I always prepare myself by dimming my lights about an hour before the working. I do tend to do most, but not all, magick at night. The extra drama of using darkness to augment my imaginative side is helpful.
After the lights are dimmed, candles are lit, and a few libations are poured, I tend to shower and have my stereo going with some good New Age or Pagan music to help my mind float into the right space.
Water, being a close kin to the Crab that I am, helps to soothe me, and the in the shower, I let earthly troubles wash away, leaving the pure part of my being to comtemplate the working to be.
After stepping out, I do tend to read a bit, look for spells in my library that might be appropriate, and then I write down the ones I like, or construct one of my own, usually on a clean piece of paper or parchment. I tend to either bury or burn these pieces of paper in the working, thus returning the spell to the earth, or to the fire.
In recent times, I’ve begun to think that perhaps I might also tear the paper to shreds to toss into the air, or to simply toss the spell into a body of water, thus balancing things with the traditional earth, air, fire, and water nature spirits.
Anyway, that is off the subject a bit… Back to preparations for the working.
Testing before casting
By the time all of this is done, my full attention is now forcefully and purely on making the spell work and on how to go forward… My mind is fully attuned to directing the energy, and by this time, I’ve set up my protection by doing some ritual cleansing of the home, testing my mindset to be sure I’m completely focused, and then to light 4 special candles that signify the four directions. On occasion, I have used tap-lights, and they do offer a special charm to circles!
Again, check yourself. I’ve often aborted a circle because I don’t feel right about the time, something is on my mind, and the worst of the worst, if I’m ill, I never, and I repeat, NEVER do magick when feeling ill or sick. It just never seems to go right if I am sick, and Magick takes energy. The worst thing I can think of is to deplete energy my body needs to fight illness and to leave myself truly in a fix. The Rede states “And it harm none” for a reason. It also stands to reason NOT to cause harm to yourself.
Last minute preparations I take are to lock the door, turn the ringer off on the phone, and to say a quick spell to banish interuptions. I can’t tell you how many circles I’ve been to at people’s houses where these simple things are forgotten and the ringing phone just kills the energy in a second! Someday, I’ll come up with a phone bansihment spell that will move all phones to another universe, but for now, disconnecting the beasts is a good alternative ;>)
So now you cast the circle!
So… you passed the tests and you feel great, your mind is clear, and you’ve got a real focus and you have the mind, body, and spirit all aligned!
A circle isn’t some two dimensional circle like the old dodgeball court line that we all know and love. Circles, in the magickal sense, are 360 degree circles of force that protect the occupants and help contain and focus the magickal energies to be exerted and directed from them.
I remember reading Lori Cabot’s wonderful books, and in one of them, she discusses a National Geographic article where she and her coven had a picture taken by a photographer, and the photo contained electrical discharge patterns in the picture that truly were interesting to see. The effect of the energy of the combined minds in the circle was such that it caused the camera to register these energies! So, my friends, this is the real deal. Circles exist, they create physical effects, and they are powerful tools when used properly.
Casting is often done in a clock-wise fashion. This honors the turning of the Earth herself and aligns our movements with the direction of the spin of the Earth. Living in the Northern hemisphere, we tend to forget that our good friends in the Southern hemisphere do things in a reverse fashion, and I do believe that those folks often use counter-clockwise casting to cast their circles in accordance with this same basic observation of energy flow.
I gave a lot of thought to this part of ritual and have concluded that the reason for it is that we become little vortexes of energy that harmonize with the flow of the earth, and this our workings carry forth in similar harmony. Going opposite to the flow creates distortions and probably gives poor results, but I’ve never tried that as an experiment. Perhaps someone can comment and enlighten us more.
Casting is simple. There are as many ways to cast a circle as there are stars in the sky. Some simply focus and then throw their energy/visualization into creating the sphere. Others lay out a circle in chalk, rope, corn meal, or whatever, and use that as the basis of the circle, and others yet just see the entire thing in their minds and walk in the appropriate direction to delineate the circle and mark the boundary.
An invocation, or reading to purify the space, is often done.
Use your mind to color the circle. I tend to use basic chakra colors to connect my own internal sensibilities to the extension of my space that is created by a circle. Use of blues and violets tend to dominate my circles, since I see these as electric and potent places, but others have described them as soft places with pinks and yellows to reflect peaceful settings. It just depends on the person(s).
After casting is done, invocations to invite the four directions or watchtowers of the four corners to join the circle. In my own mind, I see the four corners as inviting the spirits of the world to join us for the working. In doing so, you connect to the world, and to the universe at large.
