The United States is vast, with a spectrum that swings from Texas mega churches to the fiercely Atheist, the divisiveness over healthcare, semi-automatics resting in fluffy purses and entire, angry cities in flames days after more unlawful deaths. It’s difficult to get the full picture sometimes, and it seems that neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are truly of the American people as a whole, given that this election season has been the most polarising yet. And when people will be voting today, they’ll be considering their political standpoint, the issues that matter to them on a social, economic, and for many, spiritual level. After all, 65 per cent of Americans say that religion is important in their daily lives.
A community – one of the most misunderstood and disregarded of any in a nation that’s meant to respect freedom of religion – that will be voting in their droves are Pagans. Paganism was for a time the fastest growing religion in the U.S, and it seems the fear of the occult and Satanism has been permeating the political sphere very recently, following false rumours that one of Hillary Clinton’s staff was partaking in sex cult rituals with artist Marina Abramovic. Towards the beginning of the election we were granted with the video project 'Brujas Hex Trump', a response to what they see as Trump's racist platform. They used the “name-in-the-freezer” hex, invoking the Ice Queen to curse Trump. Then a fake flier by artist Nathaniel Russell called upon witches to hex Trump and the NRA.
Initially, the idea of neo-Paganism would seem to align with more left-leaning ethics – witchcraft has been represented by female archetypes for centuries, rooted in feminism and the queer notions of magic and ‘otherness’ which have been thoroughly explored. As Vocativ reports, there are a-political Pagan pages that are supportive of typically lefty values like LGBT issues and inclusiveness. However, there’s also been a rise in more conservative pages: Conservative Pagans, Conservative Witch, The Pagan Right – Conservative Pagans United, to name a few with a differing perspective. This election run has also brought about reverend Rapid Cabot FreeMan, who runs the American Pagans for Trump page.
FreeMan is the founder of the Firstblood Tradition, which is a mix of the Balance of Paganism (Wicca) and Germanic Heathenry. Heathenry is based on loyalty, personal integrity and defending oneself; it’s intrinsically nationalist and linked to the Nordic race, so it makes sense to see FreeMan leading the pro-Trump charge. “I’ve prayed to Woden, and asked this good man to heal my country,” he tells. “I love my country and no one is taking care of the people, and I see kindness in this man, and a wanting to serve for the right reasons.”
“He cares about America first, common sense, upholding the law,” he adds. When describing his core beliefs that he sees Trump similarly holding dear, FreeMan relates: “be honest, work hard, take care of your family and defend your country.”
The admin for Conservative Witch echoes this view, despite what she says is essentially “a minority as far as Pagans and witches are concerned”.
“Trump has experience that this country sorely needs in its leadership – that experience being a successful and a profitable CEO. The United States cannot survive with its current deficit, much less additional years of uncontrolled spending like we have experienced the past eight years,” Conservative Witch says. “Trump also unconditionally supports our service people and law enforcement community – I am an honourably discharged veteran and a former police officer.”
“I have encouraged other Pagans and witches to look at all the issues. Some have, others have not. It's my sincere hope Trump wins the election and should that happen, I believe the country will be more successful, and the Pagan and Witch community will as well. Trump has promised to more fully vet refugees unlike the current resident of the White House and Trump’s competition. Pagans and witches are by definition, ‘Infidels’. Contrary to those that wish to embrace diversity and celebrate tolerance, you cannot co-exist with those that want to kill you. The fundamentalist Islamists want us dead. They want to establish a world wide Caliphate, all subject to Sharia Law.
“Trump will never allow circumvention of our constitution. I believe Trump can bring in a new era of class and distinction to the office. Something the current resident and Trumps opponent both lack,” they add.
A spokesperson from Conservative Pagan highlights “decentralised polytheism” as an aspect of the umbrella religion that sees them turn away from the government as a “central authority that claimed to be the voice of deity”. Adhering to a concentrated power, like the U.S government, which dictates life choices and orders to its arms of command like the military, could arguably infringe on Pagan beliefs.
