears to him. Turns out the buffalo is The Land, or at least a physical representation of the land.

What I took from that novel, the truth I saw within it, is that the land is always there. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in many Gods, one God, none, or maybe you’re unsure, it doesn’t matter because the land is there. It is connection to the land at the very core of folk magic. It is changing with the seasons. It is knowing what plant is used for what. It’s about cooking from scratch with real food. It is about getting back to basics. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you are or where you are from, if the land is where your ancestors hail from or not, wherever you are, you can connect to the land beneath your feet.

I believe that we can incorporate and use folk magic practises in our everyday lives, and in doing so loosen the grip Capitalism has on us. Don’t think this is an outright attack, a fight to the end. Instead see it as becoming less reliant on the State. Think of it as chipping away. If it were a fight, then folk magic would be the equivalent of footwork and body movement rather than the knock out blow, but the footwork and the body movement put the fighter in the right place at the right moment to land that power punch.

Also, it’s important to realise that this doesn’t mean you must refrain from all aspects of modern life, but in learning these things, and learning them in a way that is relevant for today, it gives us those tools, the knowledge and skill set if you should ever need it in the future.

And maybe you might just find that you actually enjoy doing it.

So what is folk magic? What I’m going to share from here on out are all things that I myself do. Everything is from my own experiences and I offer them here to you, fellow seekers.

I love nothing more than to be out in nature and foraging is an excellent way to do just that. Working with plants is probably the core of my folk practise, and that’s solely because plants can be used for so many things.

But before working with plants, you need to be able to identify them properly. A good identification guide is a must, one that shows detailed pictures of the whole flower, the petal and the leaf. And then you’ll need to get out and about where you live. Look at what grows there. Identify it. Research its uses. Harvest it. Dry it. It is quite easy and extremely enjoyable when you get going, but you do have to make an effort to get out.

A couple of words on foraging responsibly: Firstly, never decimate an area, after all, it will be in your interest to make sure there will be a plentiful supply next year; also remember we don’t inhabit the land alone, so leave more than enough for the creatures that rely on it for food and shelter.

I’ve already hinted that plants can be used for medicine. Whenever I write about this, sometimes people think I’m saying very ill people should stop taking their medication – I’m not. But that said, for many common illnesses there are natural remedies. When you take cough medicine, or cold medicine, or headache tablets, these types of medication don’t actually make you better, but rather soothe the symptoms of whatever ails you. Big pharma is big business, and you can save your hard-earned cash by not buying these kinds of product, or relying on them less often.

The first thing is to learn of the medical applications of the trees and plants where you live, for example white willow is the precursor to aspirin and grows along rivers.

When it comes to a lot of plants, they are both medicine and food. Teas are a good way to hydrate and will have different properties depending on the plant used. Use dry or fresh flower heads or leaves and steep for a few minutes in hot water before straining and drinking.

Then there’s decoctions, which are made by adding plant matter to water, then boiling until only half of the liquid remains. Tinctures are made by steeping plant matter in alcohol such as vodka, rum, or my own particular favourite, brandy. Some of the plant oils are not water-soluble, however alcohol extracts them and so the plant’s goodness is drawn into the alcohol. Both tinctures and decoctions can be taken as medicines to ease symptoms including sore throats, coughs and colds. They can also be taken , a spoonful a day, as a health tonic.

Poultices can be used for a variety of minor ailments, including spots, aches and pains, eczema and so on. A poultice can contain so many things depending on what is needed, can be warm or cold, and are typical held against the skin , bandaged in placed and changed regularly.

Witchcraft and Paganism continue to become ever more commercialised, and in the process, causes harm to people, animals and the environment, like commercialisation of anything generally does.

Returning to folk magic means that we can resist, if only in some small part, that which goes against what we believe.

Right now where I live, so many of the plants I use in my own practise are ready to pick. Mugwort and wormwood are just beginning to bloom, and the Datura is flowering. I love datura. It is a night-blooming plant, and has large creamy trumpet-shaped flowers that smell better than roses. When the flowers die back, large spikey seed pods grow big and round, finally rupturing and spilling their seeds onto the ground below.

I make ointments with all of those plants and use them in meditation, to induce lucid dreaming and other such practises. But, used carefully and always with respect, these ointments can be used to ease muscular pain as well as arthritis and other conditions. When using such plants, you must always take into account your own health and any medical conditions you may have.

