Casting a Circle
excerpted from Magical Astrology Guide 2008
The casting of a Magical Circle has been used effectively in many Western Traditions. By creating sacred space and invoking the elements, we can raise power within the circle, and charge the energies with our magical intent. Working with the elemental spirits and the four directions, we can direct our inner work to manifest in our outer world: "as above, so below. "
"If you work with all four of the elements in your magical operations, you generate six times more power than if you worked with none at all. The spirits of the elements are a vital key in occult development, not only because it is part and parcel of ritualistic procedure to invoke them, but because to conquer the human traits associated with each element is what initiation is all about."
—Murry Hope. Practical Techniques of Psychic Self-Defense
To Cast a Circle is a deeply symbolic act, and can add the following benefits:
Creates "Sacred Space" which enables you to focus on your work at hand, by adding the appropriate spiritual vibrations to your altar and ritual setting.
Enables you to create a protective shield to keep out unwanted influences, so you can feel safe enough to open yourself spiritually while remaining confident that only positive energies may enter therein.
The Circle works to contain the energies that are raised, making your spell more focused, and therefore more potent. When you visualize the circle, imagine it as an iridescent dome of positive, protective energy, that extends a few feet above your head, a clear bubble that holds in the energy of your spell. After you raise the energy of the spell, you can release it by sending it out to the Universe, asking that it may be accomplished in accordance with the highest karmic good for all concerned.
Traditionally in the North, in the element of Earth (though traditions vary). Some traditions decorate each quarter, but how elaborate you get really depends on you. Place a clean white cloth (or a color appropriate to your ritual) upon your altar made from natural fibers (silk or cotton are best). You need to represent the four elements on your altar, whether simple or more elaborate:
Earth: a dish of salt; an altar pentacle [a disk shaped pentagram used on the altar as a base upon which you consecrate your ritual tools or amulets].
Air: Incense or a feather; an athame (a ritual knife used to cast the circle, and to trace the invoking and banishing pentagrams)
Fire: A pair of white candles; wand
Water: Sea shells; A ritual goblet or a simple wineglass filled with pure water
A candle in each direction in an appropriate color for the element is very effective, and can help in visualizing the Circle.
Light the candles in turn as you invoke each element.
East / Air: Yellow or Lavender [Pale Violet]
South / Fire: Red
West / Water: Blue or Aqua
North / Earth : Dark Green, Dark Brown or Black candle
Facing East: Using your athame or the first two fingers of your dominant hand, trace a circle around yourself, about nine feet in diameter, starting in the East and moving clockwise to your right, and imagine it burning with a bright blue flame. Try to retain this image of the circle in your mind’s eye throughout your ritual.
Stand in front of your altar [North]. Using your athame or your fingers, take three mounds of salt and place them in your glass. Stirring counter-clockwise, visualize all impurities leaving the mixture and yourself. When clear, stir clockwise and visualize powerful positive energy entering the mixture.
Anoint your forehead, throat, chest and feet with a drop or two of the salt water. Imagine yourself cleansed.
Walk around the circle going counter-clockwise, and sprinkle salt water with your fingers, banishing any negative energies.
Walk clockwise, sprinkling the salt water, invoking the blessings of those elements. [Earth and Water].
Walk clockwise around the circle with the incense and candle, invoking the blessings of those elements. [Air and Fire].
Face East. Trace the Invoking pentagram, starting at the top and going down to the left, up to the right, straight across to the left, down to the right, and back up to the top, visualizing a bright blue flaming pentagram the same size as your body.
Invoke the element of Air by focusing on the attributes
the mental realm, the colors yellow and lavender, the Archangel Raphael, clarity, mental strength, eloquence, communication.
Light your candle in the East. Turn to your right, facing South.
Invoke the element of Fire by focusing on the attributes of Fire:
the spiritual, creative realm, energy, warrior, transmutation, the colors red and orange, the Archangel Mikael, passion, health, initiative, justice.
Light your candle in the South. Turn to your right, facing West.
Invoke the element of Water by focusing on the attributes of Water:
the emotional realm, psychic sensitivity, empathy, nurturing, the colors blue and aqua, the Archangel Gabriel, emotional balance.
Light your candle in the West. Turn to your right, facing North.
Invoke the element of Earth by focusing on the attributes of Earth:
the physical, sensual realm, grounding, bringing to form, crystallization of goals, the colors green, brown and black, the Archangel Auriel, manifestation, completion.
Light your candle in the North. Your circle is cast, and ready for your work at hand.
This is the time to do the ritual work of your choice, be it meditation, divination, or a spell designed to bring about a specific goal. Drumming or chanting can help to bring you to the Alpha state, where you are between the worlds, in the etheric realm where magic happens. For the message of your ritual to hit your subconscious mind, you must be extremely relaxed and in the Alpha state. Remember, magic is a form of self-hypnosis!
When you feel that your subconscious mind has fully absorbed your ritual message, you can then proceed to close the circle.
Closing the Circle
When your ritual is complete, you must thank and dismiss the energies that you invited to participate in your ritual.
Face West. Thank the energies and guardians you invited, and bid them "hail
Draw the Banishing pentagram, starting at the bottom left corner, go up,
down right, up left, straight across right, and down left, visualizing
Put out your candle in the West.
Turn to your left, facing South. Thank the energies and guardians you invited, and bid them "hail and farewell." Draw the Banishing pentagram as before. Put out your candle in the South.
Turn to your left, facing East. Thank the energies and guardians you invited, and bid them "hail and farewell." Draw the Banishing pentagram as before. Put out your candle in the East.
Turn to your left, facing North. Thank the energies and guardians you invited, and bid them "hail and farewell." Draw the Banishing pentagram as before. Put out your candle in the North. Still facing the altar, open your arms and lift them high, saying:
"The circle is open, but unbroken,
may the peace of the Goddess
Go in our hearts,
Merry meet, and merry part.
And merry meet again. Blessed be."
Starhawk, The Spiral Dance
Make sure to ground the excess energies and seal your aura.
The best thing to do after a ritual is to not think about it! Do something else to get your mind off of it, since worrying whether it’ll work or not will dilute the power of your ritual. Make sure you eat something after your ritual, as this will help in grounding your excess energies.
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