WF Witch Hunt with Melissa James, Sarah Sharkey Pearce, Matthew Venus, Nick Dickinson and Michael M. Hughes

Witchcraft at its heart is rebellion - Nick Dickinson

Risa Dickens
Feb 16, 2024
34 min read
Witches FoundTranscriptsActivist Magic

For this special episode, we invite you to begin by pausing the podcast and watching the story of Witch resistance during the first electoral campaign of convicted criminal Donald Trump - as told by award-winning filmmakers Melissa James and Sarah Sharkey Pearce in their short documentary “Witch Hunt”. 

 In a divided America, modern witches cast spells against political leaders, redefining protest in the process."Witch Hunt" explores the intersection of politics, spirituality, and activism, spotlighting creative resistance in our digital age. It's a call to understand diverse expressions of frustration and the strength of community.

After you've soaked in all the fiery wisdom of our extended web of witch friends, settle into the coven we make in the dark between our ears to listen to our conversation with the directors and powerful resistance-magic practitioners featured in the doc.

During this event - and over the following weeks and months as this film and our podcast episode are streamed and shared - join us in adding your personal visions and personal power to a spell that grows with the undeniable force of changing seasons, of Spring, of all that lives and sprouts and flowers. 

Those who seek to consume endlessly, who use distortion to divide us, who use hate and fear to control us, are tangled in their own webs.

Warmongers are tripped up, overwhelmed by our collectively massive and undeniable weavings for peace.

The reactionary wealthy who use racism to distract from the inequity they perpetuate are bound and drowned-out by the rising chorus of community voices, community action, community craft, community POWER. 

Blessed Fucking Be. 

Our guests:

Michael M. Hughes is an author, speaker, and magical thinker. He is the creator of the internationally viral Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him, the largest magical working in history. He speaks on magic, pop culture, psychedelics, the paranormal, and teaches popular tarot and magic courses. http://theartofmagicalliving.com

Matthew Venus is an artist, folk magician, and traditional witch based in Salem, Massachusetts whose practice is informed by a deep heart of animism and a dedication to ancestral traditions. Additionally he is a an Aborisha in the Lucumí Orisha tradition and a Tata Ndenge in a lineage of Quimbanda de raíz. Matthew is co-founder of Salem Witch Fest @SalemWitchFest as well as the owner and lead apothecary of Spiritus Arcanum @spiritus_arcanum an online and brick and mortar shop which specializes in handcrafted ritual incenses and oils,talismanic art, and a diversity of occult wares. Over the past two decades Matthew has been sharing teachings on various aspects of magic with students around the world through classes and courses which explore elements and approaches towards traditional witchcraft and folk magical traditions. https://spiritusarcanum.com/en-ca

Nick Dickinson (he/she/they/fae) is Headmistress of Circe Academy of queer feral witchcraft through The Cauldron Black in Salem MA, and a professional witch and witchcraft educator with over 35 years of experience working with clients and students in both public and private settings. Ordained and initiated in a variety of tantric yoga traditions (Mahayana Buddhism), and a teacher of 1,000s yoga teachers and psychics, his classes and workshops are deeply influenced by the intersection of classical yoga theory and modern witchcraft practice. Operating through a multidimensional animist lens with a focus on Greek folklore, Nick’s content welcomes all traditions at all levels and can be approached in a purely secular way. https://linktr.ee/UrbanWizard

Melissa James is an award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Vancouver. Recently, she produced the feature documentary "Satan Wants You," chronicling the untold story of the Satanic Panic, which premiered at SXSW in 2023. Additionally, she co-directed the short documentary "Witch Hunt" with Sarah Sharkey Pearce, exploring the connection between magic and politics. This documentary premiered at Salem Horror Fest and won Best Documentary at the Denver Underground Documentary Film Festival. Prior to this, she directed and produced the cult music documentary "No Fun City," examining the effects of gentrification on local punk and DIY music venues. Melissa strives to bring a personal and authentic perspective to her work; she also practices witchcraft and has spent several years researching the occult through a diverse community of witches across North America and beyond.

Sarah Sharkey Pearce, an award-winning Executive Producer, Writer, and Director based in Toronto, is directing her feature documentary debut, "Resident Orca," with her boutique studio Everyday Films for Crave Originals. Her 2023 short doc, "Witch Hunt," co-directed with Melissa James, premiered at Salem Horror Fest and recently won Best Documentary at the Denver Underground Documentary Film Festival.  Currently, she is show-running a 3-part premium doc series for BBC Arts and Blue Ant Studios, delving into the rise and fall of art fraudster Inigo Philbrick. Previously, she served as an Executive Producer on "Evil by Design: Surviving Nygård" for Blue Ant Studios, a 3-part investigative series that aired on CBC and Starz. She also was the showrunner for "The Devil You Know," a 6-part premium limited documentary series produced by Vice Studios, exploring a murder-suicide that reveals a far-right conspiracy for VICE TV. Additionally, she worked as the Creative Director for Academy Award-nominated Paperny Entertainment. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Documentary Media from Toronto Metropolitan University (2010) and a B.F.A. in Film and Video from York University (2001).


