The news that President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 was surreal. Given how he has downplayed the danger of the virus, it felt ironic, poetic, or even like some kind of cosmic punishment. For some of the people who have turned to witchcraft and other forms of spirituality during his administration, it was also a moment to reflect on whether a spell you did that caused it.
Obviously, the White House is responsible for hosting a superspreader event because it refuses to take seriously and listen to the science about a virus that has killed more than 200,000 people in the U.S. But Trump's test result also came through on October 1, which happened to be a harvest moon, which is significant to witches for it's symbolism related to the changing of the seasons—think of it as a particularly potent full moon. Don't pat yourself on the back for your full moon ritual just yet, though. A lot of witches have been hexing Trump for a very long time.
The basic reasoning behind the idea that Trump's diagnosis is a result of a witch's hex is the timing. Pam Grossman, host of The Witch Wave podcast and author of Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic and Power, said that the moon itself played a role in the symbolism that made October 1 feel particularly witchy. The President announced his positive test result late on October 1, which is a full moon and also the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, known as a harvest moon. She said that while many of the rituals that witches have been doing previously have fallen on the new moon, which symbolizes starting a new chapter or a new beginning. She said that the full moon is more about releasing energies and powers that have been growing throughout the waxing of the moon, now that they have reached their full potential.
"We have two full moons in October, on the first day and the last day, which is rare," she said. "The last day happens to be what people call Halloween, which we in the pagan community call Samhain."
To Grossman, every month is witchy, but October usually stands out because of Halloween. This October stands out especially, given the full moon situation.
"I think the symbolism of it starting with a full moon and ending with a full moon also feels really powerful," she said. "It's book ended by these two incredible cosmic moments, and so that feels like a big portal for change and transformation as well."
It would be foolish to assume that witches and pagans only started using their powers on Donald Trump on the 1, though. A quick search of Facebook brings up a group dedicated to binding Trump from doing harm that dates back to at least 2017. A month ago, a poster in the WitchesvsPatriarchy subreddit asked if anyone felt like their various hexes were working. Since the 1, other members of the subreddit jokingly took credit for his diagnosis as well. Over on Twitter, this has mostly led to witches and non-witches shitposting, thanking witches for their efforts.
Grossman said that it's important to make a distinction between hexes and binding. While hexes are explicitly about doing harm, spells of binding are about preventing another from doing harm. To Grossman, it's more likely that Trump got COVID-19 through his own lax practices with masks and social distancing than through witchcraft. It is ironic, though, that his diagnosis fell on such a witchy date, which is what makes all the jokes and memes about it so funny. Grossman said that while she doesn't advocate hexes, which are spells that do harm to another, what has transpired does fall in line more closely with the purpose of a binding spell, which are designed to protect the vulnerable by binding another from doing harm.
"If I could think of one of the most powerful spells to put on someone like Donald Trump, who has been the source of so much destruction, discrimination and discord, it would be to grant them the ability to truly know who they are and what they have done." she said. "I believe he has made the world a significantly more painful place because of his actions. I hope that he realizes that and has to live with that. And I hope he pays the consequences for it."
Grossman said that she has observed a rise in people, particularly women, seeking out witchcraft and spirituality in reaction to Trump's presidency. Ever since Trump was inaugurated, witchcraft, astrology, and other female centric forms of spirituality have seen a rise in the United States. This all makes sense to Grossman, who sees witchcraft not only as a source of spirituality but as a force that connects her to all living beings. In a way, it's analogous to other forms of activism. A coven of witches is a collection of people—Grossman is quick to point out that it's not just women but men, and non-binary people as well—who come together to celebrate the divine feminine. This administration has been particularly harmful to women, and to all celebrations of the feminine outside a very narrow sliver.
"No wonder that so many people are celebrating the wins right now, because we need an alternative model of power," Grossman said. "I believe that feminine power needs to be generated and raised up to counteract this sexist, misogynist administration."
Creating that feminine power doesn't only happen by performing magic, though. There is work to be done in the physical world as well
"If I could speak to every person practicing witchcraft right now," Grossman said, "I would say that your spells are wonderful, but please also direct your energy to voting."