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Author Topic: How do you cast your circles?  (Read 1011 times)

Eastling

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How do you cast your circles?
« on: January 14, 2018, 01:19:11 pm »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?
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Eastling

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2018, 01:22:58 pm »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

For my part, it's a process of two or three steps depending on what tools I have available to me.

The full process starts when I light incense; I then cast a circle with the freshly-lit stick (or match, since sometimes I use incense matches, especially when I'm doing purification) and envision the smoke as a sign of divinity and power rising to fill the circle. After that, I do another circle with my vape pen, inhale from it, exhale, and once again imagine the power joining the energy in the circle. Then I take a pen (usually a special one designated as my magic wand) and "write" the final circle, after which point I imagine it descending from above to settle around my working area.

In some situations, particularly purification rituals, I use my finger instead of a pen for the last circle.

All of this ties fire, breath, and (creative) will into the spell or ritual I'm working.
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Valentine

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2018, 01:38:45 pm »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

Honestly, unless I'm doing something distinctly dangerous and in need of extra protection, I just shape it with my hand, and make it like a semipermeable membrane. If I need to give it extra oomph, or build heavier-duty protection and purification onto it, I'll use a big iron key I've been using as a ritual tool for a lot of years now, and lock and unlock it as appropriate. (I use a key for a lot of things other witches use knives and wands for, but then it has these other handy functions.) I used to use more tool-elaborate methods with stones and candles, and I did go all-out for a big working a few years back, but for the most part just shaping the worldness around in a simpler way is sufficient for my needs.
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Eastling

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2018, 01:43:31 pm »
(I use a key for a lot of things other witches use knives and wands for, but then it has these other handy functions.)

I can relate, given how I use pens/writing implements.
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TheGreenWizard

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2018, 04:45:44 pm »
Quote
Eastling's post that I can't get at because my phone is being stupid

TBH I usually don't cast circles because I rarely use magic. However, if and when I do, I envision a sphere around me made of the four elements as well as light and dark (above and below), building the layers up.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 04:49:57 pm by TheGreenWizard »
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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2018, 07:46:17 pm »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

I've been using the same method since high school, actually: face the appropriate direction, draw the appropriate invoking pentagram in the air with my hand/knife, and call upon the appropriate element. I just envision the boundary of the circle in my mind, drawing the line energetically as I go about the whole talking/drawing bit. (I also do a sort of bubble, I guess? So it's above and below as well as around.)

If I'm up to something more hardcore I'll actually make the circle more physically visible with candles or chalk or something, but that's honestly not very often.

Kylara

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2018, 10:30:31 am »
I use a key for a lot of things other witches use knives and wands for, but then it has these other handy functions.

I love this....I'm slowly working on expanding my tool kit, I have a fan that I use as a wand/shield alternative, and a couple of crystal wands, even a piece of petrified wood I use as a wand.  Been wanting to get both a hammer and a wrench (I read a fascinating book on steampunk magic, and have wanted a magical wrench since then).  I do have a couple of lovely old keys, I might need to use them more! 
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Kylara

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2018, 10:36:16 am »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

I absolutely cast circle differently based on what I am doing, where I am, my mood or a host of other reasons. 

When I was first learning (some 20 years ago now...) casting a circle was pretty much the standard procedure, and I love the idea of it.  I don't always cast a circle as a protective barrier, sometimes it is way more of a container for my energy or a marking of sacred space.

Having said that, I don't always cast circle.  Especially if I am doing something relatively minor, I may not cast.

When I do cast, it can range from "I am extending my aura like a bubble to create my circle in between this breath and the next" to "I am marking the boundaries of my circle with stones string or other items, there is a candle and elemental representation at each quarter and I am using a tool to face each direction and call in the guardian"

I have a couple of 'standard' circle casting words that I have memorized, but I also often wing it and just say what comes to my mind.

Ultimately, circle casting is a very fluid thing for me.  I am likely to cast a circle when I do any work of a certain magnitude.  When I am honoring a Sabbat or other occasion I almost always cast circle, even if it is a simple circle casting, it just feels right to me.
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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2018, 11:42:41 am »
Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

The tradition I am part of has a very belt-and-suspenders approach to circle casting (which is to say, full of built-in redundancies) for a variety of reasons. Two of the major ones have to do with the tradition growing out of a training circle (which means that learning a full system for the times you might need one is handy and building the habit first and easing off is mostly the easier way to learn) and one with a big emphasis on personal transformation (which sometimes means that unexpected stuff hits, and you suddenly really want some structure there for support.)

On a magical theory level, I've described it as creating a 'clean room' space which has only what you bring into it, and you set that up as you like without other stuff getting in the way until you get to the point you're ready to release it into the world. This is not the only effective magical working method out there, but it can certainly be very effective, and I've found it's generally easier for magical workings with a group of very mixed levels of experience.

Roughly, the steps are:
- Trad specific piece that gathers people together
- Banish unwanted energies from the space
- Scribe the circle (create the energetic barrier between people in the ritual space and the rest of the world), generally done with a blade: part of the imagery is a cutting away.
- Bless the space, adding the four core elements (blessing with salt water and incense, which is air+fire)
- A piece to prepare for quarter calls.
- Quarter calls, which in our tradition invite guardians and create a space for them to be in the circle, and allow their essence to enter into the circle.
- Ancestor call
- Deity calls (normally two)

And then you get into the actual working. Total construction time depends on how much singing there is: a normal ritual set up is about 20-25 minutes (doing it with minimal out-loud stuff is maybe 10? There's a certain amount of physical stuff that takes time.)

