Posted: July 8th/99
Circle casting is an important, and at times, difficult activity.
It involves the use of many skills, and for the beginner it can
seem like a pointless, if not impossible, routine. How do you do
it properly? When should it be done? And perhaps most importantly:
how do you know if you've done it? (Keitha mentally rolls up her
sleeves and grins).
What is a Circle?
A circle is a boundary of energy extending halfway above the
ground and halfway below. It marks the boundary between the
worlds: inside the circle is a cleansed space where the two worlds
can interact. Outside is the mundane, 'regular' world. That's the
basics; more on this later.
Why do you need a Circle?
A circle is cast to create a clean space in which to do ritual and
magickal workings. It creates an area in which both worlds are
present; in a very real sense, it is between the worlds. To invite
a Deity, or an Elemental, etc. without a circle (into the mundane
world) isn't always such a great idea. It's easier to interact
inside a circle. It also acts to keep magickal energy inside until
it is ready to be released, or to keep negative energy outside.
What do I need to know to cast a circle?
Well, you must have a lot of focus. You must be able to clearly
visualize what you are doing, and how you are doing it. You should
be able to feel the energy you are attempting to move, and have a
clear idea of where you want to put it. Here are a few things to
keep in mind:
1. What is the purpose of your circle? To protect from outside
negativity; to contain magickal energy; to create a space between
the worlds; another purpose; a mixture? The nature of your circle
will depend on the ritual you are planning on doing.
2. How big will your circle be? If you are casting the circle for
practise, then all you need is a circle the size of your own body.
For a larger group, no big surprise, a larger circle. In my
personal opinion, it should be large enough that you don't keep
wandering to the edges and sticking your head through it.
3. How will you visualize your circle? If you are just learning,
it might be best to stick with simple colours. Later on, you can
learn funky patterns and effects. Practice casting a circle in
your mind during meditation. You must learn how to visualize
things clearly, hold them in your mind, and focus while you rotate
and move them. At the beginning, stick to the basics: there's no
substitute for them.
4. Can you keep your focus for as long as it takes to set up the
circle? If you are constantly second-guessing yourself, you can't
maintain your concentration. Trust yourself.
5. Treat it with respect. Constantly walking in, through, and out
of the circle without cutting a door, or otherwise ignoring its
boundaries doesn't really help you much. You can't really expect
to cast strong circles if you can't create and keep it in your
mind first. The circle is real because you make it real. You make
it real by believing in it and acting on it.
6. Finally, don't be disappointed if you don't get it the first
time. Or the second. Or the 30th. It takes time; it takes
self-trust; it takes PRACTICE.
When do I cast the circle?
I've found that the best time is right after you have cleansed the
space (by blessing, sweeping, or making lots of noise), and before
you invoke any elements or Deities. If you have others with you
for the ritual, save up jokes, and try to make each other laugh
really hard just before you create the circle. This further gets
rid of any negativity that might be present, and provides enough
positive energy to cast a good circle. My friend and I have had
some fascinating rituals this way.
So, how do I cast a circle, exactly?
Well, there are many ways. If you're reading this for information,
then you'll probably want a simple one.
First, ground and center yourself. Stand with both feet firmly on
the ground, and relax your arms at the sides of your body. Simply
feel and visualize the energy of the Earth below you, and the Sky
above you. Face one of the directions, and physically reach down
with your arm and gather the energy of the Earth into your hand.
Reach up to the Sky and gather the energy of the Sky into your
other hand. Now scoot down near the ground and face your palms
outward, sending that energy into a smooth wall of colour that
will spread itself into the shape of a circle. Rise up as you do
this, shaping and smoothing the wall at this corner. Repeat this
at the other three directions, constantly smoothing and shaping it
with your hands. At each direction, the circle gets stronger and
thicker; there are no gaps because the energy of the circle
constantly swirls around evenly. See the energy as a thick, fluid
stream of colour. It also flows under the ground, to even itself
out as a complete sphere. You can shape it underground by
visualizing it through the floor. Solidify it by visualizing the
energy of the circle as sticking together, like hot glue or warm
honey. When you feel the circle is 'set', all you have to do now
is keep it in mind, and perhaps make minor re-adjustments if you
feel it is necessary. Take as much time as you need, and don't
rush. No-one's holding a stopwatch. Don't be afraid to move around
spontaneously; no-one's marking you on grace or coolness. And most
importantly, don't be afraid to screw up; that's an important way
How do I know if I did it?
This is the fun part. Everybody has their own unique way of
sensing circles. Some people can see the circle; as a band of
colour, or a thickening of the air. Some people can feel it as a
spark of electricity, or again as a thickening of air. Some people
can hear it as a low hum. Everybody is different. One thing is
certain, however: circles get really hot. In a strong circle you
can feel the cold air rushing in when you cut a door. When you
take it down, you can practically feel a breeze. In the beginning,
you may not be sure whether or not you've succeeded; don't let
that bother you. When you really get the hang of it, you'll know
What's this about cutting a door?
Cutting a door basically means opening a hole in the circle so you
can leave it. It's best to stay in the circle the whole time it's
up, but there are times when you've forgotten something important
in another room (like a lighter), or there's something you have to
deal with. My personal favourite way of cutting a door is to hold
your fingers and hand in a straight line, and move your hand
around a rectangular outline large enough for you to walk through.
Visualize the energy of the circle inside that rectangle being
sucked into your forearm where you can store it until you get
back. When closing the door, do this in reverse, and then smooth
out the edges of where the door was. Visualize the energy of the
circle swirling around until the location of the door is lost.
Still, cutting too many doors in a circle can also weaken it
I live in an apartment; will the people
downstairs walk into my circle and mess it up?
I just added this question because I've wondered about it myself.
Yes, the circle does extend halfway below the floor, and yes,
someone downstairs could walk right through the bottom part of it.
All I can suggest is that you either do your rituals after you're
sure they're out or asleep, or just try not to think about it. :)
When and how do I take the circle down?
At the very end of ritual. After the Deities are gone, the
Element/als have returned to their respective realms, etc. etc.
etc. The only thing that generally follows taking down the circle
is eating, drinking, and chatting. Take the circle down exactly
the same way that you set it up, in reverse. Take as much time to
take it down as you took to set it up. Send the energy back into
the Earth, the Sky, or wherever you chose to get it from. If you
used the energy from the Earth and Sky, then it's a good idea to
change it into healing energy for our planet and our skies before
you channel it back.
What's the best way to practice circle
Actually: alone. If you can do it alone, then you can do it in a
group; it doesn't always work in reverse. Working alone also lets
you develop your own style, and you don't need to worry about
people staring at you. You can work on your concentration more
easily by yourself, and you don't feel like you're boring people
if you take a while. Write your own visualizations and keep track
of your results in a journal. But above all, learn to trust
yourself and your instincts; it's one of the most valuable gifts
you can give yourself.