Witch Hunt Virtual Premiere

 Welcome to a very special episode of the Missing Witches podcast, which we're going to start with inviting you to turn the podcast off and go do some homework!

This episode, we sit down with the filmmakers and some of the incredible practitioners involved in the Witch Hunt documentary. During the event we screened the short live. 

We got to do the first-ever virtual screening premiere of this incredible film featuring so many resistance magic makers from our community. It's so comforting and electrifying to watch. And we've included the link in the show notes. And on our webpage for this episode. So if you have a sec, pause it. If you have 12 minutes, more accurately, pause this podcast, go watch the film and then come back and listen to the people who made it. And. Feel them with you. Wherever you are. As we are always. Blessed fucking be.

[00:01:19] Melissa: I got so emotional just watching that. I haven't watched it in a while. And I guess what I should have said to intro the film was just that Like making this was such an actual privilege and honor and like a blessing And being connected with all the people that are making that transformative magic at the time and still are Just being given that opportunity was something that like completely changed my life And it's just I feel so honored that we were able to Connect with that many witches in that many different places and put this together.

So thanks and everyone It wasn't just the people that are in the film. So many people contributed to this. So it was definitely a community project. So I just want to say like, it really, I was like crying almost cause it's been a long journey. So having everyone see this just means a lot.

[00:02:08] Sharkey: Yeah,

 Just amazing to feel how relevant some of the messaging is in this moment, like, super, yeah, super thankful to be here.

[00:02:20] Risa: Well, I was going to invite you to introduce yourselves and maybe share your response to watching the movie, especially now. So you've done the first half and maybe we'll have our guests continue too, but would you guys introduce yourselves and just talk a little bit more about making the movie and how you guys work together?

[00:02:38] Melissa: Yeah, sure. So, I'm Melissa James. I'm a producer and director. I work in documentary. I'm a witch. I came to this through. I think my filmmaking kind of mentor as a teenager was Donna Reed, who made The Burning Times. So she was one of my best friend's moms. And so at a really young age, I was like, wow, you can be a witch and a filmmaker and a mom and all of these things.

And she really inspired me. So she was someone who I connected with really early on in this project. And like, wow, this project took like five years. So I don't even remember how it started. Me and Sharkey, who will introduce herself, just really connected on the topic and we were like, it was a moment when witches were definitely happening.

It was all over the internet, the hoodwitch, and you know, there was so much kind of Pam Grossman and all of that stuff was really popping off. And we started kind of exploring it and we found this deeper root that I think we became really kind of obsessed with And that's where the filmmaking journey started was to show, I guess, a deeper, more resilient, a more important side of magic than maybe, you know, what was being offered and in mass media at the time.

And hey, that didn't work out. Apparently that's not what the people want. So anyways, we can talk more about that later.

[00:04:05] Sharkey: I was just going to say my, I'm, I go by Sharkey and working with Melissa has been really incredible. I think like in a way, the fact that it's not a commercial project is what makes it so special. And the fact that we, you know, we're just invited into people's spaces as they were doing these ceremonies and spells and trying to. Understand their own worlds. Like I could watch so much more of that stuff of like Dakota in his world. And I feel like it's beautiful to see a short piece. But our desire, I think, at the beginning was to see something much longer come together to really showcase the passion that people have, the effort, to show magic as this antidote in a way to living this painful modern existence that we all share, you know, like it just really, that's why it's emotional for me right now anyway, you know.

[00:05:00] Nick: My name is Nick Dickinson. I'm a witch out of Salem, Massachusetts. You saw tiny bits of me in that clip, but there was a lot more that was happening behind the scenes. And one of the things that stands out to me the most right now is the writing of the spell and maybe Matthew and, and Michael can speak to this too, because I actually looked at it today for the first time and some of the words are definitely mine. But they, they bleed into other people's words in such a way that I don't know whose words were whose. And you know, I started writing that spell after what I now know to be a really bad COVID Infection. I had the alpha variant very early on and there's sort of like missing memory that's associated of course with the brain damage I had from COVID, but like it overlaps with the writing process in this really interesting way for me looking back, but it's still so meaningful.

So much of it still informs what I'm doing even right now with my students and with my rituals at the Cauldron Black and just reaffirms that witchcraft at its heart is rebellion. And that's all I have to hold on to right now, it feels like.

[00:06:09] Risa: I'm sorry you were so sick and But also, I do love that feeling of not knowing where one's writing begins and another one ends. And the feeling of having made something really collaborative or, as you describe it, an open source spell. I love thinking about what we're putting back into the, the commons.

Matthew, do you want to talk about watching that film? Your response? What was happening behind the scenes?

[00:06:38] Matthew: I'm just going to echo everyone else and say that was emotional too. I haven't really seen it in its entirety. And it did bring Up a lot of feelings and a lot of memories. 'cause that was a while ago. Now , so we shot the part that you see me and Nick and was shot at the Cauldron Black here in Salem.

