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Casting Circle

Everything else builds on this one basic skill.
Do it right.

There are numerous resources both in books and on the web, for learning how to cast Circle, and perform ritual. Most state similar techniques, and this will probably be no different. Circle casting is done a specific way because the act of casting begins the process of attuning your subconscious to the awareness of forces that are not normally recognized.

Most of what Witches do on a Spiritual level is done in an altered state of consciousness. When a Circle is properly cast, and you are in the correct mindset to do ritual, everything outside the Circle seems to fade and cease to exist. The Circle is a place that is not a place, and a time that has no time. You become so focused on where you are and what you are doing that nothing else matters. There are times that you may come out of ritual to find voicemail on your phone, but you never heard the ring.

At first it’s natural to question how you can ever get to this state of concentration, but as I said in What Is Ritual, this altered state is the whole point of performing the ritual. After you have become comfortable with casting Circle, and it becomes second nature to do so, you will find that entering this altered state is also second nature. It just takes practice.

Before casting, it is traditional to cleanse the area you intend to use. This is normally a metaphysical cleansing, not a physical one, unless you need to clear the area of objects. Assuming that you already have a clear area to work in, you can simply sweep the Circle with a broom. Because this is not a physical cleaning, the bristles of the broom are held above the floor. The broom and the sweeping motion are symbolic, and the subconscious communicates in symbols.

Simply “sweep” the area where you intend to cast the Circle, picturing in your mind (visualizing) that you are sweeping out all negative energies, and anything else that is unwanted. Continue sweeping as long as it takes to get the area free of these energies. When the area is clean, you will know.

Typically as a Witch, you will start casting the Circle in the East. There are always exceptions to everything, but here I will stick to the standard way of casting. Standing in the East, you take your casting tool, be it a sword, staff, Athame, or your finger, and clear your mind. It is important that you forget all the problems of your day. No matter what happened to you during the day, it has no place in ritual. Forget it, clear your mind.

Concentrate on what you are about to do. The ritual takes over your mind, leaving no room for anything else. Feel the space around you. Understand that this space, no matter where it happens to be, is Sacred. Feel the Divinity of the space. It does not matter if you are standing knee deep in the sewer. Everything comes from the Goddess, and is therefore Divine and Sacred.

In order to create Sacred Space, you must be able to recognize the Sacred, no matter where you may see it. This is one of the things that separate Witchcraft from organized religions of the West. We do not separate the Spiritual from the physical. Divinity does not exist on a separate plane from us. It is all around and part of us. When you can feel the Sacred all around you, it is time to begin casting the Circle.

Tap into the Sacred all around you, and pull that energy into your body. Focus this energy within you. Pointing your casting tool at the ground before you, feel the energy run through your body, and down your arm. Push the energy out from your hand, through the tool and onto the ground where it points. You are not creating this energy, you are simply focusing and directing the energy around you, and putting it to your will. Most people will see this focused energy as being a blue-white in color.

With your casting tool, begin to draw the Circle. There is no rush, take your time, always focusing on the energy you are drawing into you, and shooting out of the tool. Visualization is the key. You can create anything you can visualize. See the energy and the Circle you are drawing with your mind’s eye. Superimpose this image over the reality of your location and see both the energy and the physical location at the same time.

Most people can close their eyes and see images in their mind. The trained Witch can do this with their eyes open, and with little thought to maintaining the mental image. This is visualization. You must be able to see not only the mental image of your choice, but how it interacts with the world around you. Everyone has the ability to overlay a mental image they see in their mind, with the physical image they see with their eyes. Some come by the skill easier than others, but it is a skill and can be learned by anyone willing to work hard enough.

Walk the space as you draw the Circle on the ground. Calmly create your Sacred space as you go. Slowly walk the area you intend to use, drawing the Circle. See the blue-white light of the energy come out of your casting tool, and hit the ground. Everyone sees this differently, I see it almost like a laser hitting the ground and causing the ground to glow wherever it hits. The glow remains as I walk the boundary of the Circle.

Your aim doesn’t need to be perfect. The great thing about casting a Circle for ritual is that no matter how wobbly or amoeba-like you draw them, they always end up perfectly round. Walk the boundary of your Circle, casting the blue-white light out onto the floor the entire time. When you come back to where you began, make the part you are drawing, cross the point where the Circle started, and they will connect. As the two ends come into contact with each other, the Circle will become whole, and perfect.

