Casting the Ritual Circle

Casting the Ritual Circle

[Pagan Resources]

[Wiccan Rede]
[Creating Sacred Space]
[Magical Skills]
[Building an Altar]
[Book of Shadows]
[Creating Ritual Tools]
[Consecrating Tools]
[Magical Names]
[Casting the Circle]
[The Witches Garden]

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[Designing Rituals]
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Most traditions cast the circle basically in the same way. The wording of the spoken parts is different, the colors and symbols used to indicate the cardinal points are different, who does what is different, but the basic principal is the same. The circle is traced with one of the ritual tools by a person walking in a circle clockwise and the four cardinal points are marked in one way or another. Here I will outline in detail a circle casting that is partly my creation and partly as it was taught to me in my first coven. There are many other ways and words depending upon the tradition you are a member of, do what feels right to you when casting the circle, what you are use to. If you have no specific ritual of your own, you are welcome to utilize mine, that's why it's here. It is designed for use by a solitaire, if you will be using it for coven work you may want to make some minor adjustments such as sharing out the actions among the coveners rather than having one person perform them all.

There are some basic concepts you must understand about circle casting. First of all, the circle is not a flat, one dimensional line on the floor. It is a sphere of energy that intersects the plane of the floor, extending above your head and below your feet.

You are in effect enclosing yourself in a bubble. The bubble is an energy field and is most commonly visualized as cold, blue or violet fire streaming from the tip of the athame.

Also, there are two terms that you will hear often, deosil and widdershins. Deosil means clockwise

and widdershins means counter clockwise.
In the northern hemisphere, circles are cast deosil and dismissed widdershins. In the southern hemisphere this is reversed and the circle is cast widdershins and dismissed deosil. The outline below is for the northern hemisphere, if you are in the southern hemisphere don't forget to reverse the directions.

A circle may be cast with an athame, wand, sword, incense stick, feather, sprig of herbs or even your finger, it is the energy that you put into the circle that forms it, not the tool you use. Some people find it useful to trace the circle on the floor with salt so it is easier to see it's boundaries. You may do this if it helps you. In the past many magicians did this as a regular part of casting their circle, and it won't hurt anything if you would like to do it. You may also use a chalk outline, flower petals, crystals, or candles. If you use candles be cautious about flowing robes catching alight, use huricane lamps to cover the flames. I have heard of using flour, but it is harder to vacuum out of the carpet after the ritual than salt. As for the size, a circle may be small enough just for one person to sit in or may be as large as needed for a group, the size you cast should be based upon your need and the size of the gathering. A nine foot circle is traditional, increased by three foot increments if needed, but let your needs be your guide.

Casting the Circle

Gather your materials. Your ritual tools should be on the altar, as should the altar candles (two white candles), the censer, altar incense, a bowl of water, a bowl of salt and a red candle. You should also have the watchtower candles ready in their places at the edge of the circle area, green for North/earth, red for South/fire, yellow for East/air, and blue for West/water. These may be jar candles that are reused for each circle. We shall assume that your altar is already set up and oriented toward the North near the outside edge of the space the circle will be cast. Use a compass to find north. We shall further assume that you have already purified yourself and the space and are dressed in your robes or skyclad as you prefer. You are now ready to begin.

The Circle will be arranged as above

Stand before the altar and light the altar candles. Say the following to announce the casting of the circle:

Then, place the bowl of water in the center of the altar. Put the point of your athame in the water and give the exorcism of water as follows:

Set the bowl aside. Place the bowl of salt in the center of the altar. Put the point of your athame in the salt and give the exorcism of salt as follows:

Set the bowl aside. Light the charcoal in the censer. Place the container of incense in the center of the altar. Place the point of your athame in the incense and give the exorcism of incense as follows:

Set the incense aside. Take up your athame, and begining in the North, walk deosil (clockwise) around the circle facing outward. Hold the athame in your projective hand, right if you are right handed, left if you are left handed. As you walk, point the athame at the ground and visualize clearly the blue violet fire forming a circle around you. Recite the following words as you walk:

When you return to the altar put down the athame and pour some of the consecrated incense onto the smouldering charcoal. You will now walk the circle four more times saying the following as you go (fill in the appropriate element on each circuit):

First you will sprinkle the consecrated water as you go; then you will sprinkle the consecrated salt as you go; then you will carry the burning incense around the circle; and finally you will carry the lit, red candle around the circle. When you return to the altar with the red candle you may extinguish it. This purifies the circle with each of the four elements.

Next you will call the quarters. Light a taper from the altar candle to carry with you. Walk to each of the cardinal points in turn, begining with the North and call upon the Guardians of the Watchtowers with the following invocation, fill in the appropriate direction in the blank:

Use the lighted taper to light each of the watchtower candles in turn after the invocation. The circle is cast, you may now proceed with the ritual.

If at some point during the ritual it becomes necessary to leave the circle temporarily, you may use the athame to cut an opening in the circle. Holding the athame in your projective hand, insert it into the wall of the circle near the floor. Pull the athame up cutting the wall as you go to about six feet above the ground. Then cut across the top and down the otherside to form a door. This opening may be used to exit the circle and then re-enter. Afterward, before going on with the ritual, close the doorway by retracing the steps you took to cut the opening. Starting at the bottom left, move the athame upward, across the top, and down the right side of the doorway, sealing the opening as you go. After resealing the circle you may resume the ritual.

When the ritual is complete you will want to dismiss the Watchtowers individually with the following invocation of thanks, fill in the appropriate direction in the blank:

As you go to each Watchtower blow out the candle marking it. Retrace the circle with the athame widdershins, visualizing the energy being returned to the athame as the circle is unmade. Say the following as you stand before the altar:

As you speak, hold the athame high then release the energy to the universe. Visualize the blue violet flames streaming toward the heavens, off to manifest the purpose of the circle. The circle is now open.

Be sure to ground yourself after the ritual to return the excess energies to the earth. Extinguish the altar candles and gather the Watchtower candles and store them for future use. Tidy up. The ashes from the incense, the water and the drippings from the candles should be buried in the earth. If this is impossible, you can pour the water on a houseplant and wrap up the candle drippings and ashes and throw them away. The salt may be reused and any incense not used may be returned to it's container. The red candle used to represent fire may be reused as may the altar candles and Watchtower candles, but any candles used for a magical working should be allowed to burn themselves out as they cannot be reused. This allows all of the energy they contain to be released.