Op-Ed

I put a spell on you, Mr. President

I cast a spell on the president. I was not alone. Thousands of witches, believers and people like me all over the world performed “A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him” under the waning crescent moon last month. It was not meant to physically hurt him, only to keep him from succeeding at his tasks. Now he’s complaining he’s the object of a “witch hunt.” Maybe the spell is working.

I heard about the incantation from the Oracle of Los Angeles. I’m on her email list and the subject line “Bind Trump, not your breasts” caught my eye. The binding-spell movement started with an article on Medium posted by Michael M. Hughes, a writer and magician. I don’t believe in the devil, but I do believe our country has gone to hell, and I am willing to try anything to save us.

But before I lighted my candles, I researched binding spells. I didn’t want to send bad vibes into the universe. There is enough evil in Washington already: Stephen K. Bannon, Stephen Miller, Jeff Sessions. The dark and terrifying have risen.

I discovered that binding spells are the oldest known variety, way pre-Christian, going back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Every culture from the Celts to the Tibetans had them. Everywhere and always, they were cast not to harm but to impede.

I also found an article on Breitbart calling on the religious right to say prayers specifically protecting the president from the “Bind Trump” spell. Another article from the National Catholic Register quoted Father Vincent Lampert, the designated exorcist for the archdiocese of Indianapolis. “Spells have power,” he said, but only on the spiritually weak. Could there be anybody more spiritually challenged than Donald Trump? If the Catholics were worried about this spell, there had to be something to it.

Spells, meditation, mindfulness, the oms I say in yoga, the prayers my Episcopalian family send my way — I don’t see any difference. It’s the power of positive thinking, or it’s like visualizing a job interview or a tennis match beforehand so it will go well. It’s all about conviction, about concentrating and believing, with all your heart, that you can make a difference. The Bible tells us so. Matthew 21:22 : “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Sign a petition. Give $20 to Planned Parenthood. Pray for Mike Pence to realize that women don’t exist just to tempt him into an extramarital affair. Cast a spell so that the self-centered plans of a dangerous narcissist will fail. To me, it’s the same thing, if you have faith.

I have faith, generally, in our democracy. I have faith that our government was designed to be of, by and for the people, not a select wealthy few. Lately, my faith has been shaken. What will come of us if we continue to support a man who lies, who promotes fear and distrust; a demagogue who thinks only of himself?

The “Spell to Bind Donald Trump” was first performed in February. I joined in April. I followed the clear, easy instructions posted online (just Google “Bind Trump” or check out the #Bind Trump Facebook page).

I found an orange candle in a box of multicolored ones we use for our Hanukkah menorah. I printed the required tarot card off the Internet and propped it up. I cut an unflattering photo of POTUS out of the newspaper, and I burned it while chanting the words of the spell. My husband was watching “SportsCenter” in the other room. I stood at the kitchen sink. It took less than five minutes. More time was required to get the components together, although that wasn’t difficult — no eye of newt or boiling cauldron required.

At first, I was discouraged. Immediately, the House of Representatives blindly passed the healthcare bill and it seemed no matter what the Senate would do, insurance companies would have the right to raise premiums and cut the elderly or infirm. Maybe I don’t believe in the devil, but I believe insurance companies are his spawn.

But little by little — and much more quickly over the last two weeks — Trump began to falter. The backlash against his firing of James B. Comey, his revealing interview with Lester Holt, his spilling of classified information to the Russians, the Comey memo, Kevin McCarthy’s taped voice joking that Trump was paid by Putin and the appointment of a special counsel, to say nothing of his constant, contradictory tweets — maybe the binding spell is doing its job. I’m sure Republicans wish they could do a binding spell for his phone and his fingers alone.

The next waning crescent moon will be May 23. I plan to complete the ritual again, but that’s not all. I’ll keep signing petitions, calling my representatives, sending donations to the American Civil Liberties Union and marching to City Hall. A binding spell is fine, but it’s not enough.

I believe in resistance and in the power of collective action. Working together by the millions — sending out shared, fervent hopes and dreams and wishes, praying, voting, even casting a binding spell — we cannot be ignored. Doing these things, keeping the faith, gives me hope.

Novelist and essayist Diana Wagman’s latest book is “Extraordinary October.” She teaches creative writing at Writing Workshops L.A.

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