QUARANTINED: A PERSONAL SATANIC RITUAL OF CATHARSIS AND CONFINEMENT
This week’s blog is a little different. As simply as possible, I’m going to describe a private ritual I conducted a few days ago to help deal with Everything Going On Right Now. If you want to do the same, feel free to alter these steps any way you see fit.
We publish lots of Satanic ritual guides on this site, but those were all conducted in a group setting. I don’t do personal rituals very often, and I don’t usually share them. But this is a special circumstance.
Like a lot of you, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks isolated. As soon as the reality of this situation became apparent, I started pondering how to usefully express my feelings about it. The result is what I’m calling a confinement ritual–although as you’ll see in the end, it could as easily be called a liberation ritual.
First, choose an object that represents you. I picked a seven-inch Baphomet statue that lives on my shelf; I’ve had it for a few years, we’ve used it at a lot of events, and I get thoughtful when it breaks, so I feel sufficiently attached to it.
I laid the Baphomet in a box barely big enough to hold it. Almost any other kind of receptacle works just as well: a jar, a bottle, even a drawer or a cabinet, as long as you can open and shut it, and as long as it conceals the object.
Then I gathered up some other other elements, one for each of the five senses. For sight I picked a Satanic rosary I bought at a Halloween haunt on a date with Tabitha; it doesn’t have huge sentimental value, but I like the design, and that was a really good night out.
For scent I used a sample-sized bottle of Hexxenacht perfume. Not only do I like the scent, but the sample came from an ad spot we did on Black Mass Appeal, so it has positive associations with the show.
Representing taste, I poured a small amount of rum into a phial. A friend and really excellent Satanist made this batch for her solstice party a few years ago. I always mean to drink the little that’s left over, but never do. Note that whatever food or drink you use for this, make sure it’s something that will stay edible indefinitely.
Touch I represented with a bandana. It was a Go Fund Me reward for contributing to the Satanic Temple’s vet’s monument a few years ago, and I use it as a tiny altar cloth at our Satanic Coffee Hour meetings.
Sound is tricky, but I settled on a handbell that spends most of its time on my altar. We’ve used it at a half dozen Black Masses, and every person who has ever rung it is a friend.
The five senses are mostly just an easy theme for a personal ritual, but I’ve also often thought of senses as proxies for the universe, since without means to perceive it the world might as well not exist to us.
All of these things I set in front of my altar. If you don’t have an altar, any sufficiently private space will do. I always opt to do these things by candlelight with a little incense burning, but you can create atmosphere however you like.
When I felt ready, I put the objects in the box with Baphomet, one by one. As I did, I thought about what I associated with each of them: memories, experiences, people, wishes for the future. The bell is too bulky to fit, so I simply chimed a note over the opening of the box and left it at that.
Once everything was inside and I’d give it enough thought, I closed the lid–and I’ll admit to feeling a significant degree of anxiety, if only because the closing of a box seemed more funereal than I had anticipated. But of course, feelings like that are the reason we’re doing this.
If the Baphomet is me, and the objects are my experiences, then once the box is shut I’m in one sense cut off from myself. And just to drive the point home, the box should be secured somehow: locked, or tied up, or wound with cloth, etc.
I settled for laying three Tarot cards on top. Tarot isn’t a big thing with me (don’t ask me what any of the cards mean…), but I like the imagery, and the random nature of the cards reminds me that life is unpredictable, so those cards stand in for the forces of circumstances that have put us in this predicament.
And finally, when all else is done. you put the box away. Maybe in a room you rarely go in, maybe in a drawer or a cabinet you rarely open. Bury it somewhere if you’re feeling particularly dramatic. Wherever you put it, it shouldn’t be someplace you’ll see it a lot.
I settled for just the bottom row of one of my bookshelves, the one that’s concealed by other furniture and where I only keep a few old textbooks and technical manuals. And once that’s done…it’s done. Leave the box and its content where they are until, well, until this is over.
Doing all of this upset me a little bit at the time. But really, that’s not quite right: I was ALREADY upset. The ritual just made me think about it. The same way that tiresome Athenian quibbler Aristotle wrote about people purifying their emotions through theater (“catharsis”), the ritual provided me an opportunity to confront what I was feeling.
But to be honest, that’s secondary. For me, the real point of the ritual is that, for as potentially unsettling it as it was putting that box away…
It’s going to feel so, so good when the time comes to open it again.