And it’s not just those exotic, almost stereotypical witches plants that can be used either. Flowers including honeysuckle, roses, marigolds, lavender, and so many other common plants can be used in many witchcraft and / or folk practices. Think about making your own incense blends instead of buying. Leave offerings of flowers and seeds instead of tying ribbons to trees or leaving resin statues and the like.

But folk magic is more than medicine and food, though these issues are very important. Folk magic is about connecting to and working with the land and the spirits that abide there. I am an animist and I see everything in the natural world as having a soul, a spirit. Connecting with that spirit is an important part of my practise, and all of the things described above, going out foraging and working with plants, adds to and builds upon that connection.

Folk magic is also about taking our cues from nature. Today we are so disconnected from the natural cycles and rhythms. We go to work all year round in climate controlled shops, offices and factories. We can eat whatever we like, no matter the season. We’ve lost touch with nature and folk magic is about getting that back.

So go out and connect with where you live. Whether you practise magic or not, whether you believe or not is irrelevant, for the benefits getting back to the land offer will be for all who make the effort. Rediscovering folk magic will give you another tool in your arsenal to use in your fight against the Capitalist State.

Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.

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The Ways We Breathe

“This era of mass consumerism… is imperilling the ways we breathe”

From Lorna Smithers

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

“We need to remember that our very breathing is to drink our mother’s milk – the air – made for us by countless microbial brothers and sisters in the sea and soil, and by the plant beings with whom we share the great land surfaces of our mother’s lustrous sphere.”

Stephen Harding

Inspire. Expire.
Anadlu i mewn. Anadlu i allan.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Respiration (from spirare ‘breath’ and re ‘again’) is participation.

Inspire. Expire.
Anadlu i mewn. Anadlu i allan.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Lungs. Two. Right and left. Each enclosed in a pleural sack in the thoracic cavity of the chest. Primary bronchus, secondary bronchi, tertiary bronchi, terminal bronchiole. In the alveoli, ‘little cavities’, across the blood-air barrier, gas exchange takes place.

Breathe in: oxygen 21%, carbon dioxide 0.04%. Breathe out: oxygen 16%, carbon dioxide 4.4%. 6 carbon glucose, oxidised, forms carbon dioxide. Product: ATP (adenosine triphosphate) ‘the molecular unit of currency of intracellular energy transfer’. The spark of all life.

Birds have lungs plus cervical, clavicular, abdominal, and thoracic air sacs. Hollow-boned they are light as balloons, breathing in, breathing out. Then there are the lungless. Through tiny holes in the abdomen called spiracles leading to trachea, insects fill their air sacs, breathing in, breathing out. Earthworms and amphibians breathe in and out through their moist skins. Fish breathe water in through their gulpy mouths then out through their gapey gills.

Plants breathe through their leaves. By daylight they photosynthesise. Stomata breathe carbon dioxide. It mixes with water. The green lions of chlorophyll work their magic by sunlight. Oxygen is released. From glucose the magical hum and buzz of ATP. At night they respire glucose and oxygen back to carbon dioxide and water. 10 times more oxygen is produced than used.

Underground, fungi breathe the air of the soil through thread-like hyphae that mass as mycelia. They respire aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without oxygen), changing glucose to ATP (it’s all about ATP!), ethanol, carbon dioxide, and water. This old, old, metabolic pathway dates back to the days before oxygen ruled our breath and is also utilised by microbes. The hidden ones of the deep, single-celled, or living colonies, breathe through their single cell walls in ancient ways – acetogenesis, methanogenesis – to gain the blessed ATP.

To live we must not only breathe, but consume. Life lives on death. And this human animal consumes not only to create ATP, but for warmth, light, housing, transport, pleasure. Some say it began with fire, others with farming, others with writing, others with machines, others that it originated deep within human cells in the power plants of mitochondria – the Anthropocene.

The spark of this era of mass consumption has become a funeral pyre fanned by the winds of greed. Its smoke is imperilling the ways we breathe. Fire triangle: oxygen, fuel, heat. Smoke from carbons and hydrocarbons is composed of water, carbon dioxide, countless other fumes.