The admin for The Pagan Right further explains the nuanced values of such a vast community. “Since there is no prescribed dogma, no two Pagans really approach their spiritual path in quite the same way. The same for politics. While most Pagans tend to lean left as the message of environmentalism, etc, speaks to them, it speaks to conservative Pagans too. But where most Pagan conservatives diverge is in the reliance on the government to solve these issues. One of the pillars of true conservatism is the belief in a limited government and low taxes. If there is one belief that defines a pagan conservative, it’s the belief in a very limited government and lower taxes as our founding fathers had intended.”
“As a warlock I am keenly aware of the inherent divinity in all things, which for me translates politically into a need to ensure equal protection under the law, as well as promoting an active stewardship of the earth and her creatures” – Storm Faerywolf
Where Pagan conservatives do diverge from the typical Republican party line however, is with its Christian-based values, which, according to the Pagan Right, differ from traditional conservative beliefs.
“I personally support same-sex marriage and have open views on abortion,” they explain. “Both issues are specifically Christian right social issues and have no basis on conservative principles. Speaking as a conservative on these issues, I believe the government should just get out of the marriage business all together and grant all couples equal protection under law.”
Some conservative Pagans, potentially more, identify with the Libertarian party. Ron Paul and Augustus Sol Invictus come up among a few speaking to Dazed. One cites that Republican candidates can’t truly represent them because of the Christian influence, whereas the Libertarian party has moved away from central religious ideals.
Other members of the community who speak to Dazed relate more left-leaning views. Jason Mankey, a Pagan who founded the Raise the Horns blog and manages the Patheos Pagan Channel, speaks of his support for Clinton, and how it aligns with his own political beliefs.
Mankey says: “As a Pagan I believe that everyone, regardless of race, sex, creed, religion, or gender identity, deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. In this election that leaves us only one real choice, Hillary Clinton.”
“She's not a perfect candidate, but no candidate ever is. She's also one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for President, and one of the smartest. Unlike the other three candidates running for President she both understands how government works and is knowledgeable about world affairs,” he observes. “We are electing a President, not someone to sit down and have a beer with.”
“As a witch, I identify with Hillary Clinton. There’s a sizable portion of this country who dislikes Hillary simply because she's Hillary. They blame her for all sorts of things, much like they blame those of us who are a part of minority religions.”
Mankey explores this further in a piece for Patheos, titled “Hillary Clinton as a Witch”. He unpacks how the sexist stereotype of the witch as a “hag” has been imposed on Clinton, as well as the “witch-hunt” that took place over her emails. Further, he covers the concept of the witch as a transformative, empowered woman in a male-centric society. “Witches are strong, witches can be healers, and witches often upend the social order,” he writes.
“Since there is no prescribed dogma, no two Pagans really approach their spiritual path in quite the same way. The same for politics. While most Pagans tend to lean left as the message of environmentalism speaks to them, it speaks to conservative Pagans too” – The Pagan Right
Storm Faerywolf, a warlock from California, originally supported Democrat Bernie Sanders in his presidential campaign, as he “best represented those values to which I am spiritually aligned”.
“As a warlock I am keenly aware of the inherent divinity in all things, which for me translates politically into a need to ensure equal protection under the law, as well as promoting an active stewardship of the earth and her creatures,” he says. Now, he’s championing Clinton over Trump.
“While my personal politics might align more closely with a candidate such as Jill Stein, she is far less qualified and experienced in my opinion to perform as President and Commander-in-Chief,” he continues. “While I do not agree with every policy that Clinton has proposed, in the game of politics I recognise that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ candidate, and that we must compromise to work toward the greater good.”
A spokesperson for Pagan Liberal’s Facebook page details their disillusionment with the two major candidates. Instead, they are choosing to vote for the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They say: “I'm sure you've heard the whole 'lesser of two evils' bullshit, well as I remember it, we've been fed that ‘lesser of two evils’ line for at least twenty-odd years. It doesn't wash.”
“No one should have to vote in terms of their religion, it should be about what one feels is best for the country that one lives in,” they add. Indeed, despite pre-conceived notions that have ‘othered’ the Pagan community for centuries, such a widespread and varied religion has as much hope about predicting, influencing or collectively agreeing on the upcoming election vote as anyone else.
Follow Anna Cafolla on Twitter here @annacafolla