Ritual and Meditation;Tattoos for the soulPosted: June 13, 2015
I was was intending to write a post about Satanic ritual since Sophie and I have recently undergone an intensive phase of that for our own development and training. While thinking aloud I came up with the phrase “Ritual and meditation can be like getting a tattoo for the soul”. That made perfect sense to us, but we are both heavily inked women. Perhaps it is not so clear to everybody else, so that is where I will begin.
I think all people like to change the way they look from time to time to express different things. It can be as simple as wearing a suit for work and then changing into something more comfortable when you get home. We all choose clothes, jewellery and even perfume to express our moods and our status. We may also visit the hair stylist to effect a slightly longer and more substantial change in our appearance. But all those changes are temporary and can fairly easily be changed. Tattoos are much more permanent. Okay there are some people who have a small tat or two as a fashion statement and who might be prepared to have them removed at some time, but for those of us that are seriously into tattoos it is largely the idea of permanence that is the attraction; that and the art itself. All my tattoos are symbols of things that are or have been important to me. They are markers of my life and while my views and feelings may change over time, each of my tattoos represents something that makes me, or has made me, the person I am. They cannot and should not be changed, they are part of me and all that makes me, me. And each time the needle grinds a new piece of art into my skin it is a sign of acceptance of and commitment to a particular aspect of my life. Not a mood, not a fashion statement, but a marker of who I am. But of course it does also mark change; where there was once pure skin there will forever be a mark. Even with laser removal (perish the thought!) my skin would never look or be the same again.
And so we move on to ritual and meditation. I will begin by saying that in my view Ritual is itself an elaborate form of meditation. So I will start with meditation…
Some people say that they can’t meditate, but in fact everybody does it naturally. Listening to music, driving a car and watching TV are all forms of meditation. Meditation in it’s simplest form is stilling the mind or concentrating the mind. We all do it. Those of us who do it regularly as an art, as part of our lifestyle or spiritual practice just do it in a more intensive and deliberate way. I started in my teens while exploring Buddhism then when I became a Wiccan and a witch I found that meditation of various types is essential in witchcraft and is practised by many types of pagan. As a Satanist witch I of course still find meditation essential.
Meditation is essentially mental training. It is a way to control your thoughts rather than be controlled by them. It literally increases the power of your mind; and that power can be used in many ways. I’d say it can be useful for anyone. There are hundreds of techniques and I’d advise anybody who hasn’t found a technique that works for them to keep looking and keep trying.
Ritual can be seen to a large degree as a meditative technique; a way of training and tuning your mind. Again, it is something we all do naturally. Most of us have everyday rituals we don’t think much about;- how we wake ourselves up, get washed and dressed, the order in which we tie our laces, the order in which we pack, the first things we do when we get home at night. All of these subtle little rituals prepare us for what we need to do. They put us in the right frame of mind… The kind of rituals used in religions and shamanistic traditions are just much more elaborate and deliberate extensions of these natural tendencies. Religions have been doing very overt and pro-active psychology since centuries before the term was invented! From lighting candles and burning incense in temples and churches, singing hymns and dressing in special costumes to the intricate way in which spiritual traditions mark birth, marriage and death and all the rites of passage in between; religious communities and their leaders have been subtly massaging the minds of their congregations for a very long time. In this particular respect Satanism is not much different except that for us it is a very knowing and totally voluntarily activity. Anton LaVey very quickly recognised the potential psychological effects of ritual with all of its drama. Thus many Satanists individually and in groups use ritual as a powerful tool for self awareness and self development. It can be seen as a magical (meaning wilful and powerful) process or tool for transformation of the self. And others.
Satanic ritual is certainly not to everybody’s taste. Obviously it is designed for practising Satanists who are committed to the Left Hand Path. It does emphasise things which society often classifies as dark or forbidden, there may be images and icons of blood and death, of demons and dark forces, there can be sexual references and activity, and there are words and actions which would be seen as blasphemous by many. Last but not least of course there is the presence of Satan as our archetype and inspiration. (However, just in case there are any new readers to this blog, we do not break any laws, no animals are harmed and nothing happens to any participant without their full consent). Satanic ritual is set out as a psychological drama and there are specific goals for each such drama. To outsiders I would guess there are many elements of Satanic ritual which would be unsettling or even frightening. I understand that. Parts of some of these rituals are designed to provoke fear and other dark emotions even among the Satanists gathered. However to Sophie, myself and other Satanists the arena of ritual is a time and place of comfort and empowerment (even if that does sometimes involve confronting things which worry or frighten us).
Earlier this year Sophie and I were facing some doubts and confusion about the way ahead. Once we had given these matters some thought and come to some conclusions we arranged to take part in some quite intensive rituals in order to reinforce and consolidate the decisions we had already made, to purge any doubts so that they could not sap our energy, and to generally reenergise ourselves and our commitment to Satanism. This process worked extremely well.
And so, to come back to what I was explaining at the beginning, these rituals and others we will participate in can be seen as tattoos on our soul. I don’t think this concept is unique to us because we are Satanists. I think most forms of voluntary ritual can be seen as spiritual tattoos.