A Spell for Justice

What is Magic, and When is Political Magic Called For? 

I’ve always liked Dion Fortune’s definition of magic as “the art of changing consciousness at will.”  The ‘art’ part of that is using sensory imagery and symbols that evoke emotion.  The ‘will’ is directed energy and intention. Together they shift consciousness—and while that may be purely internal and psychological, those of us who practice magic believe that that shift can also mobilize greater spiritual forces around us. We swim in an ocean of swirling emotion-thought-energies, and our focused intention can and will shift the tides.

When that ocean is full of toxic currents, when we feel forces moving that go beyond reason, when a poisonous tide of callousness and hate seems to be seeping into every area of life, when we constantly find ourselves asking “how did we get into this weird reality?” That’s the moment to mobilize spiritual forces to cleanse and counter the nastiness.

Magic works best when it is grounded with real, practical actions in the world. So this spell is not meant to substitute for all of those other things we need to do—from contacting our representatives to showing up for demonstrations to organizing campaigns and taking actions. It’s meant to strengthen and reinforce them—and to strengthen and hearten all of us who care for justice.

Working Magic for Justice

Here in brief are the elements of the spell I suggest. We can begin on the Summer Solstice, and let it culminate on the Fourth of July.

1. Create Sacred Space

Do this however works for you, in whatever spiritual or religious tradition you identify with.  For me, it would mean honoring the original peoples of the land I stand on, and asking permission to do this magic, then grounding, casting a circle, and calling in the four sacred elements, plus the fifth, spirit. 

But it could be saying a prayer, or setting up an altar, or, if you are a flagrant atheist who doesn’t believe in any of this (but nonetheless wants to do some magic) you could take a  moment and read an inspirational poem or play a piece of music.

2.  Call In Your Spiritual Allies

Who inspires you?  Whose qualities, experience, energies do you want for this work? Call in your ancestors—of birth or, if you are adopted, you also have a line into your adoptive family’s heritage. Call in those ancestors who were immigrants and refugees, and those who were indigenous to a place and welcomed others.  Are there Goddesses, Gods, orishas, angels, djinn, faeries, other spirits who might be helpful? 

I’m feeling a call to work with the Erinyes, the Furies—ancient Goddesses that predate the Greeks but survived in their pantheon as guardians of justice, punishers of oathbreakers, moral crimes and murderers.  But work with whomever or whatever calls to you.  Or simply with evoking personal qualities—courage, determination, compassion?  Ask for help and guidance.

3.  Meditate on Justice and Raise Energy

Justice is an abstract concept, so to raise magical energy we need to think about how Justice feels, looks, acts—to personify the qualities.  I suggest using the Statue of Liberty, who was originally supposed to be a black woman slave breaking her chains, and whose name is “Mother of Exiles.”  I think of her as our tutelary American deity, a form of the ancient Celtic Brigid, Goddess of fire and water, smithcraft, poetry and healing. 

Many of my friends and I have worked with her for a long time, envisioning her as holding aloft the light of truth.  And here is the poem inscribed on her base:

The New Colussus
By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
M
OTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Remember, we can’t counter a negative energy with the same quality of energy. Or, to quote Audre Lorde’s more poetic framing, “The master’s tools will never demolish the master’s house.” So make sure to stay out of that self-righteous, zero-tolerance state that infuses Republican rhetoric—but also many times infects the left as well. 

Take a breath and humbly acknowledge that each of us makes mistakes, each of us sometimes fails to live up to our own ideals and values.  Focus on holding some compassion for yourself, and broaden that to include compassion for all who are impacted right now by injustice—for the children, for the immigrant and the refugee, for the earth.  Imagine your heart opening with love and care.  Think about how much you care, how much you want a world of balance and justice, how much you want to be an agent of that transformation.  Feel that burning desire, and let your heart send out a stream of fire.  Imagine all those streams converging on the torch of Liberty, to free that imprisoned lightning to strike down injustice and bring home the consequences of their actions to those who perpetrate it.

If you don’t happen to have an image handy, here’s one created by Deborah Oak:

And this is a sigil—a magically charged image—created by Flame Tiferet, Zay and others:

Pour energy into that image—by breathing, visualizing, making sound, singing.  If you do this in a group, singing can raise great power.  Maybe this dates me, but I’m thinking of that old Pete Seeger Song, “If I Had a Hammer…”  Here’s Pete singing it, and this is Peter, Paul and Mary’s version

Or you might repurpose some of those patriotic songs—like God Bless America, the one Trump couldn’t remember the words of. 

To bless is a powerful magical act—it’s a calling-in of those great forces of compassion, love and creativity, and you can substitute any word you like for ‘God’—Goddess bless, we bless, Earth bless, etc.

4. Ring the Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell has a crack in it—which always makes me think of the Leonard Cohen song:

Give up your perfect offering,

Ring the bells that still can ring,

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.

Which itself refers back to the Kabbalistic myth of the world’s creation—that the vessels which hold the world cracked from the sheer radiance of the light of creation, and it is our job to repair the world—Tikken Olam.

So—ring a bell to send the energy out and seal the spell.  Keep a bell handy when you listen to the news or check your newsfeed, and ring it whenever you hear a lie.

5.  Ground the Energy

Touch the ground, and consciously let any remaining energy go into the earth.

6.  Thanks and Opening

Say thank you to all the allies you’ve called in, and open your sacred space.

7.  Repeat!

Try to do this ritual as many times as possible between Solstice and the Fourth of July. On the Fourth, imagine every exploding firework carries with it this magical lightning. 

Make it Your Own

If any part of this doesn’t work for you—change it into something that does.  You are your own spiritual authority.  If you have additions, questions, new songs or poems to suggest, post them in the comments section.  I will continue to add to this as I can over the next weeks, and to post some more expanded thoughts on how magic works.

Again, this is no substitute for action. Do the spell, then call your representatives, donate to a cause, go out and march for what you believe in, organize, do the next positive thing that presents itself. And for all that is just in this world, get out and VOTE! 

Together we can mobilize great powers of compassion, justice and healing. And in these challenging times, we must! 

3 comments to A Spell for Justice

  • Melissa

    Thank you. Sending love rockets this 4th of July, straight from the heart.

  • Thanks to Jodi Selene sharing, I got to do the spell with a group of spiritual warriors in New Orleans.
    Where can we learn more about the early plans for the Statue of Liberty, who was originally supposed to be a black woman slave breaking her chains?

    With 4 statues of Confederate officers having been removed, there are openings for new images. The city has likely already appropriated these spaces, but we can at least envision, with guidance by Our non-white sisters and brothers, some truly representative and meaningful statues.

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