Witches are endowed with the knowledge that universal energies can be manipulated or worked with in an effort to affect change or transformation. Not only are we able to use our own energies, directed through intention, to work spells and rituals, we are able to tap into the unlimited energies around us. However, not all energy is positive and thus does not serve our purpose. Therefore, when a witch begins a ritual or works a spell, they often, if not always, will cast a circle to not only contain the energies they are working with but to keep out that which is unwelcome. This circle is a sacred space where we are able to consecrate the energy and focus on directing it to where or to who it is intended.
I distinctly remember the initial stage of my spiritual journey. I told myself that I was going to focus on the meditative aspects more so than casting or creating spells or delving deep into the more advanced rituals. The reason was because the idea of casting a circle seemed intimidating to me. Every resource online told me that I needed to cast a circle before doing pretty much anything, and when I’d read that, my mind would go blank. Ultimately, it was because I simply wasn’t ready. When I was, though, I found that I’d been intimidated for no reason. Casting a circle, while essential, is not at all complicated.
How to open a circle:
You will need incense, salt water, and symbols representing your elements before you begin your circle. Arrange them within your space as necessary. The placement of your symbols should correspond with the cardinal directions they represent. Also, if you are calling upon a deity or spirit, it’s also good to have something to symbolize or honor them as well.
- Choose where your circle will be. Make sure that the area is large enough for you and whoever else is joining you. I prefer to do spells and rituals in my room as it is a controlled and private space, so I tend to make the circle as large as the entire room. However, when I cast a circle out doors, I keep in mind where people are likely to walk, obstacles, and terrain. You will want your circle to be on flat ground.
- It is important to clear the space you intended to use for your circle. Use a broom or besom to sweep the area and clear obstructions and filth. This also serves to sweep away the negative energies to leave a blank space for you to consecrate once you begin to cast your circle.
- If others are joining your circle, this is the point where you invite them into your space.
- Choose your preferred magical tool. For me, I use my wand, but others may want to use their athame, a sword, or their hand/finger to open their circle. Some rituals may require you start at a specific cardinal direction, and some practitioners hold that it really doesn’t matter where you start. However, it is generally accepted that it is good to begin opening your circle facing East and working clockwise (deosil).
- Visualize the circle being drawn from the tip of your wand/athame/finger. Concentrate and direct the energies you are working with to form a sphere of protection. As you are walking or moving, you may sing or chant. I typically repeat to myself, “within this sacred circle, only that which is good may enter.” I always will go around three times as three is the number of wholeness: past, present, future and beginning, middle, end. Like a circle which has no beginning or end, three represents the stages of life which beat on endlessly.
- Using incense, go around your circle (3 times) saying, “I call upon the power of air and fire to protect and consecrate this circle.” Incense symbolizes both fire (needed to ignite the incense) and air (smoke).
- Next, with a mixture of salt water, go around (3 times) while sprinkling your mixture and saying, “I call upon the power of earth and water to protect and consecrate this circle.” This mixture symbolizes earth (the salt) and water (the water).
Calling the Quarters
- After you’ve drawn your circle and created your dome of protection, you may call the quarters, or the elements to join your circle.
- It is good to have representations of the elements in your circle. For example, having candles with the corresponding colors (yellow, red, green, blue) in their appropriate places (explained further in the list) is good way to honor the elements.
- The East is the element of air. If you do not have a candle, you can use a feather or smoke from incense. Facing East, say, “I call upon the Spirits of the East: Guardians and beings of Air. Please bless and consecrate this circle with intellect and imagination. Hail and welcome.” As you say this, using your wand/athame/or finger, draw a horizontal line directly in front of you from right to left, visualizing it the same way you did your circle.
- Working clockwise, you should now move to face the South, the direction of Fire. If you do not have a candle to represent this direction, you can use any lit candle, incense, or stones that symbolize fire. Then you should say, “I call upon the Spirits of the North: Guardians and beings of Fire. Please bless this circle with passion and strength. Hail and welcome.” Using your magical tool, starting even with your left shoulder, draw a diagonal line down towards your right hip.
