When I do ceremonial magic, I record the times and environmental condition in a magical journal. This is upon the advice of Donald Michael Kraig in his book Modern Magick, so that the magician may assess what conditions contribute to the best magical success.
And this is the primary function of a magical journal (as distinct from a book of shadows): to allow you to review your performance.
Kraig suggests keeping track of the following conditions:
- Lunar Phase
- Weather Conditions
- Physical Conditions
- Rituals Performed
Date is self-explanatory. Day also connotes astrological associations, as does time: for at least one period of ritual work I recorded planetary hour. I interpreted time to mean beginning and ending time, and this allowed me to see how long a ritual working was taking and this plan for more complicated rituals that might be more time sensitive.
Lunar phase is kind of that crossing point between time and weather. My normal means of recording lunar phase also note what Zodiac sign She is in.
Weather conditions can be very important to some workings. If I am indoors, I will also record climate conditions if they differ from outdoor conditions.
Emotions can also have a huge impact on magical work, especially if they affect your ability to focus. Again, it depends on what kind of work you are doing.
I interpreted physical conditions to refer to my body. I include any aches and discomfort, level of awakeness, signs of illness, and what I am wearing (since I don’t wear regular ritual clothes.
Rituals performed is again self-explanatory. I make sure and put them in order, and I repeat rituals like the LBRP if they are performed more than once.
Under performance I record how the ritual went. This includes how the movements and words of power were performed, any sensations or impressions I had, and how my state of mind changed with the ritual. Distractions and errors also go here.
Results has two connotations. One is how my state has been altered after the performance of the ritual. Do I feel weak, charged, confident, focused, agitated, etc? The other is whether or not the desired results manifest, especially in results magic.
Major astrological information can also be included. Computer programs make it very easy to look up planetary aspects and transitions between signs: so much so that I consider the time and date all that is necessary, as the rest can bee looked up later. Planetary retrogrades might be of interest. Location can also be considered, especially while traveling.
All of this information can be looked over to determine what the optimal conditions for performing magic might be for you. For example, I have found my ritual work most potent in either early morning or late night, near a new moon (and especially in Cancer or Scorpio), while Mercury is retrograde and Mars is direct, just before (but not always during) a strong thunderstorm, and when I am just a little on edge. These trends can help explain less than spectacular performance during non-optimal conditions, and can also allow me to plan ahead if I need a little extra oomph for a particular working.
And perhaps more importantly, it can also allow a little insight into your normal moods and cycles.