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Circle Casting 101
Some Basic Information About Casting by Maggie Shayne

What is a Magick Circle?

A magick circle is a sphere of energy.  Witches who work with energy on a daily basis become adept at channeling it, raising it, shaping it to their needs and directing it toward their goals.  Casting the circle is the first exercise in manipulating energy that most Witches learn to do.

The sphere provides a sacred space in which to worship, commune with spirit, divine, work magick, or meditate.  It is sacred ground.  It’s known as a place between the worlds, where nothing can come in unless we ask it, but those things we do invite can come easily, through the portals we create.  In our circle, we are in control. 

The circle also provides a containment device for the power we will raise there.  Part of magickal work involves raising tremendous amounts of energy.  For that energy to build to a peak, it has to stay in the circle.  If it were leaking out, it would never build up.  So the circle holds the energy in as we build it higher and higher, until we release the energy, and send it off to its goal.

After grounding and centering, most witches perform an Altar Devotion, and then proceed to cast the circle.

Cleansing the Space

Before you begin, you need to make sure the place you’ve chosen to cast your circle is clean.  If it’s inside, tidy up, mop the floor, brush down the cobwebs.  If it’s outdoors, pick up any litter, trim the weeds, make it beautiful.

When your  “ordinary” cleaning is done, and after your Altar Devotion, you perform a spiritual cleansing of the area by walking clockwise from your altar, all the way around the circle with each of the representations of the four elements.  Begin with your incense.  Carry it around the circle, wafting it with a feather or fan or your hand, and visualize the power of air blowing all negativity away.  Then take the fire candle, and push the dancing flame with your hand and your will, to see it burning all negativity away.  Next take the consecrated water, and perhaps a sprig of rue or pine, and walk the circle, sprinkling the water.  Imagine it rinsing all negativity away.

Then take the dish of salt from the altar, and sprinkle it as you move around the circle.  Visualize the power of earth blasting all negative energies away.  Some then carry the cauldron around the circle, to add the power of spirit, the fifth element, to the cleansing.

When this is done, it’s time to cast the circle.

Begin in the north, channeling energy up from the earth, up through your chakra centers, out into your dominant hand.  You can use the Athame if you like.  Swords can be used to cast circles, as can staffs, and bare hands.  At any rate, push the energy from your hand or tool, and see it emerging, perhaps, as a blue flame, and forming the boundary of the circle on the floor or ground as you walk around, projecting it there.

When you’ve returned to the beginning, repeat this process, this time holding your hand at shoulder height, and imagining the blue flame rising higher, and sinking beneath the floor or ground an equal distance.  Project that energy as you walk the circle the second time.

Walk the circle one more time (or do as I do, and stand in center, turning in a full circle.)  This time with one arm straight up, the other straight down, and see the fire rising all the way to the top, center, above you, and sinking to the bottom, center, below–so the blue flames form a sphere, completely sealed around you. 

When you finish, stomp a foot to seal the energy and disconnect it from yourself.  See the blue solidifying into a blue ball of energy.

Some people say lines as they cast the circle, such as these:

I create this circle of power

To hold and guard me in this hour,

Between the worlds, a sacred place,

Nothing bad within this space,

Hold the power that I raise

’Till I send it on its way,

Welcome only those I call,

Harm to none, good will to all.


The circle is cast.  We are (I am) between the worlds.

Circle Practices

  • Once the circle is cast, you should move only in a clockwise direction (deosil,) unless you are doing banishing work that specifically calls for moving counterclockwise (widdershins..)

  • If you need to leave a cast circle, you must make portal in the sphere.  This can be done if you:

    • Mimic the opening of a door.  Close it behind you after you pass.

    • Mimic unzipping a tent.  Zip it behind you after you pass.

    • Mimic gently parting a veil or curtain.  Close it behind you after you pass.

    • Use your Athame to cut doorway, cut up, then left to right across the top, then down to the bottom.  It can be rectangular or arched at the top.  Step through, and use the Athame to re-draw the energy over that threshold, being sure to move it clockwise as viewed from inside the circle, though you are now outside it.
  • However you leave the circle, return the same way, again being sure to close the door. 

  • Despite the above, entering and leaving a cast circle is discouraged as it dissipates the energy.

  • Children and animals seem to be able to pass in and out of the circle without disturbing it.

  • When you have finished with your ritual, always take your circle down again. Simply move in a counterclockwise (deosil) direction around the circle, once, using your hand or tool to “suck” the energy up.  Then lower that same hand or tool to the ground or a large stone to release the energy back into the earth.

  • After Wiccan ritual it’s always a good idea to eat a grainy snack, and do something physical, to be sure you’re entirely “back.”  This helps ground you into your body.

So the Circle is Cast.  Now What?

