The difference between a natural or common witchcraft ritual and a ceremonial magick ritual is that witchcraft rituals can be done minimally and do not need all of the fancy methods that ceremonial magick does. Ceremonial magick requires a specific process and ritual for the spell or channeling to activate entirely. Natural magick like astrology and alchemy based on nature worship is very different from ritual magick based on necromancy, occult beliefs, and channeling of spirits or entities. Ceremonial magick, also referred to as ritual magick, is ceremonies based on a particular goal, and the whole exchange is working to meet the goal. Not every ritual has to be ceremonial magick. Ceremonial magick is not just rituals encompassing witchcraft but is apart of many different occult doctrines.
When shortened, many ritual practices can still have the same magick effect, and witches enjoy making ritual processes to their chosen method without following any guidelines or procedure. Sadly the move towards short and sweet rituals has made ceremonial magick less desirable and unnecessary for modern practitioners. The ceremonial magick is dying, and it is time for us witches to bring back the extensive and Avant guard rituals so the practice can stay alive plus, it is fun to dress up and be classically magickal sometimes.
Ceremonial magick originated in the late 16th century with Renaissance magick and the European occultists developing methods still used today in ritual magick. Many ancient texts designed around ceremonial magick included the Magnus, the Science of Spirits, and the Great Secret or Occultism Unveiled, can give more insight into the process of the ceremonial magick ritual. Ceremonial magick became popularized by the Golden Dawn’s Hermetic Order and Aleister Crowley. They drew on philosophical and cult types of magick and laid the foundations for Wicca and many other modern spiritual practices. Ceremonial magick is not always based on witchcraft as it's more of invoking and controlling spirits, which can be apart of many types of occultism practice.
Ceremonial magick is still commonly practiced by Wiccans, Satanists, all types of covens, and those who are firm on doctrine and procedure. Solitary witches do not perform much ceremonial magick because they like to do things on their terms instead of based on coven guidelines. Also, ceremonies in the ritual magick take many different procedures which one witch cannot do on their own often. Ceremonial magick is planetary based and focuses on the seven planets of antiquity or the seven classic planets as the ritual’s primary energy source. All ceremonial magick gets grouped with black magick and other dark magic processes. The ceremony is not a primarily dark magick practice, even though many dark magick worshippers use ceremonial magick acts. The long robes and the masks can look a lot like what people think of a black mass. In reality, the black mass look and essence were from ceremonial magick practiced by Golden Dawn magickians and warped over the years to be associated with primarily dark magick. Satanists practice ritual magick, but the ritual is similar to a Golden Dawn ritual of a Wiccan ceremony as they all have different elements and beliefs.
The ceremonies of ceremonial magick based on the four quarters of the year are how the ritual is guided and consistently organized. Each of these seasonal quarters has core magickal archetypes associated with the different seasons, and the ceremonies are in correlation to spells and magick charge through these individual cycles. Ceremonial magick has fallen out of fashion because of the quick way people like to incorporate magick these days without large ceremonies in their rituals. Ceremonial magic can be very indoctrinated, and many witches have moved away from rigorous rule-based magick. The rules of practice in ceremonial magick are why many witches have moved away from Wicca as it's very rule-based, and many witches are tired of having to follow so many rules. Chaos magick has also made it easy to practice their type of magick with their guides and maybe not any regulations regarding how they wish to complete their rituals.
Many ritual magick practitioners feel like it is the most accurate form of magick because it shows If you're willing to do a long extended ritual, you are serious about the magick and have the dedication to it. The commitment to getting fancy supplies when starting this path helps establish the magician as a doer instead of a practitioner to sit back and be an observer of the craft. Ceremonial magick requires a robe to show dedication to acquire a proper ritual robe and then maintaining said robe as if it is any other magick tool. Sadly, it is also an item judged and analyzed if not pristine. If the practitioner has never been a part of a group, they could find comfort in the ritual, mostly when done with a coven. Ritual magicians are also required to keep up on a specific set of tools and make sure they are always bringing them into the ceremony. Much ritual magick takes planning and shows up, which shows a magic practitioner’s dedication.
Ceremonial magick, referred to as high magick, is thought to awaken parts of the brain and the psyche that casual practitioners supposedly do not use, called low magick. High magic requires connecting with a higher self, whether it's a god or goddess, the Kundalini, or a higher being in the self. The higher magick belief creates a royal class within the witch community, and these practitioners are so much more connected to the source. The higher and lower magick belief is an elitist belief structure and a big reason why many witches have moved away from this practice since it is too strict for witches to live by and have a daily routine as an extensive ritual.
A downside of ceremonial magicians or ritual magicians is that they can become very egotistical, thinking that their magick and connection to the source is much greater than those who do not practice ceremonial Magic. They believe casual practitioners are not genuinely practicing, and they will also look down upon those that practice natural magic. Ceremonial magick can be a fun process to learn for those who have never been apart of an extensive ritual with many energies involved in the magick. Ritual magick also brings together a coven who will enjoy getting all of their magick in tune with each other solidifying the coven as a solid unit. The ritual can be the most exciting part of ceremonial magick as it brings together many magick practitioners at once for a collective goal.