In Eileen Holland’s The Wiccan Handbook (2000, Weiser Books) the author tells an unusual tale about her attempt to influence Saddam Hussein using the magical powers given to her by her Neopagan faith. As quoted:
“The news was full of stories about Iraq in late 1998, with televized (sic} footage of sick and starving babies that moved me to tears. I grew more and more upset with Saddam Hussein, upset that he could build palaces while his people suffered. Having all the power means having full responsibility. I knew Western propaganda means having full responsibility. I knew Western propaganda was working overtime, but you can’t fake pictured of emaciated babies or the expressions on the faces of their desperate, heartbroken mothers.
[…] I decided to see if I could do anything about that. […] This seemed a serious enough situation to warrant breaking the rule against interfering and imposing. I decided if I could dream-magic him into turning one of his many palaces into a hospital of children. […] It was rediculously easy to find him the first time I went. He was asleep on his side, alone in an underground room.”
As she tells the story, she attempted to influence him by making him thinking of the starving children and their mothers, but it was difficult in part because “his mind was greedy, hungry, needful, and unsatisfied. It was hard to get him to pay attention.” She would attempt to return, trying to teach the country’s leader about “compassion” and to “feel his people’s pain” and also “about the black-haired people.” Surprisingly, it didn’t work. She knew other witches were also working on him, but could tell he “had magical help.” In fairness, this story is used to show what Mrs. Holland gained from this experience (a sense of compassion for her target, albeit a compassion that comes off as incredibly privileged and full of assumptions.) She ends this tale with a summary:
“You must mean well if you do this sort of work.”
Over two decades later, a Twitter user is attempting to wager her followers to cast a spell to kill the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.
This is not a joke.
Twitter user @yourholygaymom is no stranger of controversy. Just two months ago, several alt-right articles ran hit pieces on her story of how she got back at a a woman who had bullied her in school, recommended she go to conversion therapy, and then in a chance meetup years later used several slurs in regard to her sexuality who harassed her on a chance meeting at a grocery store. In fairness, her way of getting vengeance was by committing theft and destruction of property via stealing the individual’s purse, destroying her ID, and taking the money from the purse to pay her rent and buy tacos. A more sane and sanitary addressing of this story can be found at this link. It doesn’t appear any charges were filed; in fact, there’s some questioning as to whether the story even happened based off of discussion in the original tweet’s comments.
I can’t tell you is what faith she claims to practice, if she is with an active church or covenant, and what her religious influences are. I can tell you that with a couple of candles and some spoiled meat she’s going to call upon Death to kill our acting President Donald Trump, in reaction to the military strike that neutralized Iran’s General Soleimani. And boy, if it isn’t getting some interesting ripples across a number of communities.
on saturday 11 january 3 am EST, i will broadcast a death ritual against president trump. witches far and near please join me and perform the ritual alongwith me as i lead through it. to see what you'll need, open the thread. rt so all witches get to see this.
— alyssa (@yourholygaymom) January 3, 2020
Her published reasoning for this is surprisingly nuanced. “This is setting an example for the future presidents to not be fascists. the days of war are over and no one should be allowed to ruin millions of lives just like that.”
Personally, I find it hard to take the threat of the ritual too seriously. It kind of comes off as a publicity stunt, the sort of event that is done while people send tokens or bits or Super Chats. Also, in my experiences with NeoPaganism and the Occult in general, there’s just not any real payoff for it; these rituals are like praying, but with less of an established community and more of a reliance on expensive incense, oils, and candles. I also have some questions about which faiths would actively encourage using magic rituals to influence the death of anyone (especially in light of things like the Law of Return or the interpretation of “Love is the law, love under will.”) Meddling with another’s will and agency isn’t unheard of in many neopagan faiths, but the thought of actually being able to control someone (let alone kill them) is more likely to be seen in fiction than in actual practice.
Taken in as whimsical an attitude as possible, it seems a great way to gather a bunch of like-minded individuals together in a rite that may have no actual physical effect yet may serve to bond adherents together while promoting discussion and other action. Indeed, that might be the best light to view such an outlandish comment in. In a time when the news cycle is inundated with talks of “hopes and prayers” why not try a little ritual action? In a time when people are hopeless, why not get them away from their social media feeds for a bit in a ritual to focus their insecurities and fears in hopes of killing the leader they see responsible for them?
That said, if you’ll know anyone who reads their Tarot and saw this sort of thing coming, let me know. I’d love to get a reading from them.