Traditionally, after the circle is cast, the Witch opens portals at the four cardinal points, and calls to the elemental energies of each of those directions to join her in the circle.  Some traditions call the east first, others begin in the north.  It’s up to you.

In the East, a pentagram is drawn in the air, with your hand or the Athame.  If you begin at the top point and draw the first line down to the lower left hand point, then complete the star, repeating the first line drawn, you are drawing the traditional “Invoking” pentagram.  (It’s actually the “earth” invoking pent.  There are specific invoking pentagrams for each element.  If you want to be specific, the invoking pent for Air begins with the line that crosses from the right “arm” to the left “arm.”  But many people use the Earth invoking pent to invoke all the elements.)

After drawing the pent, visualize it strongly.  As you ask the element of air to join you in the circle, visualize a wind blowing into you through the center of the star you have drawn. 

The air awakens your mental faculties, and brings you intuition, messages, communication skills, and other Mercury-related qualities.

When you feel Air arrive, you might say “Hail and Welcome.”

Move to the South, and draw the general invoking pent, or specific Fire invoking pent, which begins at the top of the star and goes down to the lower right leg.  See the star forming in the air.  Visualize the power of fire coming in through the center as you call it.  Fire brings passion, desire, action, will, courage, and discernment. 

When you feel Fire arrive, say “Hail and Welcome.”

Move to the West, and draw the general invoking pent or the specific one for water, which begins with the line from the left arm to the right arm.  Visualize the star you’re drawing, and see water flowing in through its center as you call it. Water brings healing, emotions, pure love, transformation, cleansing, soothing, caring, wisdom and so much more. 

When you feel Water arrive, say “Hail and Welcome.”

Move to the North, draw the general invoking pent, which is also the specific one for Earth, the top point down to the left leg.  See the green energy of earth flowing in through the center.  Earth brings the physical, health, solidity, permanence, stability, strength, luck, abundance, wealth, and all things related to home, career, and body. 

When you feel Earth arrive, say “Hail and Welcome.”

Move to the center if you are of a mind to call center.  Many associate the center with spirit, the place of mystery.  The invoking pent for center goes from the lower left leg to the topmost point first.  I draw two, one above me, and then I see the exalted ones, angels, guides, and deities, flowing down through it to me.  I draw one below me, and I see the ancestors and underworld guardians and powers of my tradition rising upward through it to join me.

When you finish, you are no longer alone in your circle.  It is getting very crowded, but you’re not finished yet.

Invoking the Gods

The final step before the actual ritual or work begins, is to invoke the deities.  I do this standing at the Altar.  I sometimes choose a verse to use ahead of time.  More often I improvise on the spot.  When invoking the Goddess I stand in what is called the Goddess Position, arms outstretched to sides and uplifted, palms up, head slightly tipped up, feet shoulder width apart.

When invoking the God I stand in the God Position, feet together, arms crossing at chest, a fist pressed to the front of each shoulder, chin lowered, eyes closed.

Think about what aspects or deity forms you want to call.  Think about what your work is going to be in this circle and call the deities most appropriate to it.  Then do some research–using herbs, gems, symbols, words, and colors, sacred to these ones will help them to live.  Also keep in mind you are not so much calling them down from above, as calling them up from within.  In Wicca we believe the gods are both within us, and without us--within everything that exists and the sum total of all that is.

Take your position, and call up the God and Goddess.  Let your words flow from your heart. 

The Ritual

Once all this preparation is done, you are ready to do whatever it is you cast this circle to do.  Be it worship, meditation, divination, energy raising, celebration, thanksgiving, offerings, or what have you.  This part is too wide open to really go into too much detail about here.  It’s as big as your imagination is.  You can create any kind of ritual you like.  Sing, dance, sit in silence, stare into a crystal ball, cast a spell–it’s up to you.

When you finish, though, we get back to the details I can tell you about.

Wrapping it up

After your ritual, it’s time to close the circle.  Everything is done exactly in the reverse order you did it before.  So it goes like this.

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the God and the Goddess

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the center.  It’s banishing pent is done by reversing the first line drawn, then completing the star.  Always repeat the first line drawn. 

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the north.  Again, reverse the first line and go with it to close the portal.

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the west.  Close the portal.

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the south.  Close the portal.

  • Give thanks and say farewell to the east.  Close the portal.

  • Walk counterclockwise (widdershins) around the circle and take up the energy into your hand or tool.

  • Lay the tool or hand on the ground and drain the energy back into the earth.

  • Many end by saying, “The circle is open, but never broken.  Merry meet, and merry part, until merry we meet again.” (Or more commonly “and merry meet again.”)


Clean up your ritual space.  Eat some grainy snacks–a cracker or a muffin--and do some physical grounding and centering to return your awareness to your body.  Especially important before driving a car. 

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