A Return to Satanic Ritual Via "The Devil's Tome"
Recently, I reclaimed a core part of my Satanic practice that I'd been missing for years. I owe it all to "The Devil's Tome: A Book of Modern Satanic Ritual," Shiva Honey's excellent book on contemporary, nontheistic Satanic ritual.
I used to do a lot of rituals in my unique sacred path, a religious practice I had built myself over many years. Though it was essentially nontheistic, it had grown out of my witchcraft practices and did work heavily with dark goddess archetypes like Tiamat, Ereshkigal, and Kali. Since I was 13 I had envisioned myself as the lone priestess cutting my own path out of the darkness.
I did a lot of solo rituals I created myself and used items like flowers, candles, oil, inks and paper, and ritual knives. The ritual would often center on an art piece I would create while in sacred space; sometimes my partner and I performed ritual sigil cutting and utilized bloodplay and photography.
I often worked with a certain intention in mind, to create a current in my subconscious that might support me in my endeavor ─ not to achieve spooky supernatural results. Other rituals focused on celebrating the dark moon, the solstices and equinoxes, and Beltaine and Samhain.
Then I found Satanism in the style of the Satanic Temple ─ modern Romantic nontheistic Satanism. As I began to build a local Satanic community, I found myself at an intersection of many different worlds: people interested in the occult, individuals who were staunch atheists, concerned citizens worried about the encroachment of theocracy, and Satanists from other traditions. I shifted my focus to community-building, and all my ritual efforts went to creating group ceremonies that would feel right to all our members.
As a leader, I felt I had to strike a balance to bring together people with such differing backgrounds, and I felt that anything too close to the occult might raise echoes of superstition and alienate those coming from a skeptical atheist or anti-theist background.
No longer was I practicing solo rituals. I started seeing my work in the community as an integral part of my sacred path, but I left behind those practices that I worried might confuse people curious about nontheistic Satanism.
It's been five years since I started tapering off my personal rituals. Enter Shiva Honey's excellent book on modern Satanic ritual, "The Devil's Tome." She has a beautiful way of bringing the reader a look at the psychological power of ritual. She uses scents, flowers, crystals, and other items (she usually makes these items herself and leads classes on it) yet the rituals were clearly nontheistic. She speaks in a personal, intimate way about her experiences with ritual and provides information on the effectiveness of ceremonies.
It took reading partway into the lavishly illustrated book for it to click into place with me. She suggested keeping something like a ritual journal, a "Tome," and suddenly I thought of the beautiful handworked leather binder with two dragons on the cover that I used throughout my years of corporate work and then the rest of my life, as a journal with replaceable pages. But I stopped using it around the same time as I stopped doing my own solo rituals. I found most of my Satanic work, the leadership and organization of the group, took place on the computer online.
The next day I got together my special binder and my special fountain pen (with blood-colored ink I mix myself), and put together the first ritual, the consecration of my Ritual Tome. I finally felt I had found "permission" from a role model in my Satanic religion to practice ritual in my own way, without worrying about how it might look.
It's only been two weeks, but I've done nine rituals. Each one is focused on a drawing I do on one page of the journal. I use flowers from our yard and my own blood during the rite. I light the candle and incense in front of the Baphomet statue on my Satanic altar, ring my bell and present the journal page, focusing on what I'm about to do. Then I finish the drawing and mark it with my blood. I can't believe how many I've been inspired to do.
My life is infinitely richer thanks to this new ritual awareness and practice. I feel in my bones I am finally following the sacred path I've yearned for all my life, working with ritual on a near-daily basis. I have a set daily routine I have to follow to help me cope with my chronic pain, but ritual allows me a break in my routine, because every night it's some different work, whether it's planning or performing a ritual, maintaining my ritual tools, gathering plant materials and feathers, and so forth.
It's given me new inspiration to work in other areas of my life, like my Satanic writing. It's engaged me with the world on a whole new level, and I am incredibly grateful to Shiva for publishing "The Devil's Tome." Thanks to her work, I've found that essential piece of my heart I didn't realize was missing all this time.
Lilith Starr is a Satanic writer and the author of "The Happy Satanist: Finding Self-Empowerment." She founded the Satanic Temple - Seattle Chapter in 2014 and served as its Chapter Head for four years.