The Trump administration has awakened all sorts of people’s political minds. It’s only natural that witches would be among them, and more and more, they’re gaining attention for their actions.
Witches were in the news a few weeks ago when a Facebook post calling for a mass Trump binding ritual went viral. And on Sunday night, a new group called Witches Against Fascist Totalitarianism threw its first event in New York.
WAFT supporters donned crushed-velvet cloaks and false eyelashes for WAFT’s Crystal Ball at the House of Yes, a nightlife venue in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn. As a representative from the Lady Parts Justice League, a reproductive rights organization, circulated around the party, administering metallic ovary temporary tattoos (which I spotted on necks, foreheads, and décolletage), another volunteer held a sage smudge stick and walked around offering partygoers impromptu cleansings. Gays Against Guns was also on hand, witchy jewellery was being sold, and drinks were being poured.
When she’s not fighting totalitarianism through witchcraft, WAFT organizer Ana Matronic sings in the group the Scissor Sisters. On Sunday night, she wore a mod wig and a dress covered in white tulle. She said the idea for WAFT was born earlier this year in “a minivan on the way back from D.C. from the Women’s March.”
She explained, “We are a group of alternative spiritual practitioners, and we are extremely concerned about the fascist spirit.” She added, “we already got together on a regular basis and dressed up as wizards and had a good time, and so I thought we should get together with a little bit bigger of an idea.” The evening’s proceeds would go to Population Action International.
At the witching hour, there was a plan to call the corners, but the performance portion of the evening began with an aerialist and a singer. WAFT turned out to make a handy chant for some Paris Is Burning–style voguing on stage: “waft with me, waft with me,” speakers blared.
Attendees seemed to be a mix of practicing witches; “witches at heart,” as one guest called herself; people who like to dress up; and people who oppose totalitarianism (with some understandable overlap among those categories).
“When I heard about witches doing performance art/dance/nightclub for a resistance against a totalitarian government, I was like, ‘Wow, that really sums up everything I’m about,’ ” a witch named Peter Mercury told me, before helpfully explaining what I could expect during the calling of the corners.
“I think witchcraft is making this unique resurgence in this sort of doomsday world we’re currently living in,” Mercury went on. I asked him if he’d participated in the mass spell against Trump outside Trump Tower a few weeks back: “I couldn’t get there, but I did cast the spell, so my energy was part of it,” he said. “I don’t view it as black magic in any way. It’s binding. It’s protection.”
Though their activism is only recently making headlines, according to Matronic, the idea of the woke witch is far from new. “I think witches have always been, traditionally, people who lived on the fringe of society and saw all of the people who are falling through the cracks and the wayside.
They recognize and see the fringes. They’re concerned about the environment, they’re concerned about people of all ages and abilities. There’s a care aspect to it. Right now the attitude in Washington especially seems to be very uncaring.”