How to Create Your Own Pagan or Wiccan Ritual

Casting the circle usually occurs at the beginning of a ritual. A circle can take many forms depending on the purpose of the ritual, the training and background of the witch casting the circle, and the needs of the individual or the group taking part in the ritual.

Deosil and Widdershins

A circle is usually cast deosil and all movement within the circle must also be deosil, even if this means that you have to do a full circuit of the ritual space. Many sources describe deosil as being clockwise, which is true if you are in the Northern Hemisphere, but not true for the Southern Hemisphere – a fact which causes a great deal of confusion.

Deosil means ‘sunwise’. Casting sunwise means moving in the same direction as the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises in the East, moves to the South and sets in the West, making clockwise a suitable description. In the Southern Hemisphere, the sun rises in the East, moves to the North, and sets in the West, which makes deosil or sunwise anti-clockwise. This can cause a great deal of confusion for witches who have moved to a different hemisphere, some will continue the way they’ve always done it and swear that it’s correct, others feel a drag to their circle casting and an interrupted flow of energy.

Protection Crystal Grid

The Purpose of a Circle

There are various reasons for casting a circle. Some books will use one as the ‘only’ reason but there are four main reasons for a circle.

The first is to define the ritual space. This is a good idea if you are having a group ritual with a number of people who are new to circle, or haven’t worked in that space before. In this instance, it is useful to mark out the circle boundary with tea-light candles, flowers, stones, crystals, salt, cord or anything else that you might choose.

Another reason is to contain the energy that is going to be raised. If the High Priestess or ritual leader is unpractised at containing and directing energy, then this is important to stop it from leaking out and to be able to use all the energy raised. If you are angry and banishing some negative emotions or past issues, a circle is a good idea to prevent your anger from accidentally being directed at whoever you feel has upset or hurt you.

Many people talk about circles as protection from negative energy. This immediately creates a picture of evil magicians just waiting for you to start working so that they can mess it up for you. I prefer to call it disruptive energy, and for the most part it’s not directed at you. 

The last reason is for taking a journey between the worlds, a circle is sometimes both the path and the boundary. It clearly defines the difference between where you’re journeying or pathworking to, and the ordinary world.

The Process of Casting a Circle

There are as many different ways of casting a circle as you can think of. A traditional way is to walk the circle with an athame, sword or wand pointing at the ground where you want your circle, with an invocation such as “I conjure thee oh circle of power” followed by the purpose of the circle; to be a meeting place between the worlds; that thou may be a meeting place of love; to the inner truths I seek; sacred place of mystery; rampart and protection against; and so on.

Many use no words, and visualise energy flowing from their chosen tool to mark the boundary of the circle. This process is described in Scott Cunningham’s ‘Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner’. For a solitary ritual, some will sit in the centre and draw a circle around them with their finger and then push it outwards to where they want the boundary. Another common one is for the group, one at a time to reach out and hold the hand of the person sunwise of them, saying “Hand to hand, the circle is cast.” This goes around the circle until it is complete. Silver RavenWolf’s ‘To Stir a Magick Cauldron’ has a chapter on many different ideas for casting circles, including the popular Exploding Circle.

However you choose to do it, when done, you should have a sphere to contain your ritual, spell or working. Not everyone can see them, but most can feel them – in particular, it’s normal to feel warmer inside a circle.

Doorways and Breaking Circle

Much is written about the correct way to leave a circle while it is still up. Most will cut a doorway to leave, and close the doorway again when returning. There are some fascinating ideas about walking through a circle boundary being dangerous and can seriously injure animals and small children, or at the very least, it will dissipate the circle.

However, in ‘Witchcraft Today’ by Gerald Gardner, he clearly states “A witch can and does move freely in and out of the circle when she wishes.” If you consider that when standing at the boundary of the circle, your head and shoulders would be outside the circle anyway, it’s something to think about.

 

Opening the Circle

When you have finished your ritual, spell or working, it is time to release all the things you’ve called to your aid and open the circle.

Opening your circle should be the reverse of the casting of it. If you walked the boundary seeing the energy flow outwards from your athame, then you should walk the boundary again widdershins and see the energy of your circle flow back into your athame. Whatever method was used to cast, the opposite is used to open it.

Often, all the participants will join hands and say something like:

By the Earth that is Her body, by the Air that is Her breath, by the Waters of Her blood and the Fire of Her bright spirit, this circle is open. Merry meet and merry part until we merry meet again.

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