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Writing your name in blood
by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2003, 2005 by Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

Traditionally, a pact with the Devil is supposed to be signed with one's own blood. Many real-life theistic Satanists have borrowed this traditional folkloric idea for use in dedication rites and self-initiation rituals. Is the use of blood truly important, or even helpful?

Some say yes, some say no. And, among those who say yes, some say that the amount of blood does not matter. Some say it's OK if you aren't capable of jabbing yourself hard enough to get enough blood to write your entire name.

For some people, perhaps indeed such things do not matter. But, for me personally, when I did my dedication, it was important that I rise to the challenge of extracting enough of my own blood to write my entire name. I saw this as a test of my determination.

In a dedication ritual, it does indeed make sense to include a ritualized challenge to one's determination, such as the challenge of extracting enough blood to write one's name. Likewise in a self-initiation ritual. (Note: I recommend that dedication rituals and preliminary self-initiation rituals be distinct. For more about dedication rituals vs. self-initation rituals, see Pacts and self-initiation.)

For those who feel as I do, I'll now present some practical tips on the use of blood in a ritual.

First, don't neglect your physical safety. Here are some recommended safety precautions:

  1. If you haven't done this sort of thing before, use lancets.  Do not use a pin or a sewing needle. If you already happen to be experienced at drawing your own blood for whatever reason, then you may prefer to use a razor blade, an X-acto knife, a scalpel, or a syringe, but these options are definitely not recommended for beginners. Lancets are the safest option, by far, and can be obtained at the larger drugstores and surgical supply stores. (You don't have to be a doctor or other medical professional to buy them. They are used regularly by people with diabetes, for example.)

    The main advantage of using a lancet is that it stops you from jabbing yourself too deeply. So, you can jab hard as you need to without worry about injury. Another advantage is that lancets come in sterile packages.

    When you do your ritual, have a package of lancets handy -- not just one lancet -- because each lancet should be used only once, whereas you'll probably need to try more than once. Unless you're already very experienced at this sort of thing, jabbing yourself hard enough will require quite a bit of willpower. You'll probably need several tries before you manage to get more than a tiny droplet of blood.

  2. Before the ritual, wash your hands -- preferably with disinfectant soap. (It is a standard magick practice to bathe or otherwise cleanse oneself before a ritual anyway, so you might as well wash your hands while you're at it.) And, if you will be cutting yourself with some implement other than a lancet, sterilize that implement.

If you've never done this before, get at least a little practice using lancets on yourself before you use them in a ritual. Otherwise, you'll most likely end up feeling very awkward during the ritual.

Next question:  How do you write your name?

Ideally, use a dry calligraphy pen. If you are unable to obtain a calligraphy pen, you can improvise with a either feather or a Q-tip with one end cut off. The bottom end of the feather, or the cut end of the Q-tip, should be cut at an angle, to maximize the amount of blood that will adhere to it.

If you drew blood using a lancet, and especially if you are inexperienced at this sort of thing, then you'll probably need to dip your pen in blood multiple times. You'll be able to write your entire name, but probably not all at once. In other words, you won't end up with a nice-looking signature. (You might still have this problem even if you drew blood by more copious means than using a lancet, because, even in that case, getting enough of the blood onto your writing implement is a skill requiring some practice too.)

So, instead of trying to sign your name in blood, I would suggest printing your name in blood and then signing your name using plain old ink.

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