When we create rituals, we define a separate condition, a special state of being within which our intentions, our aspirations and our ritual activities are expressed. The common term for this condition is “sacred space”.
There are many ways to create sacred space. Among the most common is the concept of “creating a container”, which is often done by drawing or pretending to draw a circle around the area where the ritual will take place. This is an element of the beginning phase of a ritual, which I have termed Arrival. It contributes to the establishment of the ritual state of consciousness, and to the sense of security and presence which that state requires*.
Sacred space can also be established through a visually delimited space, such as that defined by the glow of a candle, a lantern or a fire, or by the area of a special room, temple space, or place in nature that is hallowed to the ritualists, or by a circle of candles or other objects.
Additional sensory cues can add to the sense of sacred space: A Focus at the center, for example, or burning incense or herbs, anointing with sacred scented oils, or playing sacred music.
The establishment of sacred space is important because presence and focus are absolutely essential to successful ritual. If your mind is always “looking over its shoulder” to wonder if it is safe, it will not be able to go into the deep presence of the ritual state.
So think about it: what are the qualities that help you to feel safe and contained, so you can focus on your work? For some, it is as immediate as wrapping a garment like a cloak around themselves; for others, lighting of that single candle in darkness; for others still a carefully inscribed literal circle is the only way they can go.
The point is to establish what works for you.
What means “magic time” to you?
*For more on the ritual state and ways to induce it, see the Atheopagan Ritual Primer, which you can download for your use.
Illustration is “The Magic Circle”, by John William Waterhouse.