There are arguments both for and against the practice of ritual magic. One popular argument is that ritual is unnecessary-that if one has developed magical skills, then one can “do everything in one’s head,” or “on the astral.” Both these viewpoints contain a grain of merit. It is possible to bring about magical results without recourse to ritual procedures. This is known as EmptyHanded magic. Equally, one can enact rituals on the astral without any physical props or actions. However, such arguments often reveal more about their exponents than anything else. I often feel that arguments that you can do magic entirely in your head or on the astral reflect a certain contempt (or disassociation) from physical experience. The belief that the astral worlds are more refined, more ‘spiritual’ than dreary old 'mundane reality’ is attractive for some people, who tend to try on a kind of magical one-upmanship. Unfortunately, if your magical work has few connections with your physical circumstances, it is all to easy to drift off into the astral dream that you are a mighty magus-as Shakespeare put it, a “king of infinite space.”
For me, the crux of the matter is that ritual magic is fun. Moreover, ritual magic is a skill. A magical ritual is more than the sum of its parts. Ritual has elements of performance, and its own psychology; yet it would be a mistake to consider ritual to be merely psychodrama. Ritual can be broken down into the arrangement of sensory cues, voice technique, gesture, visualization, movement, symbolism, role-shifting and trance induction, yet it is more than any of this. Unaccountably, rituals, when performed, create an atmosphere-a space-in which something mysterious and wonderful may happen. If nothing else, ritual demonstrates how little we know of our potential, of ourselves, and the world through which we move.
— Prime Chaos, Phil Hine