Epona's Way Pagan Pages
Casting the Circle
Before attempting any type of ritual magick, it is considered necessary to cast a protective Circle in which you can work. The Circle has several functions: firstly, to keep out uninvited spirits, entities, or vibrations; secondly, to help keep the energy you’ve raised enclosed and with you until you are ready to direct it. The Circle also becomes a “Between” place, a place which is not of the Earthly or material plane, and not of the etheric or spiritual plane, but a kind of threshold between the two. This is why you can pull energy from the astral plane back into the material plane and make magick; you are calling upon those energies and directing them with your will.
To cast a Circle, you will need:
1. A place where you will not be disturbed for at least an hour.
2. Incense in a thurible (dish) that you can carry around.
4. Your athame, if you’ve found one, or your “sacred pointer finger!”
5. Good visualization skills, i.e. the ability to “see” things in your mind.
6. Your altar, with two white altar candles lit, for illumination.
7. A compass
First, make sure you have everything you need inside the place in which you are going to cast Circle. Set your altar up, facing East or North (see “Wiccan Working Tools,”) light your candles, and turn off electric lights. If it is too dark, feel free to light more candles, but it is best to have them outside your Circle, as the altar will become crowded.
Stand at what will be the edge of your Circle, facing East. If you can pull it off, premark the boundaries. Ways of doing this:
1. Use an oil pastel on hardwood; it will wipe right up with a dry rag
afterward (always test first!)
2. Use masking tape, to mark either the whole Circle or just the
Quarters (compass points...more later)
3. Find an old area rug big enough to make at least a ten foot diameter
Circle, and paint or draw the boundaries on that; you can unroll it
when needed and just roll it back up
4. Or, you can simply lay out the Quarters with appropriate candles at
each point, and imagine your Circle
The Quarters are the houses of the cardinal directions: East, South, West, and North. You will be calling upon the powers of each direction to help and protect. Use a compass to accurately find the directions in the place you’ll be working, and use something to mark each point on what will be the boundary of your Circle (see “Directions Correspondences.”)
Now that you have placed an appropriate candle, stone or other indicator at each point, you are ready to cast the Circle. Take a few deep breaths, try to relax and allow all tension to run out of you through the bottoms of your feet, into the ground. Light your incense. You will now walk around the Circle three times, each time, marking its boundary with a different element. Walk deosil, or clockwise, and begin in the East.
First time around: use your athame, or your pointer finger on your writing hand, and “draw” the Circle onto the ground. Visualize a blue flame coming from the tip of your athame or finger, and watch it mark a circle on the ground of more blue flame. You do not need to touch the ground, only point and visualize; when you are back to the Eastern Quarter, you will be surrounded by a barrier of blue flame.
Second time around: carry your dish of salt, and sprinkle it at the edge of the Circle. Don’t worry about covering every bit of the boundary with salt; it only takes a light sprinkling. Again, start at the East & end in the East.
Third time around: pick up your censer or thurible of smoldering incense (or your holy incense cone!) and again walk around the boundaries, East back to East. Return to your altar, and sit, kneel or stand, as you wish.
Your Circle is now described. While sitting quietly at your altar, visualize your Circle as a sphere, curving up over you and also below you into the ground. The circle of blue flame on the ground is only the mid-point of the Circle, where it intersects with the ground. This illustration may help.
You are completely surrounded by a powerful, protective bubble, over which you have control. Only you can let things in, and only you can let things out.
Since you must invite things in, now you need to go and call the Quarters. Below is a very simple Call, but it can be as elaborate as you wish.
“I call upon the powers of the East, and of Air! Join me in my Circle!
I call upon the powers of South and of Fire! Join me in my Circle!
I call upon the powers of West and of Water! Join me in my Circle!
I call upon the powers of North and of Earth! Join me in my Circle!”
When you mention each direction, you will need to move around the Circle and stop at that point, or turn to face each direction from your altar.
We call upon the Elemental Powers because they are able to protect us while we are between the Worlds; they are very powerful. Next, you will need to invoke your God & Goddess, asking them to be present at your ceremony. This is done in countless ways, the best of which are the invocations you make up yourself. Don’t ever be afraid to read from pages or your Book of Shadows in ritual; the movies show wizards & whatnot chanting from memory, but that’s not how it really goes most of the time. Most of us read from our Books of Shadows; some things will eventually become so ingrained that you know them by heart, but memorization gets you no extra points!
Your Circle is now cast. You are ready to hold an Esbat, Sabbat ritual, or whatever it is you need to do. When you are done, you will want to break the Circle, not just leave it standing. To do this, first dismiss the Quarters (saying something like, “Thank you for your protection tonite; you are dismissed.”) Then, take up your athame (or finger) and make a “cut” in the Circle, from East to West, then from North to South. Say something like, “The Circle is broken, but never gone,” and visualize the blue flame drawing up into your knife or finger. Once you feel that all the energy is dissipated, sweep up the salt, remove the Quarter candles, and erase the markings that marked your boundaries (if you are lucky enough to be able to leave your marks, by all means do so; the energy will be dissipated, and the boundary marks are now just marks.) Put away your tools.
Congratulations! You’ve cast a Circle! Now here are a few noted about Circles in general.
1. Do not walk in and out of your Circle while it is up, nor allow others to
2. If you must leave the Circle, only in emergency, then use your athame
or finger and make a small “cut” in the Circle, through which you
will exit and return. Remember to reverse the cut (“rezip it”) when
you are back inside.
3. Cats do not seem to disturb the energies of Circle, and pretty much
come and go as they please. Dogs are very disruptive usually, as
are yelling children and nagging spouses! Lock the door, and don’t
attempt Circle unless you can be free of disturbances.
4. The Circle you have cast is very powerful, and as you become more
comfortable and “in tune” with these new energies you will realize
just how powerful your Circle has been all this time. Treat it with
the utmost respect, since it is your shield.
5. When you concentrate energy and send it out in a spell, the Circle will
allow the energy to leave, and even help magnify it toward your
goal. Until you are ready to send your energy, though, the Circle
will keep your energies in, to conserve them (this is really helpful
at first, when it is difficult to concentrate all the energy whirling
After you’ve cast a few Circles, you may want to ask yourself a few question.
1. How strong is my Circle? Can I feel its strength surrounding me?
2. How good are my visualization skills? Can I really see my Circle in my
3. Do my invocations to the Quarters & the Lord and Lady feel right?
Should I write my own, or find a printed one that speaks to me?
4. Could I benefit from holding a ritual outdoors somewhere (hint:
answer is always ‘yes’!)
5. What can I do to make casting Circle more fun for my inner child?
Chant while I walk around, or sing? Dance around the Circle
instead of walking? Bells on my toes? A Princess Leia brass bra?
Remember, your Circle is your protection in the Between world of magick and spirits; make it your own. Reading some dreary prefabricated ritual, while good for a while until you’re comfortable, will not satisfy you in the long run. Wicca is a fun path, and while we should hold things like our Circles in reverence, reverence doesn’t necessarily imply boredom, or monotony. Good luck, and blessed be!