Wicca - The Protective Circle
The Wiccan Circle
When a Wiccan casts a circle, she does so in order to create a sacred space. This sacred space is then utilized to cast spells, perform rites and sometimes just for meditation. The circle is prepared by actually marking a circle in the air, then the four quarters are called and finally the Lord and Lady are petitioned. The circle is filled with the power that is called into it and invited into it.
To cast a circle the practitioner begins in the eastern quadrant and, in the Northern Hemisphere, walks a circle first towards the south, then the west, and then to the north and back to the east (clockwise). In the Southern Hemisphere it is north, west, south then back to the east. This type of circle casting is referred to as doesil. It is used for magick that is meant to create, inspire, protect, begin, encourage, heal etc. But if the circle is cast counterclockwise (opposite direction) it is called widdershins. This almost backwards casting of the circle is done when the desired outcome of a spell is to banish, end, etc. There is also what is known as a triple casting. In a triple casting the practitioner goes three times around during the creation of the circle.
During the creation of the circle, a spell is normally spoken. Also, the circle is normally drawn either by the hands, a wand, an athame, a staff, or even a sword (depending on the beliefs of the one casting it). Candles are usually used to signify the places of the quarters and the alter is normally present.
A good example of a spell to cast a circle:
I cast you now, O circle of Power, I conjure you magic to grow and tower.
Dividing the world of mundanity from the world of the anicents and mighty ones.
The space where all magic lives and breathes, where time and place and mundanity cease.
Between the worlds, the circle is cast - meeting as one the present, future and past.
The old ones and young ones join the night and the day, and all that is mundane is now swept away.
All merry meet, suspended in Time.
The circle is bound by the words of this rhyme.
(This casting can be used to triple cast a circle.)
The alter is composed of the bowl or chalice, candles to signify the god and goddess, incense, a small container of sea salt, and possibly other candles ( a black one to drawn in energy and purify it and a white one to take that purified energy to be directed). Again, different paths do choose different items to complete their alter.
After the circle has been drawn and the sacred space defined, the practitioner proceeds to call the quarters: East (Air), South (northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere north) (Fire), West (Water), North (northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere south) (Earth). In some practices the quarter calls are more or less commands and in others they are invitations. (Personally, I prefer the invitations.) As each quarter is called the candle that signifies that quarter is lit.
A typical quarter call could be:
Hail to the (East/South/West/North) and the powers of (Air/Fire/Water/Earth). I call out to you to join this circle and lend it your power.
After this invocation is made the quarter is purified. This involves blessed water and salt that are combined and sprinkled over the area, as well as incense that is wafted over the quarter.
What to say while purifying the quarter:
I now purify the (East/South/West/North) with Earth and Water. (Sprinkle with the salt water,)
I now purity the (East/South/West/North) with Air and Fire. (Waft the burning incense in the quarter.)
(Not all groups adhere to this type of invocation and quarter purification.)
This would be done in each of the four directions in the same order as the circle was cast. So if you went doesil, you would start in the East and work your way South, West, then North and if you went widdershins you would again start in the East but work your way North, West, and then South.
It is almost always a good policy to invite the Lord and Lady. This in normally done by invocation, just the same as the quarters. Except, you stand before the alter and request their attendance. And while you are invoking them, their candle is lit.
A good example of a call to the Lord and Lady:
O, Great Goddess of Silvered Moonlight! Please come and grace us with your presence, if that is your wish.
O, Great God of Solar Gold! Please come and grace us with your presence, if that is your wish.
Once the circle is completely cast and all invocations are complete spells, rituals, or rite (celebrations) are held. It is bad form to leave a circle without it being closed, so measures are taken to insure that if someone has to leave the circle for any reason that none of the gather energy escapes to wreak havoc elsewhere. This is done by using the hand or athame (or whatever was used to cast the circle) to create a temporary opening to allow someone to leave or enter.
Once the energy for the spell has been directed, the ritual is over or the rite completed, it is time for the circle to be closed. First the Lord and Lady are thanked for lending you their power. (One does not dismiss the divine!)
A simple thanks to the Lord and Lady:
I thank you Great Lord and Lady for coming and witnessing this rite. The rite has ended and bid thee farewell. Go in peace and love or stay if that is your wish.
If you cast the circle doesil, you would begin in the North dismissing or giving a farewell to the quarters. If you cast a widdershins circle, you would begin in the South.
A farewell to the quarters:
Farewell to the powers of the (North/West/South/East) masters of the (Earth/Water/Fire/Air). I thank you for coming to witness this rite. Merry we met and merry will we meet again. Go in peace and love.
Once the farewell to each quarter is completed, it is time to close the circle. Walking in reverse of how the circle was cast, a broom can be used to symbolically "erase" the circle, or the athame (whatever was used to draw the circle) can be used to show where the circle had been. In some practices the circle is not even un-drawn after the quarters are dismissed but a dismissal is still verbally made.
Closing the circle:
The circle, open, is not unbroken.
It remains to protect from what is unspoken.
In perfect love and perfect trust, we leave to do what we must
Merry we met and merry we part
Till we meet again with joy in our heart.
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