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(RNS) — Most of us traditionally think of magic as supernatural: a potion or incantation that transforms concrete reality — at its most Monty Python-esque, changing a person into a newt.
But in a modern world in which we decreasingly agree on a single set of facts and internet reality often doesn’t seem so concrete, magic is more likely to be practiced as a psychic upending. Witches don’t warp what we think we see. To cast a spell, they only need to cultivate an ideology or a value system that is at odds with the oppressive “real” world and impose it on others.
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That, at any rate, is the view of writer and witch Sarah Lyons, whose new book, “Revolutionary Witchcraft: A Guide to Magical Activism,” out later this month, casts witchcraft as the spiritual arm of a wider subversion of the powers that be, ready to be harnessed to resist the forces of tyranny, patriarchy, white supremacy and capitalism.
Lyons isn’t the only occultist to have drawn parallels between freewheeling internet culture and the power of the unconscious to manifest reality. “Revolutionary Witchcraft” is only the latest in a long line of Trump-era books that envision witchcraft as an integral part of political and spiritual opposition to Trumpism.
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But Lyons goes further than most in exploring the degree to which contemporary, late-capitalist, internet-culture America runs on a panoply of energies, each of which might once have been thought of as their own kind of magic: the hidden hand of the free marketplace, the propagandistic effect of “fake news,” the inflated values of dot-com bubbles, the arbitrary nature of national borders, and the disembodied memetic power of the internet.
For Lyons, we need to recognize these systems not so much as concrete reality but as a product of collective symbolic consensus — and turn...
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