Keep in mind that NO ONE ever creates a circle exactly the same as another person. This is an example, which I thought highlighted the circle-casting process.
This was among the first things I added to my own personal Book of Shadows. I am no longer totally sure about the actual origin of it, but I believe it may be from True Magick: A Beginners Guide by Amber K. I have copied this by hand* about five times, so it may no longer be exactly as it was first written.
*side note: I am so glad I finally started using a three-ring binder as a BoS. I no longer have to rewrite my information over and over.
This is actually more formal than even most formal Circles, but it does outline the steps very nicely and the reasons behind the steps:
- Advance preparation
- Physical set-up
- Self preparation
- Group attunement
- Asperging the area
- Casting the circle
- Alerting the Quarters
- Calling the Quarters
- Invoking the God
- Invoking the Goddess
- Stating the purpose
- Raising power
- Channeling power
- Earthing excess power
- Cakes and Ale
- Thanks and Farewells
- Opening the circle
- Acting in accord
- Advance Preparation: may include such tasks as obtaining special herbs or candles, making a ritual tool, researching an appropriate Deity for the invocation, and planning the details of the ritual.
- Physical Set-up: covers the preparation of the temple or outdoor ritual area, laying out tools, putting up special hangings on the walls, and so on.
- Self-Preparation: immediately before the work might include a ritual purification bath with candles and incense, a period of meditation, an aura-cleansing, or energy-channeling exercise, and other activities to cleanse and focus.
- Group Attunement: is important if anyone will be working with you, whether they are physically present or not. Chanting or singing together will psychically harmonize a group; but guided meditation, play, or working together on some task of preparation (such as decorating the temple or creating a circle of stones) are alternatives.
- Asperging the Area: ritually cleansing it of inappropriate or negative influences is usually done with salt and water. You may begin by tracing a pentagram over the salt: visualize it glowing with white light beneath the athame as you say, “I exorcise thee, O Spirit of Salt, casting out all impurities that lie within.” Do the same over a bowl of water, visualizing it boiling and bubbling. Add 3 measures of salt to the water, stir desoil (clockwise) 3 times, then walk desoil around the outside of the circle, sprinkling the salt water lightly over everything with an asperger or your fingers.
Having asperged with Water and Earth, you may also purify with Air and Fire by taking a censor, then a candle around the Circle, stopping to salute the Quarters.
- Casting the Circle creates a boundary around the sacred space of your ritual, both to protect those within from outside influences or distractions, and to contain and concentrate the raised power until it is channeled to its goal. Walk desoil from the altar, pointing your athame at the ground. Visualize a line of flame or light (ideally blue) rising from the ground as you say in a slow and powerful voice, “I conjure you, O Circle of Power, that you will be a boundary between the world of humanity and the realms of the Mighty Ones, a guardian and protection, to preserve and contain the power we shall raise within; wherefore do I bless and consecrate you.”
All present join in to say the last phrase, “wherefore do I bless and consecrate you.” Lift the tool at the altar, then restore it to its place.
- Alerting the Quarters: The term “Quarters” is verbal shorthand for the powers of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. These correspond in part to:
North – Earth – body, foundations, the material plane
East – Air – mind, intellect, imagination
South – Fire – vitality, will, purpose
West – Water – emotions, intuition
These qualities, or aspects, of reality are sometimes represented as Guardians or Archangels. By “alerting” these, we are preparing Younger Self to experience the ritual in these modes: physically, mentally, with our energy fields, and emotionally.
Walk desoil around the circle (most will start from East), carrying a bell, gong, or chimes. Pause and ring at the cardinal points. Add a fifth, soft chime when you return to your starting point.
- Calling the Quarters: Face the East and draw an Air – invoking pentagram with your athame. See the symbol glowing in the air, and behind it you may visualize the personified power of that element. For example, a spirit robed in light blue and white, with wind moving its robes and hair.
Face the South, West, and North in turn, drawing the appropriate pentagrams, and visualizing the Elemental Spirits. If a group is present, this is done in unison. After the pentagram is drawn each time, the group may intone the name of the corresponding spirit or Archangel (Air = Raphael, Fire = Michael, Water = Gabriel, Earth = Uriel).
