The atmosphere of a ritual can vary greatly from one ritual to another, but it is always of great importance. Atmosphere is a fluid thing; It can be changed in order to fit whatever working or goal is being attempted. It has a strong effect on the psyche and a person’s confidence, which can strongly influence the effectiveness of a working. There are several ways in which atmosphere can be manipulated.
In ceremonial magic, among other forms, there is often a lot of importance put on specific tools, symbols, methods, and actions. Everything must be done in a precise manner, at a precise time during the ritual, using precisely the right materials. What most magicians don’t understand though, is that the adherence to these principles is more about the atmosphere they create within their own minds, than it is about fulfilling some magical recipe that will guarantee success. It is through them knowing that they have done everything correctly, exactly the way it should be done, that the needed confidence and surety of purpose is instilled. They know they have done everything right, so they know the working should be a success. Confidence and strength of will is what breeds magical success, not staunch adherence and conformity.
In other types of ritual, the correct atmosphere can often times be achieved through much less effort. Music is usually one of the most effective, and most commonly used, due to it’s versatility and inherent ability to influence and affect mood. You can almost always find a piece of music to put you into a particular mood, regardless of what it is. But even common ritual tools are sometimes nothing more than items designed to alter the atmosphere and mood of a working. The symbols and icons one uses, the candles and the incense one burns, are often really just props that induce the correct kind of atmosphere for that particular working. Because regardless of path or “color”, magic comes from within. Everything else, is just fluff.