And with Michael's help Nick, Michael and I kind of, put together the wording of what would become the witch Dr. Witch trial of Donald J. Trump which was the ritual that we did. And so. That is fascinating to think about in retrospect a lot of what we were talking about, a lot of the work that we were calling for things to happen has come to pass in its own ways , there are certainly things about Trump having his conspirators and the people that were standing next to him all kind of turn against him. So much of his ineptitude being put on on display.

And unfortunately. A lot of that happened in the wake of covid I think that if it weren't for his absolute bungling of covid a lot of that stuff might not have been as highlighted. So it's really unfortunate that that's the way things happened. But in the wake of his presidency and so many other things, we've seen a lot of what we were talking about come to pass.

And so it was a pretty intense experience and a pretty intense ritual where the heart of it was largely to call upon those people that were the victims of an actual witch trial in Salem and kind of, call upon their spirits and have them present for our own witch trial of Donald Trump, who was utilizing that phrasing against people who were actually marginalized individuals, treated as outcasts in their own society.

It's also just amazing seeing everyone else's voices and faces in that as well.

[00:08:20] Risa: I'm sorry, we skipped the part of an introduction. Do you want to tell us, Matthew,

[00:08:26] Matthew: Oh, I'm so 

[00:08:26] Risa: are and your work? No, it's me because I jumped right to wanting to hear everything about how you were feeling.

[00:08:34] Matthew: I'm, I'm feeling feelings. I my name is Matthew Venus. I am also Salem based. I have a shop called Spiritus Arcanum that's just outside of Salem and Peabody where I do classes and workshops online and, and such. And yeah, that's a little bit about me.

[00:08:52] Risa: Michael. Would you be willing to do an introduction to yourself and your work and then maybe tell us how you're doing 

[00:08:58] Michael: sure. My name is Michael M. Hughes. I wrote the first Trump binding spell, the one that kind of blew up and went crazy. And for something that you know, I thought maybe 10 people might be interested in. Find interesting or fun, whatever. It was kind of a shock. So it it's been a pretty magical experience.

I have to say. And what really, what really warms my heart the most is just seeing how many people have come together in this dark time and this. Dark time with little brief flashes of light, but still pretty dark. And you know, watching the watching the film, it was, it was so fun putting it together because it, you know, wasn't really sure where everything was going, but seeing the, just the breadth of, of what was covered and this, this is such a, a real.

And it's such an important spiritual movement, and that's, that's what I think a lot of people might not understand, and I think what what Melissa and Sharky did was show, like, The real depth of of what we've all been been doing for so long. And yeah, it was really emotional for me, too. It seems like so long ago.

I remember I was talking to Melissa on on a on a monitor because, you know, it was covid time. And you know, it was just. Surreal, but i'm just thrilled that this that this is out now and it's going to film festivals and things and it's Spotlighting all the great work that all the people here and all the people in the film have done.

[00:10:39] Risa: And then I want to hear you think about resistance magic. Can you, can you tell us more about what kind of magic that is? How does it work? How can people draw? on it now from where they're at with whatever their tradition is, whatever their relationship is to magic. 

 Nick, would you be open to starting to talk to us a little bit about what that resistance magic, what that is?

[00:11:03] Nick: Sure I mean, I think on some level, all witchcraft, like I said, is resistance magic, it is rooted in a resistance to hierarchy, a claiming of our own power in the face of hierarchy. I Think what it means for modern witches is an alliance, even maybe if they're not completely aware of it, like a, an alliance with all innocent flora and fauna. in the world. You know, there's a sort of a natural across the board, this alliance with not just human beings or animals, but also plant life as well. That stands out to me in, in sort of my core practice. So what I do with my students through the Cauldron Black and other places is we. All the work that I do, every educational session that we have, we start with aligning ourselves to that collective. All the innocent flora and fauna in this world system. And for me, that's the best way to, to get behind the biggest group. You know what I mean? To, to, to make the biggest sort of energetic collective that I can. And then everything makes sense from there. Once you see, you know, who's harming and who's being harmed. You can line up all the stuff that you do, all your spiritual practice can line up with a form of resistance magic, in my opinion. I think that, We're still seeing the effects of it.

I'm also, like, I'm careful to not, put human what's the word? Bias on it? It's not that exactly, but, like, expecting stuff to, happen in, our human lifetime sometimes we're, like, I want this to happen right now. I want all beings to be liberated. How come the magic isn't working? You know, I remember we got a lot of trolls, Michael can speak to it, when the Bind Trump spell started being very public and people were like, it's not working, why isn't it working, like the second time we did it. And I was like, you're getting results like that in your practice, like you're really casting a spell and getting stuff tomorrow? Like it takes a long term vision, And I think we're still seeing the effects of it. I think defeating the him in the election in 2020 was part of. An unraveling on the right that is going to keep happening. And Trump is not only the target, he's like an anchor that is pulling everything down with it. So everything I do throughout the day as a witch, including like work for the community here and online is lined up with that as an intention. Does that make sense?

