By Kelly Fleming
Quotes courtesy of Vice
“Please join us for a public hex on Brett Kavanaugh, upon all rapists and the patriarchy at large which emboldens, rewards and protects them.”
These are the words that led the description of the “Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh,” a Facebook event hosted last month by Catland, a “spiritual supply hub” in Brooklyn. Over 10,000 people claimed to be going.
Some regarded this event as a joke, clicking “interested” or “I’m going” to get a laugh or quietly share their position on the case. Others took it more seriously, eliciting reactions ranging from fervent support to sheer outrage. The angry comments tended to come from Christians citing the immorality of hexing a person, or from self-described witches who were upset that witchcraft was being used for political purposes. The supportive comments, however, were often from women and survivors of sexual assault, thanking Catland for giving them a way to fight back against this perceived injustice.
When I first saw a few Facebook friends say they were “interested” in this event, I scrolled by it with no more than a quick glance. It seemed like another joke event that occasionally pops up on my timeline, perhaps in the spirit of Halloween.
At first glance, I did not grasp the true weight of the occasion for those who have been most deeply affected by Kavanaugh’s run for a Supreme Court seat, who have experienced rape or sexual assault themselves. They have had to watch an accused sexual assaulter make his way to the most honorable and high seat of justice in the nation. Similar allegations against President Trump have been traumatic enough for these survivors, as they have been forced to see a man accused of rape in the country’s most important office.
An event like the “Ritual to Hex Brett Kavanaugh” provides a space for survivors of rape, domestic abuse and other forms of sexual violence to process their trauma and take their own small revenge on those who hurt them. The event’s main purpose was to curse Kavanaugh, but for the individual participants, it had much more personal meaning. The leader of the hex, Dakota Bracciale, described it as a healing space for survivors in Vice Magazine:
“People have to have an outlet to do something. Because here's the reality—statistically speaking, if you are a survivor of sexual violence, there is such an immense likelihood that in a situation like this, that rage is going to come out…We have got to have an outlet for this because we don't have any form of justice available. There has to at least be some sort of support.”
At a time when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to levy assault allegations against Kavanaugh, is still being disparaged and mocked, this form of healing is essential. Survivors must be able to express the pain they’re feeling within a supportive community, even through as unusual a venue as witchcraft. Hex attendee Sara David described its value in Vice Magazine:
“When Dakota asks us if we're still here—if we're still alive—we all scream ‘yes.' They tell us that our existence, our joys, and each breath we take, is resistance—is its own victory in a world that is not merely indifferent but actively hostile to us, survivors and the disenfranchised.”
While only about 60 people were able to attend due to the size of the venue, many more performed their own hexes at home as the event was live-streamed. This hex provided community support for many people who needed it more than they had in a long time. No one was required to believe in the witchcraft, only to support those around them and to believe each other. When the government seems to have turned a blind eye to survivors, their turning to the supernatural feels like an attempt to be seen.