Whenever you do ritual or magick, you should put up a magick circle. The name 'magick circle' suggests it's a tool for magick, but it's fundamental purpose is to create a little spot of 'holy ground' - your own temporary temple for both ritual and magick. A magick circle, basically, is a protective ‘bubble’ of energy set out by a Witch to work in. It forms a domed roof over your head and a dome into the ground beneath your feet. In addition to protecting you from negativity and uninvited magickal beings from outside, it also serves to keep energy you have raised close around you. A sphere is used because it has no corners – corners are weak joints and easy to break into. A sphere has none of these weak points, so only things you invite can enter. A circle should be cast in a cleansed sacred space. A small circle can be cast within a room, or you can walk the perimeter of a room while you cast the circle and the bubble will envelop the entire room.

Only cast a circle when you are prepared and feeling well, happy and focused. You should try not to do anything that requires a circle if you are sick, tired or angry – a circle is supposed to be full of your positive energy.

Before you cast your circle, be sure you have everything you will need inside the perimeter-to-be – opening and closing doorways in magick circles weakens the structure. Also, any movement within the circle should be in the same direction it was cast, so as not to weaken the circle. Some Witches mark out a physical circle on the floor/ground, with chalk or a cord (this is useful outside in a large circle, so you know exactly where your boundary is). A wand (or athame, or power finger or whatever) should be used to lay down the circle. Remember, the specifics of this circle casting guide are my own personal preferences - you can alter the details to suit yourself.

This circle casting method is pretty standard, and I've done that on purpose to set out the basic principles of casting a circle. There are as many ways to do this as there are Witches doing it - from ornate, complex ceremony by someone wearing nifty robes in a purpose-built temple to someone standing in their bedroom in PJs using their finger as a wand. If the one-size-fits-all generic method below doesn't do it for you, then customise it!

Why do we cast magick circles?

Witchcraft has traditionally been quite a covert religion; during the Burning Times, for example, Witches (whether or not they were Witches as we are today is another thing) had to hide who they were and what they did. They couldn't build any permanent sacred place or temple without drawing the attention of their persecutors. So, a lot of our modern-day ritual practice is designed to create a new, temporary temple every time we do ritual. For the same reason, when the circle is released there should be no sign left that it ever existed, on any plane - the astral plane is cleansed, all your ritual tools and equipment are picked up and put away. Then, the only sign you were ever in your own personal temple is a faint smell of incense or a few drops of candle wax.

Casting the circle

In sacred space, stand inside the perimeter of your circle-to-be. Point your wand (or athame or finger) at the ground and walk deosil around the circle three times, imagining a bubble of red flames emanating from the wand, while saying once each time:

I conjure thee, Great Circle of Power

So that you will be for me a boundary

Between my magick and the Outside.

When you have walked the circle three times, stand in the centre and feel the bubble is strong and sealed. When it feels secure and closed, stamp your foot on the ground and say:

Thrice around, this circle's bound,

As above, so below.

So mote it be.

When the circle has been cast, the quarters and elements should be called. Stand in the area of the circle that corresponds to the North, looking out, and visualise a glowing red salamander arriving to sit outside the circle:

Hail powers of the North, Salamanders of Fire,

Bring your creativity and strength to my circle.

Please witness this rite and guard my sacred space.

Move to the area of the circle that corresponds to the West, looking out, and visualise a gnome dressed in a green outfit arriving to sit outside the circle:

Hail powers of the West, Gnomes of Earth

Bring your stability and wisdom to my circle.

Please witness this rite and guard my sacred space.

Move to the area of the circle that corresponds to the South, looking out, and visualise a delicate butter-yellow sylph arriving to sit outside the circle:

Hail powers of the South, Sylphs of Air,

Bring your knowledge and friendship to my circle.

Please witness this rite and guard my sacred space.

Finally, move to the area of the circle that corresponds to the East, looking out, and visualise a small blue undine arriving to sit outside the circle:

Hail powers of the East, Undines of Water,

Bring your calm and tranquillity to my circle.

Please witness this rite and guard my sacred space.

Stand in the centre of the circle, facing the piece of sky the Moon is/would be in, standing in the Goddess position. Visualise a stream of glittering silver light bathing the circle:

I invite the Goddess to join me here,

To bring Your grace and love,

Please witness this rite and watch over this circle.

Stand in the centre of the circle, facing the piece of sky the Sun is/would be in, standing in the God position. Visualise a stream of sparkling gold light bathing the circle:

I invite the God to join me here,

To bring Your strength and guidance,

Please witness this rite and watch over this circle.

Now is the time to invite any other Gods, Goddesses and beings appropriate to the working - the circle is ready to be used.

Cutting a doorway

So, you forgot to bring something into the circle before you cast it and now you need to get out and back in. To do that, you need to use a door, just as you would if you were leaving your house - you can't just walk through a wall to get out, because that will leave a big hole for Goddess-knows-what to get inside. To cut a door, put your hands out in front of you like you're about to part a curtain. Put your hands through the wall of your magick bubble and move them apart far enough to create a gap for you to get out. Now, you can't just leave the door open - if you do that, you might as well have walked through the wall - you need to 'lock' the door; by that I mean you need something/someone to guard the door (you can't cut a door and get in from the outside, because if you could do that then casting the circle would be pointless). You can leave your broom across the threshold, just on the inside, or you can get someone participating in your ritual to stand guard at the door or something similar. Also, if you're late for ritual (naughty!) and they've started without you, you'll need someone on the inside to cut a door for you - remember, you can't cut one from the outside. You really should try to avoid cutting door if at all possible, because it weakens the circle - it leaves a metaphysical 'scar' in your bubble, if you want to think of it that way.

Taking down the circle

After the ritual has been performed and any in-circle ritual feasting completed, all the entities brought to the circle must be released before the circle can be taken down. Any specialist entities (those brought in last) should be released first - thank them (not too ornately) and bid them farewell. Then visualise circle emanating silver and gold light as you thank the God and Goddess:

Heavenly Mother, Divine Father,

Thankyou for being here with me.

If you must go, leave with my love and respect.

Now release the quarters and elements that have been called. Start at the East of your circle, the last quarter called. Visualise the undine fading into a deep blue light:

Powers of the East, Undines of Water,

Thankyou for witnessing this ritual.

Go if you must, stay if you like,

Hail and farewell.

Release the South quarter next - visualise the sylph fading into a rich yellow light:

Powers of the South, Sylphs of Air,

Thankyou for witnessing this ritual.

Go if you must, stay if you like,

Hail and farewell.

Release the West quarter next - visualise the gnome fading into a leaf-green light:

Powers of the West, Gnomes of Earth,

Thankyou for witnessing this ritual.

Go if you must, stay if you like,

Hail and farewell.

Finally, release the North quarter - visualise the salamander fading into a ruby red light:

Powers of the North, Salamanders of Fire,

Thankyou for witnessing this ritual.

Go if you must, stay if you like,

Hail and farewell.

Now that all the entities have been released, take down the circle itself. Walk once from North around the circle - widdershins, the opposite direction in which the circle was cast - tracing the perimeter of the circle with the wand. See the circle being drawn back up into the wand and the energy flowing into the ground through your body. As you walk, say:

The circle is open, but never broken.

When you get back to North, stamp your foot on the ground and say:

So mote it be.

If you can feel that there is excess energy left inside you, you should ground yourself.

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