Circle casting is one of those skills that witches get really, really confused about. I don’t blame them! There’s a ton of conflicting information out there about what a circle really is, what it’s for, how you go about actually creating one, and even whether or not you need one in the first place! While all of those questions are valid, I only want to tackle two of them today: the how and the why.
Whether or not you should cast a circle is a huge subject in witchy communities. Some say you absolutely have to cast a circle every time you work magic. Other say they NEVER cast circles. Still others fall somewhere in between, using circles only when it suits them. As with most things in the craft, there’s no single “right” answer! Whether or not you cast a circle is about you, your magic, and what works.
In order to figure out where you stand on this matter, it’s important to know exactly why we cast circles in the first place. Circles are dual purposed. On the one hand, they create a barrier, protecting from outside interference in your magic as well as preventing your energy from escaping the protected space before you’re ready. On the other hand, circles create a place that is between worlds. Instead of being a place firmly anchored in the physical world or in the spiritual/astral world, your circle marries the two into a space that allows for truly powerful work.
There are a few reasons you might want to work in this space between the worlds, the first is that it can heighten your spiritual senses. This allows you to do things like commune with spirits, astral travel, and read energy patterns far easier. In these situations, I think a circle is generally a good idea just for the boost it gives you there. Another reason you might want to work between the worlds is just to get yourself in a witchier mindset. It’s hard to feel too disconnected from magic when it’s swirling all around you.
If you’re doing work that doesn’t require heightened spiritual senses and doesn’t necessitate protection, then you might forgo the circle altogether. This is really a personal preference though. Some witches, new witches in particular, benefit greatly from using a circle every time they cast simply because it provides a good structure and mental trigger for when it’s time to drop into that witchy headspace. Some witches may find that their work never takes them into a situation that might require a circle so they never cast them! You’ll need to figure out for yourself how you prefer to use circles in your own practice.
Ok, so now we’ll move onto the how. You can find a basic circle casting method anywhere, the internet is full of them. The problem with many of these rituals, however, is that they’re not all that practical. Some are very long, others require a lot of tools or memorizing long incantations. You might even find that some aspects of the traditional methods don’t work for you at all! I know plenty of witches who find that calling the corners and invoking the elements feels really fake and staged to them because that’s just not a part of their craft.
If you fall into this category, don’t worry. Today I want to go over some easy to use alternative options for circle casting that can help you find the ideal method for your practice.
For those who want a truly minimalist approach to circle casting, pure visualization can work beautifully for casting an effective circle. This method requires absolutely no tools and even if you’re not a visual person, there are ways to “visualize” with other senses.
People often avoid visualizing because they think they can’t visualize at all but the complete inability to visualize is fairly rare, most of the time it’s simply underutilized. To find out if you can’t visualize or if you’re simply a person who can but are not well practiced at it, close your eyes and picture your bedroom. Can you see it? If yes, then you can absolutely visualize, it may just not be your strongest imaginative sense. Using other senses to imagine energetic work is also effective though. You may need to personalize these exercises but you can absolutely imagine physical sensations, sounds, or even smells if that works for you.
To begin creating a visualized circle, you need to first pick an area to work in and figure out how large your circle is going to be. This can encompass just you, you and an altar, the room you’re in, or even an entire building! The choice is up to you and it should match the kind of magic you’re doing. When you have a good feel for the space you’re in, imagine a blue light (or another color if you like) shooting out of your heart space or your hand to the center of the circle that you want to create. See that energy begin to grow there in the middle and slowly expand into a small sphere. As you continue to pour energy into it, watch it grow to encompass the entire space that you want it to cover. Set the intention for the sphere to remain in place while you work by saying or thinking, “The circle is cast, we are now between the worlds.” You can now move on with your magical working.
When you’re ready to close the circle, reabsorb the energy into your heart or palm, seeing the sphere shrink down until it’s just a little point of light before it disappears completely. When you’ve finished, say or think “The circle is closed but never broken.”
Marking Off A Circle
This method simply requires you to have 3, 4, 6, or 9 of an object. It can be any object and number that speaks to you but try to keep the objects similar. For example, 6 seashells, 3 crystals, 9 candles, or 4 houseplants would all work just fine. If you have some kind of object that is particularly sacred in your craft this would be an ideal way to work that into your spell casting more.
All you’re going to do is hold your objects in your hands and set your intention for them creating the boundary of your circle. They are there to protect you and create a place between the worlds for you. When you have set your intention, place these objects in a circle that is as large or small as you need. If you’re using something like candles please remember basic fire safety! You don’t want to accidentally bump a candle over and set your carpet ablaze.
You can say some words if you like but you don’t need to. The circle is set as soon as the last item is in place. To close the circle simply pick all of the items back up.
