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Witches to GOP: If you summon a demon, have a plan to banish it

The events of Jan. 6 prove without a doubt the GOP is incapable of controlling what it unleashed with Trump.

Trump supporters participate in a rally Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. The president addressed the rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(RNS) — There is a saying in the modern witchcraft community: “If you plan to summon a demon, you best be able to banish it.” The concept is meant very literally. Spirits of all kinds can be unpredictable and demons even more so.

If a witch, or anyone for that matter, wants to work with a spirit entity, they should first gather the skills and the magical tools needed to not only summon the spirit but also to banish it should it become unruly.

Republican leaders would have been wise to heed this magical advice five years ago when they invited Donald J. Trump to be their party leader and candidate for the U.S. presidency. They made this decision, despite warnings from within their own ranks and without. They did this despite the candidate’s personal and professional reputation. They did this despite his combative and violent campaign rhetoric.

If not before, the events of Jan. 6 prove without a doubt the GOP was not prepared to banish what it had unleashed. In a prophetic statement in 2016, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) famously said, “If we nominate Trumpwe will get destroyed … and we will deserve it.”

“If you plan to summon a demon, you best be able to banish it.”

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” 

“Be careful what you wish for.”

The common related idioms go on. Here is another one. 

“If you play with fire, you just might get burned.”

Remember the final scene in Steven Spielberg’s film “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), in which the Nazis open the ark of the covenant in search of power? Indiana Jones, of course, knows to look away from the ark. The Nazis do not. When the top is lifted off, spirits and demons and all the world’s evils exit the ark and incinerate the villains.

The GOP saw in Trump the best ticket to power. They opened the ark, and now the demons are out.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” of course, is fiction, and the demons return to the ark after they are done with their show of strength. Reality is not quite as neat. These demons are not the kind that go away with a simple sprinkle of salt, a burning of cleansing herbs or a good, loud shout of “Go Away!” They won’t politely go back into hiding after the storming of a few federal buildings, and they won’t easily fade after Trump’s tenure in office is over. 

In reality, Trump was just the catalyst and ringleader. Most of these demons have long been banging on the spirit board from the other side, or lurking in an ark that we, as Americans, have neglected to acknowledge. The GOP was unprepared, and so were we.

In magical work, there are ways to prepare. In “The Witch’s Book of Spirits,” author and modern witch Devin Hunter suggests taking stringent steps to prevent disaster. He recommends always casting a full circle of magical protection until you know what type of spirit you have summoned. In the book “Spirit Speak,” author and witch Ivo Dominguez Jr. stresses the importance of knowing one’s limits before engaging in such work.

This is one of the many ethical and moral guideposts lurking in modern witchcraft, most of which apply to daily life and have versions outside of magical rhetoric. In general, personal responsibility and the full considerations of consequences are paramount. 

As we move past the devastating events of Jan. 6, we must all be mindful that spirits, real and metaphorical, are always knocking inside each of us, in the world and beyond. Therefore, whether you work with spirits or not, consider heeding the advice of your local witches. If you plan to summon a demon, you best be prepared to banish it.

(Heather Greene, M.A. is an acquisitions consultant, freelance editor and journalist and author of the book “Bell, Book, and Camera: A Critical History of Witches in American Film and Television.” The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)