One of the many things I’m asked as a Satanist is, if I don’t believe in a literal Satan, why do I participate in ritual magick? Why perform a destruction ritual if you don’t believe anyone is going to be destroyed by it? What is Black Mass, if not devil worship?
The thing is, ritual does not require supernatural force to work. Everybody participates in ritual, be they Satanist, Christian, Muslim, or devout follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Ritual is defined as “any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner” (Dictionary.com). One’s morning routine is very often ritualistic, down to the number of times they hit snooze before they finally make it out of bed. Most people go through their daily rituals without even thinking about them.
But Satanic rituals are not the same kinds of rituals as normal, daily rituals (though it is possible to transform some of those daily rituals into more ceremonious rituals and can be beneficial sometimes). Satanic rituals are showy, like a performance. Anton LaVey called the rituals he wrote psychodramas for a reason. Satanic rituals aren’t magick in the sense that we are bending reality to our will through supernatural force. Most Satanists don’t believe in that kind of magick (some of them are kind of dicks about it, too; I try not to be, considering it wasn’t that long ago that I still believed in the power of prayer, which doesn’t put me in a position to judge harshly). Satanic ritual is best described as what I like to call applied psychology.
A destruction ritual isn’t a curse, it’s a release of anger and aggression in a safe and harmless manner. A sex ritual could be an expression of love, or a liberation. The Unbaptism Ritual that is becoming popular among members of The Satanic Temple is a formal rejection of the Christianity many of the participants were forced to grow up with. And the Black Mass is nothing more than a celebration of all that is Satanic: being the “other,” a thirst for knowledge, and defiance against the status quo.