I recently had the unique opportunity to look into the subject of breaking pacts (contracts) made with spiritual entities. I was contacted by a friend who was doing her best to help a young man out of an unfortunate situation. He had joined a thestic Satanic group, who had him perform a dedication ceremony to Satan as the very first step of the path. He was led to believe he would receive the usual in exchange for his soul: money, women, power. He got none of these things, and soon found himself under spiritual attack and/or oppression.
I call this a unique situation, because it really isn’t something I encounter in my usual circles. I know of nothing in the Old Magick that parallels “selling your soul” to a spirit. At least not outside of the Faustian grimiores and the American crossroads tradition – both of which appear to be fairly isolated cases with no parallel in other traditions. (Nor, for that matter, any ideas on getting out of such a contract once you’re in it!)
There are, of course, plenty of examples of personal dedication to a deity or patron – which could be interpreted as giving oneself to the deity – but that becomes a religious thing. Much as it was for this theistic Satanic group…
Meanwhile, no tradition I know of – from the Sumerians to the Solomonic grimoires to Santeria – would allow such a thing as selling or giving oneself to a spirit. One can enter agreements – offering X, Y, and/or Z to the spirit in exchange for work done. One can even demand oaths of loyalty from the spirits who will serve you as familiars. But never do these things amount to trading your soul!
At no time are you to allow a spirit to gain control of you, and to allow it is to fail as a conjurer. Instead, across the board, spirits are fed so they will work for us. And, if a spirit fails to produce results, the conjurer simply dismisses it and refuses to feed it again. (And there are various ways of disposing of objects inhabited by familiar spirits.)
Taking all of this into account, I suspect the concept of “selling your soul” is entirely Christiain in origin – and likely caught up in anti-Pagan propoganda. The silly idea that a conjuror “worships” or gives himself over to the spirits he summons was propagated by early Church fathers, and is still held by many people today. The Faustian and “Man in Black” crossroads traditions probably followed naturually from there.
Since “selling your soul to Satan” appears to be a strictly Christian invention, then perhaps they know best how to break such a pact. In The Book of Black Magic (p. 262-264), A.E. Waite outlines a pact-breaking ceremony found in a Manual of Exorcisms published in 1678. It is intended for use by an exorcist, thereby suggesting that a pact with Satan can only be broken by an “official” representative of God:
The following formal process [is] for forcing the Demon to return any writing which constitutes an agreement with him:–
“O most merciful God, Whose Power hath no limit, Whose dominion is supreme over all beings, so that nothing can possibly be estreated from Thy rule by apostasy; behold, we have sinned against Thee, we have provoked Thy most just wrath, when we have failed to obey Thy commands, above all when., forsaking Thy rule and Thy friendship, we have abjured Thee and have consorted with the impious demons, nor yet contented with Thy denial, have bound ourselves in writing to those demons, surrendering the document of our voluntary obligation against Thee into their custody. But Thy mercies aye without number, O Lord of loving-kindness, and it is Thine to spare and to Pardon; look, therefore, with compassion upon this Thy creature, who, having formerly denied Thee and given himself in writing to the demons, but now, having returned to himself by the help of Thine infinite goodness, doth abhor his impiety, doth desire to be restored unto Thee his true Lord, and to be received with contrite heart into Thy favour. We know, O Lord, that a contrite and humble heart Thou wilt not despise, nor can any writing be an impediment in the way of Thy mercy; we beseech Thee, therefore, that, by the abundance of Thy clemency, not only may the heinousness of this sin be blotted out with the Blood of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, but that the demon, by the word of Thy Power, may be compelled to restore the deed and obligation and delivery, lest he glory in his tyranny and Pretend to any right over the man whom we pray to be delivered through Thy Son from his bonds. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, &c.”
The propitiation of offended Deity is followed by a citation of the demon who is required to disgorge his prey.
“I exorcise thee, O impious Satan, who, when thy power has passed away, dost still pretend to impose a tyrant yoke on man. I exorcise thee by Jesus Christ, Who came into this world for the salvation of sinners; I conjure thee to remove thy yoke immediately from this creature, who, deceived by thy wiles, formerly delivered himself unto thee. Abandoning thee henceforth, he commits himself to the Divine mercy, seeking His service unto Whom he alone is owing, Who also promises the reward of eternal life to those who follow Him. I exorcise thee by the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, by which the deed of judgment against us hath been blotted out, so that when Jesus receiveth the sinner into His favour, thou shalt dare not to advance anything against him, and shalt not fail to restore the deed by which this creature bound himself unto thee, the same being now cancelled by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Hear, therefore, accursed Satan, who art powerless over a servant of God, when, encouraged by his true Lord, he turneth unto another service; in vain dost thou boast of this deed; I command thee to restore it in the name of the Lord, as a Proof before the whole world that when God receiveth a sinner, thou hast no longer any Yule over his soul. I abjure thee, by Him who expelled thee from thy stronghold, bereft thee of the arms which thou didst trust in and distributed thy spoils. Return therefore this deed, whereby this creature of God foolishly bound himself to thy service; return it, I say, in His name by Whom thou art overcome; when thy Power has come to nothing, presume not longer to retain this useless document. By penitence already hath this creature of God restored himself to his true Lord, spurning thy yoke, hoping in the Divine mercy for defence against thine assaults, and assisted by the Most Holy and Glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, through whose intercession he shall obtain from Jesus Christ, His Son, that which he himself is not worthy to expect. Through the same Christ our Lord.”
