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Author Topic: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft  (Read 4748 times)

Nyktelios

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Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« on: October 02, 2011, 09:33:48 am »
Recently I was reading that, in the Feri tradition, circles are dispensable and unnecessary when it comes to ritual, although they are sometimes used to establish sacred space. This interested me, as I've never really gotten much out of the practice of casting circles and calling the watchtowers of the four directions in the style of Ceremonial Magick and the more mainstream Witchcraft traditions like Wicca. I have very little interest in Ceremonial Magick, and I like to keep rituals simple. For me it's enough to make sure the ritual space is purified when I do my worship, and I prefer to do more practical magic than the highly ceremonial stuff.

I'm aware that Feri also does have its own guardians of the four directions as well as above, below and centre, but I like that the Andersons were more practical in their teachings in contrast to the more ceremonial nature of Wicca.

How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2011, 11:51:59 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490

How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

 
I like to keep my rituals simple, too. I don't really feel the need to cast a circle unless I'm doing a ritual while others are up and about in the house. And as for calling quarters, I've never felt it necessary. I just ask the gods to witness my rites, and that's good enough for me.
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sephira

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2011, 03:25:21 pm »
Quote from: Nuri;23511
I like to keep my rituals simple, too. I don't really feel the need to cast a circle unless I'm doing a ritual while others are up and about in the house. And as for calling quarters, I've never felt it necessary. I just ask the gods to witness my rites, and that's good enough for me.

 
I don't like to go through the 'hassle' of a casting a circle unless I'm in need of extra protection like spirit work or working with spirit guides as I'm quite new to that kind of work and any kind of psychic defense I can get I use. I imagine, in time, I will learn easier ways, but in the meantime I use a circle. While in the circle I call the quarters/elements/directions for their protection too...it's what I was taught when I was in a coven so it kind of stuck. OK, perhaps 'hassle' isn't the right word all the time. Sometimes I enjoy putting up the circle. Just depends on my mood.

The rest of the time, for spell work, I don't use a circle. I like to keep it simple so I can focus on my spell. I'm still learning how to visualize so I want most of my focus to go that, not worrying about the ritual of putting up a circle.
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Jenett

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2011, 05:13:00 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490

How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

 
I don't do it for every bit of magical/meditative/etc. working I do - but I do find a lot of value in it.

In my tradition and practice, circles are not just protection: they're a way to refine, focus, and direct the energy and intention of the working. It's something that starts with the physical aspects of the circle (what's on the altar, quarter altars, etc.) but that continues into each step of the circle that can be altered for a specific ritual. (Our blessing text is pretty much always exactly the same, as is the circle cast text.)

One of the reasons for the circle is that - honestly - I love the *relationships* with the guardians, with the ancestors, with the Gods. They're hard for me to explain, but I miss something when I don't check in with the guardians of the quarters, as I have been introduced to them by my teachers and tradition. When I go too long without doing a ritual that invites them, it's like forgetting to check in with loved friends. Which is not so cool.

It's also one of the places that I think many books about religious witchcraft do a particular disservice: on one hand, it is immensely hard to convey a personal relationship to people who don't share enough background. On the other hand, without a sense of what that relationship can bring, it's hard to show people reading how wonderful it can be to devote time to building that relationship.

(Our quarter calls also invite the powers of the elements, and some pieces of our training work invite the rules of the elements or elementals, as well as the guardians. But it's the guardians I most miss when I don't do structured ritual for a while.)

But part of that checking in is also a focus. When I stand there and say "Hail to the guardian of the gate of the east [insert standard text here], I ask for your gifts of discernment and clarity and the ability to express what I'm thinking..." that's a different ritual than if the last part says "I ask for your gifts of creative inspiration, music, and poetry." or whatever. It's one of the more potent ways I know to help refine what I'm doing.

When I'm working on my own, I also often find myself saying things in those spaces specific to the ritual in our quarter calls that I wasn't expecting to say. (I'm usually a bit more deliberate with planning in group ritual.)

Often, that leads me to make some changes on the fly to what I was planning on doing in ritual that turn out to be a much better ritual than the one I'd formally planned on. (It's usually not a drastic chance in what I'm focusing on or even what I'm doing - it's more like taking a different and better road to get to that goal.) Mostly, I chalk that up to that relationship: that for all I think I know what I want to say, if I'm open to wisdom from my relationships with the guardians, with the ancients, with the Gods, then it'd be smart of me to listen when I ask for their help.

And so, mostly, I've learned that skipping that part - even without the other aspects described above - shortchanges me in ways that make my ritual experience less useful, less meaningful, poorer. And if I'm going to do ritual in the first place, why do I want to do that to myself without a really good reason? (Really good reasons for me include being incredibly short on time, energy, or space in ways that limit the ability to do the complete ritual structure.)
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monsnoleedra

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 06:09:19 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490
..How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?