Smoke inhalation damages the lungs through burning, tissue irritation, oxygen starvation (asphyxiation). In 1952, 4000 people died in the Great Smog of London. Great smogs hang over Delhi, Baghdad, Beijing, Los Angeles, Rome. Asthma, lung cancer, COPD, leukemia, pneumonia, cardiovascular disease, weakening of lung function, difficulties breathing in and out.

Carbon dioxide levels rising, increasing greenhouse effect, raising temperatures. The forests, cut down, cannot help. The peat bogs, drained off, cannot help. The oceans acidifying cannot help. We are choking those who breathe with us, who are dropping like canaries in coal mines.

Who would dare to douse the fires? Throttle the exhausts? Get locked out of the factories for good?

Those who inspire. Those who burn with inspiration, ysbrydoliaeth, rooted in spirit, ysbryd. The breath of the universe, the breath of our human and non-human ancestors, the breath of the gods. Those who not only consume but give and offer those gifted breaths back before expiring.

Inspired ones! Burn with me! Breathe with me! Breathing in, breathing out, with the lunged and lungless creatures with skin, fur, feathers, shells, scales, leaves, hyphae, the single-celled.

All one breath.

Inspire. Expire.
Anadlu i mewn. Anadlu i allan.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Respiration (from spirare ‘breath’ and re ‘again’) is participation.

Inspire. Expire.
Anadlu i mewn. Anadlu i allan.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Lorna Smithers

Lorna Smithers profile pic IILorna Smithers is a poet, author, awenydd, and Brythonic polytheist. She is currently exploring how our ancient British myths relate to our environmental and political crises and dreaming new stories. As a devotee of Gwyn ap Nudd, a ruler of Annwn, she seeks to reweave the ways between the worlds. She has published two books: Enchanting the Shadowlands and The Broken Cauldron, and edited A Beautiful Resistance. She blogs at Signposts in the Mist.

Support our work here.

Witchcraft, An Act of Resistance: Part 2

“I’m not really alone, that my solitary acts are not really solitary, not if they are practised by many, many others, each resisting in their own little way, doing what they can.”

From Emma Kathryn


“The night is warm, though not quite balmy, not in the mountain at least. There’s no moon in the sky, though thousands of stars burn brightly in its dark depths, their glow not enough to cast even a glimmer on the canopy of the jungle, much less penetrate it. Below the canopy, men and women, fearsome with their machetes and knives, follow the narrow path through the trees, down the mountain. To the plantation.

Tonight, they follow their queen once again, to free those stolen from their homeland, imprisoned and put to work in the brutal plantations, treated worse than animals.”

-Queen Nanny of the Maroons; spiritual leader, military strategist and chief. Obeah woman.

Part one of this article was my very first piece for G&R and you can read it here, if the fancy takes you. At the time of writing, I thought it would be a one-off, but here we are, once again on the topic of witchcraft being an act of resistance. That’s because it is, and always has been. Witchcraft has always been used by the poor and oppressed.

I won’t go into too much detail about that first article but I will say it was a rallying cry, a call to action for those of us who practise, to utilise our craft in the fight against the capitalist system. I stand by what I wrote in that piece, and would argue that the need for our craft to be a resistance is more important than ever.

But whilst a call to arms is all well and good, it isn’t enough. It’s not enough for writers to sit behind computer screens and tell others to act out, but it’s also hard to know what to do, how else to affect change on a larger scale. Sometimes it feels like our individual efforts are not enough, and it’s easy to get disheartened, or to lose sight of your goals, of the end game. Sometimes, it can feel like our solitary acts of resistance are worthless, indeed, I was just thinking along those lines the other day. But then it occurred to me that I’m not really alone, that my solitary acts are not really solitary, not if they are practised by many, many others, each resisting in their own little way, doing what they can.

When I was a kid, my mum used to watch this show called Allo, Allo. It was a comedy set in German occupied France during the second world war. I absolutely loved it. It followed the escapades of a French Cafe owner, caught between the German officers and the French resistance. Each episode would follow the reluctant and bumbling cafe owner passing on information or carrying out small acts of sabotage against the occupying force. He didn’t ‘defeat’ the occupying forces alone, and the resistance needed this one mans help.

Often times, it is the smaller acts of resistance, carried out by small cells or individuals that all combine against the enemy, the effect accumulative, each small blow adding to the overall effect. It’s like in fighting, a knockout is exciting to watch, but many times the fight is won by smaller blows finding their mark, beating the opponent one punch at a time.

