How To Cast a Circle
The purpose of casting a circle is to create a safe, sacred space in between worlds for Witches to do their magickal workings. When casting it, you are also doing so to prevent any negative energy, spirits, or other nasty little entities who want to meddle in your magickal workings, from being able to enter it. And trust me, they're real, and they can really screw up a spell if you don't cast your circle properly. And if you're careless in your workings, these nasties can slip through your circle, and take up residence in your home. With that in mind, please take great care when casting & releasing your circle.
As always, the key to creating a strong circle is your personal power, and using your visualization skills so you can actually see the circle. When you cast a circle it is not just a round space on the floor. It is like a bubble that rises high above you, and below your floor. The energy of circles can be so strong that dowsing rods can even detect them.
While some books say a circle must be 9 feet round, they never say why. So I say do what feels right for you, and make it as big or small as you wish. Just make sure the circle is large enough to contain your altar, magickal supplies, and be able to walk around without hitting the edge. If you live in a place where this isn't possible, for example, you can't move your altar from against the wall, or other location, make the entire room into a circle. You are free to visualize what your circle looks like. I visualize a big bubble and see a circle of flames surrounding it. Depending on the spell or ritual, I may visualize the flames in different colours. For example, I'd see a pink fire if doing a love spell, a green fire for a money spell, and blood red when doing high magick like lifting hexes and curses. For everyday things I find a blue flame very helpful for some reason.
Leaving a circle once it's cast is highly frowned upon as it can give negative energies a chance to get in while you're going out and back in, but you can do it...if you must! Don't just go wandering out as though the circle isn't even there or all heck can break loose. If you are smart, and using the salt water string method I'm about to teach you, you can over lap the string at the ends and just open it enough for you to quickly slip out, and slip back in again. If you cast a circle without using a cord or string, then use your athame, wand, or finger to 'cut' a door. Go through it and seal it. Come back and do the same thing.
Some Witches choose to fast on the day they perform magick so the body is focused on your magick instead of digesting. If you can do that, go a head, if not, try to eat light meals, and don't eat at least two and a half hours before you perform a spell or ritual.
Why do you have to do so many things to cast a circle?
The reason is to get your subconsious, and consious mind in the proper state, in order to perform what ever spell or ritual you're going to do. If you just walk up to your altar, dirty, in the clothing you wore to work, possibly carrying negative energies you picked up from other people, light a few candles and read something, do you really think it would amount to anything? Of course not! You aren't putting any effort into it. And your effort is the most important thing in any spell or ritual. It is most important especially when it comes to beginners, who are new to all of this. Who haven't yet felt the cone of power one builds in their magickal circle, or the fact that after a while, you can litterally feel if you get too close to the end of the circle. All these actions add power and substance to your magickal workings, so don't try to cut corners or rush through the process. Once you have cast circles enough times, it won't feel like so much to do. You will get used to it, as well as the feelings and energies you feel within yourself and your circle.
The first thing you need to do is gather all the materials you need to use in your spell or ritual and place them on your altar. The most common items are as follows:
It is traditional to perform spells or rituals sky clad (nude), but if you can't, wear any clothing and jewelry that makes you feel magickal, like a ritual robe or everyday clean, comfortable clothes. As long as you only use them for doing magick.
Close the drapes, unplug the phone, turn off your cell phone, lock and put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door, and make absolutely sure you will not be disturbed by anyone, including children and pets. Don't forget to use the washroom, even if you don't feel like you need to. This will prevent you from having to leave the circle during the ceramony.
First, sweep the circle clean to rid the area of any negative energies. As you do so, think of some kind of chant to say as you sweep. Just a simple saying like "Sweep, sweep, sweep away, any negativity here today." is fine. Just think of your own chant. That one's mine .
Place your element candles in the 4 directions, North, East, South and West. This is where your compass comes in very handy.
Ring your bell 3 times, or clap your hands 3 times to signal the beginning of the spell or ritual.
Moving deosil pronounced Jes-ul (clockwise), begin by outlining the circle with your cord or string making sure to include your altar and all your materials inside. Make sure you have plenty of room to move around. If you don''t want to use a cord, just use your wand or athame to outline the circle. But I find it best, especially for beginners, to be able to actually see the circle. If possible, outline it with salt or sand.
Depending on what book you read, the author will suggest beginning in one of the 4 directions. As North represents the Gods and Mother Earth, and is the direction of the element (Earth), I feel the biggest connection to, I choose to start in that direction. You should start in whatever direction feels right to you, and if you can't decide, then just start in the direction your altar is facing.
Using your athame, slowly trace the circle in the air while visualizing a coloured flame emanating from your body, down your arm and into your athame and around the circle. As you trace the circle visualize a protective bubble growing around, above and below you.