This is all there is to casting the Circle. You can chant words as you cast or not, it’s really up to you, and what feels right. This is your circle, how you cast it is entirely up to you. Remember as you cast, that you are creating Sacred Space. This is an area of calm and tranquility no matter what else may be happening in the general vicinity. Once the Circle is complete, you will notice a difference, even if you can’t quite figure out what that difference is.

It’s this difference in the feel of a Circle that we label as a place that is not a place, a time that is not a time. Within the Circle, time seems to move differently. There will be times when your internal clock says you’ve been inside for hours, and when the Circle is cut, the clock tells you that only a few minutes have passed. The opposite is also true, you think you’ve only been in Circle a few minutes, and come out to find an hour or more has passed.

Other outside distractions are muted also. Even outside in the middle of a busy park, you will find that you stop noticing people as they pass by. I have gone into Circle outside in full daylight, and come out at the end of ritual to realize that dusk has already passed. When you are in the ritual mindset, your mind focuses only on the task within the Circle, and ignores everything else. This may not happen when you first start casting circles, but with practice, it will happen.

The purpose of the Circle is two-fold. The Circle creates a barrier that holds energy. Most rituals involve raising energy that is directed to a purpose, a.k.a. Magick. The Circle allows you to focus on drawing in the energy and manipulating it, without worrying about containing it. The Circle contains the energy until it is directed to its purpose.

The other purpose of the Circle is as a protective barrier. It is this protective aspect that causes the outside distractions to be muted. While the Circle itself is not physical in nature, it does have a physical quality to it. As you become attuned to the energy of the Circle, you will be able to feel it. Most Witches who have been practicing for a while, feel this energy strong enough that they can back to the edge of the Circle without ever crossing the boundary. You can feel the wall of energy on your back as you near it.

Some Witches see the cast Circle as a cone of energy, others see it as a dome, or hemisphere. How you see the Circle doesn’t matter, but you should be able to see it, if only as the line drawn on the ground, for as long as the circle is cast. This comes back to visualization. By visualizing the Circle, you make it real. The stronger your will, the more real the Circle is. This is why a Circle for a group ritual tends to be stronger than one for a single person. The more people who see the Circle, the more will is involved, and therefore a stronger Circle is cast.

You don’t need to worry about how strong you cast your Circle. As long as you can see the Circle when you look at it, it’s strong enough to do what you need. As long as you are confident in your ability, your Circle will be as strong as it needs to be. This is why casting Circle is one of the first things a Witch learns. Circle casting is an exercise to build confidence. A Witch must be confident in what they do, or they won’t be able to do anything.

The phrase, ‘By my will, so mote it be!’ is not simply a way to note the end of ritual. Everything that a Witch does, is by his or her will alone. If your will is strong enough, you can do anything you set your mind to. Strong will, placed behind solid visualization can move mountains. Will cannot be learned, it can only be exercised. As with your muscles, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Just as with visualization, it takes practice.

You can exercise will by breaking bad habits. If you smoke, stop. Any smoker will tell you that quitting takes a force of will like no other. You can also exercise your will by taking control of, and responsibility for, your life. Recognize when you have done something wrong, and correct it, or better yet, stop yourself from doing something you know is wrong. Doing the right thing, and taking responsibility for your actions is never the easy way, which is why it takes will. The stronger your will, the more effective your Magick.

This is also why casting a spell for another is less effective than casting one for yourself. If you are going to go to all the work of creating a spell then casting it, you must really want a specific outcome. Casting a spell for someone else can be effective, but because your will is the determining factor in the success of the spell, it’s usually easier to exercise your will for something you want.

The more times you cast a Circle, the more you exercise both your will and visualizations skills, the easier it becomes. The first few times you cast Circle may be difficult. You must be confident in your ability to cast the Circle. Each time you cast a Circle, your confidence will grow, especially if you are casting for a group. Even if you are casting Circle only for yourself, as you get used to it, you will become more confident in your ability.

You will begin to notice the difference between when you are in Circle, and when you are not. As you work within the Circle, you will feel it holding the energy you raise. These are things that you may not be able to measure scientifically, but you will feel them. As you notice these changes, you will gain confidence, and that will cause your casting to be stronger. No one is asking you to take anything on faith. You will see the reality of what you are doing. The more you see, the better you will become.

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