Saturday, May 14, 2016

Oregon Ritual for Bernie Sanders

So yesterday, as I was writing up my post on Hillary Clinton and UFOs, it occurred to me that I had posted articles on every major presidential candidate still in the race except for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. But throughout the campaign, I had not come across anything about the Sanders campaign that really fell into my any of my usual paranormal topics.

Witches tried to hex Donald Trump. A guy tried to exorcise Ted Cruz. Jeb Bush pals around with vampires. Hillary Clinton is interested in UFOs. And so forth. But today a reader alerted me to this article, which allows me to round out my coverage of the election. Apparently last night a group in Oregon organized a magical working to help the Sanders campaign.

This is a real Bernie Sanders campaign event description:

"Clearly you're feeling the Bern. Maybe you're a Wiccan? Pagan? Goddess worshiper? Heathen? Druid? Spiritual but not religious? Secular Jew? Spiritually open minded? Unafiliated? Athiest [sic] who likes ritual? Other? And you would like to engage with a community of like minded individuals to raise the energy of the Bernie Sanders vibration to a higher frequency and ultimately change the world for our children, grandchildren, and all future generations. I hear you!

Please meet me at Woodstock Park (in the open area near SE 47th and Steele) for a Ritual for Bernie. We will be focusing our energy in manifesting our intentions for the most positive, most beneficial, most heartful outcome to the upcoming primary and national election cycle.

Please bring a donation of canned goods for the Oregon Food Bank and a beverage and/or snack to share after the event. Please also wear your Bernie gear!

I look forward to sharing space and making magick with you!"

You can attend this real event tonight at Woodstock Park. Nineteen people have already RSVPed. I... question the efficacy of energy work as a tool for influencing the outcome of an election—especially if you skip ACTUALLY VOTING, which I consider to be a sacred ritual.

The author of the article's skeptical tone is noted, but I will say that she makes one good point. If you cast a spell, you need to take the mundane actions necessary to support the outcome. So if you cast a spell for a political candidate, you should make sure you also go out and vote for said candidate. Personally I always vote, though not necessarily for either of the two major parties.

I have no idea what the ritual was that they performed and therefore have no idea how well it might have worked. But my first thought is that something this open-ended runs the risk of turning out the way that the Trump hex did - not having much effect at all. The reason is because just standing in a circle "raising energy" is not a very effective ritual form. Everybody really needs to be on the same page for a group operation, so solid ritual design is very important.

Also, it is important to have a group leader or leaders who are skilled magicians to direct whatever energy is raised effectively. Ritual has a number of elements that look like theater, but a strong acting or organizing background is not enough to produce a strong effect even though they can be helpful when working with a group in a dramatic context. There's also the operant magical component that any physically effective ritual needs, which requires a whole different skill set.

Still, this one seems like it will be relatively easy to gauge. Sanders currently trails Clinton by a couple hundred pledged delegates for the Democratic nomination, so he's not favored to win at this point. All the polling suggests he will win Oregon, so that's not a very good test, but if he does wind up winning the nomination I expect that will be pretty good evidence that the spell worked, or at least helped.

Anybody interested in putting together a political operation should also check out my Introduction to the Thirty Aires article. It includes more on political magical operations, and while it's in the context of Enochian magick, the general principles apply to other systems as well.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times has a more detailed account of what went on during this ritual.

Participants were “smudged,” meaning the smoke from the sweetgrass was wafted over them before they could enter the sacred circle and begin a Wiccan ritual to support Sanders ahead of Oregon’s primary on Tuesday.

“Welcome to the ‘Feeling the Bern ritual,’” Leigha Lafleur, 41, told the gathering as she prepared to lead them in the “amplification of positive energy of Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement.”

Following the opening, the article describes the ritual as continuing thus:

They gathered around a small rug with four candles, flowers and an imitation ballot box adorned with Bernie stickers.

Each person was handed a replica ballot and took turns declaring what they would like to see changed — ending private prisons, bringing back Glass-Steagal financial regulations, labeling genetically modified foods and increasing access to college. A reporter for a local alternative weekly who participated in the ritual asked for more transparent public records laws.

Lafleur reminded participants to stay engaged in local politics, not just the presidential race. “We can’t just be putting all our energy into Bernie, and when the election cycle is over, then what?” she said. Then they circled the candles together, chanting “be the Bern, be the Bern, be the Bern," a campaign slogan.

When they were finished, they passed around cherries and ginger lemonade.

For all that I agree with Lafleur's comments here about remaining engaged after the election cycle - which is good advice for anyone interested in influencing the political situation, regardless of orientation - I have to say that this sounds like a good morale-booster and community builder, but not a particularly effective practical magical ritual.

With each person visualizing whatever they want to see happen, you don't have a unified intent. It's also not clear from this description how energy was raised or if it was even done. And I don't personally think that a campaign slogan with no magical provenance is a good chant to call upon spiritual forces of any kind, regardless of how positively the participants feel about it.

But maybe I'm wrong. I'm going off the description from the newspaper article, which I'm sure was written by a reporter with no understanding of magical techniques or processes. That means important components might have been missed in the description rather than during the ritual itself.

We'll have to see how the Oregon vote goes today, and after that how the remaining Democratic primaries turn out.

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