Saturday, October 20, 2018

Now There's a Kavanaugh Magick War

It looks like the magick wars are on again. With the contentious appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a group of New York witches is organizing a large public hexing ritual similar to the ones that were performed against Brock Turner and Donald Trump. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but as with other operations of this type I have my doubts - at least from a technical spellcasting perspective.

The hex is in response to Kavanaugh's controversial confirmation in the wake of allegations from California professor Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were in high school in suburban Maryland. Kavanaugh denied the claim and subsequent allegations which arose in the weeks leading up to his confirmation.

According to its Facebook page, the event is not only aimed Kavanaugh but also at people who the bookstore owners say have committed sexual assault or perpetuate patriarchy. "Basically, it's all about causing suffering," Dakota Bracciale, co-owner of the bookstore told Newsweek in a recent interview. "And we intend to make Kavanaugh suffer."

First reported by The Guardian, tickets to the event cost $10 and have reportedly already sold out. Half of the event’s proceeds will go to women and LGBT charities. The other half of proceeds will be evenly distributed to the Ali Forney Center and Planned Parenthood the bookstore said on its Facebook page.

While I made my feelings clear on why I don't think Kavanaugh belongs on the Supreme Court two weeks back, I have the same reservations about this latest spell as I did about the Trump Magick War early last year. Without commenting on the value of these large public spells from the perspective of activism and publicity, it seems like they all suffer from similar technical problems and limitations.

Brock Turner has been out of the news for a while, so I have no idea how that one turned out or how much of what happened to him was due to the spell. The Trump binding spell seemed to work for awhile until he got his tax cut bill through Congress - which is pretty much the lowest-hanging fruit out there for Republicans.

First of all, the spell as defined is overly broad. Even if it was just extended beyond Kavanaugh to all people who have committed sexual assault (let alone "uphold patriarchy") the sad fact is that there are enough of those people out there to completely dilute the probability shift. Second, casting a spell to "cause suffering" is a really bad idea. You know what abusive people do when they suffer? They abuse the people around them more. So a "suffering" spell in real life often causes more harm than good, even when designed and executed correctly.

To fix the spell I would do two things. First, focus on a single target - Kavanaugh - to concentrate the probability shift. Second, focus on what the tangible goal should be - getting him off the Supreme Court. I realize there are limited ways in which that could manifest, but I have to say I really don't care how Kavanaugh feels while he's up there on the bench expanding executive power and undermining people's rights. The solution is to get him off the bench, not to make him feel bad while he's sitting there.

Third, as many people have noted online already, the idea of advertising that you're casting a spell in the first place brings up all sorts of other problems. It allows people who support your target to mount a defense, and it also tips your hand in a way that I find does not bode well for spells in general. A good magician never warns or threatens - he or she just acts. You want to defeat your enemies, not give them a chance to prepare for whatever you intend to do. An truly effective curse usually should strike from out of the blue.

That being said, there's another side to this debate if we are assuming that this "hex" is more activism or performance art than magick. Without publicity it doesn't get in the news, and without numbers that pretty much necessitate advertising of some sort it really doesn't bring people together or galvanize them. Aesthetically I also like how these operations freak out the religious right, since they don't really understand magick and can't see the problems with these public spells. Still, it strikes me that because of the issues cited above it probably won't work on its own.

You know, unless a smart magician were to do something like create a link to the spell, conjure a spirit or spirits to direct the energy raised by its performance, and route it into something both more devious and better-designed. But I'll leave working that out up to any of my readers who might like to give it a try.

At the very least it raises some money for worthy charities, but as the Ghost Hunters once commented, a place that has a gift shop probably isn't all that haunted. Similarly, I have a strong suspicion that any spell that you have to buy tickets to take part in is probably not going to be that effective a spell. That has nothing to do with me being biased against money and so forth, but it seems to me that it puts the whole thing into a "performance art" space rather than a proper spellcasting space.

According to the National Catholic Register, a manager at a Catholic apostolate was “inspired” to pray and fast the Rosary for three days straight to “grant spiritual protection” for Kavanaugh and that God have “mercy” on those involved in hexing him and others.

Father Gary Thomas, the exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose, California, is offering a mass for Kavanaugh on Thursday and Saturday. The Supreme Court Justice is Catholic. “Conjuring up personified evil does not fall under free speech,” Thomas told the National Catholic Register blog.

And that quote alone is why these folks should be nowhere near the levers of power. Magicians don't "conjure up personified evil," full stop, even when casting hexes. Spirits are neither good nor evil and can be directed towards both positive and negative intents. But to conservative Christians who can't comprehend how their oversimplified model of the universe could be wrong, all spells "conjure the devil" or some nonsense. Even positive spells. Even healing spells. Because the real "evil," as they see it, is undermining their monopoly on spiritual power.

And maybe conjuring wouldn't fall under free speech, but it does fall under freedom of religion. I should be able to call up any spirit I want to perform any task I want without the government trying to regulate my spiritual and religious beliefs. They can't even sit there and tell me that spells can be restricted on the basis of harm, because they want to be able to discriminate against people different than them - which is harmful! - solely on the basis of their religion. Religious freedom isn't free - it has to apply to everybody, or nobody. Otherwise the government is promoting one religion over another.

At any rate, though, this does highlight one of the issues with a big, broad public ritual. You potentially could be attacking millions of people, whereas defenders only need to protect a single individual. So whatever probability shift they can generate is automatically concentrated, whereas the hex is dispersed. The result is that the operation probably won't work as a spell - that is, it won't generate a probability shift that will cause much change. Maybe the activism value of it is still worth it, though. That's hard for me to say one way or another.

I also am left wondering if we will soon see bizarre posts from the conservative magicians who were involved in the Trump War about how witches wrecked their cars or killed their dogs or whatever. I don't know how true any of that was, but what I will say is that when you have an enemy casting a diffuse probability shift and your best idea of how to deal with it is to deliberately concentrate it on yourself, you may want to go back to the books and put in some more study.

And no, I'm not going to explain how to cast something like that properly so you don't get blowback or side effects. It seems to me that any leader of a serious magical order (or even a regular reader of this blog) should already know.

At any rate, as much as I oppose Kavanagh's appointment to the Supreme Court, I doubt this spell - on its own - will do much. I offer some of the suggestions above to point out where other magicians could (silently) join in on the action and make it a whole lot more effective. Getting justices off the court, especially obviously unstable ones like Kavanaugh, is an extremely difficult process that can use all the help it can get.

Somebody (or somebodies) out there should step up and get the necessary spellwork done - and at this point that's all I'm going to say.

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