When Rituals Go Wrong

Cults, in spite of how in might seem, are not infallible.  Sometimes, rituals do go wrong.  The anxiety this causes victims is almost unbearable.

Consider the ‘normal’ injury.  Let’s say a child falls and scrapes his or her knee.  What happens?  Hopefully, a loving care-giver picks up the child, comforts him or her, and tidies up the injury.  The child won’t think about lasting changes.  The caregivers, however, will.  Even an injury as minor as a skinned knee will make a concerned caregiver worry for their little one.

In cult circumstances, though, people sometimes *pray* for lasting injuries.  At least in the cult that has damaged my life, marks are made on the skin to signify rituals and status.  Higher ups will have different markings from lower order members, for instance.  Those who have been through specific maturation rituals will have symbols on their arms.  Those marked for death will have symbols on their thighs.

So what happens when these rituals get bunged up?  They are repeated.  Cuts are deepened, burns are taken to higher degrees, and bones are re-broken.  For those living in cult environments, the knowledge that a ritual might be repeated until it is satisfactory is terrifying.  Going through rituals that leave permanent marks is hard enough.  When, due to their own healing mechanisms or the ‘help’ of well-meaning individuals, a cult member’s injuries heal better or before they were supposed to, they have to worry about when the ritual will be repeated and how much additional force will be applied.

Even more terrifying, rituals can be designed specifically around the individual who is healing too well.  In cult survivors with DID, insiders can even be brought in as helpers, destroying even the potential safety found in one’s mind.  Those on the outside pray for injuries to heal and fade in to the past.  Cult victims, on the other hand, sometimes pray for the marks to stay so that the never-ending rituals are finally done.

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