Pagan rituals known in the course of history are diverse. One of the oldest pagan rituals were performed in the famous temples of ancient Egypt. Egyptian priests were a powerful social group, whose level of knowledge was significantly superior to that of ordinary Egyptian society. Sacrifices and sermons performed quietly or with the accompaniment of cheering, singing and drumming were typical for Egyptian paganism.
Rituals in the ancient Greek world were mainly performed as sacrifices. Hecatomb was a sacrifice to the gods of 100 cattle; however, in practice, as many as 12 animals could be sacrificed. This ritual is colorfully described in the Iliad, poem of Homer. Sacrifices were common in many other pagan religions. For example, Vikings had a blood sacrifice ritual called Blot. Occasionally, according to historians, human sacrifices were also made. This was especially characteristic for American Indian cultures, such as Aztecs, Incas, Maya civilization.
Another form of pagan rituals is an initiation. Initiation rite is performed not only in pagan tradition, but also in Christianity and Judaism or during formal admission to some community or society. Many tribes in Africa, Oceania and other parts of the world still have initiation rituals, which mark an entrance into adulthood. In some cases, these rituals are quite severe and associated with trials and physical pain, caused, for example, by circumcision without anesthesia.
Contemporary pagan rituals have more spiritual character than a form of sacrifice or other physical forms. They are performed in both a public space and private houses. Meditation, various forms of “altered states of consciousness” are invoked. Such elements as drumming, chanting, singing, dancing can be used during neospiritual and neopagan rituals. Religious meditation and ecstatic conditions often are a source of certain pagan beliefs, according to some scholars and researchers. Sometimes, certain degree of play is incorporated into rituals, rather than a complete seriousness and fervor. Public rituals are connected to the pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated for centuries. Among them are well-known calendar events, marking the summer solstice and winter solstice as well as the start of spring and the harvest.