- Now you should move to face the West, the direction represented by Water. If you do not have a candle representing this, you can use a bowl of water, sea shells, coral, or anything of the sea or ocean. Then say, “I call upon the Spirits of the West: Guardians and beings of Water. Please bless this circle with love and cleansing. Hail and welcome.” Draw a horizontal line in front of you from left to right with the tip of your magical tool.
- Finally, face the North, the direction of Earth. If you do not have a candle representing this direction, you can use salt, stones, wood, or plants. To call this quarter, say, “I call upon the Spirits of the North: Guardians and beings of Earth. Please consecrate this circle with grounding and nurturing. Hail and welcome.” This time, start even with your right shoulder and draw a line with the tip of your magical tool diagonally toward your left hip.
- If you did not draw the lines or find the directions confusing, after you have called the quarters, stand in the center of your circle and draw a pentagram in front of you using the tip of your magical tool to visualize it.
- If you are not going to call upon a deity or spirit to join your circle, this is when you may begin your ritual or spell.
Calling your deity:
For those of you who do not work with specific deities or wish to call any for your ritual, you can skip this step. There is no set way as there are various gods, goddesses, and spirits that may be invited within your circle. You may say something as simple as, “I invite the goddess into my circle to honor me/us with her presence. May we be blessed with her guidance and aid as we perform this spell/ritual. Hail and welcome!” However, depending on the deity, there may be a specific prayer or chant you wish to say.
If you need to leave your circle:
There are many reasons why you may need to step outside of your circle, or you may wish to invite others in after it’s already been cast. Because you have sealed the space and consecrated it, it is not advised that you pass freely over the space lest you may disturb the energies and damage the circle. Therefore, if you have to leave or allow passage, you should create a doorway. To do this, use your wand or magical tool to draw a door. While it is normally done at the north-eastern part of the sphere/circle, sometimes the placement of the circle may require you put the door somewhere else. Once you have created your door, you or others may pass through without harming the integrity of the circle.
Animals and small children are generally exempt from the doorway rule.
Closing your circle:
Once your ritual is complete, you should begin the process of closing the circle.
- If you called upon any deity or spirit, stand in the center of your circle and thank them for their presence and aid. You can say something like, “I thank you, [deity’s name], for joining our circle and honoring me/us with your guidance and aid. Hail and farewell.”
- You will follow the same process to close the quarters. This time, however, you will start at the North (or whichever direction you called upon last when you opened it). This should be the only time you or anyone in your circle moves anti-clockwise (widdershins). As you move, you may repeat or say some variation of the following.
- “Guardians and beings of the North, spirits of Earth, thank you for honoring us with your presence in this circle. Hail and Farewell.”
- “Guardians and beings of the West, spirits of Water, thank you for honoring us with your presence in this circle. Hail and Farewell.”
- “Guardians and beings of the South, spirits of Fire, thank you for honoring us with your presence in this circle. Hail and Farewell.”
- “Guardians and being of the East, spirits of the Air, thank you for honoring us with your presence in this circle. Hail and Farewell.”
- Using your magical tool, walk around your circle anti-clockwise three times, visualizing the energy of your protective dome or sphere being dissolved as you go. The energies should be directed toward their intended purpose (ie: if you were casting a spell on a specific person or place, imagine that energy moving where it needs to go).
- Your circle is now closed and you are free to move about.
- After a ritual or spell, make sure to eat or replenish your energy as you are likely to feel tired.
As you work your own spells and do your own rituals, the way you cast your circle and call upon the quarters/deities will grow and adapt to fit your needs and style. Solitary practitioners should always trust their intuition when it comes to working with energies. When I first started, I followed the resources and instructions I found to a the letter, but now that I’ve been doing this a while, my methods and chants have changed. I may even change things up depending on the ritual or intention I have going in. I hope that this helps those of you starting out or looking for guidance, but I would also encourage that you tweak and experiment with the process to make it work best for you.
If you have any further questions or need guidance, do not hesitate to message me on Twitter or send me an email to HeCrafte@gmail.com.
Good luck, happy casting, and Blessed Be!
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