Solitary Witchcraft: How to Cast a Circle
One of the basic practices of witchcraft is casting a circle. The purpose of a circle is to create a sacred, magical space where the witch is able to meditate or perform a spell, a healing, or a ritual of protection or gratitude.
The circles described here are for solitary witches. In other words, one witch working alone. They can be easily adapted for two or more people simply by increasing their size.
One thing I’d like to emphasize is that everything in witchcraft, including casting a circle, is flexible and adaptable. There are no rules, just guidelines. So you are free to change things around if it makes more sense to you. For example, my circle assumes you are in the northern hemisphere. If you are in the southern hemisphere, you might reverse the correspondences for North and South because the hottest part of the planet for you is in the North, toward the Equator.
What Is a Circle in Witchcraft?
You can’t see it. You probably can’t feel it, but there is a definite increase of energy within it. As a matter of fact, circles aren’t really circles at all, they are spheres. Imagine a large bubble all around you, penetrating the floor and sometimes even the walls, depending on the space you have available.
The function of a circle, as mentioned is to provide a sacred space for the witch or Wiccan to work. However, it is more than that. It is protective; keeping unwanted energy at bay while the ritual proceeds. It also concentrates the energy within, helping the witch to focus his or her attention and put as much power into the working as possible.
It’s hard to describe the feeling and it is probably different for everyone, but there is really something special about performing this simple procedure.
Do I Always Have to Cast a Circle for a Spell?
No, indeed not. I rarely use one these days as my spells tend to be spur of the moment events. I usually use sigil magick, which takes just a few minutes. Yet, it is lovely to set aside some time and create a wonderful sacred space by casting a circle. There’s something so beautiful and magical about it. Even if you are simply going to sit within and meditate for a little while.
The Very Basic Magickal Circle
Casting a circle can be as easy as pointing a finger to the ground and turning 360 degrees deosil (clockwise). You could say something like “I cast this circle for my protection. Keep negativity out, let only love come in.” At the end of the ritual, the witch turns widdershins (anti-clockwise) and says simply, “The circle now fades away.”
That could be thought of as ‘circle-lite’. It’s handy for quick spells and also for protection when out and about. Visualize it around you like a protective glass sphere, always with you.
Most witches prefer to put a little more effort into it when working magick, celebrating a Sabbat, or an Esbat (full moon). They base the circle around the four cardinal directions and their correspondences, known as the ‘quarters’.
Wiccans often go further with this by calling upon the Lords of the Watchtowers to act as protectors while they work their magick. In essence, it’s exactly the same as I will describe, but the words are more specific. For now we are simply going with the guardians of each cardinal point, plus a fifth, the vertical plane that connects us with spirit.
Decide where your circle will be. You can allow it to enclose your altar if practical. Circles can penetrate walls, so don’t worry if the ideal place means part of the circle circumference will be outside of the room. If you like, you can cast your circle in a garden or other private outside space.
The size of the circle should give you room to work. You might want to dance, or move about, or you might want to work sitting down, with little or no physical movement. The standard measurement is nine feet across, but it really doesn't matter.
These directions are for casting the circle only. Once it is done, you will be working your magick, so I am assuming you know what you want to do and have your ritual formulated and the various elements memorized, written down as notes, or laid out in your grimoire.
Steps to Casting a Magickal Circle
Beforehand: Establish the cardinal directions; use a compass if necessary. Gather your tools and anything else you want within the circle. If you are going to be sitting down, have a pillow or chair ready. Either have your altar within the circle or create a temporary one on a small table, desk, or even a chair. Arrange your witchy tools to your satisfaction. Light incense and candles if you are using them. Don’t light candles that will be forming part of a spell. You’ll do that when you work the spell.
Optional: Place an item that represents the directions/quarters/elements at the respective points. Your circle will encircle them. You might have a pebble at North/Earth, a small cup of water at West/ Water, a feather at East, and an LED candle at South (I don’t recommend placing lit candles on the floor for safety reasons). An alternative is to use the corresponding Aces from a tarot deck as markers.
- Step 1. Stand at the center point of your, as yet uncast circle. Breathe deeply three times, making sure to exhale fully. It’s important not to rush the process. In your mind, be clear on the purpose for the circle and your intended ritual.
- Step 2. Take your wand, or point the index finger of your dominant hand at the floor where you imagine the perimeter of the circle will be. Turn toward East, pause and say, “I call the Guardian of East and the element of Air to watch over this sacred circle.” Take a moment to imagine what a Guardian might look like. A hooded figure, an angel, a concentrated form of energy, or whatever your imagination comes up with. Bow your head slightly in acknowledgment.
- Step 3. Keeping your wand or finger pointing at the circle perimeter, turn slowly to South. Pause and say, “I call upon the Guardian of South and the element of Fire to watch over this sacred circle.” Again, take a moment to visualize the Guardian materializing. Dip your head as before.
- Step 4. Now turn to West, pause and say, “I call upon the Guardian of West and the element of Water to watch over this sacred circle.” In your mind’s eye, see the Guardian take its place and acknowledge its presence with a slight bow of your head.
- Step 5. With your wand or finger, lastly turn to the North. Pause a moment and say, “I call upon the Guardian of North and the element of Earth to watch over this sacred circle.” Visualize the Guardian appearing and bow your head. The drawing of the circle perimeter is complete.
- Step 6. Raise your wand or finger to point upwards above your head. Say, “I call upon the Spirit of the Universe to watch over this circle, fill it with love, peace and divinity." Imagine a bright beam of light, emanating from above, and going right through your body, down through to the floor. Visualize your circle forming a protective sphere around you.
You are now ready to perform your ritual, cast a spell, or simply sit and enjoy the experience of calm, yet energizing energy all around and through you.
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.— Joseph Campbell
Dissolving the Circle
When you are ready, stand up, facing East and say, “Thank you, Guardian, go in peace and love.” Turn to North, West, and finally South, saying the same words.
When you are back at East, point your finger or wand to the floor and slowly turn widdershins (anti-clockwise), imagining the circle dissolving and fading as you go.
That’s it, you are done.
There are a few things about working with circles that you need to know.
- Firstly, if there’s an emergency, don’t worry about leaving it. Just go.
- Small children and animals can enter and leave without breaking the circle.
- There’s a Wiccan guideline that says if you want or need to leave the circle, you can cut a doorway in it with your athame (ceremonial knife) or hand. Personally, I would just pretend to move an imaginary curtain and walk through. You can always strengthen the circle on your return by a quick deosil turn and point.
If you have any questions about circle casting, ask below.
Have you ever cast a circle?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Bev G