Note: This post is adapted from something I shared in the Liminal Letters email newsletter. Liminal Letters is a free weekly love letter from beyond. In it I share the messy thoughts about magic + the liminal that I am still mulling, rock-tumbling, and composting. I (almost) never share what I write for Liminal Letters anywhere else. Today I’m making an exception because these words feel really important right now, but if you like what I share here you’ll definitely wanna sign up for Liminal Letters!
Witchcraft is a practice that is defined by its proximity to the margins, to the edge of the beyond. The figure of the witch is an outsider. The witch crosses the hedge and from their perspective on the outskirts has a perspective that is dangerous to the status quo. The witch (alongside other types of magical practices, though definitely not all types of magical practice) engages with the liminal, that space of freedom and possibility beyond the quotidian, beyond consensus reality.
Image by Monstera via Pexels
And that work is, in my opinion, prefigurative work. In case you’re not familiar with the term, prefigurative politics is an idea that comes from anarchist political theory. To do prefigurative work is to work to align your life, the structures of organization, your social relationship, your ways of being, thinking, and living with the future society you desire and dream of. It’s a little bit like manifesting.
Part of the magic of venturing beyond the hedge of the everyday thing we call “reality” and into the mystical, fantastical, spiritual & liminal is that it challenges the idea of what “possible”. Society, as defined and limited by the structures of oppression that we live within wants us to believe that a just society is impossible, that a world beyond capitalism is impossible, that we are powerless. It wants us to believe so many lies that serve to secure its power. Whatever you actually think about magic and the beyond, the idea of it is dangerous to capitalism, to white supremacy, to colonialism, to patriarchy and so engaging with it is powerful. Creating spaces where magic is real is a powerful threat to these systems of oppression.
That’s what we do when we explore the liminal. That’s what you do every time you consult your tarot deck. That’s what you do every time you cast a spell or complete a ritual or petition a deity or talk with a plant. And that’s fucking badass. And that’s fucking powerful.
Despite the fact that my theory of magic is deeply suffused by my politics, despite the fact that I think the figure of the witch is one that is deeply political, despite how much I believe and speak to the idea that ancestor work is a tool that undermines capitalism and white supremacy, I sometimes feel self-conscious about the way my political beliefs and values infuse this work. We still live in a world where the spiritual realm remains defined by ‘an ye harm none’ Wiccans and individual-transformation focused New Agers.
I think it’s time to say FUCK ‘an ye harm none’.
The importance of rejecting this long-standing tradition in the spiritual sphere hit me when I was listening to Jeanna Kadlec speaking about her new book Heretic on the Hello Universe podcast. In this interview Jeanna talks about her experience leaving the evangelical Christianity she was raised in and coming into spirituality. She observes that much of what the evagelical church is doing is energy work, something that we would recognize as magical work. And on top of that, the evangelical church is engaging in spiritual warfare in an organized and dedicated way. The spiritual warfare of the church has been directed at political efforts like the now successful campaign to end Roe v. Wade. In the interview Jeanna reflects that she choose to also include spiritual warfare in her practice, despite the fact that this is frowned upon in a space where Wiccan understandings of witchcraft are still common.
Jeanna is right. Conservatives are engaging in spiritual warfare. They are using magical means to influence the political to their own desires. I didn’t grow up being specifically instructed in any Christian religion, let alone an evangelical one. However, I had friends who were evangelical and when I attended church or Vacation Bible School with them, the ways magic was being used to influence politics was clearly on display.
And so, I have resolved to stop apologizing for the ways my politics infuses my magical and spiritual work. This work is political. This work is a threat to the powers that be. We are manifesting a better world every time we create spaces where we can imagine it might be possible. We are embodying the dream of that better world every time we journey beyond the hedge to explore the liminal.
I hope you make magic.
I hope you make radical magic.
I hope you live it. I hope you embody it.
Because your magic is powerful. Because your magic is a threat to the status quo. Your magic can make the better future you’re dreaming of.