[00:13:26] Risa: I really felt that made so much sense. I really do. And I, I have felt that as well, that drawing on that collective is still happening, that, that, that, that tangling and unraveling is still happening. I feel that too, for sure. Michael, do you want to respond to that? I see you nodding like you feel this too.

[00:13:49] Michael: yeAh, I mean I I just love listening to nick he's been really so critical and part of this since since the beginning yeah for me the resistance is just integral to who I am and who we are. I mean, we, we cannot watch injustice and not react to it. That's, I was like that as a little kid, you know, if I saw another kid getting picked on, or even if a teacher was treating someone, you know, disrespectfully or something like that, I always felt the urge to take up for them.

And I feel like we can't watch you know, this one human being, but even more than this one. awful, malignant person, what he represents, what he has, what he has pulled out of other people, what he has stoked among, human beings who seemed otherwise decent until he infected them with these mental viruses, you know, whatever they are, there's no choice.

Like we do what we need to do. And that's how resistance magic has always felt to me. It's just, I'm a magic person, I do magic, so of course I'm going to do magic for the things I care about, for the people I want to defend, for the planet, there were a lot of witches that pushed back and said, you know, witchcraft shouldn't be political, like, what are you talking about?

I mean, witchcraft is inherently political, echoing what Nick said, so we do what we do. And as people who do magic, it's only natural that we do this, we push back, we can't watch our society and our planet and people we love being threatened like this, we just push back and I guess the other thing that brings up is the whole idea, you know, there was a lot of speaking of the trolls are a lot of witchy sort of trolls who would constantly say, Oh, it's going to come back to you and the threefold law and all this stuff and And like, wait a minute, are you going to not defend your child if there's someone stalking them?

Are you not going to defend your home? Are you not going to defend a park or a piece of land that you love and has a spiritual meaning to? Of course. So, so it was really shocking to me that so many, people in earth centered spiritual practices we re so against trying to defend the things that we like that that was strange that I did not expect like I fully expected the trolls the right wing, trolls, but I didn't expect so much resistance from within the pagan and which community so that that was really kind of fascinating. a lot of that's dissipated now, but but it was it was a really common criticism of of what we were doing, which was kind of shocking.

[00:16:39] Sharkey: One of the things I like about the idea of resistance magic is thinking about it immediately pushes you into Well, for me, but I feel like it's what I experienced watching people do their work is it protects. So you resist and it names something, but it also protects the person doing the work.

And that protection is really important when you're sat upon, you know, you're oppressed, it's necessary to like continue. And I, so I like the idea of resistance and protection together. 

[00:17:14] Melissa: And it's cathartic. And I think with the Bind Trump spell, there's a lot of catharsis in that where you're taking your power back. And that's what I love. It's like you're claiming power back from who's oppressing you in those moments.

because you're standing in your power and, and you're laughing and you're, you know, claiming your own space. And I think it helps to just revitalize when we feel burnt out. And when, you know, you feel like you can't keep living another day in this wonderful world. It's something that like the community around it and the private acts of it are like a solve and they, they help you keep going. I think too, when we started making this film, we had a We had, you know, this lofty goal. We wanted to make a feature documentary. We, we really had a a much bigger project in mind and like seeing it now, I feel like we captured the energy and the essence of people's practices in an organic way. And to us.

I think we kind of decided that the film was a spell, and that was kind of, Nick helped with that as well Nick was a huge guide along the way for the whole project, and I think this idea that instead of trying to make a film that might appeal to, you know, a big audience, and, you know, cost tons and tons of money, and, you know, kind of more in line with projects that we usually work on, this one became Much more personal and and it's about energy.

And when I watch it, I feel that energy and we hope the intention is that, you know, it's contagious and someone else watches it and and then ignite something in them. And in that way, the film continues to to work the magic that was in the film continually.

[00:18:56] Amy T: It's such an amazing group that you put together as the the quote unquote cast of this film. Certainly, you introduced me to like Dr. Beverly, for example, so I'm wondering how you connected all of these amazing dots all over, all over the country.

[00:19:15] Melissa: Yeah, and there's so many people on the cutting room floor, like, honestly, even the amount of people that we shoved into this short is quite remarkable. That was something that early on we were just like we definitely don't want to focus in on one person. This isn't one person's story. This is a community.

And I think, I mean, we did it very organically. I started just kind of reaching out to friends, and one of the first witches that I approached was Kook Teflon, who's in New Orleans now but was in Seattle who introduced us to Ylva Radziszewski another incredible witch who's been on the podcast, and things just grew organically from there.

Kook introduced me as well to Loretta, the Death Witch, Loretta Ledesma, and then we were invited to Conjure Gala. And that's when that whole world opened for us, which was a world that I knew nothing about but it was so welcoming and the community was so strong and the, the wisdom in that community is, you know, and the fierceness.

