By Sally Hill and John Goodwin
Dissociation, Vol. 2, No. 1 (1989)
Abstract: Today patients who describe to a therapist fragmentary flashback like scenes of participation in satanic rituals face the same credibility problems that twenty years ago would have confronted a patient who was recounting scenes of sadistic incestuous abuse. Some clinicians have only one conceptual framework within which to place such material; they hear it as delusional.
This paper presents another set of descriptions of satanic rituals: those drawn by historians from pre-Inquisition primary sources. The aim is to assist clinicians in considering as one possibility that such a patient is describing fragmented or partially dissociated memories of actual events. As early as the fourth century elements of a satanic mass were well described: 1) a ritual table or altar; 2) ritual orgiastic sex; 3) reversals of the Catholic mass; 4) ritual use of excretions; 5) infant or child sacrifice and cannibalism often around initiation and often, involving use of a knife, and ritual use of; 6) animals; 7) fire or candles; and 8) chanting.
Extending the historical search from 400 to 1200 A.D. yields only a few new elements; 9) ritual use of drugs, and 10) of the circle, and 11) ritual dismemberment of corpses. Two clinical accounts of satanic rituals are compared with historical accounts. Ideally, the possibility that a patient had experienced actual involvement in some bizarre and abusive ritual would be one of many possible viewpoints explored in the therapeutic unraveling of such material.
Extract: Thus as early as the fourth century, we see documented certain elements of a “satanic” mass: 1) it is a secret feast; 2) a sexual orgy; 3) with reversals of elements of the Christian mass; and 4) the ritual use of blood, semen and other excretions; and 5) infant sacrifice and cannibalism (other Roman sources indicate this was an important part of initiation and that the initiate was made to wield the sacrificial knife).
Other early Roman and Christian documents indicate that animals – dogs, snakes and donkeys – were part of these rituals, as well as torches and the ritual use of total darkness. The chanting of the names of archons, a hierarchy of angels related both to Satan and the transcendent God, was also part of the Gnostic mass.