When I'm doing stuff by myself, the range is everything from that full set (for more involved workings, or ones where I want the transition time into the ritual, because there are multiple reinforcing parts in the full set up that are quite an effective tool on their own) down to 'right, here we go, now there is a circle'.

In practice, I do long-term warding in my home, and don't do a circle for meditation, daily practice, or other less focused magical work most of the time. I do do a circle if I'm actively inviting deities to help me with something, or doing more explicit focused magical work.
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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2018, 06:34:22 pm »
The tradition I am part of has a very belt-and-suspenders approach to circle casting (which is to say, full of built-in redundancies) for a variety of reasons. Two of the major ones have to do with the tradition growing out of a training circle (which means that learning a full system for the times you might need one is handy and building the habit first and easing off is mostly the easier way to learn) and one with a big emphasis on personal transformation (which sometimes means that unexpected stuff hits, and you suddenly really want some structure there for support.)

One of the things your post clarified for me, Jennett, is that I was thinking in terms of me. When I do a group ritual, I'm much more careful about circles and wards and things, because there's other people involved, and I'm responsible for them, and I don't know what they do and don't know, can and can't do, are and aren't prepared for. But I don't do a lot of group ritual. I'm too much of a loner when it comes to magic. Even when I'm participating in group work, I usually take a role on the edge, as a warder, or holding a Power that needs my focused care. So my practices are tailored to that.

Thinking further--this is good food for thought!--probably a lot of these habits I have come from having begun learning witchcraft not with a group or coven but one-on-one from my birth mother, who is also very solitary in her practice. So her understanding and priorities in the craft were a solitary curandera's, and focused on things one does by oneself, or with one dance partner--combat, exorcism, healing, that kind of thing. It was years before I did any practice in public or with a group, and it's made me peculiar in community. Even as a public leader, I've done private magic, public diplomacy/teaching/advocacy, and hunted mostly alone. This has been really clear lately, dating someone who was also raised in witchcraft--but in a family Wiccan trad, with a coven, and who then went on to leadership roles doing a lot of big group rituals. Our expectations around the shape of magic are often so different.
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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2018, 10:59:54 am »

On a magical theory level, I've described it as creating a 'clean room' space which has only what you bring into it, and you set that up as you like without other stuff getting in the way until you get to the point you're ready to release it into the world. This is not the only effective magical working method out there, but it can certainly be very effective, and I've found it's generally easier for magical workings with a group of very mixed levels of experience.


I like this way of thinking about things.  A clean room is a great analogy!  I think it also works really well with thinking about either 'birthing' new things, so that you keep them in your circle until they are ready to actually face the world, but also fixing broken things (as you would want to keep them in a controlled environment while you are repairing them)
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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 02:19:52 pm »
When I do a group ritual, I'm much more careful about circles and wards and things, because there's other people involved, and I'm responsible for them, and I don't know what they do and don't know, can and can't do, are and aren't prepared for.

Oh, yay, I'm glad it was helpful.

Also, thing I know you know, but it's worth spelling out in the thread for other people - besides mixed levels of experience, one of the reason for taking more time and more deliberate obvious steps with group work is that it really helps get people pointed the same direction energetically.

It can feel stupidly repetitive to keep going "We banish from this circle all that will not work with us tonight as we Do This Thing", and "We bless this circle, our circle to Do This Thing, with these things and these other things." and "Hail, guardians of the watchtowers of the direction, this ritual we invite the powers of whatever, that thing, and this other thing." (And so on)

But if you're working on your own (or with one or two people you know really well) it's really easy to judge if you need the extra time and emphasis, or if you can go "Ok, circle here now, here's a bit of fussy stuff about this one bit that can use some extra support..."

But in a group, you not only don't usually know that (even if you've been working together for a while, people have all kinds of different days and commutes to get to the ritual, and all) but the people who were great and right there as soon as you started last month might not be this time, and the people who had a really hard time getting the energy going might be right there this time. So a longer build (with lots of reinforcement of the goal) lets everyone get on the same page about what's going on and contribute to the best of their ability.

(Same deal with using things like music and ritual texts and eye-catching altar designs, and all that: some of them will ping some people more than others, but using a mix lets more people go deeper faster into the work.)

Anyway. So a lot of my current work is very much 'what do I personally need right now' but for me it's always within that structure of having done most of my learning in a teaching circle, and with the needs that that implies, of being able to deal with an unexpected reaction smoothly (not every ritual, but maybe 2-3 times a year in different ways) and what ritual structures do and don't support that.
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Oíche

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Re: How do you cast your circles?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 06:12:57 pm »
In many magical traditions, before you get down to work on your spells and rituals, you cast a circle. One thing I've learned from my own practice is that there are many ways to do this. So how do you do it? What tools and methods do you use, and what do they mean? Do you have different ways of casting a circle depending on what you're trying to accomplish, or is it a one-size-fits-all tool?

Depends on what I'm doing to be honest. I'll sometimes do a full circle casting if I'm doing very witchcraft-y stuff and I feel I need to. I'll use a knife for this usually. I have occasionally used a wand.
In my Irish polytheism practice I usually just call on Land, Sea and Sky to create sacred space. Then I call on the gods, etc.
I don't use tools for this often- occasionally a knife I keep separate for my 'druidic' practice or my hazel wand (a sacred wood in Irish folklore). My local open ritual group use the Land-Sea-Sky model and also call upon Imbas (divine/poetic inspiration) to create our space.

If I'm just doing a ritual to honour the gods or make offerings I don't create a formal circle, but for magical workings I usually do a full circle basically.
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