If you’re working with a group of people, or even just more than one person, a circle can be cast by simply holding hands with the other witches in your circle and collectively setting an intention. You can agree ahead of time on a phrase or intention to use during this process or simply set the intention silently. Imagine all of your collective energy joining to create a solid wall around you with the energy flowing clockwise through your joined hands. This method of circle casting can be extremely effective despite how simple it is!
To close this circle, return to having your hands joined around the circle and have everyone begin to pull their own energy back to them, this time focusing counter clockwise. As the circle dissolves, break the hand holding, take a deep breath, and recite any closing words that you may like.
Anything that creates an emotional response or sensation in a person can be used to move and structure energy. For this circle you’ll need to choose a song that makes you feel powerful, try to stick with something positive since energy that is too angry or sad can be volatile and doesn’t work well for this purpose. I like a song with fairly heavy bass because the thumping feels powerful to me. This music also doesn’t have to be typical ritual music! I regularly use rap music for this type of work because the rhythmic nature just feels right to me. Use whatever works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment a bit until you find the right song.
You can play your song in the room or just use headphones, it will work either way. When you’re ready, stand in the center of where your circle will be and play your song. Close your eyes and really feel the music. Let it stir up feelings and sensations. This may take several repetitions of the song but if you’ve chosen well you should get there relatively quickly.
When you’re starting to feel the music properly, begin to imagine the music filling you up and mingling with your own energy, causing it to pulsate and move with the beat. As this grows, feel it spill out of you and expand; feel free to dance or move in a way that feels good while you’re doing this. Feel the music continue to expand outward, creating a bubble of sound and energy with you in the very center. When it’s the size you want, hold onto this shape for a moment until it feels nice and stable (though you will likely still feel energy movement) and then you can open your eyes, turn off the song, and get down to working your magic.
Turning off the music won’t burst the bubble you’ve created, sound is actually a very effective way to guide energy and sustain it. If you think the music will help with the work you’re doing you’re welcome to leave it on though, the choice is yours.
To close this kind of circle, you’ll want to imagine something rather like pulling the plug on a drain. See or feel the energy draining out of the space and down into the earth to be dissipated and recycled. You can even play a sound effect for a drain type noise if sound works very well for you.
The “Follow Me” Circle
Of all the types of circles we’ve talked about today, this is the most likely to be misused. The reason for this is that this kind of circle will do exactly as the title says, it follows you. Instead of being anchored to a specific place, it’s anchored to you so that you can move around, change scenery, or work magic on the go. This can be incredibly useful in the right situation! It can also be very dangerous. The reason this is dangerous is that some people will think it’s a good idea to basically live in a circle 24/7. Let me assure you, this is NOT a good idea.
Circles are extremely useful tools and while it might seem like a good way to bring that witchy feel into your day to day life, living in a circle would be both draining and very unbalancing. Visiting the space between the worlds is ok in short stints but over a significant amount of time without a break, it’s not good for you. We’re simply not meant to function split between places that way! You need time to be fully in this world for your body and energy to properly recover and be ready for such an altered state of being again.
All warnings aside, this circle is a cinch to cast. All you need to do is find something that you can wear that goes around you in some way, a belt, a necklace, or a bracelet work perfectly. Even rings work for some people. This item should be something that you intend to wear only when you want to be in your circle, no other time! Again, living in your circle = Bad.
Hold this item in your hands and pour your intent into it. You can light a candle, say some words, use visualization, whatever works for you. Just hold the intention that this item will place you in a protected magical space while you’re wearing it. When you feel you’ve sufficiently charged the item, it’s time to put it on. As you put it on, imagine the circle expanding outward from it. This is typically a fairly small circle because it follows you; it doesn’t need to take up much space! Stand and just feel this circle for a moment. When you’re ready, go about your work as you normally would. To close the circle simply take the item off.
Each time you use your portable circle, make sure to repeat the visualization as you’re putting the item on. Over time this builds strength and permanence in the circle and will make it increasingly more useful to you.
Again, with all of these methods and with the craft as a whole, always do what actually works for you and gets you results. Just because you like the sound of a particular method doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you and just because skipping a circle sounds better to you doesn’t mean you wouldn’t get better results in a circle. Always experiment and find what is most effective for you and your craft because that’s what this is all about!
Ever wondered if you’re really prepared to handle the dangers of the craft?
Or maybe you’ve recently come face to face with these dangers and you’re determined to be better prepared next time.
Either way, you need to learn magical defense. This set of skills is absolutely paramount for new witches, witches looking to take their work to the next level, and even witches who are just looking for a little more peace and quiet in their spiritual lives. The craft doesn’t have to be dangerous, stressful, or traumatic!
In Defensive Magic For Beginners, I’ve created a step by step learning path that will give you the boost you need to start defending yourself confidently today.