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It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

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Casting the Circle - Holding the Magic

Several years ago my daughter and I attended an interfaith event at a Christian church. As we sat down in the pews, my daughter leaned over to me and said "How come we aren't sitting in a circle? How will everyone see each other if some people are behind other people?"

I can't think of a better way to highlight the differences between most* Pagan rituals and those of other, more mainstream faiths. For the most part, we do gather in circles. No one person is in front of another person and, in theory, a newcomer to the circle wouldn't be able to tell who was in charge just by the position that a particular person or persons occupied. There's something crucial and fundamentally different in that small action that separates Pagan gatherings from other religious or magical rites.

When we cast a circle, we are creating an energetic enclosure that could A) keep unwanted entities and people out of the circle and B) direct what and who we do invite into the circle towards some particular action, i.e. the magic we're creating. I'm going to focus on this second point

Creating A Container For The Magic - 

Imagine yourself in your kitchen and the idea strikes you that you want to bake a cake (I know, we were just talking about magical circles and now we're talking about cakes, but hang in there, you'll see where I'm going in a minute). Once you've determined what kind of cake you want, you might look in your cupboards for the specific ingredients you need. You gather the flour and the eggs, the salt, the vanilla, the cinnamon, the baking powder, the baking soda, butter and sugar and take it all over to the counter top. You turn on the oven and 30 minutes later you have a cake. 

Wait a minute, we forgot a critical step - We have to mix the ingredients together in a bowl and then put them in the oven in an appropriate baking dish or we'll end up with a mess on the counter and no cake. You have to pour the ingredients into your bowl and let the heat of your oven do the rest. It's the mixing of the ingredients in the bowl and the heat of the oven that actually makes those raw components turn into a delicious cake.

It's the exact same thing with magic. This is the part where the magical container comes in handy. Once you've decided what kind of magical working you are going to engage in, you pull together all of the "ingredients" needed for the spell or the rite.  Think of the "mixing bowl' as the circle you cast. It's the vessel that holds all of your magical ingredients. Without a circle, the magic has little focus and is unlikely to result in the outcome you wanted and, this is critical, if you don't have a well cast circle, you'll end up with a magical mess on your hands.


Casting the Circle

There are as many ways to cast a circle as there are Pagans practicing, so your mileage may vary here. For me, I like to cast a circle that encompasses the entire area of the rite I'll be working. So if I'm in the forest and part of the rite is to wander about in the darkness looking for an ally, I'll cast my circle far and wide. If the magic is happening between a small group of people in a ritual room, then the circle might just envelop those of us gathered. 

Language is important here. Again, each witchcraft tradition has preferred wording for casting a circle. What does your tradition dictate? If you aren't part of a tradition, I recommend trying different types of circle casting and finding the format that makes the most sense to you. Again, effectiveness is directly related to your intention. If you are struggling over Latin words or even old English words that don't make a lot of sense to you, then you might not create the solid container you want and need.

Watch a great Priestess. If you are lucky enough to be part of a tradition that meets regularly, or have a teacher near by or even a local Pagan meet up, watch how they cast a circle. if you see a priestess/teacher that really seems to set a strong container, one you can feel in your bones, ask them how they do it. I learned to cast a great circle from a dear friend and mentor. She's known in our tradition for casting just the right type of circle needed for the magical rites we're undertaking and, believe me, when she steps in to cast you know it's going to be powerful.

Practice. The first few times I tried baking a cake, I failed miserably. I forgot steps. I didn't measure very accurately and my cakes didn't turn out like I imagined at all. It's the same with casting a circle. Practice casting circles around yourself, in rituals, when you read tarot cards, any time you want to add a little extra "oomph" to any activity you're doing. The more you practice, the better you'll get at it. (Magical Note : Remember to take those circles down when you are done!)

So, how do you cast your circles? What's the most effective method for you? I'd love to hear about the "best' casting you were ever part of.

*Not every magical tradition comes together in a circle and there are traditional reasons for this. It's always a good idea to check with a particular group or tradition how they meet before assuming it's in a circle.

Notes: The image of the cake ingredients is from WikiCommons wikipedia/commons/0/00/Recette_pour_la_Madeleine.jpg. The Circle casting image is from WikiCommons 



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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Wednesday, 12 August 2015

    Love this!

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Wednesday, 12 August 2015

    Thank you Lizann. You can take the witch out of the kitchen but you can't take the kitchen out of the witch!

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