Reclaiming Quarterly Web Features Back Issues Subscribe Ads/Submissions Site Index Reclaiming Home

Cleansing the Instruments of Torture

A ritual conducted by Z Budapest

by Bat

On the evening of July 6, at a San Francisco exhibition of medieval torture instruments, Zsuzsanna Budapest led an eclectic group of fourteen Witches in a cleansing ritual. The ritual was at the request of the curators of the exhibition in San Francisco.

On the day of the ritual, I arrived at the exhibit a couple of hours early to dispel my emotion sufficiently to be able to function as a drummer. There was a lot of pure evil and despair in that space before the ritual began.

After grounding exercises led by Zsuzsanna, the drummers took their place near the center of the room and the other ten priestesses formed a circle around the "audience."

The ritual began with loud lamentations from the priestesses and the invitation by them to the members of the audience to "Name your pain." This was followed by Elemental purifications, Earth to the tune of a chant specifically written for this ritual, Air by circling the room and infusing all of the instruments with the fragrances of frankincense and myrrh, Water by sprinkling the instruments and audience with lightly salted water, using Lilies of the Nile from Zsuzsanna's own garden, and Fire by having the priestesses light candles to encircle the room. We then all called the tortured spirits trapped within the instruments out to freedom to the chant "We are the Old People, We are the New People," to which we exited the room.

The ritual felt triumphantly effective, and in the three times that I have been back, the heavy spiritual miasma seemed to have been dissipated. Curator Pina Piccolo said that "it was very good in liberating the place from a feeling of heaviness and despair."