As witches, sorcerers and occultists, why would we not utilise our craft in creating and carrying out our own acts of resistance, our own small sabotages? This second part then, is this writers way of uniting our smaller acts of lone resistance. Everything herein I have learnt through my own experiences, and I share them here in the hope that you, my fellow seeker, find them inspiring and useful too.

Freeing Yourself

Freedom from the capitalist system or from any kind of oppression you find yourself under can seem like a lofty goal or ideal. Ultimately the path towards our own freedom is long and arduous and ever ongoing, but the first step on that road involves becoming aware of the ways in which we are trapped and how deep this entrapment runs.

A must read for any would be rebel witch or occultist is Dr Bone’s Curse Your Boss, Hex The State, Take Back The World. The good doctor does a fine old job of fully explaining the ways in which we are trapped in a system, and how we have been programmed or forced into thinking that there is no way out of the spectral cage in which we find ourselves. Indeed, the concept of the spectral cage is highly important in our quest to be free from oppression. Within the book are practical steps one can take in different circumstances to help free oneself. I have used some of them to good effect, my favourite being the card in the boot conjure working. It’s become my go to working for work related issues. It can also be adapted to suit various other circumstances. I cannot recommend this book enough.

In freeing ourselves, we must be honest with ourselves. It won’t be easy, in fact will be downright uncomfortable and hard and there will be tough choices and decisions on the road ahead, which leads me onto my next point, baneful magic.

To Curse Or Not To Curse

Within the world of witchcraft there are many who abide by ethical and moral codes of conduct, whether that be the threefold law, karma, or any other system of belief that aims to censor our behaviours. As such, baneful magic such as cursing and hexing can cause quite the conundrum for those practitioners who abide by such rules.

Like I said, this journey will not be an easy one, and we will be forced to confront dilemmas such as these, problems that force us to reconsider our stance on many issues.

Now, for myself, I don’t hold to the threefold law. I just don’t believe it, and in saying this, I mean no offence to any who do, after all, we should each be free to decide for ourselves what it is we believe, without having to justify it to others. In my opinion, the threefold law and karma are highly complicated concepts that have been watered down into easy to say mottos that sound good but mean very little. That’s not to say that these concepts are worthless, but, especially in the case of karma, they are far more intricate and complicated than how they are presented to us within mainstream modern paganism.

As I said to a fellow witch a few weeks back (one who cited the threefold law to me when the topic of cursing came up), I simply do not believe in the threefold law, and the answer to why is simple. I know countless people, mostly good, who go through life trying their best, who don’t hurt others, who keep themselves to themselves, who go out to work each day, and yet they get shit on. Constantly. Where is their reward? Where is  their three times returned goodness? They simply never get it. Oh yes, there might well be the odd bit of brightness, but it sure as shit aint three times what they’ve given out. And the reverse is also true; there are plenty of arseholes who spend most of their lives being selfish, not caring about others, who make other people’s lives a living hell and who, in return, never suffer for it. They don’t get their shittiness returned threefold either.

So it will be up to the individual to decide how far they are willing to travel along the path of malevolent magic. It will not be for everyone, and that is fine. I will say though, that self-defence is a must, and never be afraid to defend yourself, by whatever means available, and to me, this includes using witchcraft.


Connecting with other witches, seekers and occultists will be an important aspect of using your craft as a resistance. Not everyone will have the same political leanings or world view (there’s so many debates, arguments and factions between pagans today, it’s no wonder we’re an eclectic mix!) and that’ fine, in fact can be a good thing as it broadens the minds. You’ll be exposed to varying opinions and approaches, some will inspire you, others provoke debate, and others will turn you right off, but knowledge is power, and the scope for learning more becomes so much wider when you expand your magical circles.

Besides from the practical benefits of the sharing of ideas and honest and open discourse, connecting with others is a good way of forming networks with other practitioners. Building friendships and relationships will lead to the mutual exchange of help, and so the beginnings of solidarity are formed.

