A term derived from the Greek words ektos "interiorization" and plasm "substance," which was coined by Professor Charles Ricket, one-time president of the Society for Psychical Research. The term was to described the substance which is said to exude from the orifices of a psychic medium during a seance and is allegedly moulded by spirits to assume physical shapes.
Ectoplasm has been variously described as being a gelantinous, jelly-like and viscous, and is usually white in colour, and has an ozone-like smell. It has frequendy been photographed in such a form, but the existence of the substance has never been proved.
Spiritualists believe it to be the materialization of the astral body. Some mediums have reported they experienced pain when the ectoplasm was touched or exposed to light. Other samples of ectoplasm have been proven to be fakes when their composition was determined to have been egg-white, cheesecloth or wood pulp. In the late 19th Century many fraudulent mediums used muslin.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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