Experimental Magic: The Evolution of Magic

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Trumping America: The Pop Culture Mythology Behind the Donald

I've been watching the 2016 Republican primaries with great interest. While many people seem dumbfounded and horrified by the fact that Donald Trump seems to be coming out on top as the potential Republican candidate, it hasn't surprised me in the least. After all, what the Donald has, at least on an unconscious level is a pop culture mythology that he's built around him, which easily exceeds what his rivals have.

I'm not a Republican myself, and I don't agree with Trump's stance on the issues, but I think it's important to explore, from a magical angle, just what is going on and why Donald is Trumping America (at least in the short term).

There are 3 significant variables, from a magical perspective that are contributing to the Donald's influence in the current political climate. While I wouldn't label Donald Trump a magician, I think that it can be fair to say that some magical principles can be employed without necessarily practicing magic consciously. This is significant because then we can better understand why he has been so successful in the Republican primaries, and why he has the potential to be successful in November (as well as what we may need to do to stymie that).

Celebrity Identity

The first variable is identity, and specifically in the case of Trump, celebrity identity. Trump has cultivated a specific type of identity using his family name, his real estate empire (complete with his name on buildings) his various attraction such as golf courses and casinos, and his stint as a Reality TV celebrity via The Apprentice. All of that has culminated in his latest iteration of that identity, the presidential run he is on now. 

Trump's celebrity identity contributes to his campaign because it's a specific identity created to appeal to people. It's a pop culture identity that draws on the attention people give to it, in order to fuel itself. Everything Trump does is deliberately driven toward feeding his branding and celebrity identity, because that celebrity identity in turns captures the imagination of the American public.

As I wrote in Pop Culture Magick, the celebrity identity is composed of the identity of the person, but also the crafted persona that is made up of the branding and marketing around the person. Additionally the attention that people direct to the celebrity also creates and feeds the celebrity identity. The celebrity identity becomes an entity of sorts, that seeks to do whatever it can to stay alive and in the consciousness of people. It reinvents itself in whatever way it needs to. In the case of Trump, the reinvention is running for president, and in the process capturing the attention of people to feed the celebrity identity.

The Telesms of Trump

Trump is also drawing on Telesms to fuel his influence. Let's take a moment to define what a Telesm is, so that we can better understand what Trump is doing. A Telesm is a permanent image used by inner and outer consciousness over a long period of time, as an interface to connect with specific forces that it mediates. 

An example of a Telesm is the magic circle, with sub-Telesms found in each of the four directions. The four directions have specific images associated with them and those images mediate the power of each direction. In turn all of that feeds into the magic circle, which is its own Telesm that mediates the magical circle.

It should be clear Trump, in and of himself, is not a Telesm and so far as I know he doesn't practice magic. Nonetheless, its quite possible to draw on Telesms outside of a ritual context. And Telesms come in different forms. 

Racism has its Telesm. Trump has tapped into that Telesm in his rhetoric around immigration and Muslims, and in turn that Telesm has tapped into his presidential run in the dubious approval he's gotten from David Duke and the KKK. Trump has drawn on this Telesm because it mediates fear, anger, and hate, all of which serves to fuel his run.  

Another Telesm Trump has tapped into recently is evangelical Christianity. His choice to tap into that Telesm has little to do with his actual spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) and more to do with appealing to a certain type of person, in this case evangelical Christians and far right Republicans. By claiming that America needs to become Christian again, Trump is seeking to draw on the Telesm of evangelical Christianity to support his campaign. What the evangelicals should remember is that Trump has no vested interest in their vision for America. He'll say whatever he needs to say to win their support and then promptly forget about it once he has what he wants. 

Energy in Motion = Emotion

Part of the appeal of Trump is that he is speaking to the emotions of anger and fear that people feel. In promising to make America great again, Trump is promising that he can address their fear and anger. But it's more than just that. 

Trump doesn't apologize for what he says. He is different from the politicians who will say one thing one day, and then apologize for it the next day. Trump never apologies because every word that is spoken is deliberately chosen to cultivate a particular image of him. Every word is deliberately chosen to keep him in the news cycle, and at the front and center of the American Psyche.

Precisely because Trump doesn't apologize he appeals to people. They perceive him as a strong person who will not back down, which is different from all the politicians who do their best to craft an image that is appealing but also non-offensive. Trump will offend any and everyone if it will get him what he wants. And he will use that to his advantage because emotions are energy in motion and if energy is kept in motion it builds momentum, especially around a celebrity identity that is used to using the momentum to propel itself forward.

In drawing on the momentum of emotions and saying what he pleases, with no apology, Trump has trumped American politics. The Trumping of America is a result of the celebrity identity of Trump being fueled by the emotions of anger and fear and the choice to use Telesm of racism to further his own agenda. What we need to be wary of is letting the pop culture mythology of Trump take over and define our values. For in the end Trump is not about making America great. He's only about making himself great, no matter what the cost is to the rest of us. 

Bio: Taylor Ellwood is the mad scientist and magical experimenter of Magical Experiments. He teaches magicians and pagans the dangerous secret to achieving consistent results by experimenting with magic.  

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Taylor Ellwood is the author of Pop Culture Magick, Space/Time Magic, Magical Identity and a number of other occult books. He posts about his latest projects at Magical Experiments. He is also the managing non-fiction editor of Immanion Press. Taylor lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and two kids, as well as 7 cats.

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