Imbolc Night–February 1–marks the beginning of the end of winter in some cultures and a time for new ambitions as spring approaches, so that was the night our Bay Area Satanists gathered in a private space in Oakland for our first ever Remembrance Ritual, a new ceremonial practice of grief, mutual support, and catharsis.
The year 2018 was a good one for Satanic Bay Area and for most of our members, but it was also a hard year; many of us lost family members and loved ones, some faced seemingly insurmountable problems, and the tenor of American society and the global conversation grew even more worrisome, creating stress, worry, and fear.
With all that in mind we wanted to design a new ritual that would confront the difficult emotions stemming from personal strife. When tragedy strikes, other religions try to comfort believers with talk about god or the ages-old sentiment, “They’re in a better place,” but what do atheistic Satanists think or say about life and death when grappling with mortality?
After some opening remarks, participants were invited to speak to the “congregation”–a group of about 20, mostly Satanists but also a few guests (and a couple of dogs)–about anything that they felt a desire to get off their chests. Organizers assured everyone there was no limit on their time, that no topic was disallowed, and that everyone’s feelings were considered equally valid.
Once those who wished to speak had finished, Tabitha and Daniel conducted a new Black Mass (freely adapted from the medieval morality play “Everyman” and Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century stage play version of “Doctor Faustus”), then resigned a few objects to the flames as part of a semi-traditional Imbolc fire ceremony marking endings.
It was a difficult and emotional night full of intense emotions, but also a night of support, cooperation, camaraderie, and ultimately good feelings, as our Satanic masses ate, drank, remembered good times and bad, and shared the life-affirming gift of each other’s company.