There are so many ways to cast a circle. The method I teach is a fairly basic approach but it is certainly not the only way. Some circles can be cast with a few moments of meditation and visualization. Others might be large ceremonies involving many witches and lasting a half hour or more! The type of circle you use will depend on the work you’re doing and your own personal preferences. This method of casting a circle is good for beginners and most kinds of solitary magical working.
To begin, you will want to cleanse yourself and your working space. Removing all excess unwanted energies will prevent you from dealing with a circle full of nasty energy while you work.
Next, you need to identify the cardinal directions, north, south, east, and west. Figure out where they are in your space. You will be calling the elements during the circle casting in order to protect and enhance your working. You need something to represent each direction, below are suggestions.
Set up your representations of the elements at the cardinal directions. They can act as markers of the outer perimeter of the circle or you can create an altar in the center of your workspace where each direction is represented. The best choice for you will depend on the size of your circle, the kind of magical work you will be doing, and your personal preferences.
Casting the circle itself often involves poetry, or incantations which are used to call and honor the elemental forces. I would highly encourage you to write your own, or personalize the ones I provide to align with your own personal connection to the elements.
Begin at North, you will want to walk around your circle or altar to each of these points as you work unless space is very limited. Stand with the marker for north and face north (depending on your setup the representation for north might be in front of you or it might be behind you on an altar). Hold your hands palm forward and say, “I call to the North, Earth! I welcome the stones and bones of mother earth into this place, lend me your strength and stability. Help me grow and protect this place. Hail and welcome, Earth!”
Walk in a quarter circle to the next marker in the West. Face west and say, “I call to the West, Water! I welcome the waters of stream and storm, of ocean and ice. Teach me to be fluid, teach me to feel, and allow the waters of emotion to enter this place. Hail and welcome, Water!”
Walk the circle to the next marker, South. Face south and say “I call to the South, Fire! I welcome the candle flame, the hearth fire, and the forest fire. Teach me to warm my bones from within, to grasp my power, and to be a spark of light in this world. Hail and welcome, Fire!”
Walk the circle to the final marker, East. Face East and say “I call to the East, Air! I welcome the gentle breeze and the tempest. Lend me your creativity, your intellect, and your cunning. Hail and welcome, Air!”
Now turn to the center of your circle, envision a spark of glowing white light or silvery fire in the center and say “I call to the Center, Spirit! I ask that your guiding light fill this place with magic. May your starlight bring fortune to my work. Hail and welcome, Spirit!”
Close your eyes and envision a blue light shooting from your heart into the center of the circle. As you breathe, imagine it beginning to form a little ball and start expanding. Watch it grow larger and larger until it encompasses you and the entire space you wish to include in your circle. When you are finished open your eyes and declare, “The circle has been cast, I am now between the worlds.”
At this point, you may invite any familiars, gods or guardians to join you for your work.
You may have noticed that I had you walk in a counterclockwise direction, which is opposite from what most modern practitioners do. The reason for this is that I like to align the flow of my circle with the rotation of the Earth. If clockwise works better for you then simply begin at north and work your way east first and continue that way.
When you’ve finished your magical work, it’s time to close the circle. For this, you will work backward, begin at center, and then work your way around the circle from east, to south, to west, and finally north. As you face each direction say, “Hail [element]! I thank you for your energy and support. Stay if you will, go if you must. Hail and farewell [element]!”
When you’ve finished with North, turn back to the center of the circle and envision the bubble of energy you created. Open your heart to draw the energy back in, watching the bubble of energy shrink down until it’s barely a pinprick and you’ve absorbed all of the energy. The circle is now closed and you can clean up and go about your day as usual.
This may seem like a long process but once you have the ritual memorized it becomes quite quick. You may also notice as you call and bid farewell to each element that you might feel the element entering and leaving your space. This is a very common experience and nothing to worry about!