So we were really in that respect doors opened organically through our curiosity and I think our willingness to make something authentic. And, the dots connected from there. And I think everyone kind of knows everyone in some, in some kind of way.

So I, I found that that was really remarkable and like, again, like a blessing. There were so many people that we wish we could have included.

[00:20:37] Amy T: Sharkey, before you mentioned that, you know, maybe the original intention was for the piece to be a bit longer and people in the chat were really like salivating over the hors d'oeuvre of the piece. Is there, is there any chance of getting, you know, the extended director's cut?

[00:20:56] Sharkey: I wonder, I mean, there, Melissa is kind of a genius sort of super connector and we do have some really beautiful footage of people because this project has become so open source. I think there, there's definitely a way to share those elements, at least with the people themselves, you know? So that they can share them wider, even if they don't hang in like a, a narrative I think, yeah, there's

[00:21:21] Melissa: I feel like in five, 10 years, someone is going to contact me and ask me for all this footage. Cause they're making a documentary. And then I just know it.

Like I absolutely know this. And so I'm just waiting for that to happen. I'm keeping all the hard drives.

[00:21:38] Sharkey: I mean, when I watch the immersive footage too, I think that like following someone's full journey, I would still be interested in making, like filming more, working with Melissa more and finding a journey that's kind of has a natural arc where you can really live inside the magic or someone's magic. Because I think. Yeah, I think it's fascinating

[00:22:02] Melissa: And there was a lot of grief with this project. We went through it. We struggled. I don't know why. 

[00:22:08] Sharkey: Sometimes, sometimes I think it's just because of how commercial, like what the world, how reified we are in terms of the way we think of like, what is a Witch? Or what, you know, like none of the witches we made contact with in a deep and meaningful way fit into the box of Witch for like Vice or fucking Netflix or whoever we were

talking to that were super into sexy witches, you know, like we're just, we were making a real project about real people and, and we stuck with that.

And I think

[00:22:37] Melissa: Yeah, I'm happy we did. Like, 

[00:22:39] Sharkey: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:22:41] Melissa: And like I said, five years, I'll get the phone 

[00:22:43] Sharkey: Yeah, exactly. It'll be good. You'll do a series.

[00:22:46] Matthew: I'd like to think that we're all sexy witches,

[00:22:48] Michael: Yeah.

[00:22:51] Sharkey: Good point. I'm sorry. You know what I mean?

[00:22:53] Matthew: that's my contribution.

[00:22:55] Melissa: You are the sexiest 

[00:22:57] Sharkey: Very 

[00:22:58] Melissa: about it. Don't worry about it but yeah There was it was there were so many hurdles and I just feel like this is a blessing and having an audience and being invited to present this with A group of people who you know are open minded and interested in it is just kind of what we wanted in the end So thank you to the two missing witches like and thanks To everyone just for joining the conversation to it.

It's kind of we had to, you know, kill our babies, so to speak, and just come up with something that we felt resonated with us. And that's that's what you've got in the end. So maybe there's a reason for that, you know, 

[00:23:34] Risa: yeah, and that seems like the right moment to invite folks who are here to think about resistance magic from your traditions, resistance magic you've tried, binding magic you've tried, fucking exes you put in your freezer. We want to hear the stories of what worked we want to know a little bit about what you think about resistance magic.

So plant that seed, but I'm going to ask another couple of questions before we move into that. I want to know more what you think about the future of this movement. When you see it now, you're looking back at a time that feels like a little bit of a time capsule, but we are still in the unraveling.

If you could conjure forward a re enchanted future where this spell worked, how do you imagine these communities coming together? How do you imagine this kind of large scale ritual practice taking life. How can it work and how can we be a part of it?

[00:24:32] Matthew: That's such a big question I mean, I guess for me, like my right, so this is ongoing work, right? This is this is still happening. I mean, there's still resistance magic to be done every day. There's healing magic that needs to be done every day and magic to support our communities that needs to be done, you know, every day.

Unfortunately so, I mean, I think it just continues and I think it just continues. I think it always continues. You know, I think that humans are going to human and, you know, pendulum swing all sorts of different ways. But my idealized vision of the future is that you know, I'll wake up tomorrow in our animists and learn how to love the spirits around us whether they're incarnate or otherwise.

And learn how to tend to each other and care for each other. And I think that that can begin in our local communities and our spiritual communities. In our communities by recognizing opportunities to help people that are in need of it, our neighbors. And whether this is shared through witchery.

Or just through being good humans to each other. I think that that's, that's the work, ideally, right? Is working to support and uplift other people. I think that in the broader sense of activism, resistance, I think that witchcraft and magic can serve as a support, as a spiritual support.

There are many different workings that, that we can utilize to help heal, to help support, to help give peace to those that are in the streets fighting, you know, and, and also to bolster and protect the people that are fighting and to work even on local levels to effect change so I think it just kind of keeps going.

