One of the first “big” magickal acts that witches perform is casting circle.
A magickal circle has multiple benefits
I define three types or levels of circles. Each level has different benefits. You cannot cast a higher level circle without casting the previous levels. Each level circle builds upon the previous level.
Three Levels of Circles
The following instructions are for basic circle casting with limited use of external items. Candles, incense, athames, wands, swords, staves, chalices, pentacles, incense, oils, altars, and other such items are not required to cast a circle. However, all of these things can enhance the circle casting experience and increase its effectiveness. I will discuss use of these items in more detail on the lesson for conducting a ritual.
Before casting a circle you need to locate an area where you will work.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding where you cast a circle.
Some people think that the area should be perfectly clean and clear of all clutter. I am very much an advocate of working where you feel comfortable. If you feel it is necessary to have a physically spotless area then by all means go ahead and clean the area. If you are more comfortable in organized clutter then feel free to work in organized clutter. You should make sure that you do have a decently clutter free walking area within your circle.
There is no perfect size for the circle. Some people want to say that it must be thirteen feet in diameter or have a thirteen foot radius since thirteen is a special number. If you wish to incorporate a special number into the size of the circle then feel free to do so. Consult the lesson on numbers for their significance.
There is no absolute rule on where a circle may be cast … whether it should be inside or outside. Some people wish to be as close to nature as possible and therefore perform outside as much as possible. Other people prefer to work indoors to avoid public scrutiny and the weather.
New practitioners sometimes slip into the mindset that a circle can only be cast during a certain phase of the moon or at a certain time of the day. It does not matter what time of the day or night a circle is cast. Also, it does not have to correspond with a specific phase of the moon or any astronomical event. You can cast a circle whenever you desire. This is not to say that you cannot time your circle casting to coincide to with a specific celestial event … indeed, you can add to the power of your working by bringing in celestial influences. However, remember that you can cast your circle at any time you choose.
When you are projecting the energy of the circle you may use your index finger, your athame, wand, sword or staff. There is not set item that is required for directing energy. You do not need to go out and buy any special implement for casting circle.
The following instructions are “bare bones” – no frills, no extras. There is a good deal to make circle cast more special … some of these things will be discussed in the lesson on “Creating and Performing a Ritual”.
Casting Level 1 Circle
A level one circle is created by projecting a beam of light onto the ground and then drawing the light around to form a circle. The base circle can be cast using any number of circles. Typically, the base circle is cast one, three, five or seven times.
When casting the base circle you can either walk the perimeter of the circle while projecting the beam of light, or you can stand in the center of the circle and rotate while projecting the beam.
Decide on the number of times you wish to cast the base circle.
Decide in which quarter you will be starting your circle. East is the traditional starting location (new beginnings, inspiration, creativity) but you can really start in any of the quarters depending on the type of working you are doing. For powerful and fast results you may wish to start with South. If doing healing work then you may choose West. If you are working magick for home, love, strength or stability then north might by the way to go.
You also need to decide on the color of light that you will use to cast the base circle. Blue, Silver, Gold and White are the most common colors that are used. For more information about selecting your color then read the lesson on colors and their meanings. I would suggest using blue or silver for general work.
I will be writing the remainder of the circles based on walking the perimeter of the circle. However, if you are casting from the center of the circle then just adjust the instruction appropriately.
Casting Level 2 Circle
Level two circle involves inviting the elemental rulers/guardians or their representatives to take part in the circle and assist in the working. There are no special items required for this level circle but it is common to have a candle at each quarter. The candles can be of a color appropriate to the element or you can use white candles.
When calling the quarters it is customary to inscribe a pentagram for each element. There are specific elemental invoking (calling) and evoking (saying good bye) pentagrams but you may use a standard pentagram if you so desire.
The next image shows the basic inscribed pentagram, the basic invoking pentagram and the basic evoking pentagram.
The drawing of the basic pentagram starts at the upper point and either proceeds clockwise for invoking or counter-clockwise for evoking.
These procedures take place after the level 1 circle has been cast.
Casting Level 3 Circle
The level three circle creates the divine magickal space. During this phase the God and Goddess, Lord and Lady are invited to come and join the circle. You may invoke specific deities at this step, you may invoke archetypal deity forms or you may invoke multiple aspects of Deity.
The circle is finished and magick workings may be performed within. You have created basic protection, separated yourself from the outside world, moved into the “in-between” realm where magick is worked and have created a divine space. The multiple levels of protection will give advanced warning if something or someone tries to interfere with your working and will allow you time to put the working on hold and reorient your mind to what is going on about you.
Once a circle as been cast, you do not enter or leave the circle except when there is extreme need. Some possible reasons for leaving the circle include locating forgotten materials, call of nature (potty break), someone at the door, loud disturbing noise from outside. Really, you should have all materials needed for your working inside of your circle area BEFORE casting circle but as we all know there are times when no matter how well we prepare for something we forget something. And while it is normal to go to the restroom before casting a circle the urge can hit at the worst possible times.
One important note, DO NOT leave the circle in the middle of casting a particular level – wait until it is finished. Really, you should not leave until the circle is fully cast but better to dash to the restroom than making a really nasty mess that will take long amounts of time to clean.
There are two methods for moving in and out of a circle. The first method is traditional and can be performed easily. The second method is an advanced magickal technique that I will talk about in a later lesson.
Leaving a circle before it is uncast
To leave a circle, move to the edge of the circle facing outward, make a cutting motion from left to right, step outside of the circle, turn clockwise back facing the circle and make a cutting motion from right to left. The first cutting motion opens the circle; the second motion closes the circle. To return into the circle perform the same steps.
Expanding the circle
After a circle is cast, it is common to expand the circle to cover a larger area such as an entire house or a yard. This allows the entire area to become a magickal space and removes the restrictions on movement.
It is very important that a circle ALWAYS be taken down AFTER you are finished.
DO NOT leave a circle up. (Exception, in a house cleaning/protection ritual you may leave the circles up permanently but remember to “release” the elements and deity when you have finished.)
Taking down the circle (uncasting)
After the magickal work has been completed you must take down or uncast the circle.
Taking down a circle involves casting the circle basically backwards.
When I take down a circle I do things slightly out of order. I thank the elements first and then deity and lastly take down the base circle. To me, thanking the elements first seems like the appropriate action. I also find sort of strange saying “bye” to deity first when taking down a circle. However, if you are more comfortable with saying “bye” to the deity first then please do so. The final step should be taking down the base circle.
For simplicity sake I will list the steps in reverse order of casting. If you wish you may switch level 2 and 3 uncasting.
Uncasting Level 3 Circle – Saying “bye” to Deity
If you are familiar with circle casting already you may be asking, “Why isn’t he saying ‘dismissing’ instead of bye?”
In my mind, the elements and deity are your friends. You would not wave your hand at a friend and say, “I dismiss you, you may remove yourself from my presence.” It would be down right rude. When a friend is leaving you say “bye” to them … or “farewell” or “until we meet again.” Some will say that I am hung up on a word … that may very well be true … dismissing is not a friendly word.
Uncasting Level 2 Circle – Saying “bye” to Elements
Uncasting Level 1 circle
Please remember that this lesson was written to show how to cast and take down a circle. Between the casting and uncasting there are many activities that can take place. The various activities and ways to “spruce up” your circle casting will be covered in the next lesson, “Creating and Performing a Ritual.”