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Author Topic: Circle Casting and Other Practices  (Read 2422 times)

r2squared

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Circle Casting and Other Practices
« on: June 20, 2012, 12:32:23 am »
I'm curious as to how most of you set up your sacred space before, during, or after rituals. I use the simple circle casting method, of course, but I wonder what other practices, if any, there are for the type of purpose a circle calls for?

Rather short post, but hoping for some new perspectives.

Jenett

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 08:33:21 am »
Quote from: r2squared;60920
I'm curious as to how most of you set up your sacred space before, during, or after rituals. I use the simple circle casting method, of course, but I wonder what other practices, if any, there are for the type of purpose a circle calls for?

Rather short post, but hoping for some new perspectives.


Also a sort of confusing post, because I'm not quite sure whether you're asking about different methods of casting circle, different approaches to creating sacred or magically-prepped space, or something else. Here's my basic approach, though, and we can go from there with questions.

Theory: I subscribe to the idea that I want my home (where I do ritual) to be deliberate space as much of the time as I can manage. That means I'm thoughtful about what I bring in (both physical items, and in terms of what I watch/listen to/read/etc.), I try to keep up on housecleaning, etc. etc.

I keep wards up on my home, and I don't cast circle generally for meditation, minor magical work, or most purely devotional work. I cast circle when either I'm focusing and directing specific energy, for moons and Sabbats, and when I generally want to take more time and ease into what I'm doing at a deeper level (because the sheer process of taking 20 minutes to set up circle will make that easier.)

Before: General housecleaning. Setting up of the altar (as distinct from the day to day shrine I usually have up). Preparation for the work of self (ritual bath if I'm going to do it right before), tools (making sure I have all the bits and pieces I need beyond the usual), and other details of space.

(A lot of the time the prep of the space is pretty simple for me, but it would also include things like extensive decorations that the group I trained with did for Samhain, for example.)
 
During: My circle cast method is discussed in a bit more detail over here, but in general:

- Trad-specific piece
- Banishing of unwanted energies
- Circle scribing
- Blessing of the space
- Preparation for quarter calls/elemental scribe
- Quarter calls
- Ancestor call
- Deity calls
[working]
[everything working back, last in, first out, so thanks to deities, ancestors, quarters, then opening the circle and the trad specific piece]

If I'm doing something on my own, and I'm short on time or energy (but doing something more than the 'there's a circle here now' force of will method), it's a 5-10 minute process (I skip saying a bunch of the text outloud). If I'm taking my time, or working with other people, it's between 15-20 minutes to set-up, depending on how much singing there is.  

My trad uses structured text for some pieces, the same text always for some pieces, and improvisation for some pieces.

After: Libations out to some useful point outside.Taking down the altar (which sometimes waits until the next day: depends on the working. Resetting the shrine pieces.
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r2squared

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 12:34:48 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;60952
I'm not quite sure whether you're asking about different methods of casting circle, different approaches to creating sacred or magically-prepped space, or something else. Here's my basic approach, though, and we can go from there with questions.


I found your reply very insightful, thank you! And yes, I am curious as to how common the "circle casting" method is. Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?

yewberry

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2012, 12:41:25 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs?


Can't speak to the rest, but most pagan religions don't include circle-casting of any sort.  Wicca and Wicca-derived religions do, and a few magical systems include the consecration of "work space".  But that's about it.

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 01:17:46 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
I found your reply very insightful, thank you! And yes, I am curious as to how common the "circle casting" method is. Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?


The closest thing I have that comes close to a circle is that I use the firelight to mark a spot of liminal boundary.  The point where the darkness holds sway and the light from the firepit flickers in and out and the shadows take form and shape.

It doesn't serve as a boundary in regards to sacredness but reminds me of the constant ebb and flow of things.  The constant dynamic nature of the universe for as it pushes in on one side it retreats on another.  The fluid nature of things to move, to take shape and form then release it the next moment all the time contained within the illusion.  An illusion created as the smoke of the fire floats in the area, the fog rises from the pond surface or the mist moves in from the higher pass in the mountains behind it.

The fire also serves to represent one of the elements.  I sit upon a piece of land that juts into a pond.  A spring rises up and flows along one side of the land and somewhat beneath the spot I sit.  The place is in a depression so the wind comes blowing down from the mountain pass and up the valley and through the ravine that forms above the pond.  Its a liminal spot in that to one side is forest running up to the mountian peaks while the other is open fields and pastures.  Its liminal in that all four elements meet at the juncture of the place and pass dominance back and forth.

earth_dragon

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2012, 01:42:03 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60920
I'm curious as to how most of you set up your sacred space before, during, or after rituals. I use the simple circle casting method, of course, but I wonder what other practices, if any, there are for the type of purpose a circle calls for?