Whether this process was supposed to insure the visible and material return of the incriminating document, or, failing this, was held to cancel it formally, does not certainly appear and will matter little…
In both parts of this rite, there seems to be an underlying concept that Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross supersedes any contract the victim may have made with a demon. This makes sense to me if the victim really and truly believes/means what is being stated in the prayers. It also occurs to me that it would be just as good, or better, to seek out a Church (Orthodox or Catholic) and undertake their conversion process. It involves exorcism, baptism (cleansing) and the establishment of a new contract that would supercede any previous pacts.
All of that is fine for someone who has no problem with converting to Christianity. And that is probably not a far stretch for someone who believes in “selling your soul to Satan” in the first place. However, in our case of the young man seeking help, this was not the proper solution. Thus, I set out to discover how he could best dissolve his pact with Satan and move on.
As it turned out, he had several things working in his favour. First, the Satanic church he joined admitted in their writings that one could break the pact at any point one wishes. (It included ominous warnings that Satan would leave you to your enemies forever and you could never come back. But, even still, a way out was included right there in the fine print!)
Secondly, he never received the money, power and woman he expected – which means the pact was null and void in any case. Still, he did dedicate himself to a deity and that would have to be addressed.
Finally, this person had (for some reason) chosen to call upon Satan as “Samael.” This was good news because Samael can be approached through the Solomonic system as an Archangel rather than an Archdemon. And I knew just how to go about doing that. ;)
The following is the technique I prescribed for him to dissolve his pact. This is rather specific to Samael – using timing, incense, colors and offerings sacred to Mars - though it could be modified to work with any spirit. In fact, tt can be used to respecfully dissolve any agreement you’ve made with a spirit, even if you haven’t gone so far as to offer yourself in the deal:
- Set up an altar or table, facing east or facing Mars. A red cloth covering is preferable, but a white one will do and black will also work.
-On the altar, place a red seven-day candle, a coal-burning censer and incense made of tobacco (1 prt), cinnamon (1/4 prt) and crushed red pepper (1/8 prt). (Go light on the pepper! And be VERY sure to burn only a little at a time! DO NOT inhale it directly! In large quantity, or if you add too much red pepper, it is like tear gas!)
-Also on the altar, place the original contract along with a food offering. Foods sacred to Samael are called for: Fresh hot peppers of various kinds (especially red), red meat (fully cooked! – nothing rare, no blood left running!), rum and cigars. You can even put some iron on the altar – such as railroad spikes, nails, or an iron tool.
-He should also place a Talisman of Samael in the center of the altar. Use the sigil from the Heptameron (or Magical Calendar), and I’m sure you or ****** are more than capable of helping him make that. (At this point I wouldn’t have him attempt any complex consecrations.) [Author's note: If you happen to know how to properly consecrate such a talisman, then by all means do so.]
-Finally, he must compose a prayer to Samael – worded however he wants. It should simply explain that he made the dedication without understanding all the facts, and that he feels it was disrespectful on HIS (not Samael’s!) part to make such a dedication without knowing more about the entity in question. Mention that nothing requested has been fulfilled, and thus he would like to respectfully terminate the pact and learn more before proceeding further. It should also mention that he has brought an offering as a show of respect.
-Set all of this up on a Monday night – making sure to clean the room or area the altar is set in.
-At dawn on Tuesday morning, wash up and approach the altar. Light the candle and incense – and set the candle directly on top of Samael’s talisman in the center. Surround this with the offerings.
-Now hold the old contract and call Samael by name and by virtue of the signed contract. Then read the prayer I outlined above, finishing with mention of the offerings made. At this point put more incense on the censer. Light the cigar, then draw smoke from it and blow it onto the altar five times. Then place what remains of the cigar on the plate with the other offerings.
-Finally, tear up the old contract and burn it in the censer. Once done, offer thanks to Samael and leave. The candle should be allowed to completely burn out (should take about five days), and the offerings should be left there about the same length of time. After the candle burns away, take all the offerings, the ashes from the censer and (if he wants) the talisman of Samael. These can be thrown and poured out into a running stream or river, or left at a crossroads.
If he does this and still suffers spiritual oppression or attacks, then we’ll have him do an Uncrossing to clear out any dreck he’s picked up along the way. I have instructions on my blog, so let me know if you need them, too. :)