In most Western Magickal Paths and Traditions, an action that is repeated to create or regain a certain "state of mind", or a co-ordinated series of events that ultimately leads to the accomplishment of a goal through means of magick and witchcraft. Historically, rituals have been designed for the purpose of maintenance and preparation.
Most pagan rituals are in preparation for some magickal operation, to show reverence to a deity or the arrival of some significant event (sabbat, esbat, handfasting, initiation, croning, birth, death, etc).
see also: RITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS; VISUALIZATION
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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