Witches Under Empire: What it Means to Be a Witch In "Trump's America"

Written By Jaliessa Sipress

Just the thought of merely existing  in “Trump’s America” may seem like some treacherous shadow-work; consistently being pushed to face our worst fears and darkest conceptions of this world while trying to maintain a sense of self and focus on the light.

Most likely, that is exactly what we are stepping into.

With the erasure of pages on the new government’s website that previously acknowledged issues of climate change, LGBT rights and Civil Rights, Trump’s confirmed misogynistic comments regarding sexual assault, and his right-wing stances on police terror, abortion rights and immigration issues, there is definitely cause for alarm.

However, working with shadows and lighting a candle in the dark is what we do best, and the postcolonial (or continuing colonial) world has never welcomed the hard and necessary work witches have engaged in for centuries, so what is new now? Despite the new US President’s nationalistic sentiment (or possibly in exact alignment with the era he is referring to within it) America has never been great. For those of us living on the margins of race, class, gender, spirituality, sexuality and disability, our precious work has historically been violently persecuted and left to the shadows.

So, do not fret my dear witches, a Trump-inauguration is a mere practice in veil-lifting, another opportunity to practice seeing in the dark, and revealing our political and social climate for what it really is only makes our work that much more important

Just as we would practice healthy boundaries with the powers we cannot see while spell-casting or engaging in spirit-communication, we must form a relationship with strict boundaries to this new force that is the Presidency of Donald Trump. To do this, it serves us to remember three things:

  • The work we do at home in solitude must echo the work we do in the presence of others

  • A witch’s power lies in being unafraid of the unknown

  • A concentration on fear attracts things to be scared of

To begin, I must acknowledge that secrets made and secrets kept in personal ritual are of the utmost of importance, and their existence as secrets is sacred. Additionally, to keep the people and politics you protect when you step foot on the streets also within your private practices is crucial. Private here means altar space, home space, and sacred spaces you frequently inhabit for safety and light. To keep your politics here is to be conscientious of whose practices, rituals, symbols, words and imagery you use, to keep a candle burning for the people you cannot reach, and to center self-healing around the idea that the healing you do is not just for you, but for the people that need you and for the people who have come before you.

Second, the uncertainty and unpredictability of Trump and his cabinet that may feel daunting and scary for us is really his fall and not ours. Witches stay ready. A predominant part of witchcraft is completely based within “the unknown.” We communicate with things we cannot see or are told have no vocabulary. We know how to improvise, to work with flowers and weeds and how to heal ourselves and oftentimes others. The epitome of being a witch is the knowledge of the earth’s force, an awareness of the changing seasons, positions of the stars and the knowledge of our own and other witches’ power. There is a steadiness to knowing that you are learning to master a presence that lies beyond what we can see and touch, because a capitalist society can only touch the tangible, only mess with the material, and can never understand or consume the power of the witch.

And that is why we are feared.

Most people are terrified of what they cannot see, what is not “scientifically proven” and what they have never been told is okay to explore. Our defiance of letting fear immobilize us is a huge part of our job description. Our persecution is and was based on the fact that we mess with things that other humans are too scared to touch. So, what happens when the witches are scared? What happens when we use the same power we use to manifest, heal and conjure to fear what is to come? It becomes no different from calling on Aunt Milly from our salt circle; we invite the object of our focus into our space, into existence.

During this term of election, there must be an embracing of fear and willingness to carry on with our confidence, knowledge and strong sense of solidarity leading the way. We need each other now the way we have always needed one another, the way we have always needed care and attention and the way we have always needed to perfect what we do and know best. Every person has a place, and to investigate your larger contribution to the world at this time is crucial. I know herbalist witches, astrologer witches, sex witches, hood witches, good witches, bad witches, shadow workers, wortcunners, rune throwers, conjurers, psychics, angel beings, light-bearers, medicine people, community healers and everything in between. This diverse set of knowledge is priceless in the face of hegemonic structures that seek to bury us and our history. Whatever kind of witch, warlock, regular schmegular bitch or magical star being you are, you and your power matter and we have got to keep moving, shaking, laughing, whispering, conjuring, kicking, screaming, growing, learning and loving in the face of this age-old regime with a new face. We will always hold the power as long as we recognize what we all bring to the table and figure out how to use these powers to resist.

So, gather with your coven to bottle tinctures with intentions of sustaining the resistance through Reishi mushrooms, skullcap and yarrow. Host gatherings teaching the history of the crossover between radical witchcraft and community organizing. Continue to defend the Earth, question the government and fight like hell for causes of the living while keeping your fire lit with the rage of the dead. We are here on this earth, at this time for a reason. So, whether you were born into a coven or you just stumbled upon witchcraft, you have been given the task of protecting what is sacred.

To be a witch is to reclaim the power of connecting with our bodies, our spirit and the earth and  in ungovernable ways, to create paths towards a more regenerative, sustainable society through channeling our ancestors and wisdom from other realms. A man barking orders and spewing hate from a position of socially-constructed power is no match for the power of the people when guided by light, ancestral wisdom and unwavering solidarity. It is our job to carry the legacy, to stand amongst the crowds with rose quartz and motherwort tincture in our pockets, bundles of cedar burning in our hands, holding the match when it is time to burn it all down.


A Call For Action: Help Haiti

We know many of you would like to donate to help with the needs of those most affected by hurricane Matthew. We would like to share this list of only the most reputable organizations that are  in Haiti and that are in need of help or are helping those most affected.  Please consider helping these organizations below.  If you are unable to help financially please send your prayers for them as these next weeks and months will be so hard for all of those involved. Please be sure to share and list any other organizations that may be missing from this list on our Instagram page @Thehoodwitch Thank you! 

Haitian Health Foundation (JEREMIE)  (www.haitianhealthfoundation.org)

They run medical clinics, train health agents for 100s villages in Grand’Anse department, nutrition programs, school lunches, latrines, clean water, build houses, pigs/goats program.

Community of Hope Haiti. (GRAND VIDE, LA GONAVE) Brian Tucker  (www.communityofhopehaiti.org).

 Serving western La Gonave island villages; Grand Vide, Boden, Trou Louis. Can support online, or send support to: Community of Hope Haiti Inc. C/O GWCM.  828 Lane Allen Road, Suite 224. Lexington, KY 40504

Hearts with Haiti (http://heartswithhaiti.org/)

No time for Poverty (http://notimeforpoverty.org/)

Clinic and malnutrition center so equipped to meet the needs in the community if given the resources.


Water Missions International (www.watermission.org)

Clean water solutions for global water crisis.


Mission Aviation Fellowship Michael Broyles https://www.maf.org/

will soon begin coordinating flights of relief supplies to Les Cayes, Jeremie, and Dame Marie – if the airstrips can be landed on.


People who would like to contribute to Direct Relief’s Hurricane Matthew response can do so by visiting Direct Relief’s donation page and directing their donation to “Hurricane Matthew.”


As with other large-scale emergencies, Direct Relief will use all contributions designated for Hurricane Matthew solely for relief and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Matthew.

No portion of any contribution for Hurricane Matthew will be used for fundraising purposes. A bequest pays 100% of Direct Relief’s fundraising expenses.