On Oct. 8, Shane Bugbee posted an Instagram video of himself performing a ritual. In the video, Bugbee pours a milkshake over a pile of Big Macs, sticks pins into a doll with Nazi insignia, and spray-paints an occult symbol while variously chanting, “Fast food is poison,” “Dignity for all,” and “Cast a vote.” One week later, it was revealed that Donald Trump—an infamous aficionado of McDonald’s and Burger King—had only half the amount of campaign cash on hand that Joe Biden had going into the final weeks of their presidential campaigns.
“You find magic where you find passion,” says Bugbee—and right now, his passion is denying Trump a re-election victory. To that end, Bugbee is collaborating with other practitioners of witchcraft, laypeople, and IXNAY PAC, an anti-Trump political action committee, to doom the president’s current campaign.
IXNAY PAC was founded two years ago by former Vice correspondent Trace Crutchfield, promising to "raise hell from sea to shining sea" to get Trump and his allies out of office. In the lead-up to the midterm elections in 2018, IXNAY ran ads across television stations in Texas mocking Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign slogan, intelligence, and defense of his wife, whose physical appearance Trump had attacked before Cruz nevertheless became one of the president’s staunchest supporters. Besides running ads, the super PAC also takes more DIY approaches to messaging, selling T-shirts, buttons, and posters, throwing up graffiti in battleground states, and—in what it claims is a first for politics in the United States—embracing the chaotic magic of witchcraft.
“Since IXNAY was founded in 2018, we have utilized the bag of tricks more commonly associated with super PACs,” says Crutchfield. “We’ve run TV ads and targeted Facebook campaigns, organized people to send thousands of handwritten postcards to voters in swing states, run a phone bank operation, and have put no shortage of printed propaganda out into the streets of America. Hell, we even wrote a pop song! Magic was just about the only thing we hadn’t tried, so when faced with another four years of Trump, we thought it would be foolish not to utilize every legal and ethical means at our disposal.”
Cue Shane Bugbee, a Chicago-based artist and practitioner of the occult, whom IXNAY contacted to pioneer the PAC’s political magic. According to Bugbee, he has been studying witchcraft for nearly 40 years, ever since he was in Catholic school and offered the devil his soul in exchange for the latest Ozzy Osbourne album and a bicycle.
“I had the new Ozzy record two days later and a bike less than a week later,” says Bugbee. “That was pretty much it, I went straight to hell.”
Since Catholic school, Bugbee was ordained a reverend in the Church of Satan by church founder Anton LaVey and helped found the Satanic Temple. He likens his practice of witchcraft to art, through which he’s able to “escape the linear flow of time and discover uncharted territory of my mind and yours.”
In response to IXNAY’s request, Bugbee reached out to another practitioner of witchcraft, Berlin-based Lillian Lux, to collaborate on a “sigil,” an occult symbol intended to plant desires in the subconscious.
“I believe magic is 80 percent feminine energy, so I was grateful she agreed to help,” says Bugbee of Lux.
The IXNAY sigil, which Bugbee can be seen spray-painting in his Instagram video, is meant to represent protection and momentum for anti-Trump forces, along with the undertow of change that will topple those currently in power and elevate those being held down.
“This sigil is meant to unify and focus occultists and those interested in magic on goals,” explains Bugbee. “The goals we set when we created the sigil were, in a broad way, to smash the authoritarian vibe that's happening across the globe and, in a direct way, to remove Trump from office.”
The IXNAY sigil was intended to be used discreetly by practitioners of witchcraft, but its power combined with Trump’s arrogance conspired in pushing the PAC to publicize their efforts. According to IXNAY, and evident from Lux’s Instagram, the sigil was first put into use five days before Trump announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The full video of this first ritual performed by Lux captures her lighting candles around the symbol, burning incense, and wielding a dagger “to lead the unseen forces,” as she says. Following Trump’s announcement, IXNAY was reconsidering taking credit for this bit of political magic, but news of a stunt that the president had proposed—pretending to appear frail, then opening his dress shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt beneath—pushed them onward.
“We planned to keep it on the down-low, with Bugbee and Lillian Lux discreetly passing it around a tightly-knit network of witches around the world,” says Crutchfield. “But the results were so phenomenal and so immediate that we realized we had to widen the circle and make this a mass movement.”
IXNAY is now promoting the sigil via its listserv and social media channels. Lux and Bugbee encourage laypeople—that is, those who do not practice witchcraft—to make use of the symbol however they see fit. In another video, Crutchfield illustrates how the sigil can be drawn in sidewalk chalk and charged with a libation “to defeat Donald Trump at the polls.” IXNAY is also encouraging laypeople to share the symbol on social media and in real life via graffiti, buttons, and stickers. Bugbee mentions that he’s heard of plans by the art collective INDECLINE, which claims that they hold the record for the world’s largest piece of illegal graffiti and who installed naked statues of Trump simultaneously in five cities across the United States in 2016, to paint the sigil on a record-breaking scale.
“I'd personally be stoked if street artists around the globe took our sigil and ran with it,” says Bugbee. “Fuck, make T-shirts and sell them, neon signs—there really are no limits in my world.”
Crutchfield is similarly excited to see the IXNAY sigil gain more visibility across the country during the final days leading up to the election.
“We’re on track to see the IXNAY sigil in use in all 50 states, plus D.C., Puerto Rico, and American Samoa, and part of the reason for that is because it’s easy,” he says. “You can concoct your own elaborate ritual, but if Americans will simply draw the sigil and visualize Trump losing on Nov. 3, then we’re gonna see some fantastic results.”
“In any case,” Crutchfield continues, “whether you believe in the power of positive thinking or not, you can’t deny the fact that people who devote this level of mindfulness will also be ready to cast a ballot to vote the fucker out.”