While it is very seldom if I do a circle I wonder at times if the reasons for doing so have become lost.  I was trained in the school that one does not cast a flat circle but an actual egg that is three demensional.  Like an egg it serves not to keep things out but to compact and control those things within before they are released to take affect / effect.

The only thing we ever called is the four winds but that was to have them present to carry forth our desire.  To become the manifested mouth that would carry our words, energies and intent outward and away from us to become realility.

The otehr facet is that though the egg is closed and compacted to what is occuring within it is receptive to what is occuring without and can incorporate that influence.  Thus when we spoke to our gods / goddesses they penetrated the egg or sphere to join us.  Land spirits or wights or other elements or energies we called passed through to join with us and enhance our workings.

But the egg, sphere or circle was never to keep things out it was to keep it in and focused until we were sure it was time to release it.  One might even equate it to a caldrun where all the ingrediants simmer and stew in the pot but nothing passes out until it is removed from the caldrun, yet things outside of it are easily added to the mix.

But then again I was trained in another time so take it or leave it as you desire and choose.

RandallS

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2011, 06:26:22 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490
How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

I seldom cast a circle when I'm doing magic. Generally I only bother if I'm doing something that needs a circle -- either I want to keep something I'm working with out or I need to keep something (like energy) in. Otherwise, I just don't see the need.
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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2011, 10:53:30 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490
...
How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

 
I used to cast circles with a regular basis, to carve out sacred space and because that was how I was taught when I started this path. I never liked it and I was always uncomfortable. I never found something that worked for me. I can't even remember the last time I cast a circle... Shit. I think that was in 2008? I don't know. I got ritual'd out, I think, when I was in my coven. So, now, I don't have anything like that and haven't done anything like that since the last time my coven met.

I think casting a circle and creating sacred space are important in the essence of protection. I think it's important when you do spirit work, but I don't think it's necessary for every little thing.
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Micheál

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2011, 03:18:40 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490

How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

As a Wiccan, I definitely put a lot of importance on it, and them. It comes under influence of ceremonial magick, and there's even more of a ceremonial influence in Alexandrian Wicca. Gardner&Sanders were both influenced by it mostly because that's the kind of magick that was familiar in their point of time. I don't call myself a ceremonial magician, but do my fair share of ritual magick as a Thelemite, and adherent of the Western Mystery Tradition.

To me circles are not only a 'rampart and protection,' but also purify and establish a sacred space that's supposed to be 'between the worlds'. The Watchtowers not only guard the circle, but are there between the worlds to add to, and hold the circle up. Outside of Wicca I do other rites like the LBRP, and Star Ruby, and if not actually going through the motions of casting one, I'll at least mentally envision one in a psychic defence sort of manner.

I know circles aren't big with everyone, nor is ceremonial magick, and that's perfectly fine. There are a lot of practitioners of folk&practical magic that don't like or see a need for them, and they're certainly not required for religious worship as there are various ways to purify&cleanse space. Even a more practical way in Irish tradition is the folk practice of merely walking a circle deiseal, sunwise, compared to the actual casting&calling.

Nyktelios

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2011, 09:52:12 pm »
Quote from: Micheál;23664
As a Wiccan, I definitely put a lot of importance on it, and them. It comes under influence of ceremonial magick, and there's even more of a ceremonial influence in Alexandrian Wicca. Gardner&Sanders were both influenced by it mostly because that's the kind of magick that was familiar in their point of time. I don't call myself a ceremonial magician, but do my fair share of ritual magick as a Thelemite, and adherent of the Western Mystery Tradition.


Feri Witchcraft actually has some Alexandrian influence, so it does share some common ground with Wiccan ritual, although I don't know the extent of it. There are Feri Witches who use the blue sphere and elemental guardians of the four quarters, although my impression that things like that weren't in Victor Anderson's original system until Wicca started to become popularized. I think Victor and Gwydion Pendderwen got their hands on an Alexandrian book of shadows, and supplemented their tradition with Alexandrian material.

I guess it can go either way in Feri. The circle is not absolutely necessary, but there is a definite way to do it if it is used. I'm not opposed to using circles, myself, I just don't always feel the need to go through complicated ritual, since I'm solitary.

Quote from: Micheál;23664
To me circles are not only a 'rampart and protection,' but also purify and establish a sacred space that's supposed to be 'between the worlds'. The Watchtowers not only guard the circle, but are there between the worlds to add to, and hold the circle up. Outside of Wicca I do other rites like the LBRP, and Star Ruby, and if not actually going through the motions of casting one, I'll at least mentally envision one in a psychic defence sort of manner.


Could you expand on what LBRP and Star Ruby are? I'm curious :)

hufflee

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2011, 12:46:06 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;23490

How do you feel about circles and calling quarters if you follow a tradition of Witchcraft, religious or otherwise?