Use the tip of your athame to put 3 scoops of salt into the bowl of water, and mix it until the salt dissolves (that's why I suggest using warm/hot water. It makes the salt dissolve faster). Stand up and raise your athame high into the air with both hands, and slowly lower it down to the water. Feel a trickle of the energy you got from the earth flow through your arms and through the athame in the water and say " Creature of water, by my will, the power of the Ancients, I purify you for the purpose of this sacred ritual/spell. Visualize the water glowing with power and say "It is done, so Mote it be!" Raise your athame high once again, and slowly lower it into the water and say: "Creature of salt, by my will, with the power of the Ancients, I consecrate you for the pupose of this sacred ritual/spell. It is done, so mote it be!'
In a deosil direction, beginning in the North, take the bowl of salt water and go around the circle dipping your hand in the mixture, and spraying it around the circle, making sure some gets on the string you used to outline the circle, as well as flicking it upward, downward, and if you wish, a touch on your altar (don't flick water near electrical objects!). For whatever reason, salt is like poison to negative energies and entities. This process will keep out any negativity, and keep the power you're going to raise (often referred to as the "cone of power", inside the circle until you release it into the ethers to do your bidding.
Another way you can do this is to add the salt to the water and just put the entire string in the water, and squeeze out the loose salt water, so you have enough to spray around, up & down.
Now it's time to invoke the 4 elements. Take your pentacle, athame, or finger, and face it outwards as you begin invoking them.
In casting a circle, many Witches, including myself, like to draw invoking pentacles in the air in each element direction at the beginning of the ritual and banishing ones at the end when releasing the elements. This is optional. Always do what feels right for you. Starting with Earth (North):
To draw and invoking pentacle :
With great respect, and conviction in your voice, say whatever you wish to invoke the elements. Some like to use long sayings that may include aspects of the elements, others, choose something simple. As always, do what feels right for you. I'm not going to put words in your mouth here as you must learn how to get in touch with entities, God/desses and such on your own. You do not have to use long, fancy, flowering rhymes. Rhymes are helpful because it makes them easier to remember, but it isn't mandatory for magick. Just try your best to communicate what you wish of them, and give them the respect they deserve. It may seem pretty weird just talking out loud to yourself, but eventually, you will be able to sense when these entities arrive...trust me. I was very skeptical about that until I had my first 'encounter'. I never looked back from there, or questioned their existance again.
Move to the North with your bowl of salt and light the Earth candle, and athame, wand or finger.. Say something much better than: "I call to the North, and the element of Earth, and invite you to bless this circle. May it protect me with it's grounding force as I perform my spell this night." And draw an invoking pentacle in that direction with your wand, athame or finger.
Spray 3 pinches of salt to the candle, and return the salt to your altar. Light your incense and take it with you.
Move to the East with your wand, athame, or finger, and light the Air candle. Say something much better than: "I call to the East, and the element of Air. I invite you to bless this circle. May it guide my prayers to the ethers as I perform my spell this night." Pass your incense over the candle 3 times. And draw an invoking pentacle in that direction with your wand, athame or finger.
Return the incense to the altar and pick up your lighter or matches, along with, you guessed it, your wand, athame or your finger.
Move to the South and light the the fire candle. Say something much better than: "I call to the South, and the element of Fire, I invite you to bless this circle. May it grant me inspiration and passion as I perform my spell this night." Burn 3 matches or your lighter 3 times. And draw an invoking pentacle in that direction with your wand, athame or finger.
Return your lighter or matches to the altar and pick up your bowl of water, athame, wand or finger.
Move to the West and light the water candle. Say something much better then: "I call upon the element of Water. I invite you to bless this circle. May it grant me with inner sight as I perform my spell this night." Dip your fingers in the water and flick a tiny bit at the candle (making sure not to put out the flame). And draw an invoking pentacle in that direction with your wand, athame or finger.
Return your water, athame or wand to the altar.
Finally, light your diety candle (if you're going to work with one). In your own words, respectfully ask them to come and assist and protect you. Once you feel their presence, it's time to move on.
For some Witches, like me,
summoning the elements is sufficient, but others (mostly Wiccans), like
to add more ritual to the creation of their circle, and also read (but
should learn to memorize) both the Charge of the Goddess & God, or
the Dark Goddess & God, depending on what kind of magick they're doing
(usually newmoon magick) for the Dark God/dess. Wiccans also invoke the
Watchtowers. If you are one of those people, then read on, if not, skip
past the 2 red borders.
The origin of the watchtowers hearken to the days of yore, when castles were bountiful. Most castles were hidden within 4 giant brick walls. The corners were built to face the 4 compass directions, North, South, East & West. These corners had towers built on top of them, and men would stand in them to guard the castle from invading enemies. Wiccans add more ritual to the casting of their circles and call upon the elements of the 4 watchtowers at the beginning of casting their circle. For example, one very popular example of how to do this is:
Guardians of the Watchtower of the North,
Powers of Earth,
Cornerstone of all Power
We invoke you and call you,
Lady of the Outer Darkness,
Black Bull of Midnight,
Center of the Whirling sky Stone,
Fertile Field, Come!