The Land

At the beginning of this piece, I talk about Nanny of the Maroons, a rebel who led her people to freedom. So successful were their attacks on the plantations and on the British that Nanny and her community were left alone by them, partly due to her ferocious attacks in which hundreds of slaves were freed, but also because of her connection to the land. Nanny came to know the mountain well, and as an obeah woman, you can be sure she was connected to the spirit of the land. The British army couldn’t find their way up the mountain, through the forests, whereas Nanny knew the land well and could navigate it easily.

The land is the beginning and the end. Forging a relationship with it strengthens your witchcraft, and as such, your resistance based on it. Get to know the land where you live; what grows where, the creatures that live there, the natural cycles and rhythms of nature. Feed the birds, pick up rubbish, care for the land where you live and over time your relationship with it will grow and flourish.

And there you have it fellow seekers, my thoughts and opinions on the topic of witchcraft as a resistance. I hope you find them useful.

Emma Kathryn

My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!

You can follow Emma on Facebook

Support our work here.

Aphrodite Sets The Record Straight:

“If I had chosen the form of a man
they would have named me

From Chloe Goodwin


Aphrodite sets the record straight:

People assumed I did not love my husband
that I cheated on him
because he was ugly; lesser
the truth is he was always beautiful
and I always loving
but never meant
to belong to just one

They portray me as valley girls
blonde big tits
naked pink yielding
young and lazy
always listless
yet I spent my youth busy
being in lust with the oceans
and the earth
I came home with dirt on my knees
and sea salt in my hair
a belly full of cactus fruit

I grew fond of apples
and emeralds
fell in love with
doves and bulls
the symmetry
and aysemmtry
of all things

I was absorbed
with appreciation
I worshipped trees and whales
the way ravens change colors
when the sun kisses them

I enjoyed sex
copulation masturbation
orgies of magnitude
love making
the musk of man
the taste of woman
long bubble baths
posing in art galleries, on altars
listening to philosophers
and poets grasping for truth-

And I am old now
oldest of the gods still living
and still in love with my work
I find little pleasure in boredom
I have more house calls
than all my peers combined
everyone desires love

Yet still the press
diminishes me
I know I shouldn’t let it get to me but-
me who fights
more ruthlessly than War
sleeps with more women
than Zeus himself
comforts more children
then Hera.

Just between you and me
if I had chosen the form of a man
they would have named me

Chloe Goodwin


Chloe Goodwin is a poet, queer hedgewitch, intersectional feminist, tarot reader, and eclectic creative. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Here’s her Tumblr.

Circling The Star, the new book from Anthony Rella, is available here.

Politics and Witchcraft, Practical Intersections: Protest

Magic has been variously described over the years. For our purposes, let’s say it is the raising of energy and directing it toward a goal, to create change in accordance with will. And if that’s not an accurate description of political demonstrations, I’m not sure what is.

Ritual-Political Theory, from Vera Northe

Image: May Day 2017, Paris (see original and many more at Taranis News.)

May 1st, 2017. A may-pole and drums and people from many different local groups dressed for the occasion. Under a hot sun, framed by trees with new leaves, we were reminded why we had gathered, although we all already knew. We raised power, and after a time (and, as will often happen with large groups, a little disorder), we released it. As happens with any such public gathering of people overtly proclaiming their beliefs, there had been a few people trying to start trouble with us, but they didn’t really succeed. Then there was food, and we came back into the everyday, but we remained talking together for several hours.

I’m not describing a Beltane ritual; the may-pole was hung with red and black streamers and the local groups all carried political signs. I’m describing a May Day rally and march in New York City. May 1st is a day doubly sacred to many leftist pagans, a day of political and religious significance. The meaning gets all intertwined like the ribbons around the may-pole: liberation, creativity, work, and magic, the energy of everything coming alive after a long dark winter.

The question of whether witchcraft should be political is a tired one. People frequently bring up the perhaps legendary account of New Forest covens repelling Hitler, or the works Starhawk has written on political organizing and magic, or the actions of the W.I.T.C.H. organization, or even the recent much-publicized Trump hex. But to me, one of the strongest arguments that witchcraft and politics go together is structural and practical. Because the very act of public political demonstration follows a form familiar to all of us.

With the growing visibility of large-scale movements thanks to social media, we’ve all heard someone say, “What good is protest?” This is said not in a good-faith disagreement about tactics, but by people who think, I’ve got mine so what’s everyone else whining about? “What good is protest?” said by a commuter whose route to work was blocked. “What good is protest?” followed by, “they already have their rights.” Or, as one man (an ivy league graduate) once growled to me, “They should all be shot.”

