This is the first post in what I intend to be a recurring series about social media events that are driving conversation on Twitter and elsewhere. I intend to cover the kinds of events that strike me as indicative of something important about American culture — maybe global culture — in the present, but which are likely to get missed by those who aren’t extremely online.
Today we are talking about witches, TikTok, and the moon.
If you are a heavy Twitter user — a necessity if you’re going to be extremely online, otherwise you’ll never keep up with the dozens of, at-best, metonymically related moments, tweets, and memes that are driving the story on the internet that day — you’ll have almost certainly run into this tweet about the moon over the weekend.
If you didn’t learn that there was something odd going on with the moon — or if you didn’t click on the tweet to see the the lengthy thread that followed — I’m here to help. Here’s what the poster had to tell us in subsequent tweets:
BASICALLY — in the past few days, a group of FRESH baby witches (inexperienced witches who should only be researching and doing protection work) decided to band together, and hex the fae. and then the moon. and they did! (theyre now planning to hex the sun. too)
WHAT’S A HEX? A hex is essentially spellwork that is a collection of negative energy and is directed to someone, something, or a group of someones/somethings. these are intended to have negative effects and cause HARM to them and their lives.
these baby witches specifically stemmed from witch tiktok “witchtok”
WHO ARE THE FAE? Well, technically the fae are celtic-specific, so it’s more accuate to say fair folk, but essentially, they are non-human creatures that fairies are based on.
it is EXTREMELY important to note that fair folk do not abide by human morals, because they are not human. morality is a human construct. fair folk are not inherent malevolent, but they have different customs than we do. But when they’re fucked with, WHOO BABY. you’ve now got trickery for the rest of your life and maybe a bloodline curse! if you’re lucky. they’ll probably also steal your soul.
FAE / FAIR FOLK WORK IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS IN ANY FORM. THEY ARE TO BE RESPECTED BUT YOU SHOULD NOT BEGIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM WITHOUT YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN WITCHCRAFT AND RESEARCH ABOUT THEM.
next up: the moon thing. after hexing the fae, this group of newbie witches decided to hex the moon. yeah. the planet. the moon. they hexed it.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
well, for witches, the moon is integral to our work. most notably, it fuels spells and provides power. obviously you shouldnt ???? disrespect the moon?? BUT ACTUALLY …. the moon thing matters because there are gods that rule the moon. and hurting the moon, hurts them. not so much “physically” as hurts their energy / power and hurts them emotionally.
ARTEMIS — according to those who work with her, artemis is especially affected. but the gods whose domain is the moon are mostly worried about their followers, as this effects their energy too.
WHY DOES APOLLO MATTER? In case you dont know — artemis and apollo are twins. artemis is the goddess of the moon, apollo is the god of the sun. as siblings, they are VERY intertwined and as his SISTER has been HEXED, he’s PISSED.
apollo WILL take action for his sister, even though she is entirely capable of taking action for herself. But apollo? he’s the god of health and medicine. they hexed his sister. in the middle of an increasingly dangerous PANDEMIC.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE HEXERS?
if the gods are merciful, their hex will be sent back to them AND they will be hexed BY the gods. yeah, that’s mercy. if there’s no mercy? a curse. lifelong, at least. probably on their bloodline.
There are a few more tweets in the thread, but that about covers the core of it.
This just seems like an absolute oddity of the internet, which should make you wonder why I’m bothering to write anything about it. While I’m almost certainly making a mountain out of a hilarious mole hill, I do think there’s something important at work here that we ignore at our own peril.
We are living through a period of time where young people are embracing irrationalism for the sake of irrationalism. This has been happening for quite some time in the massive resurgence of astrology in pop culture, but I think that has become so commonplace that we rarely stop to think just how bizarre is is. Nor do we stop and ask ourselves why it’s happening right now, and in this way, specifically.
To be clear, this isn’t a new phenomenon. And I don’t mean witchcraft or astrology (though the modern versions of astrology and Wicca are both under a 100 years old, which warrants some further probing at a later date). The phenomenon I’m describing is the leap into irrationality as a way to liberate oneself from the constraints of a world of overdetermined, instrumental rationality where everything can be explained and everything ought to be done for a specific reason.
The first instance I know of this surfacing in intellectual history is Friedrich Jacobi’s insistence to Lessing that he needed to commit to a salto mortale — which you can loosely understand as a leap of faith, though it’s more literally a death jump, which sounds way cooler — in order to free himself from the intellectual constraints of rational philosophy in order to get back in touch with the immediacy of experience. Jacobi’s desire was to introduce some wonder back into a world that was, on his account, stripped of both magic and freedom by Kant’s philosophical project in the Critique of Pure Reason, which argues that our experience is only meaningful insofar as it is mediated through concepts that are applied to immediate experience. This means that direct or immediate experience is actually impossible as we will always exist at a remove from the world, seeing it only through a pair of conceptual glasses. This same understanding was amplified and made more nuance and complex by subsequent post-Kantian thinkers, principally Hegel.
The influence of Jacobi — or at least echoes of his thinking — can be seen in Soren Kierkegaard’s insistence that the true moment of human freedom comes when we leap into belief in God precisely because it is irrational. Rational decision making, by his account, can never be seen as free because logic coerces your choices, both by offering you the options you can choose between and because any third-party observer could predict what you would do in any situation given all of the same information that you have at your disposal. This means that abiding by rationality renders you nothing more than an automaton. This was dramatized — and probably articulated — most beautifully by the unnamed narrator of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground.
But what does this have to do with the witches hexing the moon?
We are living through a period in history where people are experiencing stress, anxiety, and a sense of helplessness on a mass scale. While I’m sure there have been other periods of time when it has been comparably widespread, there has never been a time when those suffering from this sense of helplessness have so easily been able to commiserate with one another. The solve to this stress and anxiety that our society presents us, insofar as it presents us with one at all, is to see it as an individual pathology to be dealt with through medication and therapy. I take meds and I go to therapy, so I’m not knocking either of those things, but this ignores the fact that the world we live in makes us feel like shit. Life under capitalism is alienating, precarious, and permanently stressful.
The way out of these conditions brought on by capitalism (other than meds and therapy) is to rigorously participate in the logic of the system: get the right degree, network in the right ways, get the right job, buy the right house, enjoy the right extracurricular activities and you’ll feel better. But nowhere is there actual space for an experience of freedom. Everything is determined. In fact, the more determined you are to make yourself the best piece of human capital possible — think self care and biohacking in particular, in which you see yourself as a machine to be optimized — the more likely you are to experience some kind of joy in this regime. Or at least that’s the promise. I’m pretty sure it’s not true.
This is where the witches come in.
Dostoevsky, Jacobi, and Kierkegaard all found their freedom by jumping into religion. In different ways, they all instantiated Tertullian’s famous assertion, “credo quia absurdum,” or, I believe because it is absurd. The milieu in which these authors lived meant that they only had a few options available to them intellectually when considering how to feel free.
The TikTok witches have their own milieu, one that has essentially been stripped of most identity positions, belief systems, values that you can commit to. The only explanations they have about how the world works and where they fit in it is the instrumental rationality of capital. And the only way they know to find a bit of freedom is in the spectacle. Growing up in a world written and directed by a combination of Michael Bay and Milton Friedman, where do you turn when you’re seeking your own experience of freedom via the irrational? You have to go for something bombastic. You need some serious shock and awe. And what is more bombastic than embracing witchcraft to give you a sense of identity and then hexing the moon?!?
When the exits are all closed, people will do very strange shit to find a way to feel like they have the ability to make sense of the world and to feel capable of affecting change in it.