beneath me arises the energy of the Earth,
The circle is a place of power; a safe, neutral place where energies are raised using your tools, your intent and focus, the power of your will, and visualization. It is an opening between the worlds of energy and form, and it's boundaries protect and safely hold the magic. These energies are built up, vibrationally, and released when a specific peek is reached. This release then allows the magical intent to manifest outside the circle.
Think of the circle as specific place that narrows the magic to a point that is containable and then released to come into being. It may be a physical place, or one that only exists in your mind. Another way of looking at it is to see the circle as the place where you use visualization, intent, and will power to create something you desire. You imbue the desire with every possible detail, giving it more and more energy -- this is amplifying -- then you let it go so that it may find its way to you. Remember that energy precedes form; everything that you see around you was once only energy.
You do not need to cast a formal circle, but it is good to know how to do it and using one will help you maintain your focus and intent. You already walk around in the eternal circle of your Aura and, once you are clear on circle casting, you can use only that.
Depending on the tradition, or witch, the actual ritual varies. Some walk thrice around the circle; once for the Goddess, second for the God, and third for Universal empowerment. Some will do an alter salute first and then bless and consecrate the circle, closing it to outside influences. Scott Cunningham, in Living Wicca stated that the traditional elements of casting a circle are: purifying the area, setting up the altar, lighting candles and incense, consecrating the water, blessing the salt, and then casting the actual circle by sprinkling the salt, carrying the incense, and then the flame and water around the circle. That's a pass for Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
Some think of the circle as representing the Wheel of the Year with 8 spokes representing the Sabbats (samhain, winter solstice, candlemas, spring equinox, beltane, summer soltice, lammas, and fall equinox). Whatever you decide about the circle, remember that all symbols are phychological links between the conscious and subconscious, and the macrocosm and microcosm.
Traditionally, a circle is 9 feet in diameter. Many cast it by using a 4 1/2 foot length of cord tied the Athame. The Athame is planted in the ground, center of where you want the circle to be, and then the cord is stretched out and used as a guide to draw the boundary. One might sprinkle salt to mark the circle.
Within the circle are contained the Four Compass points of East (Air), South (Fire), West (Water) and North (Earth). Each direction represents a specific energy and/or Element. Once you begin working with the Elemental tables of correspondences your imagination will brim over with ideas on any specifics of Circle casting.
Tie the cord to one end of the stick and plunge the opposite end of it into the ground at the center of where you want your circle to be. Stretch out the cord being careful not to dislodge the stick. Take a moment to ground and center. This means take a few breaths to relax and focus your intentions.
In one hand hold the chord, in the other hand hold the bowl of salt and walk to the right in as large a circle as the cord allows you to without pulling out the stick. As you walk sprinkle the salt along the ground and try to visualize/feel the deep grounded energies of earth arriving. Say:
Power of Earth, bring stability to my work and bless my circle with your presence.
Next Walk the circle with the cup of water, sprinkling some as you walk, visualizing the cooling, moist energies arrive. Say:
Power of Water, bring deep feeling to my work and bless my circle with your presence.
Next Walk the circle with the burning stick of incense allowing the scented smoke to coil around the circle as you walk. Say:
Power of Air, bring understanding to my work, and bless my circle with your presence.
Next Walk the circle with the lit candle, careful not to burn yourself with hot wax. say:
Power of Fire, bring high energy to my work, and bless my circle with your presence.
Now move to the center of the circle, hold up both arms toward the sky and gaze at the blazing stars as you say:
Power of Spirit, be with me in the heights and depths of my magic surrounding me with protection and encouragement. It is done.
The circle is now cast and you may do your working. When you are finished, repeat the whole process in reverse. Meaning give thanks to the Universe and say good-bye, then walk the circle with the candle, then the incense, cup of water, salt. As you close the circle simply say something like:
Power of Spirit, I thank your for your guiding presence, farewell.
Repeat something similar for each element/direction.
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