What is a destruction ritual?

One of the most popular categories of ritual practiced by members of The Satanic Temple is the destruction ritual. In these rituals, the participants perform the ritualized destruction of an object that is connected to or associated with a failure, a toxic relationship, a traumatic experience, or any other source of negativity that they would like to psychologically free themselves from. In some variations of the ritual, participants will be simply asked to write something on a slip of paper that will be ritually burned.

Minister of Satan Lillith Starr describes destruction rituals in her book Compassionate Satanism. She encouraged participants to have some fun with the act of destruction itself: pick an object for performing the destruction, such as a baseball bat or a hammer, and by all means be prepared with precautions such as protective eyewear, or even a tarp if appropriate. In the variant of the destruction ritual she describes, the participants all repeat a phrase as they destroy their chosen objects: “I do not belong to these things/These things belong to me!”

In the 2017 article How to perform a Satanic Destruction ritual, former TST Chapterhead Ali Kellog writes this deeply personal account of the emotional catharsis of the destruction ritual:

Then one year, we started bringing physical objects to destroy. Things that bore some kind of sentimental value we hung onto, but in reality just sat in a box in a closet somewhere and caused us negative emotions when we remembered they were there. We felt by hanging onto these objects, we were holding onto the hope of a failed relationship or the improvement of someone’s character, or a good memory we would cling to like this object was a life raft, but all it did was hurt us. My friend had a box of these creepy ceramic dogs her abusive grandfather gave her every year for her birthday. Another friend had an engagement ring from his ex fiancée that cheated in him. I had an antique children’s tambourine my ex gave me that I couldn’t let go of for some reason, as well as a bunch of photos and letters. We took turns smashing our objects with hammers, knives, and throwing the pieces into the fire. Afterwards, I felt a sense of empowerment I had never felt before, and an epiphany. The relationship was done, but I had let it still continue to hurt me by giving power to this stupid little plastic tambourine and a box of paper. By hanging onto them, I allowed the toxicity to seep into my everyday and gave something inanimate delusional purpose. We all cried, hugged, and stood around the fire silently watching the shards of our bad memories burn in the fire.

Ministers of Satan will often include destruction ritual elements into other rituals they perform, or tailor destruction rituals to specific occasions. For example, Shiva Honey created Speramus Meliora as a ritual to let go of the grief and tragedy that so many people experienced in 2020. Minister Joe Dee has designed a gender affirming ritual that includes destruction ritual elements in order to symbolize letting go of the harm and oppression of having an incorrect identity imposed upon you. Members have adapted the destruction ritual concept for everything from ritually reinforcing New Years resolutions to celebrating their escape from toxic relationships.

It is important to note that some Satanic traditions use the term Destruction Ritual in a different way from The Satanic Temple: for some Satanists, a “destruction ritual” is more akin to a “curse” through which the participant in the ritual symbolically attempts to cause harm or ill fortune for another person. This is not what a destruction ritual is in the traditions of The Satanic Temple. We use ritual to empower ourselves and those around us, not to wish or cause harm for others.

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