Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Rituals of Desecration

Blasphemous Ritual acts of deconsecration are common in Horror and Supernatural Fiction, frequently appearing at the point when mundane protagonists must choose whether or not to be seduced by the blandishments of a predatory Satan or Vampire or Witch or other proselytizer figure of evil. What they sense at this moment may be described as a linchpoint moment of Wrongness. In Fantasy texts, RODs are more likely to initiate a period of Thinning or at least to be a signal that thinning has started to occur, as in C S Lewis's The Last Battle (1956). In the backstory to Steven R Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, for instance, it is revealed that the good Magus Kevin has been tricked by the Dark Lord, Lord Foul, into participating in an ROD, in the belief that he must either assist in desecrating the Land or witness its total destruction. Almost all of M John Harrison's fantasies take place in the aftermath of some ROD, which is sometimes made explicit, but which can always be sensed. Tales of his in which the ROD is clearly present include: "The Incalling" (1978), an Urban Fantasy set in a decayed London whose protagonist apes a Magic rite which kills him, just as his surroundings are themselves thinning into entropic rigor mortis, and The Course of the Heart (1992), in which a man ritually rapes his daughter precisely to desecrate the act and her. [JC/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.