Magic Circle

Image by Rebecca-Lee via Flickr

Casting a circle is a pretty standard way to structure a ritual or a spell. There are many ways to do it and I vary it as inspiration strikes me. There are many reasons for casting a circle: 1) for protection, 2) for delineating sacred space, 3) for moving us from this world into a state of ‘in-between-ness’ with the other world, 4) to contain the energy that we raise so that it is able to build up and be sent to our intended target.

Is a circle always necessary? Not really. A very simple candle spell may not need to have a circle cast if you do not feel that it needs protection or special representation ‘in between’. If the energy is meant to simple spill out from that burning candle, maybe there is no need to contain it. One thing that can be done, on the other hand, is put a circle just around the candle, so that you are free to walk around without disturbing your magic. But I would always cast a circle for a ritual and certainly for any kind of journeying or spell that requires extra security measures.

Casting a circle is a bit of a misnomer. What you are really trying to cast is a sphere or a big energy bubble that surrounds your magical working. It is like the protection spell that the aurors put around Hogwarts in the last installment of Harry Potter.  Again, there are many ways to do this, but in essence it requires two things: 1) ability to visualize (we’ve done this already, right?) and 2) ability to project energy.


Exercise in energy projection

Usually, people have one hand that is better at projecting energy (i.e. pushing energy out) and one hand better at receiving energy (i.e. energy coming in). The latter is also known as sensing.  We’ve worked a little bit with energy when we watched our energy field move from one hand to the other.  You should have felt energy vibrate in your hands then, either as warmth, tingling, numbness, etc…

Center and ground, drawing up energy through your roots. Now reach out your hands with palms facing forward. Which hand feels like it wants to shoot out the energy? Which hand feels like it wants to take in energy? You may see your hands move automatically with one pushing forward and the other cupping as if holding something. Test it out and see which one is your receptive hand and which one is your projective hand.


Back to casting circles.

Draw up energy and direct it around your space. The most basic circle is to walk around the space with hand outstretched (projective hand) and to leave a trail of energy as you walk. I am giving the example with the hand because it is often the most natural, but you may do it any way you want as long as you direct energy and you are able to feel its presence there. Some people use a specific ritual tool (like a wand or staff). I usually have my hand outstretched towards the floor and also leave a trail through my feet as I walk. At the end of my walk, I lift my hand up and then down, to ensure that the sphere is complete on top and on bottom. Some traditions will have an incantation. You can use sound, Tarot cards, elements, specific visualizations… As long as you direct energy and that that energy stays there. For rituals that need extra protection, I will walk the circle three times around. I have been taught to start my circle casting in the North. I know that some traditions start in the East. As I’ve written before, it is a matter of internal coherence.

Another issue is where to cast the circle. Walking through the circle weakens the energy so you want to avoid unwanted circulation. As I’ve said before, you can cast it only around your candle, which leaves you free to walk around the house as you wish. For a solitary rite, you can walk around your altar leaving enough room to sit in front. For a group ritual, you have options. You can simply surround the group. I feel the smaller the circle is, the more condensed the energy becomes and it is easier to raise energy. So I would not cast an unnecessary large circle. For a public ritual with people of various levels of understanding of ritual etiquette and with lots of ins and outs, I would probably cast to the walls of the room, which leaves enough room for people to circulate while still offering protection and a space between the worlds. For group rituals, there is often a warden who stands outside the circle to monitor the proceedings and to offer assistance in case of emergency. It is also his/her responsibility to test the circle and ensure that it is airtight. He/she would also be in charge of letting people in or out of the circle if needed.

Quarters are called, circle is cast. We are now between the worlds.

OK. I surrender. Let’s do some magic!

Step 1: Re-read my last post to make sure you understand the terms of this agreement!… (yes, I am paranoid)

Step 2: I ask a little favor in return of these exercises. Some of these will probably end up in a future book. I may want to include some comments, stories and feedback in the book, along with the exercises. It will always be anonymous, of course. If you do not wish your experiences used as an example, please let me know. You can notify me by email ( or by posting a comment. I will definitely respect your wishes.

Step 3: Get yourself a little notebook where you can journal your experiences. This is mandatory. It is a way for you to monitor your learning and to really sit down and take the time to reflect on what is happening. Don’t skip the writing part. It is an essential part of the learning process.

The goal of these exercises is of course to develop your senses and to learn to use energy and weave magic. They will primarily work on building skills (although not always directly; you will see what I mean) But there is another goal that is even more important. These exercises will give you experiences that you will be able to use as tangible proof that there is something out there that we do not see. Throughout my studies, I underwent various exercises that became the building blocks of my faith in the unseen. And once I believed that such things existed, working energy became as easy as breathing.

So here it is: Exercise #1

This is an exercise of soul searching. Journal the following questions:

  • Why do you want to study magic?
  • How do you define magic?
  • How do you define Energy?
  • Peruse your own life journey. Jot down the instances when you came into contact with something you could not explain, when you felt a presence, had an intuition or connected to something bigger than yourself. It could be an event, a dream, a conversation. Write down as many as you can recall. These are your building blocks, the moments of proof that you can connect to that other world. Try to see if there are patterns, what circumstances bring them up, if they happened a long time ago (ex. when you were younger) or if they are recent, and if they demonstrate a particular ability that you have.

I’ll let you ponder that. I’m curious to see how your world will change once you start asking these questions and letting your sight open a little bit. Don’t be shy to post your reflections. Have a great week!