“What good is protest?” they ask, and if we are tired of explaining history, we might simply reply, “It’s magic.”

Lady Liberty/Lady Death (May Day NYC 2017)

Protest As Ritual

Magic has been variously described over the years. For our purposes, let’s say it is the raising of energy and directing it toward a goal, to create change in accordance with will. And if that’s not an accurate description of political demonstrations, I’m not sure what is.

Sometimes, the pieces of a political demonstration are discrete and orderly, a clearly planned ritual. Scheduled speakers from various organizations remind the crowd why they have gathered, sometimes bringing visibility to a little-known cause, sometimes reading demands, sometimes speaking generally but keeping the energy rising, leading chants, or singing songs. Then, there may be a march to another location (or in some cases, when the march itself is the main event, there may only be speeches at the destination). The march itself is usually peppered with chants, keeping the energy high. The destination is usually a point of significance, often a capitol building, a city hall, a bank, a police station, or similar seat of power. It is there that the energy usually is released, often with more chanting and drumming, and perhaps a reading of demands.

This was the sort of thing which I attended on May Day. Shortly after I arrived at Union Square, the official program began, with speakers from immigrant groups, unions, and Palestine solidarity groups. Most of the speeches were pro immigrant, pro worker, and against capitalism and US imperialism (and against Trump’s policies specifically).

As a side note on the flow of energy within a political context: Susan Sarandon made an appearance and I found her speech quite weird, along the lines of many liberal speakers I’ve seen at other rallies (most notably the Moral Monday demonstrations in North Carolina). Liberalism doesn’t work along the same magical lines as radicalism: Sarandon looked at the energy of the crowd and urged us to take that energy and…vote in the next local elections. To be clear, when I say “liberal,” I’m not commenting on her own personal politics, which I’m not acquainted with, but rather the category her call to action falls into. Radicals and magic-workers alike know that raised energy cannot be saved up for over a year and then released. It must be given somewhere to go right away.

While everyone was queuing up to leave Union Square for the larger rally occurring at Foley Square (which is located just a block from city hall), I asked my friends who had been participating in other marches and demonstration all day across the city how this May Day compared to others they had seen in New York. Their immediate response was, “the energy is definitely different.” They aren’t occultists, but people who are well experienced in radical political movements, labor strikes, and other actions on the left often talk of energy just as proficiently as occultists do. They went on to speculate that much of the difference in energy came from the fact that anti-Trump sentiment has drawn new people to what would usually have been a largely labor-focused rally. Additionally, they noted a much larger presence of the masked Black Bloc, probably partly in response to the threats which neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups had been posting on social media to disrupt May Day actions in New York.

Union Square emptied very slowly, each group of people with their cluster of banners and signs filing out toward 14th street. We’d barely gone a block before everyone stopped and the police began broadcasting their sterile declaration that walking in the street and blocking the sidewalk is illegal. The energy of the march was fractured; we had no voice telling us what to do, only the police blocking us. We turned around and made our way back to the square, and after regrouping, started off down the sidewalk on Broadway which is where we were initially supposed to go anyway. While everyone was regrouping, my friends checked twitter and realized Mayor deBlasio was set to speak at Foley Square. They began to discuss how the tactics of policing had changed around protest for a few months after deBlasio entered office, taking a hands-off approach, only to crack down again once deBlasio walked back his rhetoric around policing.

This is another point to remember when discussing the magic of political demonstration. The power difference between institutions (such as the police) and the people in the streets is astronomical. A show of disapproval from the NYPD had more weight with the mayor than years of demonstrations by the residents of the city. The energy of having police present at every protest is something that must be taken into consideration as well. It’s as if inquisitors were required to be present at and control the flow of every witches’ sabbat. If you’ve experienced brutality even once when demonstrating (and many of my friends went through a lot of police harassment during Occupy Wall Street), you know that even if the police aren’t messing with you this time, they could do so with impunity if they decided to. And the audio disruption they frequently employ in the form of giving directions over the PA has an instant dampening effect on the general energy of any demonstration.

