Party Like It's 1799

Witches cast hexes, exorcist responds.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The San Jose Mercury-News (Matthias Gafni) reports:

When San Jose priest Gary Thomas heard that a coven of East Coast witches planned to place a "hex" on newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he didn't waste any time. Thomas, the official exorcist for the Catholic Diocese of San Jose, put out an alert to fellow exorcists nationwide and offered a pair of Masses for the judge last week to help repel the curse….

The witches' "Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh" event was held Saturday at Catland Books, a Brooklyn, New York, "metaphysical boutique and occult bookshop." …

Last year, the bookstore hosted three hexes on President Donald Trump.

NEXT: Harvard's Recruitment Efforts Prioritized White Students Over High-Achieving Asians

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It doesn’t seem like the curses on Trump have had much effect. Try again, ladies!

  2. 1699 would have been a better year to use.

    1. Jesus Christ Anthony, get over yourself already.

    2. I originally had exactly that, but then I shifted to a time when people had largely stopped executing witches, but still likely took them relatively seriously.

      1. Alien and Sedition Acts were in force. Bad choice!

  3. Wouldn’t it make more sense to cast a spell to prevent Trump from becoming President in the first place? Also Neopaganism is like a layman trying to write a textbook on nuclear physics on a desert island. Typically we know so little about the various real Pagan traditions its almost pointless to reconstruct let alone say you’re a legitimate continuation. And what we do know a lot of Neopagans couldn’t stomach, ie if they wanted to be more authentic they should dial down female empowerment and kumbayaism and dial up the patriarchy and animal sacrifices.

    1. Depends on what you want. If you want European Paganism, you’re shit out of luck if you’re not going for Viking crap, nothing of which is particularly applicable in the modern West. They could try it in ISIS controlled areas, I guess. We know very little about what Gaels actually believed rather than what they did, and the Classical religions are known only from their organized side. Everything else, we know practically nothing.

      Maybe they’re doing a non-European religion. Definitely tasteless and stupid in that case, but at least we know more about those religious cultures. Pretty much all of those would be indigenous American beliefs, so obviously cultural appropriation.

      I’m guessing, however, they’re basing it off of the shitty pseudoacademic work of the 19th and early 20th century, when idiots started embracing the witch-cult stories and expounding stupidities, or off the bad parts of Gimbuta’s theory, like the parts about an egalitarian Europe that worshipped a Mother Goddess.

      1. I’m going to guess Wiccans. Eww.

      2. Most modern “witches” are Wiccans or some offshoot thereof. Wicca is very loosely based on pre-Christian Celtic religion, and they have both a god and a goddess.

      3. It simply doesn’t matter, because your religion is what you think it is and say it is. People keep bothering to say that a religion has false roots, but that doesn’t matter a hoot, and the adherents won’t believe you if you try to convince them of it. They may even decide to kill you.

        And if you live in Europe and you say it intemperately enough, you’ll be arrested (see Mohammad paedophilia case)

  4. The hex is most likely rikaching around the ether, looking for an unfortunate host who believes in the supernatural.

  5. Doesn’t placing a hex on a public official violate the Establishment Clause?

    1. Not sure. But I do assume that, instead of forming a pentagram, the witches all formed a, um, hexagon.

      1. I wonder if they speak in hexadecimal?

  6. I had a guy put a curse on me for not believing in the Christian version of God. You know how nasty “believers” can get when you ask for evidence.

    1. I do know how nasty militant atheists can get when disparaging people’s faith.

  7. Not really surprising when you think about it. What organization is more clearly committed to denying and covering up sexual abuse, than the Catholic Church?

    1. How about the Chicago Public School system? Chicago Schools Sex abuse scandal

      I gotta hand it to the Chicago Tribune for their in depth investigative journalism on this, someone should win a Pulitzer.

      1. Or USA Gymnastics?

  8. An interesting legal question would be whether hexing someone would be actionable. If the defendant stipulated that the magic is real and that the hex would work, then I don’t see why not.

    1. I have always argued this. If you genuinely think you can kill your neighbors cow by putting a curse on it how is that different from attempting to poison it? Or from stealing a bait car?

  9. Benighted, superstitious, bigoted witches have rights too. Carry on bitter clingers!

    1. Thanks for filling in for the Rev on this one.

  10. If a witch honestly believes that a hex will kill the subject of the hex then is placing a hex on a person attempted murder? Or would that require that the attempt could plausibly work?

    If I pick up what I think is a loaded gun but that actually turns out to be a fake weapon that law enforcement has deliberately placed in front of me and use it to attempt to shoot someone is that attempted murder because I thought it was a gun even if there is no plausible way it could hurt anyone because it is a fake weapon?

  11. If a witch honestly believes that a hex will kill the subject of the hex then is placing a hex on a person attempted murder? Or would that require that the attempt could plausibly work?

    If I pick up what I think is a loaded gun but that actually turns out to be a fake weapon that law enforcement has deliberately placed in front of me and use it to attempt to shoot someone is that attempted murder because I thought it was a gun even if there is no plausible way it could hurt anyone because it is a fake weapon?

    1. I think a “witch” honestly thinking a hex could kill somebody would be more appropriately treated as a mental health issue. But as “Wicca” is nominally a religion, (More of a joke, but if Scientology gets treated as a religion, despite its documented origin in a drunken bet, and present reality as a criminal conspiracy, Wicca certainly should be.) I suppose that’s out, and probably for the best.