Rather short post, but hoping for some new perspectives.

 
I keep mine fairly short and sweet because I try to cast outside as much as possible so I can work in direct contact with nature.

For the circle itself I use salt, a small mound of dirt, or leaves to mark north; incense to mark east; a candle (lit or unlit depending on the weather) to mark south; and a chalice/cup/bowl of water to mark west.

I start at the north because I just feel it's best for me, but I know other people start in other places. Facing north I call that direction ("north, spirit of earth, direction of solidarity, place of foundation, please be with me and guide me with your wisdom"); then I move to each direction and say whatever is appropriate for it. After the directions are called, I invite the ancestors and various deities into the circle. Then using a wand, athame, or just my hand, I go from north to south marking the top of the circle ("as it is above") then east to west pointing to the ground ("so may it be below").

My circle is then cast. From there I do whatever workings I had planned. When I'm done I go around the circle in reverse, thanking and releasing the various directions/ancestors/deities. I usually try to leave something for them, food, etc. And by then I almost always need grounding, so I usually get a bit to eat.

I'm done!  :)

Maps

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2012, 02:33:14 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60920
I'm curious as to how most of you set up your sacred space before, during, or after rituals. I use the simple circle casting method, of course, but I wonder what other practices, if any, there are for the type of purpose a circle calls for?

Rather short post, but hoping for some new perspectives.

In the classical times from the tradition I'm studying from, establishing sacred space was necessary for any most kinds of life and religious events. It usually took the form of a square or rectangle, the boundary of which was established by 4 men drawing a rope tight between them. I don't remember if the sides of the space were aligned to the "cardinal" directions, or whether the men were, but either way establishing that place of in-between-ness was extremely important.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 02:33:48 pm by Maps »

Darkhawk

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2012, 03:42:53 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs?

 
No.  It is a religious witchcraft practice, and not even universal as default there (my own teacher does not teach circle casting in the first year of training).
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Aster Breo

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Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2012, 07:40:28 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?

I'm creating my own path focused on the Celtic goddess Brighid.  It's based on some reconstructed Celtic practices combined with a healthy dose of UPG and SPG.

At this point, I do not use a circle or any other kind of specifically created sacred space.  While I can't say for absolute certain that I won't add such an element in the future, I think it's unlikely.  We don't have solid evidence that the ancient Celts used circles.  Also, Brighid has made it clear to me that I'm not to use magic, although I don't know if that is permanent or temporary and I'm not sure what qualifies as magic for this purpose.

So, no, this practice is not found in all pagan paths. I doubt that it's even in most.  Nor do all pagans use anything similar.

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Jenett

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2012, 11:10:43 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
I found your reply very insightful, thank you! And yes, I am curious as to how common the "circle casting" method is. Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?

 
The thing to remember about circle casting is *why* it's not common to most other Pagan religions.

1) Many historical religions relied on permanent religious structures of various kinds - everything from household shrines to full-scale temples.

So, on one hand, casting circle is a way to duplicate the consecration of permanent sacred space in a temporary setting. (One that is highly portable, adaptable, and fits with practice in small household or outdoor setting)

2) It's also particularly practical for magical reasons - creating a controlled energetic space that has what you want in it, and not other things, is very much like having a prepared kitchen before you start making a huge meal.

Circle casting is particularly relevant in group work in my experience: the focused shared attention, the moving of energy from person to person (and circle casting done well can help make sure everyone doing that work is in thorough alignment) are helpful above and beyond the purely magical implications.

For people who work on their own, or who are not doing magical work, there may still be reasons to choose circle casting as an option, in religious witchcraft paths. (As you'd expect, when circle casting can serve a variety of different roles: it may still be useful even if a couple of those roles aren't applicable.)

But many Pagan religions do not do magical workings in the same way. And many reconstructionist paths have found alternatives to fully consecrated temple spaces. (Often based on what's known about home practices.) So circle casting can be entirely irrelevant.
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spoOk

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 12:14:57 am »
Quote from: Jenett;61049
The thing to remember about circle casting is *why* it's not common to most other Pagan religions.

