It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism.
– Carl Jung, “On the Psychology of the Unconscious”
President Trump and his administration – implacable embodiments of counter-reality – are symptoms of a profound and perhaps extinction-level form of malignant magick in the Crowleyian sense of causing changes in reality in accordance with acts of will. Symbols, rituals, chants, invocations – all the trappings of magickal practices are being employed on a minute-by-minute basis by all sides of the current political divides… divides that are themselves manifestations of an industry created to generate a self-sustaining frenzy of terror and rage.
Beyond the personal history of the man himself, Trump’s presidency is the result of a decades-long infatuation with “X-TREEEEEEEEM!!!” behavior, a mass media dedicated almost solely to generating attention (most often through constant hate and fear), and a populace conditioned to accept bullying as “dominant behavior” and the mark of “social Darwinism” – a concept that itself flies in the face of what Darwin actually said – as well as an internet culture that was literally created in the late ’80s through early 2000s by young, angry, socially marginalized white males who bestowed status to peers who “hacked”/ flamed/ burned” people on general principle.
The “alternative facts” thing is the endgame of a campaign that began in America during the mid-1950s, within a culture war that pitted American progressives (religious and otherwise) against wealthy industrialists and socially regressive evangelicals who in turn forged an alliance to undo the New Deal and dismantle racial desegregation. (For details, see the book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, by Kevein Kruse.) Newt Gingrich pushed this campaign to new extremes in the 1990s by declaring total war on political opponents, using literally demonizing rhetoric as a weapon to turn public opinion against dissent of any kind. (See Gingrich’s essay “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”) Pundits like Ann Coulter  – chosen either for their perceived attractiveness (Laura Ingram, Tomi Lahren, Sarah Palin) blustering “tough” personas (Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ted Nugent), or faux-concern for “values” and “American greatness” (Glenn Beck, Phil Robertson) employ Gingrich’s techniques to make literal fortunes in careers whose sole intention involves a daily stream of invective and hate which “tells it like it is” to and for its intended audience. The left has its media attack-dogs too (cf. Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, Al Sharpton, Bill Maher etc.), and although liberal/ progressive progressive pundits tend to address more genuine abuses than the right-wing ones do, both ideologies love to have someone with a literal bully pulpit express the frustrations we feel behind our social masks, and all sides – regardless of objective assessments of harm – seem to feel equally abused. All of these pundits, in turn, act out shadow-plays in the Jungian sense , and direct catastrophic amounts of psychic intensity at whomever their targets happen to be.
This conditioning toward extremity is a literal industry. It generates money and influence by tapping into the shadow-side of cultural divisions, and the only way to keep the profits flowing in is to become ever-more “X-TREEEEEEM!!!!” At this point, empathy is quaint, outmoded, and certainly unfashionable… hell, even culturally treasonous within whichever group you happen to belong to. All forms of compromise are heresy, and “the other” (whomever that “other” happens to be) is quite literally demonized to the point where even considering a dialog makes you “just like them”… or maybe even worse. Internet social media has exacerbated strident disconnection, fanatic tribalism, and hectoring extremity, and the results are literally, perhaps fatally, poisoning our culture, its people, and our world.
We live in an era of global malefica, of destructive spells cast through apparently innocuous means. Things that were once the province of sorcerers are now everyday currency to anyone with a computer, a TV, or an internet connection. Although it’s true that a certain amount of occult influence and technology is being used by certain people in certain subcultures to advance certain agendas, the greater rituals are being enacted without deliberate metaphysical intent. We are, in information-age culture, employing – however innocuously – the most significant tools of classical magick: Symbol. Focus. Intention. Connection. On a daily, even hourly, basis, we invest psychic energy into an ever-growing network of connection, effect, and transformation. The fact that we don’t seem to have the slightest idea what we’re doing with it makes us, like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, too damned powerful yet clueless for our own good. The fact that so many people use such power toward malignant ends should terrify anybody with a pulse.
As easy as it is (and as justified, too) to view President Trump’s ascension as some malign act of sorcery, the fact is, it’s not just Trump and his people who are using malignant magicks; WE ALL ARE. Words and symbols and media have become our weaponized rituals, and we have become so caught up in the fight that almost everyone looks like the enemy. I wish I had a pithy solution to this mess, but to be honest – especially speaking as someone who has written and researched these topics for decades now – the situation scares the hell out of me. And we must be our own saviors here, too; anyone’s who’s counting on some godhead to save us from our own mistakes hasn’t read nearly enough history to see where such situations tend to lead.
We need to step back from the brink, but I’m not certain we even want to do so. After all, we are literally invested in this global evil spell, and its tools have become our favorite toys.
And no, I am not attributing our predicament to some otherworldly force. In this case, as in most such situations, we have only ourselves to blame.
1. Compare the titles of Coulter’s books with the trigger phrases in Gingrich’s essay. There’s a lot of overlap, and I suspect that’s totally intentional.
2. The change of character brought about by the uprush of collective forces is amazing. A gentle and reasonable being can be transformed into a maniac or a savage beast. One is always inclined to lay the blame on external circumstances, but nothing could explode in us if it had not been there. As a matter of fact, we are constantly living on the edge of a volcano, and there is, so far as we know, no way of protecting ourselves from a possible outburst that will destroy everybody within reach. It is certainly a good thing to preach reason and common sense, but what if you have a lunatic asylum for an audience or a crowd in a collective frenzy? There is not much difference between them because the madman and the mob are both moved by impersonal, overwhelming forces.
– Carl Jung, “Psychology and Religion”