Calling the quarters often involves the use of special calls, similar to the following:
“Spirit of Fire, Guardian of the Watchtower of the South, Keeper of the Sun and of Warmth, come to our Circle this night and grant us the will and energy to achieve our aims. So mote it be!”
Each quarter is called in similar format, sometimes by one person circling the quarter points, or by four people calling from their point of choice. Most good books on the Craft contain a wide-range of these calls, and often an experienced Witche’s BOS has your own custom calls written that help things along.
I have often wondered about adding a fifth tower, in the form of the sky above, since it does extend beyond the world, but I tend to just stick with the traditional model. Sometimes, things just work for you and it is good to just keep it simple!
Gathering the images and the storm…
All of this leads to one aim. We are now containing and bringing to bear the forces of the Earth herself, and are connecting our imaginations to these forces. Often, I meet other Witches who like to discuss these things, and they know a lot of the mechanics of the process, but have never contemplated the WHY of these actions.
The imagination, and most importantly, the subconcious parts of our minds, represents a powerful engine that can marshall these unseen connections in ways that are mysterious, but quite real and full of potent energy.The storm of the mind is gathered into a coiled and reactive manner when the circle is going strong, and all of this is driven by the final factor in the whole recipe…
This factor is excitement. We will discuss this in lesson four, along with the use of a patron God or Goddess to help with that excitement.
For now, use whatever means of gathering the excitement you can. Having calmed myself with my own practices, now I can direct the energy and my mind is usually going a mile a minute with good music helping things along. I do find music to be especially helpful, because images flow right from my deep subconcious and out through my fingertips as I perform the spell.
This is the point where I see circles often fail. The energy dies as someone stops to read from the parchment. It is as if we forget all the preparations and are just standing there like loons around a dead fish! The point of all of this is to gather the energy and take it the next step. Sometimes, I do think that the reason old Gerald Gardner did the naked rituals was to impart that excitement and to bring the novel sense of play into the circle so that these dead zones could be avoided and that the energy and forces would flow like a river. This is, of course, a controversial view, and I’d be happy to hear from others who might have views to share.
So, let’s say you are full of energy now. The circle is kicking ass with sparks, and you FEEL it! Now we are talking… This what is supposed to be happening. Not some dead mumblings and embarassed rummaging for a flashlight. The parchment should have been used only as a guide of study before, and now you are speaking from your heart. Your mind is full of images, and you feel almost as if in a play, or you feel above yourself.
The intent is guiding you, and you feel all around you. Other people, if present, are feeling it too. You see it in the eyes, in the spirit of their flashed looks. You move rythmically and forcefully. You are above and below yourself. The heart beats fast… the air sparkles, and gravity is gone, replaced by lightness.
Using the parchment, your mind whirls and you speak the part and words naturally and from the deepest parts of the soul. This is the point at which the container of the spell spills the energy into the vortex of the circle. You are releasing liquid energy into the universe, using intent and feeling as the currency of force, sprinkled with desire, and a dose of play mixed in.
The energy is at a maximum point now. If you are in a group or solitary circle, it does not matter, you must push the energy out to the universe in a burst. This creates a psychic wave that overpowers the normal flow of events, and probably ruffles the dress of the Goddess and the hooves of the God, if done correctly.
Often, the spell is finished with a dance in the direction of the earth’s spin and the circle participants merge into a frenzied dance with a sudden release, often guided by the priestess, with a shout or forceful physical action to a point at the center and above the circle, thus casting the energy into the cosmos.
The way you know it worked is the feeling that happens after. It is like the satisfaction one has after great sex ;>) There is a *reason* the Goddess has such coy looks about her. But… being a male witch, I must admit to being ruled by certain thoughts …
Usually, I burn the parchment as an additional form of release, but often take it outside after closing the circle. It is a final seal of returning the container to it’s origins and to honor the Goddess and God one final time.
Often the closing is the most ignored aspect. In fact it is among the most important aspects of the working. You’ve tugged on the Goddess’s skirts, or the God’s kilt, invitied the Watchtowers in, and you have honored guests among you. You are obligated to thank them for their presence, and to pour libations or give offerrings to them in payment for their attendance.
I often use food to pay them, or to use heartfelt thanks to let them know how I feel about them in my heart. Often, a strange event, like a candle going out, or strange bump will occur, or an animal like an owl or bat will go sailing by if outside, and it does tend to make me laugh. Just never forget to thank the deities. They are the reason you do this.