1) Many historical religions relied on permanent religious structures of various kinds - everything from household shrines to full-scale temples.

So, on one hand, casting circle is a way to duplicate the consecration of permanent sacred space in a temporary setting. (One that is highly portable, adaptable, and fits with practice in small household or outdoor setting)

2) It's also particularly practical for magical reasons - creating a controlled energetic space that has what you want in it, and not other things, is very much like having a prepared kitchen before you start making a huge meal.

Circle casting is particularly relevant in group work in my experience: the focused shared attention, the moving of energy from person to person (and circle casting done well can help make sure everyone doing that work is in thorough alignment) are helpful above and beyond the purely magical implications.

For people who work on their own, or who are not doing magical work, there may still be reasons to choose circle casting as an option, in religious witchcraft paths. (As you'd expect, when circle casting can serve a variety of different roles: it may still be useful even if a couple of those roles aren't applicable.)

But many Pagan religions do not do magical workings in the same way. And many reconstructionist paths have found alternatives to fully consecrated temple spaces. (Often based on what's known about home practices.) So circle casting can be entirely irrelevant.

 
I do circle casting element calling and a 'cross quarters' thing too.
it's a blend of stuff I have incorporated and stuff I just did before I had ever looked anything up on the topic of pagan,witch,witchcraft,or moon related worships.
I do the circle and element calling because I like ...setting the scene,and creating the safe zone for energy working and also spirit/deity workings.
wether keeping things in,out or contained its the same difference to me.
I always leave a window or other item cracked open to make sure the speech and incense have direct access to the sky/rest of out there....I'm not sure it matters but in my practice it always feels like I'm pushing the words out into the incense and the incense takes them to the deity.
the elements I call related to the directions cuz for magic and energy purposes for me it feels like I'm tying everything together and utilizing all the earth has to offer for the magics etc. and it feels more physical and meaty if that makes sense.
the cross quarters thing I call is basically I 'spit the corners' saying a special charm that goes with it,originally that was all I ever did,to sort of piss on my boundry and declare this space mine,don't disturb it sorta thing.
I call it cross corners because it was literally the corners of the cardinal directions...NE,SE,NW,SW...this was before I heard the term calling the quarters ,corners etc. so I had to change the name a bit to differentiate in my head,journal.
my circle casting has its own words as well that have nothing to do with anything from Wicca etc. but call on the moon to cast its light about my space...etc. and my elements calling is homemade too and involves no spirits names or deity names or guardians of watch towers etc.
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Wickerman

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2012, 12:39:29 am »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
I found your reply very insightful, thank you! And yes, I am curious as to how common the "circle casting" method is. Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?

 
First, for me religion and magic are two entirely different things. My magical practice is based on ceremonial magic, and involves a circle, and very rigid ritual. My religious practice does not use a circle.
I think that it is important to establish sacred space, but I don't find any evidence for a circle in early Asatru ritual. The blot space or area was partitioned off, sometimes even physically like with a rope boundary. Space, regardless of how it was partitioned was rendered sacred, both by intent, and by the sprinkling of sacrificial blood.
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veggiewolf

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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 12:02:10 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60982
I found your reply very insightful, thank you! And yes, I am curious as to how common the "circle casting" method is. Can it be found through all or most Pagan beliefs? If not, what similar, or completely different, methods do our Readers use?


Neither Kemeticism nor FlameKeeping use casting a circle to denote sacred space.  I'm able to do it, thanks to some time spent (a ways back) in a group neo-Wicca setting, but as I don't need to do it, I stopped the practice.

I know some pagans that are of the opinion that circles are beneficial for group work but outside of that do not use them.
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Re: Circle Casting and Other Practices
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2012, 12:37:09 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;60920
I'm curious as to how most of you set up your sacred space before, during, or after rituals. I use the simple circle casting method, of course, but I wonder what other practices, if any, there are for the type of purpose a circle calls for?

Rather short post, but hoping for some new perspectives.


I consider my home in general sacred. I do periodic mundane and spiritual cleaning and wards for that purpose. I have an altar but it's more to honor the gods and ancestors than spell work. I find I end up doing almost all that in the kitchen. I want to set up an altar there. I don't cast circles and I don't call the watchtowers or elementals.

As a Heathen I do blots outside. I have just started this and need to create a rock mound to do my offerings at. Right now I just stick to small corner by the house since I live in town and the neighbors would talk.

I have started making offerings to the land wights. I believe the protect the house as much as I do.

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