But I think that, that witchcraft and magic there are so many multifaceted ways that we can be healers, that we can be protectors, that we can be warriors, that we can be resistors, that we can subvert the overculture to try to change people's way of thinking, too. I think that to see a witch standing up against what we see currently is a powerful thing.

It has the power to change people's perspectives on a lot of things. So I think that not everyone can be visible. But for those of us that find ourselves in a position where we can, it's important that we are for those who can't.

So I, I think hopefully we're all doing what we're called to do and continue to do that work and recognize that it's just, it is the work. 

[00:26:47] Michael: I completely agree with everything. Matthew just said for me, my spiritual path and the magic that I do is for yes, is for healing other people. But I think we have to keep in mind the importance of keeping ourselves together.

And for me what actually made me the most satisfied out of all this work that I've done is hearing people say that they had just burned out and they didn't know if they could do it anymore. They were tired of sending emails, they were tired of making phone calls, things like that.

But the catharsis that Melissa mentioned is so important that burning that image, burning that ugly, leering face and watching it could go up in flames and turn to ash and laughing and saying, you're fired, you know, turning his pet phrase against him. Every time I did it, no matter how beaten down I was, no matter how physically tired, no matter how emotionally exhaustedit re energized me.

And I think we should always be sure to recharge our own batteries so we can continue to do this because there's a lot of darkness ahead. And. The really dangerous people that are in power are not going to just go away. They're going to fight because the world is browning.

The world is queering. The world is changing so much and they, they will fight tooth and nail. So not to be, not to bring a dark cloud over what we're doing, but I think we have to realize that it's going to be a long, difficult fight. It's going to take a lot of energy. So as much as we help others, we have to remember to make sure that we're okay to keep our batteries charged so that we can help others.

It's the old, put your own oxygen mask on first before you put the mask on the person next to you. 

[00:28:53] Nick: What's standing out to me is It's, it's collaboration that's going to get us through this. It's community that's going to get us through this. I think the reason why I aligned so quickly to the Bind Trump spell, even though it wasn't really the way I practice magic necessarily, was because it was secular. It was completely secular, people could align it to any kind of lens or tradition they were practicing through. And I think that's right now to me the most interesting kind of magic, collaborative, secular across traditions, agnostic, atheist, we can all sort of collaborate together and, and focus on these goals together.

And there's a paradox in there. I would go into the binding exhausted because it's at midnight and I would come out of it recharged. Like, like, really, like I had done cocaine or something and, you know, it's not something I've done in a long time, but no judgment, but like, that's what I feel like it would be. I don't know. It's like, what is this? What is happening? And to me, it was the, that had to be the collective power of the working, you know, and I think that's the paradox is when we come together and work together, our, our own energy is renewed.

Our own needs are taken care of. It seems like.

[00:30:05] Risa: Nick, can you imagine future collective rituals, other ways that we can invite the community to raise that energy to be there for each other and in the future? Just imagine out loud. 

[00:30:18] Nick: I don't even have to imagine because I'm without, you know, trying to be too self promoting, I'm doing that kind of stuff, you know? You're welcome to come, like, if you don't want to pay the 5 to get in my Patreon, as long as you're not anonymous, you're welcome to attend any time, but every full moon, we do a different version of drawing down the moon than, than exists in like Wiccan tradition and stuff like that.

It's my own sort of creation. It's, it can be approached in a completely secular way. And part of that practice is focused on innocent flora and fauna in the world system. We acknowledge or we assert that the body, speech, and mind of the witch is a place of transmutation. So we extract evil and harm from the world, we transmute it into medicine or poison when it's appropriate, and we put it back out in the form of blessings and curses and bindings. Anyone can do that. Aligning your lunar working to planetary healing and empowerment for the downtrodden, for innocent flora and fauna in this world system. I think if we all just did that, even if we didn't communicate about it that's something that I think can be achieved across the board.

[00:31:25] Risa: Yeah. I also like to think about this film as an active collective ritual calling us. I want to invite Amy to talk about the resistance magic you're familiar 



[00:31:36] Amy H: I'm honored to speak here. Worked with Michael Hughes a little bit in the tarot course, great admirer of him, and just joined Missing Witches today. My experience with collective resistance magic is through Starhawk and the Wiccan reclaiming tradition.

In the 80s and 90s, I worked with Greenpeace and I had the honor of spending quite a bit of time out at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, which is where I met up with Starhawk and experienced her for the first time. And that was in the eighties quite a while ago. And I think that, and, and I've studied with her and I think that kind of collective magic is incredibly powerful.

There may have been some binding involved, but I, you know, I wasn't anywhere near ready and I'm still not to lead some kind of ritual on that. But I just remember being just completely overwhelmed with. Emotion and with that sense of feeling like I had come home, but it was so powerful and galvanizing the thousands of people who are at the early the early gatherings.

At the test site, and I know Starhawk and other people did that same kind of thing in San Diego or in California against the nuclear plant out there. If you've read Witchcraft and Marxism, which I highly recommend, the author talks a lot about this kind of resistance magic that's done to galvanize the people who are protesting.

