Circle Casting

“Magic Circle” by John William Waterhouse , 1886 ~ (Click image to enlarge)

The origins of the magic circle lie in ancient history, forms of it were used in old Babylonian magic and many of the Ceremonial Magicians of the Middle Ages and Renaissance used them.  In pre-Christian Europe most Pagan religious festivals took place in circles, normally outdoors under the sky and stars at night.  There they celebrated the Earth’s fertility and worshiped the Sun, Moon and Deities.  But with the rise of Christianity and the newly powerful church, most of these pagan rites were outlawed and the oncoming persecution of witches forced the practice underground.  The pagans became secretive about their rites and practiced them outside only after dark, lit by fires and torches in far-out the way places.  Others brought the practice indoors away from prying eyes.  Stone circles such as Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments, sacred groves and revered springs across Europe, are remnants of those ancient days.

There are two main types of magic circles used.  Those formed by ceremonial magicians are designed to protect the magician from the forces that he or she raises.  While those formed by witches and wiccans, are mainly used to create sacred space in which to meet and commune with the Goddess and God.  With today’s more liberal view on religion, pagan rituals are once again being practiced in the open air, but these tend to be mass gatherings in specially selected areas.  Most people, particularly those living in over populated towns and cities practice at home by transforming their living rooms or bedrooms into places of power and worship.

The magic circle is an area of non-physical space created and constructed of personal power.  It’s a magical environment in which the deities are welcomed and celebrated, and where rituals and magical workings take place.  In a room filled with steel, plastic and the trappings of our technological age, as well as everyday living associations good and bad, the need for a private sacred space is envisaged.  The magic circle defines the ritual working area and holds in our personal power while shutting out distracting energies.  In essence it creates the proper working atmosphere for the ritual.  Constructed of personal power which is raised, felt and visualized as streaming out from the body through the magic knife (athame), a sphere of energy is created which encompasses the entire working area, above, below and all around it.  This energy sphere is what we consider to be the magic circle.

Information above is from http://www.controverscial.com/Circle%20Casting%201.htm

Casting a Circle

Casting a Circle can be as simple as holding hands and visualising a sacred place. If you’re by yourself, simply taking three slow deep breaths creates a space that is sacred and suitable for working. You may or may not wish to say aloud ‘This Circle is cast.’ It’s up to you.

Depending on the situation, we cast in numerous ways. Individual Witches have preferred ways to cast a Circle. Anything that enables you to create a space in which you feel safe and secure is fine.

A simple example of circle casting in the Southern Hemisphere:

Casting Circle can be as simple or as complex as you choose. This practical runs through one of the more simple methods. You will need:

  • A compass (or some sure way of determining the directions East, North, West and South)
  • A smudge stick or incense (representing Air and Fire)
  • A glass or chalice of water and salt (representing Water and Earth)
  • Some space to work where you will not be disturbed.

Take the phone of the hook, and ask any family members / housemates not to disturb you while you work.

STEP ONE: Using a compass, find the direction of North, and face toward it. To your right is East, to your left is West. South is now behind you.

STEP TWO: If you’re not very good with directions yet, mark them as follows to help you:

  • Place something in the East to remind you of East and Air. This could be a musical instrument (a recorder or hand drum is ideal) or even a piece of paper stuck to the wall with ‘East’ and ‘Air’ written on it in big letters. It’s up to you.
  • Place something in the North to remind you of North and Fire. Possibilities include a candle (preferably red), a red flower, or a sign reading ‘North’ and ‘Fire’.
  • Place some thing in the West to remind you of West and Water. A glass of water is perfect, or a seashell, or a sign reading ‘West’ and ‘Water’.
  • Place something in the South to remind you of South and Earth. A pot plant is perfect, as would be a sign on the wall reading ‘South’ and ‘Earth’.
  • Place the incense / smudge stick (and something to light it with!) in the East of the Circle. In the West, place the glass of saltwater. You are now ready to begin.

Casting the Circle

Starting in the East, light the smudge stick / incense, and walk counter-clockwise around the perimeter of your sacred space, forming a circle. Say: “With Air and Fire I purify this Circle.” When you have walked around the Circle once, place the incense/smudge stick in the north of the Circle, then continue to the West of the Circle, and pick up the glass of saltwater. Begin walking counter-clockwise around the perimeter of your sacred space a second time. Using your dominant hand, flick the saltwater around the perimeter of the Circle at regular intervals. Say: “With Water and Earth I purify this Circle.” When you have returned to the West, put down the remaining saltwater in its glass/chalice. Continue walking counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the Circle, and when you reach the East again, say the following three times as you walk a final time around the perimeter of the Circle, finishing up in the East: “Three times the Circle round, three times the Circle bound.”

The Circle is now purified and the Elements should now be called in.

CALLING EAST: Facing the East, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Air, of wind, of communication, I welcome you to this Circle.” Drop your hands, then move to the North of the Circle.

CALLING NORTH: Facing the North, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Fire, of flame, of passion, I welcome you to this Circle.” Drop your hands, then move to the West of the Circle.

CALLING WEST: Facing the West, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Water, of wave, of emotion, I welcome you to this Circle.” Drop your hands, then move to the South of the Circle.

CALLING SOUTH: Facing the South, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Earth, of stone, of strength, I welcome you to this Circle.”

Finally, turn inwards, to face Spirit (the centre of the Circle), raise your palms and overlap them, and say:

“By Air, Fire, Water and Earth,
This Circle is cast, so Mote It Be!”

You have just cast your Circle.

Between the Worlds

Now that you have cast a Circle, it’s up to you what you choose to do. You may wish to meditate for a little, or to simply close the Circle straight away. Whatever you decide, remember that Casting and Closing need practice, so the more often you cast and close the better!

Closing the Circle

CALLING DOWN SOUTH: Facing the South, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Earth, of stone, of strength, I thank you for your presence. Hail and farewell.”
Drop your hands, then move to the West of the Circle (clockwise this time).

CALLING DOWN WEST: Facing the West, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Water, of wave, of emotion, I thank you for your presence. Hail and farewell.”
Drop your hands, then move to the North of the Circle.

CALLING DOWN NORTH: Facing the North, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Fire, of flame, of passion, I thank you for your presence. Hail and farewell.”
Drop your hands, then move to the East of the Circle.

CALLING DOWN EAST: Facing the East, raise your hands to about head height, palms overlapping and facing outwards. Say the following: “Element of Air, of wind, of communication, I thank you for your presence. Hail and farewell.”

Finally, turn inwards, to face Spirit (the centre of the Circle), raise your palms and overlap them, and say:

“By Air, Fire, Water and Earth,
This Circle is open, but unbroken.”

(If in the presence of several people, you may wish to add the following lines):

“Merry meet
And merry part
And merry meet again!
Blessed be!”

Finally, say: “So Mote It Be!”

You have just closed your Circle.

Circle casting exercise is from  http://www.akashawitchcraft.net (website no longer available).