      So, sure, treat it as a serious threat, and offer to drop the prosecution if they admit it’s a joke.

      1. In my opinion, from what I’ve read on the founder of Wicca (which only goes back to the 1920s or 30s), it has more in common with the modern Church of Satan and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, started by atheists as a way of mocking the very idea of religion.

    2. “”All courts are in agreement that so-called factual impossibility (in which an actor is unable to accomplish something because of facts unknown to him) is not a defense to a charge of attempt; on the other hand, courts traditionally have held that legal impossibility (in which even if the actor does everything he intended to do he yet will not have committed a crime) and inherent impossibility (in which an actor uses means which a reasonable person would view as completely inappropriate to the objectives sought) are defenses to a charge of attempt.” 285 N.W.2d at 482.

      An example of inherent impossibility contained in the Minnesota statutory comment is trying “to sink a battleship with a pop-gun.” …
      “In recent years many courts, commentators, and the drafters of the Model Penal Code (see ? 5.01) have either criticized or rejected the defense of legal impossibility, and thus it is not surprising that … the legislature [provided] in subdivision 2 of the attempt statute [Minn. Stat. ? 609.17 (1978)] that an act may be an attempt `notwithstanding the circumstances under which it was performed or the means employed to commit the crime intended or the act itself were such that the commission of the crime was not possible, unless such *650 impossibility would have been clearly evident to a person of normal understanding.'” 285 N.W.2d at 482.”

      1. “…impossibility would have been clearly evident to a person of normal understanding.”

        The pessimistic interpretation of which is that whether one is guilty of attempted murder *can* depend in part on which religions are currently in vogue.

  12. “bookstore hosted three hexes on President Donald Trump”

    He had already beaten one big witch in the election.

    1. I think you win this thread.

      1. Win the thread, lose the culture war.

        Carry on, clingers. More bitterly?

  13. Are these the same folks, or ones like them, who criticize conservatives for sending “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting when they want gun control, in that they believe the thoughts and prayers are ineffective at changing the world…yet here we are with hexes. Huh.

    1. Wrong on two counts…

      1. The anti-thought and prayers crowd think MORE should be done (i.e. more gun control) than just thoughts and prayers; they don’t specifically think thoughts and prayers are particularly bad.
      2. BOTH the witches and thoughts and prayers crowds are nuts–not one of the other.

      1. “thoughts and prayers crowds are nuts-”

        Apedad v. 2 billion believers

        1. I don’t think 2 billion Christians are doing the thoughts and prayers thing. It’s mostly an Anglo-American deal. That’s at most 300k.

          And if we’re looking at raw numbers, it doesn’t seem fair to consider all Christians as a unified front. East vs West is very different, and then Catholic vs Protestant/Reformed is also different. Taking each broad denomination, there are only 1.2 billion Catholics, the largest group. For comparison, there are 1.6 billion Sunnis. Something tells me you shouldn’t want religion to become majoritarian.

          1. Muslims and Jews are believers too.

            2 billion is an underestimate. [I do not know if Hindus, Buddhists etc. believe in an intervening deity so not included]

            He is using “thoughts and prayers” as a shortcut for religious belief anyways.

            1. Thank you Bob for making that correct observation.

        2. How popular must a flavor of superstition be to deserve respect in reasoned debate among adults?

          Pro tip

          1. I know, there are *still* people, a fair number of them, that think communism will work *this* time.

      2. I am more criticizing the criticizers for selective scoffing at “magical thinking”. Whenever you hear about an atheist or leftist mocking “thoughts and prayers,” is there an equal amount lobbed at Wiccans for believing that hexes work? I hope there is a bit on it on Maher, but I doubt it, in that Christianity is more frequently the target of condemnation of leftists and atheists than is Islam.

        1. ‘My fairy tale can beat up your fairy tale. In fact, my fairy tale is so awesome it can beat up every other fairy tale.’

          Always a charming discussion, particularly among ostensible adults.

          1. Agree with this. I’d formulate differently: my imaginary friend can beat up your imaginary friend. Agreed in arguendo, but why do I give a fuck?

            Distinctions (channeling Sam Harris). I don’t like the hegemony that Christians exercise in the republic and within my own grand old party. I live in Utah, which is the churchiest state in the country and it’s just one church, the Mormons. Still they can’t stop us from putting on the irreverent Book of Mormon musical here. Can you imagine the South Park guys putting on such a musical lampooning Muhammed in Mecca without violence? And the occult religions like Wicca they may or may not have bad intentions but they don’t have the political power to blip the radar and infringe on my liberties.

            1. OBP: “Can you imagine the South Park guys putting on such a musical lampooning Muhammed in Mecca without violence?”

              Or even publishing cartoons lampooning Muhammad in France? I can’t.

    2. Studies of the efficacy of prayer on healing were lightheartedly criticized for not getting the permission of the prayed-over (from afar) because, given the Bible, one could not be sure that wouldn’t call attention to the sick person and have God delibrately not help them, or worse, accelerate their problems.

  14. How about “Party of Science to Party like it’s 1799”

  15. This is so Dungeons & Dragons. The priest and the witches should do the respectable thing and battle it out with their best 20-sided dice.

    Full disclosure: I’m an atheist and my girl is a committed Wiccan. I think it’s hilarious when adverse religionists use their mumbo jumbo on each other. I think I’m an Orc with 6 INT so Illusion spells don’t work on my idiot mind. She’s a true believer but hates the groupthink in her own community, especially the new agey political shit.

    Go figure.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.