And the protests out at the nuclear test site in the 80s. This is before underground testing had been stopped in 92, but a lot, there were several people who went out into the test site or onto the test site where these below ground tests were going to be done and they would be out there in their presence.

The whole point was that their presence. Was to stop the test and some of these people, several of these people are no longer alive because of the cancer that they got from being out there. But, and that may sound really shocking, but I worked, I worked as support on some of these actions, these back country actions is what we call them.

And without that spiritual connection, without the ritual that went with it, I don't think any of us. Could have done it. That's just my opinion. And so that was like the backbone of these incredibly powerful actions. And eventually, in 1992, George H. W. Bush said, okay, that's it for underground testing.

So I mean, I could go on and on, but I don't want to bore anybody. So thank you for letting me speak. It's incredible, incredible experience. I remember one of the first actions I went to, one of the first gatherings I went to out there, it was like 88. And it was reclaimed the test site too.

And I remember walking into the women's camp. There were a lot of different camps and the women's camp was like walking into, it was my first connection with witchcraft and it was like walking into a Jungian dream. I mean, I thought, Whoa, this is. This is where it's at, you know? So anyway thank you for, for letting me ramble.

Thank you very much all of you.

[00:35:14] Sharkey: That is fascinating. Oh, my gosh. Amy,

[00:35:18] Risa: Amy. Thank you so much for your work and for witnessing and coming with the stories for all the time you put in on the fucking ground. Thank you so much for that reminder about the long history of our crafting and our work. And this tradition, thank you so much for sharing that, really, thank you. I feel so, so moved and so rooted by, by that. I love to think so much about how our craft and our activism need to sustain and support each other. That we give each other fuel by coming together.

[00:35:57] Nick: Can I just say that Starhawk is still very active

and has got presentations on her Instagram every Friday?

[00:36:02] Risa: and still teaching very much and still leading very much, for sure, you're so right. That's not, that's not, that's not dead history. That's very much a living practice, thank you.

[00:36:12] Melissa: We did reach out to her actually to participate in the film because obviously magic resistance isn't new you know, and actions like. What Amy just described have happened in history, like, with hexing Hitler, and all kinds of, wild things that have been done in the past, and we really wanted to explore that and obviously include Starhawk and her workings and she was definitely willing to be part of the project, which we were also really honored by. It didn't end up happening, but there was a version of this where we did really explore those roots, and I know in Michael's book he also goes into other times in history when, there have been magical workings that have had, political leaning.

[00:36:49] Michael: Yeah, the history is fascinating. I, my book is called Magic for the Resistance, Rituals and Spells for Change. It's, it's out of print now. So, you might have to get a copy on the secondhand market or something like that, or get the ebook.

But I was really, I, I knew some of the history, but writing that book. Doing the investigation into all the history, including in Maryland, the state where I'm from, or the hexing of Hitler that Melissa just talked about that was done in a cabin in Western Maryland, and they had marionettes dressed up like Hitler and cut his head off and all this stuff, and I, I tried to find that cabin, I wanted to find it, but I had no luck finding out where that was done, so that's still a mystery out there, but And I also want to echo what Nick said about Starhawk.

She is just a, a legend in, in this. I mean, she does so much work. She was so influential probably to, to all of us here, 

[00:37:47] Risa: while we're doing shout outs and honoring and sharing love Melissa, you had mentioned there might be people that were in the film that you wanted to call out their work or other people who work in resistance magic that we should sort of say their names.

[00:38:03] Melissa: Yeah, I brought up some of the people earlier who helped along the way. Kook Teflon Loretta Ledesma everyone, the entire cast of the film. Doc Beverly. I just wanna highlight how much of a community project this was.

anD we facilitated it. It's in the special thank you credits and I think you're also both in there because there was a time when we couldn't keep going with this and we were just feeling like we can't keep making this film and and that energy. That, you know, y'all brought when you had me on the on the podcast the first time, which just reinvigorated me and it made me realize that, you know, this is important.

And this is something that people are going to watch. But I can't stress enough just how grateful we are that everyone participated and how many people, had to come together in order for this tiny little project to exist.

We're so grateful.

[00:38:55] Amy T: I do want to chime in real quick on the, on the subject of connective tissue because Melissa, we originally met through a mutual friend, shout out Sandy so I really love the idea of like, introducing your witch friends to other witch friends.

Again, like I said, we, we met Loretta and Dr. Beverly through a connection that you made for us, and now, tonight, we're meeting Michael and Matthew and Nick. In fact, you made a very generous donation to our fundraiser one year, so, in terms of connective tissue, yeah, like, let's just try to keep weaving and weaving and weaving and weaving that together as much as we can.

[00:39:37] Melissa: I think that's why we tried to include as many people as we could, even though we had to cram them into such a small, you know, it's, it's a lot of people to feature in 12 minutes, but it was that idea. 

