Ritual and Ceremonial Magic
Ceremony implies grand occasion, one that is unusual or spectacular in some way, and is understood to create bonds or fusions of Thought or Energy. A marriage ceremony, for instance, is considered a mating of Intent and Ideal, and is perceived as a hallmark acknowledgment and celebration of that expression.
The ritual that might be applied at a function of marriage ceremony might be the exchange of vows, or the frithgard (the circle created by the Priest or Priestess of the ceremony) that encloses positive energy, and shuns that energy not beneficial or appropriate to the intent of the ceremony to be performed.
Rituals serve purpose in the third dimension to create the foundations of portals receptive to Creative Energy. Rituals, applied correctly, serve to create the conditions in physical Time and Space that simply allow the opportunity of Divine manifestation.
Thus, rituals are not the end expression or result of Creation; rituals are the physical acts, combined with Intent, that precede Ceremonial magic. Rituals are simply a process of preparation that sets up the conditions by which Magic can be performed, translated, and manifested.
One who performs rituals without ceremony is simply conducting some interesting acts of configuration and placement. These configurations do not create; nor do they manifest. The same can be said of invoking verbal "spells"; this has the interesting effect of creating vacuums of energy with unfocused Intent.
The negative effect of those vacuums is that persons of lesser Intent but stronger Wills can easily manipulate those vacuums to their own purpose, and this is what happens when ritual magic, rather than ceremonial magic, goes haywire, and backfires on the original parties of ritual magic.
All magic, whether ritualistic or ceremonial, must rightly include a closure of the circuit that is created by the invocation of Creative Intent. What this means is that anyone who is attempting to create must understand that to create, they must open a portal. The portal must be sealed with Divine Intent, and the creation that is visualized must also be sealed with Divine Intent. For apprentice magicians, it is necessary to assume this responsibility of protection for Humanity, Earth, and the Divine Plan.
Until Mastery of Form is achieved and attainable in the third dimension, it is necessary that all practicing Wizards and Magicians learn to bathe their creative Intent through the shield of Right Action, Intent, and Divine Manifestation.
The mage who wishes to participate in Ceremonial magic - that which manifests Divinity into the third dimension - must learn to focus his ritual Intent, and to project that Purpose to his own Higher Self, in partnership with Creator, so that he only creates that which ought to be manifested, in Harmony with Group Consciousness, and also safeguard against those creations which do not serve Group Consciousness.
It is that Alignment with the Higher Self that overshadows the ritual expression and transforms that into ceremonial magic, that which is created through Intent of the Soul.
Ritual magic, as expressed in its lower form, tends to be expressed as separative acts or attempts to create that which only serve the individual. This category of action would be those who attempt to use potions, candles, tantric sex, and other material and alchemical substances to manipulate other humans, or to create situations that only benefit the user.
The fallacy of ritual magic used as exploitation ought to be self-apparent; aside from the fact that artificial magic, incantations and spells are only effective in relation to the Wills of the people they attempt to affect. For those who attempt to trick or subvert another person to "fall in love with them", we ask: Do you really want the artificially created love of a person who is not inherently or Divinely attracted to you?
Such rituals are not performed out of any Divine need to serve Humanity or Creator; they are simply egoistic attempts to manipulate and exploit Humanity, through its lower levels of expression, in the vain hope that a minor link can later be exaggerated or manipulated into a link of apparently greater importance.
Thus, the individual who attempts to create a false paradigm finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to continually reestablish and recreate that false paradigm in order to keep the desired Creation in alignment with his own selfish plans. The ego-based person never tires of his own efforts to seem more important and effective than he really is, but this does not serve the Divine Plan, and it racks up the unpleasant aspect of negative karma.
In short, the person who attempts to control his own environment through the use of ritualistic magic is going to find himself enslaved by his own creations.
The same self-policing is necessary in Ceremonial Magic. To be an effective Magician creating in Service to the Divine Plan, the Mage must ask himself if his creation is correct, and must safe-guard his creations against external or false manipulations, to insure that all of the Wizard's energies contribute only to Divine expression, and so that his energy does not become karmically associated with the manifestation of his magic, or with the outward extrusions of that manifestation.
The conscientious Wizard will also be aware of his environment, and will take precautions to see that his Magic is not aligned laterally with other practicing magicians of dubious purpose. Thus, the Wizard that participates in group ritual or ceremony will be particularly conscious that the Overshadowing Presence of that Group is correctly aligned in Service to the Divine Plan.
A single Wizard who surrenders himself to the folly and ego of separatist mages will have the negative effect of creating negative karma, and imperfect manifestations of Group creation. Thus, the single Wizard needs to be quite conscious of his own purpose, and that of other practicing mages with whom he is associated.
A single Wizard can create effectively and in Harmony with other solitary Wizards, and that in fact would be an idyllic situation IF that Wizard can accurately measure his own Intent, and that of every member of the Group with which he associates himself.
Wizards do not believe in cults, nor do they feel comfortable in groups that are not truly democratic in thought, intent, or energy, and any appearance of power or domination struggle makes the Wizard truly uncomfortable. The only thing that scares a Wizard more is the idea of being alone, so it is an eternal dilemma which Wizards must face; appearance versus Truth, and illusion versus Wisdom.
The Wizard who truly wishes to initiate himself into the Realm of Adult Magic must rise above appearance, whether it is the appearance of ritual, or the appearance of form. The adult Wizard rises to the challenge of individuation, to recognize his own "I Am," and to embrace that I Am in Harmony with the Creative Source.
Thus, the Wizard who recognizes and operates through his own individuation and Soular recognition is initiated into the ranks of Solitary Mage, but is concurrently placed as an overshadowing Presence and Guide for the subplanar group consciousness.
The true test of Magic for every Wizard is to go through the symbolic energy of Fire, whereby they learn that they are One, and that they are All, simultaneously, and that separation between One and All is merely an Illusion, and the Wizard learns to create from the inside as well as the outside.
Ritual magic serves to enforce the expression
Ceremonial magic serves to enforce the expression of All.
The first lesson of Ceremonial Magic is to
learn to distinguish What Is.
The second lesson is to learn to envision or conceive What Might Be.
The third lesson is to learn that What Is, and What Might Be, are correct.
The fourth lesson is to learn how to affect What Is, or What Might Be.
The fifth lesson is to learn that this is correct.
This is the true nature of the pentagram.
The Wizard that learns these five principals will have transcended his need to use ritual magic, and can take his place as Ceremonial Magician.