- Invoking the God: Stand before the altar, and with your hands, make a hexagram (2 interlaced triangles), then a circle with in, and a circle outside. Inhale the divine power into your body, then turn and offer the Presence to the group, or all may do this simultaneously. Before making the hexagram, a few words of welcome are proper. For example:
“Great Cernunnos, Horned God of the wilderness and beasts which dwell within, bring your power, vitality, and blessings to the Circle this night.”
- Invoking the Goddess follows the same pattern. Again a specific and proper aspect may be invoked, or simply “Lady” or “Great Goddess.” A sample invocation might begin:
“ Great Demeter, Earth Mother, we invoke and call upon you this Mabon night to celebrate the beauty of your harvest, the fruits of Earth, which you have generously provided us; to ask the continued blessings of abundance and prosperity…”
- Stating the Purpose is important for clarity and to make sure all present are in accord. If anyone has doubts about the need, strategy ethics, or timing of the suggested work, this is the last chance to express them before the work begins.
- Raising Power may be done in several ways. Chanting a simple couplet is a common method (“Mighty Mars, this boon we crave: help Jack feel both strong and brave!”). It can be the veriest doggerel. Younger Self is not a poetry critic. The important thing is that it is combined with a simple circle dance, or drumming, or clapping, or these can be done without a chant.
Other ways to raise power include a singing, pranayama, or even pounding stones in unison. It must be simple, repetitive, rhythmic, and continued long enough for intense power to be felt by everyone in the Circle.
- Channeling Power toward the goal occurs the moment the energy peaks. This may be done simply by visualizing the goal as achieved, or the energy may be sent through a “witness” or “object link.” This may be an image (photo), something associated with the recipient, or an actual part of the object (a flake of paint from a house you wish to purchase). If you are doing work for an individual and they are present, the beneficiary can simply stand in the center of the circle and receive the power directly.
- Earthing Excess Power is a necessary part of “Ritual Hygiene.” Assuming you have raised any significant amount of power, you will feel a strong physical sensation – a tingling, vibrating, or thrumming throughout your body. Ordinarily not all of this new energy will be perfectly channeled to the goal, and a residual vibration will be felt. Ignoring this can lead to hyperactivity, tension, restlessness, irritability, and/or insomnia until your energy field or aura gradually rebalances. It is best to channel the excess into the Earth immediately after you have sent all you can to the goal. Often, it is enough to place your palms flat on the floor (ground) for a minute or two. You can also put a large rock in your lap and place your hands on it. You can also lie full-length on the ground on your belly. You must be sensitive to your energy field and to your body to know when this process is completed.
- Cakes and Ale: Sharing food and drink after the work is an enjoyable and valuable part of Wiccan tradition. It need not literally be cakes and wine. Fruit juice or chips and dip would suffice, unless your group has a specific tradition. In any case, refreshments remind us to be grateful for Earth’s bounty, help ground us further, and offer an opportunity to socialize and share each other’s company. It is a congenial transition from a magickal state of consciousness to ordinary “reality.”
- Thanks and Farewells: Face the altar and first thank the Goddess for Her presence. In some traditions, She is bid “farewell,” on the theory that She will recede to a deeper layer of being, away from our waking consciousness or Talking Self. Some prefer not to say good-bye, as they believe she is always with and within us.
Follow the same process for thanking the God.
Next, thank the Guardians of the Quarters and say farewell.
Starting in the East**, draw an Air-banishing pentagram with your athame (see step 8 for Elemental banishing pentagrams):
“Mighty Ones of the East, we thank you for attending! Go if you must, we say, Hail (kiss athame) and farewell!”
Do likewise for South, West, and North.
**My personal preference for releasing the Circle is to do the opposite of what I did in casting the Circle: Thank the God and Goddess, Spirit, then start at the North, West, South, and East.
- Opening the Circle: Walk widdershins with your athame pointed at the line you traced earlier, and visualize the flames or light fading or being drawn back into your athame. You returned to ordinary space and time, and may confirm this by saying, “The circle is now open, but unbroken. Blessed Be!”
- Acting in Accord: Take action on the material plane to support the magick done within the circle. Do not just sit back and wait for results to drop into your lap. Magick is an adjunct to the rest of life, not a replacement for it. If you perform magick to heal yourself, support it with proper care, nutrition, medication, etc. If you do magick to express yourself more clearly and assertively, then place yourself in situations where such abilities will be demanded. Practice what you will say beforehand. Younger Self and Higher Self will help in any worthy endeavor, but they cannot be expected to do all the work. You are still the channel through which the magick manifests.