By the earth that is her body,
Send forth your strength,
Be here now!
Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East,
Powers of Air!
We invoke you and call you,
Golden Eagle of the Dawn,
Star - seeker,
By the air that is Her breath,
Send forth your light,
Be here now!
Guardians of the Watchtower of the South,
Powers of Fire!
We invoke you and call you,
Red Lion of the noon heat,
Spark of life, Come!
By the fire that is Her spirit,
Send forth your flame,
Be here now!
Guardians of the Watchtower of the West,
Powers of Water!
We invoke you and call you,
Serpent of the Watery abyss,
Gray robed Twilight,
Evening Star! Come!
By the waters of Her living womb,
Send forth your flow,
Be here now!
Once they have concluded their workings, they must remember to thank, and release the Watchtowers, and any other entities they invited, one at a time, in the order they were summoned. You can't just say something like "I thank and release the Watchtowers." These entities do not take kindly to being treated as one single entity, or conjured and released in a disrespectful manner. I personally don't work with Watchtowers at all. I used to summon them in the same way I just described, but to be honest, I never noticed any change in the energy of my circle when they were present. This is just my experience. Many obviously feel their presence or they wouldn't be included in so many examples of circles in books. Since I don't feel them, summoning them would just be a disrespectful, pointless waste of time.
You are now ready to start the portion of your spell or ritual that defines its purpose (protection, healing, money, attracting love, etc.). After you state the purpose of the spell you must build power for the spell to work. Chanting, drumming, using a rattle, or dancing are the most popular methods of doing this. Feel the power increase in your body until it comes to a peak, when you've raised as much power as you can. Then, you release the 'cone of power' usually by doing some physical act such, as droping to the ground in exhaustion, ending your ritual with the words "This is my will! So mote it be!". Your goal is to send the power you have raised into the ethers so it can begin it's work, while you continue doing mundane tasks to make sure your spell is a success.
You will feel very drained if you really put all your power into the spell, and will need to nourish yourself. That's when the 'cakes 'n ale' portion on your spell begins. A time when you take in some nourishment as the last action leaves one feeling drained, and needs to be replenished. The ale is usually wine, but juice, milk or cider will do just fine. The cakes are generally any form of cake or pastry. Some like to use light colored, round cakes for full moon rituals, and dark, round ones for new moon rituals. Bread can be used in a pinch. You might want to take time talking to the deity you invoked, or open yourself up to any messages a totem, or spirit has to say to you. You can also make notes in your Book of Shadows about how you feel the spell went. Or any thoughts on how you should do it differently. Don't forget to put a bit of your cakes and ale into the offering dish for any diety you've invitied to work with.
Once you feel more rejuvenated it's time to open the circle. This is done by saying fair well, and thanking the guardians for protecting you, and being present in your ritual. In this ritual you started in the North and ended in the West, so to close the circle, start with the guardians in the West and proceed to the South, East and finally the North. Then you say farewell to any deity you invited to join you in the circle. Not forgetting to draw a banishing pentacle in the air with your wand, athame, or your power finger (the one you write with).
For example, if you're Wiccan, you likely invited the Goddess into your circle. To say good bye to Her. Think of something nice and respectful. Like "Thank you great Goddess for blessing me with your company, I release you from this circle. Farewell my lady! Just taylor it to whatever deity you invoked or invited to what they represent.
Once this is done, end the ritual by saying something like "The circle is open, but not unbroken". Your final act is to ground any energy remaining by touching your finger, wand or athame to the ground and finally to your forehead (third eye) to seal it. Then clean up, and put your tools away.
I know this probably sounds like a lot of trouble for a spell, but if you are doing magick that invokes any kind of spirit, deity or other entity, it is imperative that you cast a circle to keep any nasty entities from coming in. And, don't think I'm exaggerating. It is also necessary to do these things to get you in a ritual frame of mind, to really focus on what you're doing, and understand that this is not some game to play when you're bored, or brag about to your friends. Also, the more you practice performing circles, the better you'll become, and the time will shorten considerabley, as you won't have to keep running back to your Book of Shadows BOS everytime you have to do something.
Finally, alway remember to NEVER discuss or brag about a spell you've done with anyone ,other than people in your coven. If you are a solitary Witch, then simply keep it to yourself. The reason for this is that if you do, the energy of the person you are telling it to (that may not believe you, or have the same faith in your power as you), can connect with the energy of the spell and interfere with all the hard work you just did. They could ruin your spell entirely just with powers of disbelief. So keep your mouth shut or who knows what will happen!