Wicca Basics: How to Cast a Circle
Casting a Circle
Casting a circle is easier in theory than in practice. It's easy to explain in the same way it's easy to explain how to play the guitar. If you had never picked up a guitar before, I could tell you that all you need to do to play it is hold down certain strings with the fingers of one hand while strumming it with the other hand; but you are most likely not going to be able to pick it up and play a song. I could show you a diagram of all the hand positions you need to play chords, I could tell you all the notes you'll need to play a song, I could even demonstrate for you—but when you pick up that guitar, you're going to stumble for a while before you produce anything resembling music.
Likewise, with a circle, there are many great guides that give step-by-step instructions that tell you what to do, what to say, what tools you can use, what you should be thinking, etc.—but the actual skill is something that will only develop with time and practice.
Instructional guides that walk you through it are fine; they provide you with a framework for practicing, or give you inspiration for how to create your own Casting the Circle Rite. If you're interested in a 'ritual script' I provide one here. But these kinds of guides alone aren't enough. Here, I offer some techniques and exercises to help you develop your ability to cast a proper Wiccan circle.
Casting a Wiccan Circle
Meditation is the foundation for so many spiritual practices, particularly in orthopraxic religions like Wicca. Any experienced Wiccan mentor, coven leader or school is going to emphasize mastering meditation as a basic technique. Three important elements of mastering meditation are breath, relaxation and mindfulness. Practicing these exercises will enhance your ability to enter a meditative state at will.
- Breathing Exercise: Spend a few minutes per day just focusing on your breath. Don't try to force it into a rhythm, don't attempt to breath or exhale deeply; just let it flow naturally. Focus on the in and out, the way it feels, the way the air smells or tastes, the feel of the rise and fall of your chest. If your attention wanders, that's okay; just redirect it back to your breath.
- Relaxation Technique: Learn to relax your body each part by focusing on one major muscle or muscle group at a time. Tense the muscles of one isolated area for 15 to 30 seconds, then let it totally relax. Start with focus on one foot. Tense only the foot-- then let it go. Move your attention to the calf muscle, the thigh, then work your way up from the other leg. Work your way up the buttocks, back, stomach, chest, each arm (hands to shoulders), neck, and face.
- Mindfulness Exercise: Pick one task per day for about 10 minutes and give it your total focus. It could be dusting the house-- put your mind in the moment, notice how soft the feather duster is, the smell of the furniture polish, the dust particles dancing in the air, the faint sound of the rag swiping across the surface, the shine of the wood. Become positively fascinated by the task at hand, question and explore every detail and sensory experience of it with your mind. The next day you might be mindful during your shower, during the walk from your car to the office, while you're washing the dishes. Do it once per day.
A Powerful Imagination Helps
When you're working with the spiritual, you're usually working with that which is invisible. The ability to visualize becomes important to ritual work; you cannot manifest that which you cannot even imagine.
Visualization often makes people think exclusively of visual images. This is because so many of us are visually oriented and rely on our eyes, or what we see, for our main source of sensory input. Perhaps "Creative Sensory Experience" would be a better term, because some people find it easier to imagine sounds, smells, tastes, or feelings-- either physical or emotional feelings. If you have trouble visualizing, not only is it fine to bring in other senses, but it's encouraged to bring in as many as you can to the experience.
Creative Visualization Exercises:
- Work on visualizing color. Go into a meditative state and envision a red 7 with your mind's eye—kind of like those big numbers that hang in the air on Sesame Street. Then envision an orange 6, a yellow 5, a green 4, a blue 3, an indigo 2 and a violet 1. A big part of 'seeing' things in visualization is the ability to see vivid colors, so train yourself to see the whole spectrum this way. If you're having difficult seeing a certain color, get a crayon or piece of paper or pull up the color online and stare at it a while, then close your eyes and visualize it.
- Visualize a place from your childhood that you haven't been for a while—your childhood bedroom, kindergarten classroom, grandma's house, etc. and explore it again with as many senses as you can muster—not just the sights (like all the knick knacks on the shelf or the papers on the bulletin board) but the sounds, the scents, the way the wooden chairs feel under your butt and the way you feel emotionally being in that space.
- Pick your favorite painting—perhaps The Scream by Munch, or perhaps just flea market folk art of a farmhouse hanging on your wall. Go into a meditative state and envision the painting. Then envision yourself stepping into it and exploring the scene.
Learning to Focus Energy
In order to cast a proper circle, you need to learn how to manipulate energy. Some of this energy is drawn from your surroundings, from the universe, celestial bodies, the earth, etc.; and some comes from within yourself. You will mix and channel these energies and project them to take the form of your actual (this is where the visualization becomes important).
To learn how to improve your skills at manipulating energy, try these exercises:
- Sit and meditate. Hold your hands up with the palms facing each other, a couple of inches apart but not touching. Try to sense your own energy. Try this exercise with a friend, holding your palm up to your friend's palm and try to sense each other's energy.
- Go into a very dimly lit room with a white blank wall. Sit in front of the wall and meditate, holding your hands up with your palms facing each other. Open your eyes and try to see the energy between your hands. You may also be able to see your aura around your hands.
- After a few sessions, when you can see the energy clearly, start practicing with projecting the energy from one hand to the other, or out of your palm to the wall, or straight up or down.
When it comes to circle casting, practice makes perfect. You don't need to have an altar set full of tools, nor do you need to plan a full-blown ritual. You can practice casting circles anytime-- anywhere. Cast one in your room at night to sit in and meditate. Cast one at the park. Cast one around yourself while you're sitting on the bus using only the visualization and your own ability to manipulate energy.
Here are some exercises:
- Visualize yourself pulling up energy from the earth below and the universe above. Visualize it gathering and mingling with your own energy in the center of your body. Visualize it forming into a bubble-- let it grow, and grow, until you are engulfed by the bubble.
- Practice with friends. Have your friend leave the room, then return. See if your friend can sense whether or not you have cast a circle. Then you leave the room and go back in to see if you can determine if your friend cast a circle or not.
The more circles you cast, the better you will get at it. Once you begin to master circle casting, you'll notice a marked difference in your rituals, as well as your magical workings.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright