On February 18 2018 The Satanic Temple of NYC hosted the event Defiance at The Muse in NYC. It was a fantastic event and the NYC chapter council excluding myself really curated and executed flawlessly and we look forward to replicating and growing in the future.
I wanted to share some details of the ritual I performed at the event and some of the inspiration and symbolism that went into its intent.
Myself and a comrade negotiated, imagined, and created the ritual as a nuanced alternative to “unbaptisms” for those of us who have long ago already rejected the dogma of non-consensual religious tradition and no longer require catharsis of that nature (religions that indoctrinate by threatening punishment for disbelief or personal sovereignty are abusive and non-consensual by nature).
Unholy Covenant Ritual;
Participants; Ideally 13, who represent 12 archetypes of humanity and the Influencer and Director (priests). The Influencer priest represents raw chaotic metaphor and things not entirely human or even “uncanny valley” human (they are also slightly outside of the 12 archetypes of humanity while the Director is still a part of humanity wholly), and the Director priest represents historic accuracy and recollection. For this ritual given the players I took the Influencer role contextualized as the Magician or Shaman and Belle took the Director role (in this cast I would contextualize this as The High Priestess or Crone.
For the Influencer I envisioned androgynous clothing that was also soft, elastic, and drapey to reflect the nature of flux, chaos, evolution, and hybridization that would befit a thirteenth player in the 12 archetypes set… one that has yet to settle into a wholly recognizable or consistently human role. Soft leathers and frayed, assymetrical, long, fitted knits over harem or tai pants accompanied by a staff or cane and a raven skull necklace speak to the cultural scavenger and collector overtones of this character and their implied ability to battle utilizing hard earned lessons from the physical world. Ceremonial daggers or knives can also (in addition to the staff or cane) be displayed on the wardrobe sheathed or tucked in belts or boots.
The Director should be more deliberately gendered but unarmed. The Director helps implement the symbols and marks upon the other participants and collects their statements of intent. I am however curious to see how someone would outfit a non-binary Director though that may also change the androgyny of the Influencer’s wardrobe. The idea is for the two to represent order/chaos, data/interpretation, history/culture, apparent/demonic, and as always negotiation and balance to achieve mutual goals. The “main” or focus leadership of the ritual can be adapted to either be the Director or the Influencer depending on the desired outcome of your ritual (i.e. more order or more chaos). This ritual more centered the Influencer.
Celebrants should be asked beforehand to write out statements of intent (in this events case defiant intent) on small scraps of paper. These will be kept by the priests and can be revisited through them to assess personal goals later. I recommend using social media to post images of the statements 6 months to a year down the line for celebrants to see and reflect on.
The altar; I laid out 6 tarot cards representing two congruent desired outcomes or goals for the ritual. Between these sets I placed 3 stones with lunar symbols on them. Alternates to lunar could be any combo of lunar, solar, and earthly symbols depending on preference, goals, and overall aesthetic of the ritual. There is a bowl full of stones with Venus symbols on them. I hand drew representations of the first known goddess of mankind, the Venus of Willendorf in gold paint on black river stones. She reminds us of the roots of our creativity and ritual and will serve as a reminder of intent for the years to come. We used a small iPad to display an image taken from the skull on an altar at HQ in Salem. A real centerpiece that represents contemplation of death or shadow-work can be used but I prefer modern tech-mix imagery in everything. If I were performing the ritual in a space I designed I would also play a video with appropriately ritualistic sounding music and visuals/lightplay behind the altar and priests. The lighting should be very deliberate in color and vibrancy, you don’t want the space to look at all like it normally does. We played one of three music tracks I requested that I felt represented the mood of this event and season in the background of the scene. The ritual book and page from the Malleus Maleficarum should also be on the altar though they will end up in the hands of the respective priests as they read from them.
Influencer taps cane loudly on the floor three times to begin the ritual. A bell can also be used instead or in combination with. If so, the bell should be in the possession of the Director. The influencers tool is ironically a weapon, as art often is. The Directors tool is deceptively innocuous but percussive.
After the celebrants line up with lit candles (in a more modern tech version of the ritual I suggest using small LED lights that don’t look anything at all like candles for an updated effect, perhaps even ones that light up blue or some other not-fire color) the Director reads a passage from the Malleus Maleficarium from the right side of the altar to begin. This fulfills a historical insight.
The Influencer then reads a short intro and then offers a mission. In this case to oppose transgressions on bodily autonomy. They ask each celebrant down the line to come accept the mission one by one or two by two. At this point I should suggest that if you involve more than 11-12 celebrants have them walk up in pairs or other small groups to keep the ritual moving faster, another solution is orchestrating several lines and altars , having two main officiants and a few assistant directors and influencers managing those altars and lines.
As the celebrants are asked to verbally accept the mission they respond affirmatively and approach the altar. They take a Willendorf /Venus stone from the bowl and leave their candles around the rim of it in a circle that, when complete, represents 12 human aspects of illumination of the cycle of life or Ouroboros. This also represents Lucifer/Prometheus bringing light to humanity and the celebrants taking on or accepting the moon or goddess as a result.
After the celebrants take this first mission they circle around and return to the back of the ritual line. The priests will have to make note of who was first and know when it is time for the next statement/pledge to begin.
Next, we asked them to accept the mark of the Other, for that is the voice that is always neglected. Ash, doves blood (synthetic), or my preference; eyeshadow or eyeliner can be used for the mark. Ideally it will be a quick representation of the Ouroboros, but a circle can suffice in a time vs. artistic ability conflict. I avoided crosses or X’s.
Then the Influencer reads a piece that I adapted from Lair of the White Worm, the movie based on a story by Bram Stoker. The passage outlines a reverence of Lucifer as lightbringer cast out and transmogrified into Satan for activism and defiance. To be like him; a flame in darkness, a star.
The third and conclusive procession is a pact to accept the Unholy Covenant and do the Devils work for the year(s) to come. Ask them one by one or in pairs if they accept the pact by heart and by mouth. When they respond affirmatively they come leave their written statements in the (a) bowl. These will be fixed into the ritual book after the artistically written out ritual in an aesthetically appropriate way.
Then to conclude the Influencer reads:
“This pledge is our Promethean covenant with Satan.
To Hail Satan is to Hail Ourselves.
Hail Satan (×3)
It is done, Non Serviam.”
*taps cane (or rings bell if Director) three times, blows out candles on altar.
Thank you so much to chapter member Michelle Helfrich for the amazing event photos and we can’t wait to see more of them.