I don't cast circles on a regular basis, but during some rituals I do. Like a previous poster mentioned, when I visualize the circle it's 3D, but mine is more of a bubble with an "equator" of concentrated energy than egg shaped. :D For day to day kitchen/hearth/practical whatever you want to call it magic, I don't see the need, usually. There are always exceptions though.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 12:47:48 am by hufflee »
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Micheál

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2011, 02:28:16 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;23967
Feri Witchcraft actually has some Alexandrian influence, so it does share some common ground with Wiccan ritual, although I don't know the extent of it. There are Feri Witches who use the blue sphere and elemental guardians of the four quarters, although my impression that things like that weren't in Victor Anderson's original system until Wicca started to become popularized. I think Victor and Gwydion Pendderwen got their hands on an Alexandrian book of shadows, and supplemented their tradition with Alexandrian material.

I guess it can go either way in Feri. The circle is not absolutely necessary, but there is a definite way to do it if it is used. I'm not opposed to using circles, myself, I just don't always feel the need to go through complicated ritual, since I'm solitary.

Ah, that makes sense. Apparently Wicca, and other Witchcraft traditions in North America have been influenced a lot by Sanders. I've heard Gards say that they meet once a week for training, but Janet Farrar told us that Doreen Valiente couldn't get over their 'training system,' and thought it was funny. Doreen said that Gardner taught by just throwing people into ritual, and doing it on the spot, and Sanders with his extensive knowledge of the occult required a lot of reading, and training, that was brought to America by the Pagan Federation. Janet also said that she learned more about witchcraft in 6 months from Valiente, than her whole life with Sanders, so as far as 'witchcraft,' in general a lot of the ceremonial elements found in Wicca can be dropped.

Outside of Wicca I personally like the circles for psychic defence, and adding to the rites, but there are a lot more other ways to do  that. A lot of people find a lot of the ceremonial stuff tedious& unnecessary, which they are in nature for practical magick :D:

 



Quote from: Carnelian;23967
Could you expand on what LBRP and Star Ruby are? I'm curious :)

No probs! :) The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is a rite that has influenced a lot of modern occult&religious rituals, including the Wiccan Opening&Closing rites. It originated with the Golden Dawn, who basically took a Jewish Prayer &combined it with the Qabalistic Cross , and consists of walking a circle tracing a Pentagram at the 4 quarters, invoking 4 Archangels, which was mostly influenced from the French occultist  Eliphas Lévi.

It, and the Golden Dawn had a tremendous influence on Aleister Crowley, who required his students to perform it at least twice a day, and the Star Ruby is a Thelemic version of the LBRP that soley relates to Thelema. Indeed many versions of it have been written with different points and quarters( a lot of pagans obviously have issues with angels, and saying 'amen') , and Israel Regardie lists many in one of his recent books, including a Gaelic one with the Celtic Cross. All of this still more relevant to ceremonial magick than witchcraft, but is experimental in nature.

Nyktelios

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2011, 07:55:47 am »
Quote from: Micheál;24017
Ah, that makes sense. Apparently Wicca, and other Witchcraft traditions in North America have been influenced a lot by Sanders. I've heard Gards say that they meet once a week for training, but Janet Farrar told us that Doreen Valiente couldn't get over their 'training system,' and thought it was funny. Doreen said that Gardner taught by just throwing people into ritual, and doing it on the spot, and Sanders with his extensive knowledge of the occult required a lot of reading, and training, that was brought to America by the Pagan Federation. Janet also said that she learned more about witchcraft in 6 months from Valiente, than her whole life with Sanders, so as far as 'witchcraft,' in general a lot of the ceremonial elements found in Wicca can be dropped.

Outside of Wicca I personally like the circles for psychic defence, and adding to the rites, but there are a lot more other ways to do  that. A lot of people find a lot of the ceremonial stuff tedious& unnecessary, which they are in nature for practical magick :D:

 




No probs! :) The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram is a rite that has influenced a lot of modern occult&religious rituals, including the Wiccan Opening&Closing rites. It originated with the Golden Dawn, who basically took a Jewish Prayer &combined it with the Qabalistic Cross , and consists of walking a circle tracing a Pentagram at the 4 quarters, invoking 4 Archangels, which was mostly influenced from the French occultist  Eliphas Lévi.

It, and the Golden Dawn had a tremendous influence on Aleister Crowley, who required his students to perform it at least twice a day, and the Star Ruby is a Thelemic version of the LBRP that soley relates to Thelema. Indeed many versions of it have been written with different points and quarters( a lot of pagans obviously have issues with angels, and saying 'amen') , and Israel Regardie lists many in one of his recent books, including a Gaelic one with the Celtic Cross. All of this still more relevant to ceremonial magick than witchcraft, but is experimental in nature.

 
Ah, very interesting! You're a wealth of information on this kind of thing.

Micheál

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Re: Casting Circles and Calling Quarters in Witchcraft
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2011, 01:49:52 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;24250
Ah, very interesting! You're a wealth of information on this kind of thing.

Cheers for that! Any time ;)

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