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Thoughts FromThe Four Gates

  • Writer's pictureKai

Casting Circles – How, when and why

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Magical circles are something that I’ve kind of followed the trend of using them less and less. Circle casting comes from Ceremonial magic, and was absorbed into Wicca from the influence of Ceremonial magic on Gardner. They stuck around and filtered into non Wiccan forms of magic because they’re useful. Then we had the injection into the group mind of practitioners of the more folk centered practices. Not that they didn’t exist before, but in the last 5-10 years, they’ve found their voice online, in spaces that had to that point been primarily either Wicca or Wicca derived, or Ceremonial magick. No longer do we cast circle for everything, and I’m actually a believer in this. Full circle casting aren’t needed for everything, and were overused. What a circle does Circles are great for doing a few things though. Circles are about creating sacred or limnal space. The circle casting I used for years contained the line “a time that is not a time, in a place that is not a place.” which spoke to the limnal quality. A good circle casting clears or purifies the space, establishes boundaries, and protects the space. Once the circle exists, it’s also a way of containing your spells or energies, allowing you to build things up over time, rather than a steady flow of energies. Circles also have the effect of being another layer of importance or ritual to add to something. An easy way to find another ritual act that allows more effort or energy to be poured into things, and through when and what you do in or out of the circle, can make some actions ritually important, while making others just practical. How to cast a proper circle There’s many ways to cast a proper circle. I’ve seen a proper circle cast with one invocation and tracing the physical boundaries of the circle. Certainly you could develop that, but I find it easier and more effective to lean into some basic conventions. In most more magical spaces that use circles, they divide the circle up into 4 quarters, each ruled by a different element. This allows for layering in the creation of the circle. You also get to enlist the help of more than one entity here, if you choose. Let’s break the circle casting into several parts, then put it all together at the end. For all of these, you could use the Words of Power procedure to generate the words you’re going to use, but I’ll provide something that works “out of the box” so to speak. Directions

  1. Cleansing the area, or preparation – This is mostly not even magical, although doing this with intention is very important here. Many traditions will have you sweep, often with a ritual broom, to cleanse and clean the area. I don’t have special cleaning tools just for ritual use, and because sometimes I’m on carpet, my everyday vaccuum becomes a ritual tool. If I’m stuck with nothing, or outdoors, I’ll mark the outer edges of the circle physically somehow. 2. Preparing yourself – This is a basic grounding and centering, that often has a ritualized element to it. I’ve seen the Lord’s Prayer used here, and super traditional in ceremonial places is the Kabbalistic cross, below for you all. Touch thy forehead and say ATEH (thou art) Touch thy breast and say MALKUTH (the Kingdom) Touch thy right shoulder and say VE-GEBURAH (and the Power) Touch thy left shoulder and say VE-GEDULAH (and the Glory) Clasp thy hands before thee and say LE-OLAM (for ever) Dagger between fingers, point up and say AMEN. 3. Outlining the space – Tracing the outline of the circle here, often invoking each of the elements, is our next step. I’ve always seen this as opening a spot that is “of” each element, and using that to outline each quarter of the circle. For me, this is a wonderful way of using the Words of Power thing, one for each element, but there’s some basic things. Remember, Air- East, Fire – South, Water – West, and Earth – North. This will be the order for: “Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtower of the (Direction), ye Lords of (Element). I do summon, stir and call thee up, to witness my (our) rites and guard the circle.” This is longer, so I start at each quarter, air in east, e

tc. and trace around the circle 1 and 1/4 time, to end on the next element. If using a sigular word of power, a cross or pentagram traced, while vibrating the Word of the element, will do just fine, then carry the line to the next element. 4. Return to the center of the circle. Here is some invocation of the Spirit element, or establishment of the circle itself as a unique thing. For this, I’ve used the following invocation for years: “I invoke ye, ye angels of the celestial spheres, who’s dwelling is in the invisible. Ye who are the guardians of the gates of the universe, be ye also the guardians of this mystic sphere. Keep far removed the evil and unbalanced. Strengthen and inspire me so that I may preserve unsullied this abode of the mysteries of the eternal Gods.” Also traditional, although from Wiccan tradition, you can use: “I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou best a meeting place of love and joy and truth; a shield against all wickedness and evil; a boundary between men and the realms of the Mighty Ones; a rampart and protection that shall preserve and contain the power that we shall raise within thee.” 5. Close with the same internal grounding or centering you used in step 2) 6. Then go about your ritual stuff.

When NOT to cast circle You almost always CAN cast a circle, but it’s often something that isn’t exactly needed. If you have a practical goal, and you’re doing just a little bit of something but more often, you probably don’t need a circle. You can layer one in, but it’s rarely needed. It’s a great layer to add when you need it, and it gets super simple and easy to do once you memorize what you’re doing. In all honesty, I’ve got this simple process down to where I do it more often than not. You can fancy it up quite a bit, and extend this to be a more formal ritual, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s almost a comforting thing to have that circle closed around you. If you think it’s a lot of work, you can probably relax, but if you find you like it, there’s nothing wrong with doing it. Opening the Circle when you’re done. I don’t make a big deal about this. Often it’s as simple as thanking everyone that you invoked. I usually will give a simple thank you, and walk the circle counter-clockwise to “pull up” the circle itself, but I never make a big deal out of it. Circles are great at creating that layer that makes your magick feel important, but they are very rarely required. I do find that they’re a great tool for grabbing the right mindset.

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