Notes on Ritual #1

Yesterday night we performed our first ever public ritual. I have a lot of feelings that are hard to put into words. I will try, because I feel that it is crucial for me to share a few thoughts on our process and the way it affected me. The “ritual problem” was always a huge concern for me. I often felt that our work as Gruppo di Nun so far has been extremely abstract and theoretical, closer to an exercise in applied philosophy than to actual ceremonial magic. This idea has been strengthened by essentially two things. On one hand, I was always scared to speak truly about the nature of our work. Our writings have been accused of being just another elitarian expression of bored bourgeois youth that forms restricted cult-like circles instead of engaging with mass movements of insurrection. While we wait for the proletarian bullets to come for us, we partake in decadent masquerades and write convoluted pseudo-poetry, segregated from the outside world like the fucking court of Versailles. The fear of this moral guillotine has brought us to hide behind layers of weak political excuses and ironic detachment, refusing to be what we were always supposed to be. On the other hand, throughout the development of this project we have encountered several people who practice, or claim to practice, “actual” ritual magic. I have also collected a wide range of garbage books on practical magic coming from a large spectrum of traditions and approaches. None of that has ever been even remotely useful. A single page of The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila has helped me more than hundreds and hundreds of pages of the stupidly elaborate depersonalization tutorials that so many consider to be so crucial to practical magic. I find the obsession of western magic with meditation practices to be the perfect expression of its sick anxiety to discipline the body. I have also been told that actual ritual work can never be public, and that a line needs to be drawn between performances and ritual practices. This contrasts with my own experience of public occasions of spiritual engagement, ranging from street demonstrations to music festivals. I feel that this need to keep ritual spaces segregated from the social sphere, diminishing the worth of public rituals as mere performances, hides a fear of mass demonic invasion.

For me, ritual practice has been mostly an exercise of letting go. When I first approached the idea of writing a ritual, I wanted to feel that same brutal energy vibrating through my entire body that I feel when I listen to loud techno. I wanted to be shaking with sorrow and anger; an anger so ancient and radical that it was beyond anything human. I wanted my ego to be scared to death of the beast roaring inside myself. I wanted to be so deeply in love that my insides were torn apart. I wanted to be hurt. Hours of visualizing fucking candle flames are worth nothing compared to one single instant of bright ecstatic agony. Music was inevitable. The most primal and fundamental mode of being is vibrational. I wanted to feel like a puppet to the desperate beat of the atoms in my body. I feel like a lot of contemporary performative ritual practices rely strongly on the use of written text or synthetic voices. As women and marginalized people, we are often not used to speak our anger. Thinking about this I remembered about the speeches delivered by Non Una Di Meno activists on the last International Women’s Day. I was struck by the strength of their honesty and the courageous beauty of their imperfection – regional accents, shaking voices, words broken by tears of anger and joy. Being able to feel the powerful fragility of my own voice as I read through the words of our ritual was one of the most intense experiences I have had in a long time. The process of writing our ritual text was excruciating. I have spent the last two weeks barely eating and sleeping like shit. I experienced the whole development of this project as a long and painful ego sacrifice, culminating in last night’s performance. I had to force myself to write something that was true to our theoretical background but still somewhat personal and emotional. In this, working in close contact and communion with like-minded people that were willing to pour their own blood on the altar was crucial to the realization of our intention. The feeling of pain still lingers on, and hopefully it will continue to fuel our creative energies until the vibrations that we have raised will have dissipated.

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