Inti, the Incan Sun God
A circle is a psychic space where we transform the world. A circle is a sacred space where we transform ourselves. A circle is also a physical place, and can even be physically traced on the ground, and visible to the regular observer, or exclusively energetically, only visible with the mind’s eye. Most importantly, a circle is a space separate from our ordinary lives, it’s a purposefully designed container to work magic.
I have cast circles with groups of hundreds of people, and online on Zoom with a handful of others. I have also cast circles by myself, for just my own personal magical workings. The main point of a circle is to designate ritual time and space, and to contain energy so it can be most powerful and effective. In other words, it’s a way to focus, an invitation to concentrate on the work at hand.
When we cast a circle, we are spiritually and energetically designating a space and a time to be focused on ritual, to be protected from negative influences, to feel safe and powerful – even safer and more powerful than we normally feel ;p There are many ways of casting a circle. When working in North America with other people, I use a circle casting method heavily influenced by the Reclaiming Tradition which is in turn, an offshoot of the Faery Tradition. When working solo, I use a much more eclectic version, infused deeply with brujerías del sur (witcheries from the south). My version has also a lot of room for “winging it”. I love the turn of phrase winging it because it implies something will fly. But I digress.
To cast a circle:
We begin by invoking the Guardians of the Watchtowers of the four directions, and it’s associated elements. We start in the East and call in air and the power of thought, then we call in South, for fire and passion, West with water and emotions, and finally North, symbol of Earth and our body. Then we call in the Center and any other Goddesses, Gods, Guardian Spirits, Ancestors, Protective Energies that may be helpful to the work and available.
But first: we go East, then South, West, then North in the Northern hemisphere because that is the direction of travel of the sun. It rises in the East, it travels across the sky tilted South, it sets in the West, and North is the direction further from the sun – cause astronomy. The sun is the most obvious and powerful Life force we have identified for millennia: it gives us daylight, food, warmth – so it makes sense to emulate the sun when we are working energy.
In the Southern hemisphere, however, we go East, North, West, South, because while the sun still rises on the east and sets in the West, it’s tilted toward the North most of the year, which makes the South the direction of the Earth instead of Fire, as it is in the Northern hemisphere. If I’ve lost you, please scour the interwebs for better astronomical descriptions, that’s not my forte. But suffice it to say that the order we call in the directions and what they symbolize varies in different traditions and are not written in stone. Research and experiment with what speaks clearest to your soul.
(So: north of the equator, waxing direction is clockwise – meaning this is the positive direction of creation, as we follow the sun, and waning – for when you want to banish something, or get rid of what doesn’t work, you go counterclockwise. The exact opposite is true in the southern hemisphere. Also, my lived experience is that the Goddess doesn’t really care if you mess this up, as long as your intention is clear, but this is definitely in the “very good to know” category because sometimes we need all the help we can get, and having our intentions aligned with the astral bodies can only help).
OK, now that we got that out of the way, the circle casting would go something like this:
Facing the East, holding an athame, or just your hand, above your head pointing East, say:
“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East,
Element of Air
Power of our mind
Clarity of thought
Spells from the Word,
Be here now!”
Turning to the South, still holding your athame or hand (you are “drawing” the circle with this tool as you do this), say:
“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South,
Element of Fire
Power of our will and passion
Spark of our spirit
Energy of our lives,
Then you turn to the West (still drawing the circle with your hand or athame) and say:
“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West,
Element of Water
Power of our emotions
Flow of our hearts
Rivers of connection,
Then turn to the North and say:
“Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North,
Element of Earth
Power of our bodies
Mysteries of abundance,
Silence of strength,
Then, turn back to the East and finish drawing the circle.
At this point, the circle is cast, but I usually also invoke Center and its mysteries, as well as any other deities or Spirits I would like to work with, before beginning the work at hand.
After the ritual, thank everything and everyone for coming, in the opposite order that you invited them in, (Center, North, West, South, East), and close with something like:
“The circle is open, but unbroken. May the love of the Goddess be forever in our hearts. Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.”
Take a moment to make sure you’re fully in this present moment before moving on with your day/ evening/ regularly scheduled programming. Going about your life in a trance is not advised as a general practice, so make sure you’re fully back by the time the circle is opened.