[00:39:49] Risa: I want to ask just quickly about the actual process of making the film from the perspective of a ritual leader or a magic maker. Did anyone feel having the cameras there made it more powerful? How did that affect it 

[00:40:04] Nick: I'll say I did feel it was more powerful because it felt like the film was capturing something that would live forever. You know, it's like, it's light and sound, it's vibration, it's gonna, it's gonna keep going, it's gonna keep doing its thing. 

[00:40:19] Sharkey: I feel like when I'm in the room with people, there's a magnifying effect, I think, when the camera's in the room with people, I feel like there's this acceleration or magnifying effect that witnessing people in a real way has, 

[00:40:33] Matthew: magic and ritual in many ways is performative in and of itself. It is ritual is performance in many ways. So, when Melissa, I think it was you said this, the film feels like a spell. In many ways, it can be that, it is that, right? And a lot of people are talking about how it evokes something in them, right?

That's magic. That is, that is the magic of performance as well. 

[00:40:58] Risa: Here's to witnessing each other. In an ongoing way, and amplifying our magic. I certainly feel that here. I also feel really like, so thrilled to have All of you here with us who came because you were electrified and excited or maybe just like broken hearted and terrified and wanted to be together because I come to this space in both those modes and I'm really, really thankful to meet you here. Michael, will you, will you take us out with one last for this moment, binding.

[00:41:35] Michael: Sure, sure. 

So, just take a nice, steep breath.

You close your eyes or keep your eyes open.


[00:41:43] Michael: Hear me, O Spirits

of water, earth, fire, and air,

Heavenly hosts,

The demons of the infernal realms, 

Spirits of the ancestors.

I call upon you

To bind Donald J. Trump

so that his

His malignant works

May fail utterly,

That he may do no harm

To any human soul,

Any tree,



Or see

Bind him

So that he shall not break our polity.

Usurp our liberty

Or fill our minds with hate,


Or despair,

And bind too

All those who enable his wickedness

And those whose mouths

Speak his poisonous lies.

I beseech thee, spirits,

Bind all of them,

Bind their malicious tongues,

Break Down their towers of vanity.

I beseech thee in my name,

In the name of all who walk,



[00:42:57] Michael: Or fly,

Of all the trees,

The forests,

Rivers, and seas,

In the name of justice.

And liberty


And equality

And peace

Behind them in chains

[00:43:14] Risa: bind them in chains,

[00:43:18] Michael: Their tongue

Their works

bind their wickedness.

Now with your eyes closed, imagine Donald J. Trump burning in flames, turning into ash. As we say together three times, you're fired. You're fired.

[00:43:43] Melissa: a bird!

[00:43:44] Michael: You're

[00:43:45] Amy T: You're fired.

[00:43:46] Michael: fired! And then we laugh

[00:43:48] Risa: Ha ha ha ha!

[00:43:50] Michael: In your best witchy 

[00:43:52] Risa: Mm I love it.

[00:43:54] Michael: Ah, thank you. Wow, it's, it's been a while since I've done that with a group. So that was really That was really something.

[00:44:02] Risa: that was really fucking great. Thank you. I really, I really needed that. Please take care of yourselves. Tend to that cauldron of yourselves. You're doing such beautiful living. And magic making all of you and introduce each other to your magical friends.

Can we do a quick round of where people can find you and support you? Let's let the filmmakers go first, Sarah. And then Melissa,

[00:44:34] Sharkey: Oh yeah, you can. You can Google me or find me on Instagram. You can find me through Melissa

[00:44:39] Risa: Okay,


[00:44:40] Melissa: film, the film Instagram is just at Witch Documentary. 

[00:44:44] Risa: Nick, 

[00:44:46] Nick: people can find me on Instagram, I'm urbanwizard. And if you're in Salem, Massachusetts, I'm at the Cauldron Black several times a week.

[00:44:54] Risa: Matthew.

[00:44:55] Matthew: You can find me on Instagram at Spiritus, which is just Spirit Us underscore Arcanum or at SpiritusArcanum. com or visit my shop if you happen to be around Peabody or Salem, Massachusetts. Stop by. 

[00:45:08] Risa: Michael.

[00:45:09] Michael: First of all, I have to thank everybody. This has been really phenomenal. Thank you, Missing Witches. Thanks for this amazing film and thanks for everybody gathering together tonight. I, I, I needed this. So, Greatly appreciative of, of, of making this happen. So, thank you. You can find me at michaelmhughes.

com. Like, my books and stuff like that. My tarot courses and magic courses are at theartofmagicalliving. com. That's the stuff I'm real excited about now. Working on another book and all that. But yeah, I just, I just just want to thank you. This has been spectacular.

[00:45:48] Risa: Thank you guys. We'd love to have you each back when we can delve more into your work and thoughts and practices.

 We love you guys. And bless the fucking beef.

[00:45:58] Amy T: That's a fucking bee!

[00:45:59] Matthew: Pete.

[00:46:00] Melissa: blessed fucking day

[00:46:01] Sharkey: me . 

[00:46:02] Risa: Bye.

Be safe out there.

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