Casting A Circle
All spells and rituals, however formal or informal, are based on a magical circle. This may be large enough for an entire group of practitioners to stand in, or it may be small enough to fit on your personal altar. I have known practitioners who have only a small area create a circle on a table-top and sit facing North, physically outside it but spiritually within, manipulating the symbols within it. I have also known modern witches who will create an instant circle on paper or even on a computer screen.
If you have the space, you can keep a magick circle marked out with stones in a corner of your garden or painted on the floor of a room covered with a large rug. Attics are especially good since you are nearer the sky. If you are able to keep a special area for your circle, scatter dried lavender or potpourri on it before each use, and sweep it in circles widdershins to remove any negativity.
Whatever the form or size of your circle, mark the four main compass directions within it. In the marker positions, you can use stones, lines on the floor, four crystals hanging on cords on the four walls or candles in the appropriate elemental colours.
Once you know your directions, you can mark out your circle, beginning in the North (although some practitioners begin in the East), and working deosil. Draw your circle in one sweeping movement. You may wish to chant as you go.
If you are working in a group, or if this is a circle for a more formal ritual, you may wish to add god/goddess-power forms as an interspersed chant, with the voices of the group ebbing and rising in waves. You may wish to welcome the Archangels, or Guardians of the Four Watchtowers at the four compass points as you cast your circle. (The Archangels represent the celestial beings that feature in the cosmologies of the three main religions of the Western world -Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Alternatively, you may wish to call upon powerful goddess forms:
Isis, Ishtar, Cerridwen, Innana, Shakti, Yoruba, Danu, Kali and Aine, protect, empower and inspire this magical endeavour.
You can embellish the casting ceremony as much as you like, perhaps drawing pentagrams in the air at the four main compass points, and combining this with lighting the four elemental candles.
Some practitioners like to cast a circle and then welcome other members of the group to enter, sealing the circle with a diagonal up-and-down slashing movement of their power hand (the one they write with), or a wand or an athame. (An athame is a double-edged knife used in formal rituals. It represents Air and is placed in the East of the circle.
As well as drawing circles, it may be used to conduct magical energies into a symbol.) But I think it is more powerful if one person actually walks around the outside of a circle of people, enclosing them in light. In this way, the circle is created in human dimensions and is as large or small as is required by the actual formation. The circle made to fit the group is far better magically than the group made to fit the circle, for the group is the circle.
If you want to visualise a circle, use a clear, pointed quartz crystal, or wand, or the forefinger of your power hand, and draw an outline, in the air at chest level or on the ground. The circle extends wherever you draw it from the ground upwards to above your head like a wall of gold. Again, begin in the North, and continue in an unbroken, circular movement.
Remember, the circle is created with your own power, amplified if you wish by the sacred Guardians or powers you may invoke. For this reason, creating a light body and thus drawing energy from the ground, before casting the circle, is a powerful preliminary. Some practitioners, having drawn the light, extend then-hands upwards so that light from the cosmos can also enter. Do this before joining hands if you are creating the circle as a group.
In a conventional coven, the High Priestess casts and uncasts the circle, but you may prefer to allow the person leading the ritual to cast the magical boundaries.
A Practical Guide to Witchcraft and Magic Spells