Written by Algoth’s Grove
“Your vision beyond the veil is limited by the flesh, it is only within the parameters of the sacred circle that you can be completely certain that the astral, the physical, the mental and beyond are left to commune without interference.”
Human beings are lazy. Witches have a tendency to grow to a certain level and believe that the circle no longer has any consequence, and magick or ritual can be performed without constructing a sacred circle. The circle in itself is the only barrier between your intention and the intention of every other spirit in existence. Now, I am not saying that we do not reach a point where we are so adept at casting circle that it can be done with the mind alone, this is possible and is done. However, I have heard countless people mention that the circle is for beginners in the craft and this could not be further from the truth.
When starting out, casting circle on the physical with leaves, stones or other objects allows the mind to ready itself for spiritual work. It secures the astral work by sort of tricking the mind into believing what the spirit is doing. Now, the mind is a tricky bugger and one of the biggest hiccups within ritual is a single thought of doubt in casting. By constructing a physical circle first, the mind is at peace and the spirit can continue with its work.
We cast the circle because we are building or constructing a space on the astral to commune with energies that are of our choosing. The sacred space is intended to house only what we choose to allow in. There are countless amounts of energies going about their business and no practitioner needs a wandering or unwanted spirit to come into a working and disturb the ritual. Not only is it sometimes dangerous for a practitioner who is not equipped to face such a challenge or experience but it is also pointless performing a ritual when you’re fine with communing with whomever comes past. Let us liken it to a real world situation: You are running a class and its focus is to lead people through a pathworking, all of a sudden a screaming raving mad woman runs through the people, and your entire class is disrupted and no pathworking is done. Pointless, why? Because you left the door open.
A responsible practitioner learns to protect themselves, learns to shield themselves, and learns the art of creating solid circles that protect and house the energy needed for ritual. This brings us to our second reason for constructing the circle: Raising energy can be done within oneself, but containing it is not always one of the easiest practices. It is important to keep your working in one space. This way you can work with it, create your magick, raise and release your cone and responsibly take down the entire working without leaving a mark on the astral. There are thousands of books that contain excellent information on construction of the circle. Below is Gerald Gardners very own, taken from his Book of Shadows.
However, before you even think of circle construction, let’s take a ritual bath. Cleansing your body, your spirit and getting your mind ready for sacred workings is perhaps as important as the circle itself. A ritual bath with sea salt, some great purification oils, a candle and meditation and a loofah brush is an excellent way to cleanse yourself before circle casting. In coven, you are smudged and annointed by another, but this is just as important if you are a solitary practitioner.
Smudging is cleansing of the aura, it is removing the astral waste and unwanted energies from you. Imphepho is a fantastic smudge plant, belonging to the Sage family. However it is not uncommon to use any form of incense at hand to smudge yourself or those practicing with you. The shamanic smudge feathers used in conjunction with the incense are better at controlling the smudging process and if you have consecrated and charged the smudging feathers then it is even more powerful.
A simple smudging chant
With this incense, this being of air,
I release all negativity, all pain, all anger, all doubt that you may carry,
With this smoke I cleanse your body,
With this smoke I cleanse your mind,
With this smoke I cleanse your spirit,
With this spirit of air I cleanse and ready you for sacred space,
Smudged and cleansed,
Ready you are,
Anointing oneself is readying the mind. Stating that you are now fit to enter sacred space, and with the blend of special anointing oils your mind and body give way to the spirit to do its work. Anointing is usually performed by drawing a sigil on the forehead of the person entering sacred space, it can be a pentacle, the symbol of the goddess, god, or some other sigil that is specific to the working of the ritual.
A simple Anointing chant
With this sacred oil I ready your entire being for sacred space,
In the light of the old gods and the new,
I ready your mind and set your focus on the working before you,
You are now fit to enter sacred space
Gerald Gardners Circle Casting
Casting the circle (1949)
It is most convenient to mark the circle with chalk, paint or otherwise, to show where it is; but marks on the carpet may be utilized. Furniture may be placed to indicate the bounds. The only circle that matters is the one drawn before ever ceremony with either a duly consecrated magic sword or an athame. The circle is usually nine feet in diameter unless made for some very special purpose. There are two outer circles, each six inches apart, so the third circle has a diameter of eleven feet.
Having chosen place proper, take the sickle or scimitar of art or a witch’s athame, if thou mayest obtain it, and stick it into the centre, then take a cord, and ’twere well to use the cable tow for this, and loop it over the instrument, our and one half feet, and so trace out the circumference of the circle, which mu be traced either with the sword, or the knife with the black hilt, or it be of little avail, but ever leave open a door towards the north. Make in all 3 circles, one within the other, and write names of power between these.
First draw circle with magic sword or athame.
Consecrate salt and water: touch water with athame, saying, “I exorcise thee, o creature of water, and that thou cast out from thee all the impurities and uncleanness of the spirits of the world of phantasm, so they may harm me not, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.
Touching salt with athame, say, “the blessings of Aradia and Cernunnos be upon this creature of salt, and let all malignity and hindrance be cast forth hence from, and let all good enter herein, for without thee man cannot live, wherefore I bless thee and invoke thee, that thou mayest aid me.”
Then put the salt into the water.
Sprinkle with exorcised water.
Light candle, say, “I exorcise thee, o creature of fire that every kind of phantasm may retire from thee and be unable to harm or deceive in any way, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos.”
Caution initiates (if any); warn companions; enter circle and close doors with 3 pentagrams.
Proclaim object of working
Circumambulate 3 times or more before commencing work.
Summon: “I summon, stir, and call thee up, thou mighty ones of the east, south, west, and north.” salute and draw pentacle with magic sword or athame, the first stroke being from the top down to the left.