After the false start, the march marshals worked hard to get everyone going in the right direction, hanging together so we wouldn’t be separated and stopped by the cops, trying to restart chants which had died down. The march continued to Foley Square, where the news reported about 5,000 people total gathered. The Mayor and other elected officials addressed the crowd, but the crowd also addressed them by being there, directing the raised energy toward them and toward city hall. And my friends and I went for food and drinks, following through with the entire form of ritual although we didn’t mean to, we simply felt a need for food, water, and conversation.

Protest As Magic

Anyone who is practiced in demonstration or in magic knows that you don’t always have to do the full ritual. Sometimes it’s best to arrive directly at the heart of the matter. One cold January Saturday on break at work, I checked Twitter and saw that Trump had signed a Muslim travel ban, and that several refugees were being detained at JFK airport. I checked my phone again after my shift to find a text from my partner: “Do you want to go down to JFK?” I hadn’t seen yet the extent of what was going on but I immediately said yes. When we arrived, we followed the sound of drumming to an enormous mass of people, shouting and chanting and drumming non-stop. Although this action had been planned, a “pull in case of emergency” demonstration organized by immigrant and refugee activists, it was no orderly ritual. The demonstrators released the energy as they raised it, in desperation and yet in confidence that by sheer force of will, we would win. The volume of energy by the demonstrators was met by a stiff show of force from the police. An hour or so after I arrived, the entrance to the terminal was surrounded by cops in riot gear, and they had been announcing nearly the entire time that we were all subject to arrest if we stayed. But the mass of energy-raising people remained undeterred, meeting the threat of physical violence with drumming and chanting, and by the time my friends and I left, we heard that the first detainee had been released.

That wasn’t the only magical act that night. Word got back to the main protest that other protestors were attempting to join us, only to be barred by police from entering the train to the airport. My friends and I left while this was still going on, and arrived at the train terminal to find it packed with people being blocked from accessing the turnstiles by NYPD officers. So we stayed put and began demanding that they be let through. The governor had already ordered that protestors should be allowed to access the train to the airport, but the cops on the ground didn’t know that until we’d been sitting in for some time. We found out on twitter and made it known to the entire crowd, forcing the police officers to call their superiors for orders, and, once they did, they had to let everyone through (as we left we passed a cop pacing through the now-empty lobby yelling into his phone, “All of them?? You mean to tell me we’re just letting all of them through??”).

Demonstrations, like magic, rarely work that quickly, and, like magic, require mundane action. While the protestors outside the airport made known their will for change, putting their collective thumbs on the scales of probability (to borrow another explanation of how magic works), lawyers inside worked on behalf of the refugees while television cameras broadcast the events of that evening nationwide. While we sat in at the train station, we showed the police officers the reports on twitter that the governor had ordered them to stand down, and then told them over and over that they were disobeying orders, a combination of mundane action (giving support for our demand) and magical action (speaking into existence what we wanted to happen).

Protests, rallies, and marches raise power which releases to upset business as usual among politicians and the media. But its greatest effect may be on the practitioners, the demonstrators themselves. It spurs the participants into further action, the kind of sustained action in the mundane world which will create lasting change. It may inspire people already involved in organizations; mass show of support for a cause revitalizes weary activists. People often join movements and organizations because of awareness brought by a mass demonstration. And, like the inception of Occupy Wall Street, what was meant to be just a demonstration may turn into more; people may be inspired to simply not leave.

Like flashy public rituals, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into large political demonstrations. And that work, too, is work which witches and pagans are well prepared to enter into. This is where demonstrations come from, and this is where much of the energy raised goes. But that’s a discussion for another time.

Until then, see you in the streets!

Vera Northe

Vera Northe was raised as a Puritan and grew up to be a witch. She currently lives in New York.


Witches In A Crumbling Empire: Part Two

Below is the second part of Rhyd Wildermuth’s three-part presentation, Witches In A Crumbling Empire.

The first part is here.

The third part will be posted next week, or can be watched now on his Patreon (subscription required).

Rhyd Wildermuth

unnamedRhyd’s the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He also writes at Paganarch, Fur/Sweat/Flesh, and posts a near-daily “Friendly Anarchist Thought of the Day” on Facebook.

His entire life is 100% crowdfunded by readers like you. Find out how to help him here.

We’re currently hosting release parties for A Beautiful Resistance: Left Sacred! Find information for our Portland, Seattle, and Baltimore events on our Facebook page, and order your copy (print or digital) here!