|"Once again, we return."|
The Ritual is performed by Ananke for nearly six thousand years, since the times that pre-date the Recurrence. Given the discussion between her and her sister, it's purpose is to grant her some form of immortality, apparently by allowing her to reincarnate through the Maiden for another cycle, doing so continually for every Recurrence. However, it also seems to be used to ward off the Great Darkness.
In order to perform the Ritual, Ananke and Minerva need to take the heads of four gods. Although that isn't any apparent requirement to which gods have their heads removed for the Ritual, commentaries made by Minerva imply that the gods must be selected carefully. In order for the Ritual to work, all four heads must be in a perfect state. The living heads are self-susteining and conscious, and they must be sacrificed before the Recurrence ends.
It is also possible to finish the ritual with only three heads if the one performing it sacrifices their own head as the fourth. Albeit granting them the return in the next recurrence, they will spend the entire saeculum between the cycles in the Great Darkness, eventually being reborn at the beginning of the next recurrence and left with deep psychological effects as a result. This may have happened at least twice.
During 1923, Minerva collected the four heads and killed Ananke, finishing that cycle and performing the Ritual, in which she merely snapped her fingers counting to four, each number corresponding to a head. The heads were then burned into pink flames that enveloped Minerva, becoming an aura of bright energy around her body. Afterwards, her eyes became black with pink skulls, identical to the ones displayed by Persephone. She apparently grows into becoming the Ananke of the next cycle, implying that all Maidens of the Recurrence grow into Ananke eventually. Most of the Rituals used the head of a Persephone, since she is always fated to return by the end of the Recurrence and is apparently dangerous to her plans, with Ananke refering to her as "The Destroyer".
In order to take the heads she uses, Ananke sets up situations in which she is required to finish off a god to keep the order, thereby giving her the perfect chance to get heir heads. She does so by exploiting the weaknesses of some gods, sometimes using these weakness as a mean on itself, as she did to Tara. She also explores the conflicts within the Pantheon.
The first head Ananke collected was Persephone's, as usual. She did this in 1922, which means that her head was taken more than an year before the events that finished the Recurrence in the next year.
When the murder mystery of Lucifer's mansion started, Ananke, well aware of the plan concocted by Set and Baal in order to get rid of the masses and save the art by sacrificing four gods, in a ritual similar to her own, Ananke decided to take advantage of this and took the Morrigan's head, blaming them so to give Susanoo, Amaterasu and Amon-Ra, who had just discovered of this through Minerva, enough reason to go after them.
After the battle at the lighthouse, Minerva, searching the water for survivors, noticed Set was still alive and quickly took her head before the other gods could see. After Ananke disposed of Woden and Mimir, they feigned a suicide pact in order to undo the damage the other gods did. After letting Amaterasu and Amon-Ra kill themselves, Minerva shielded herself, which subsequently allowed Susanoo to live. After deceiving him into coming closer, she took his head.
Later, when the time for the Ritual to be performed came, Ananke displayed doubts. Minerva, incapable of convincing her otherwise, swiftly kills her and then performs the Ritual herself.
In this Recurrence, Ananke, which is apparently Minerva from the last Recurrence, decided to work by chance and kill Judge Holmes at Lucifer's trial to have her convicted of murder and arrested, setting the perfect stage for her rebellion. Although Lucifer accepted initially, Laura's attempts to prove her innocence ended up causing her to rebel, leading to a battle between gods that Ananke used as an excuse to claim her head under the pretense of an execution.
Later, she found usefulness in Baphomet's fear of death and lured him with the Prometheus Gambit, intending him to kill another god so to kill him in retaliation. After he attempted to kill the Norns, Ananke decided to move against him, but was prevented due to the Morrigan's intervention. Later, both he and Inanna, who had fought with him, realized Ananke's true intentions and found out the existence of a new goddess, Persephone. They stepped to Laura's home and prevented Ananke from taking her head. Angry at the interruption, Ananke saw more usefulness in letting Baphomet live, so she took Inanna's head instead.
Shortly after this, Tara, whom Ananke had helped to reach a breaking point, decided to kill herself, and Ananke assisted her in her suicide, taking her head instead and burning her suicide note, blaming Baphomet for the murder in order to drive the Pantheon against him even more. With a turn of events caused by Persephone's return, Ananke ended up being executed by Persephone for her actions, and Minerva had to work on her own to finish the Ritual. She attempted to use Sakhmet as the last head, but her head was left in a half, leaving it useless. Minerva comments her remaining choices are impossible before leaving the cave.
- Ananke collected Inanna's head to replace Persephone, whose claiming was interrupted by him and Baphomet. Her course of actions also imply that she meant to take the latter's head as well.
- Minerva attempted to collect Sakhmet's head. Although she succeeded in claiming her head, she just took half of it, leaving it useless to be used.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Issue 36
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Issue 34
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Issue 35
- ↑ Issue 19
- ↑ Issue 22
- ↑ In Issue 33, she states that, after Sakhmet's head was destroyed, her remaining choices were impossible.
- ↑ Issue 37
- ↑ In Issue 36, there are two Minervas shown collecting heads. Given the first one underwent this incomplete ritual, it's entirely possible the second one did as well.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Issue 5
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Issue 14
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Issue 13
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 1923
- ↑ During the entirety of Commercial Suicide, she blamed Baphomet for Inanna's death in order to turn the rest of the Pantheon against him, also blaming Laura's demise and, later, even Tara's.
- ↑ Issue 9
- ↑ Issue 10
- ↑ Issue 20
- ↑ Christmas Annual
- ↑ Issue 33