There are many different ways to cast a circle, depending on your tradition, your experience, the occasion, whether you are solitary or a coven, if you are casting a spell, the location and your equipment are just a few things.
Some things remain constant in almost all circles, the elements and the goddess and god being invoked, there is a opening and closing of the circle, circles repel negative energy, and the fact that they are used to collect and store the energy before it is sent out.
Location Location Location
Location, as with any ritual, is important. Having enough space for the circle itself and inside for you, any other celebrants, equipment and safe movement around flames is a must! While practising outside is the ideal for many it is not always practical. Look at things like the ground (mostly outside), is it smooth to place objects if needed or very uneven? Is the wind strong enough to disrupt things? Are you likely to be interrupted? If having open flames will you be able to move in safety and avoid it spreading? (ALWAYS practice fire safety even with candles) Do you feel calm and open in the space, or stressed and tense? While cleansing a space before use with methods like smudging can help (beware of this summoning the "song of the fire alarm"!) if you naturally feel very stressed in a place you will be less open to the energies of the universe and it may cause discord in your rites.
Some Wiccans are lucky enough to have an entire room dedicated purely to their practice, allowing it to be free from electronics and other distractions, but for the rest of us room dividers and beautiful shawls or cloths can be used to cover and minimise impact.
A Simple Casting
For a beginner, this simple casting is a good foundation to build from and personalise. With a less stiff and formal feel than some, it utilises only basic tools available in most households and is not specific to any deity or occasion, allowing you to fill in the blanks as wished and get to know the elements better. I have left out the use of traditional tools like the athame to allow for beginners without these, they can of course be added in. The ritual has been designed for indoor use and will require hoovering after due to spreading salt so keep this in mind!
You may wish to combine this with a chosen spell, a sabbat celebration or something more simple like meditation.
If possible begin by cleansing the room, this can be done by airing it out, smudging, sweeping or another method of your choice. Bathing or washing with water imbued with herbs and salt is another practice often favoured.
- Sea salt
- Five white tealights and holders
- Two larger candles and holders to represent Goddess and God
- A stone or bowl of earth to represent Earth
- A feather (natural) to represent Air
- A bowl of water or seashell to represent Water
- A small candle or sixth tealight and holder to represent Fire
- A personal item like a pendant, a crystal or small ornament to represent Spirit
- Incense (optional)
- Loose, comfortable clothing, preferably in natural fibres, skyclad (going naked) is always *your* choice.
- Small table, box or such and cloth to cover it (shawls and sarongs work)
- Candle snuffer or teaspoon
Set up your temporary altar in the centre of your intended circle, covering it with the cloth and setting out the two large candles one each side. Add any items you wish to dedicate with and, if using, the incense. Make sure you have your matches, salt etc and any notes in the centre, nothing ruins the moment like having to fetch something!
Take a moment to centre and ground yourself, then taking your salt start at the north of the circle and walk around clockwise (deosil, the direction to invoke), sprinkling it in a circle and visualising it forming a band of positive energy as it falls. You are a conduit for and channelling this band, marking the bounds of your work and cleansing it of negativity with the salt. You may struggle with this the first few times or perhaps feel almost embarrassed, this passes with time and practice!
As you walk you may wish to say a basic invocation such as "With this salt I cast my circle, with purity of heart and purest intent. With this salt I bless this space, to protect and aid those within. No harm shall enter no harm shall leave." Go with what feels natural to you at that moment.
Once you reach your start point step into the circle as you drop the salt onto the last point and see the band close in your mind's eye.
Using a little more of the salt, spread it through the circle and say "With this salt I purify my circle and all within".
Take the first tealight and the bowl of Earth, moving to the North point and placing them both. Say "Spirit of Earth I call to you and ask, bear witness to these workings and join me in this rite" as you light the candle.
Move to the East with the Feather and another tealight, placing them both. As you light the candle say "Spirit of Air I call to you and ask, stand witness to these workings and join me in this rite".
Next move to the South with your fire representation and another tealight, placing them as before. As you light the candle say "Spirit of Fire I call to you and ask, stand witness to these workings and join me in this rite".
Moving to the West, place the water representation and candle, lighting the latter as you say "Spirit of Water I call to you and ask, stand witness to these workings and join me in this rite".
For the last element, Spirit, move to the centre and place the representation and candle on your altar. Lighting the candle say "Spirit I call to you and ask, stand witness to these workings and join me in this rite!".
Once the elements have been called, it is time to light the deity candles. These can be for specific incarnations or generalised. Light them and say "I dedicate this candle to God/Goddess/specific deity and ask that they join me in this rite". If you have incense, light this now also.
Now you continue with your own part, either meditating, performing a spell, a ritual to celebrate a Sabbat or your chosen ritual.
Once you are done within the Circle, start by thanking the Goddess and God for their blessings and gently extinguish the candles with your snuffer/spoon (it is considered rude by many to dismiss elements and deities with another element). Next thank Spirit for their aid and gently extinguish the flame, repeating for each element as you work backwards around the Circle.
To reopen the circle, start North and work anti-clockwise (widdershins), walking around and visualising the band being lifted and opened. You may wish to say something simple such as "I open this circle now my rite is done, the purest of energies that may harm none" or "This circle I now call to close".
Ensure all candles and incense are properly put out, dissemble the altar once they are cooled and remember to hoover or sweep up the salt if you wish your workings to remain secret (or simply to not have salt lying on the floor!).