Let’s talk Circle Casting. What is it? What is its purpose in magical practice? Is it something we need to be doing?
Circle casting has been around for a while. Evidence of its practice can be found in texts like the Lesser Keys of Solomon. It is mentioned in other “high magick” grimoires; many of dubious origin. In this early metaphysical literature, casting a circle was a means of containing spirits and energies conjured during complex rituals of evocation. The means of conjuring these spirits was risky to all involved and it’s easy to imagine that many spirits were not too happy with the mages doing the summoning. Circles also functioned as a way to protect the humans performing the ritual and were often combined with sigils.
Over time, the reason for casting a circle has changed. Most contemporary witches who cast circles do so to create a sacred space or vortex of power that sits between and connects the physical world with the spiritual. In this space, the witch is free to work with the energies they choose to evoke. The circle, no longer just a means of protection, has become an energetic focus and sphere of unadulterated power when properly created. This modern idea of circle casting began with the work of traditional English witches in the early 1900’s and was popularized afterward by Gerald Gardner, the creator of the Wiccan religion.
When practitioners of particular traditions cast a circle, it involves cleansing the ritual area of undesired energies and/or entities. This is followed by a blessing and consecration of the same space utilizing tools which represent the elements: Salt (earth), Water, Incense (Air, and Fire) and often a tool like a blade or wand to create the line of the circle or boundary. Some people go further by marking the boundary of their circles with candles or crystals. A circle can even be drawn temporarily or permanently on a floor. Once this is done there is usually a formal call to the elemental energies, spirits and/or Gods. Depending on tradition, there are very specific ways to cast a circle.
Now, to ruffle a few feathers – Is casting a circle necessary? In a few traditions, but it isn’t a universal practice. Folk magic practitioners don’t cast circles though they do evoke spirits to protect and assist them in their workings. Old Italian and Roma witches believe all spaces are sacred unless something particularly unnatural has happened that could corrupt the energy. They also understand that the roots of witchcraft and the spirits connected to many of us cannot be hindered by physical space.
Bottom line; the process of casting a circle comes down to personal preference and tradition. It isn’t required, but can be an important ritual practice for many. Casting a circle is not something that should be done out of fear or because we do not feel capable of controlling our workings. If fear or issues of control are factoring too greatly into your witchcraft, you should work to resolves this before you plan any further rituals or spells.