Why do we cast a circle? Well, there are a number of reasons why a person of any tradition or path may wish to cast one before their work commences. Most of the justifications can be summed up in three types: a circle of sacred space, a circle of power, and a circle of protection.

Sacred Space

While all circles create a sacred space of some type, some create it purely for this reason alone. Typically, this type will be used exclusively on Sabbats, which are reserved for veneration of the gods and observation of the seasons within most Traditions, rather than magical feats. Some pagans that do not practice magic will still create one of these for religous practice.

When we cast that circle, we are creating a rift between the seen and unseen worlds. We are creating hallowed grounds in a place that exists and does not exist simultaneously. We are separating ourselves, in mind, body and spirit, from the everyday world and saying "This is where I and the gods do meet". It is here that below ascends to the above, and above descends below. Sacred space is equilibrium.

Besides devotional practices, a circle of this type may be created for the purpose of meditation, personal studies, or to 'get away from it all', stepping away from the hustle and bustle of life and into asylum found within its perimeter.

Circle of Power

Some circles are created for the purpose of magical operations. This circle acts as a vessel and retains the Will of the solitary or the Will of the collective in the coven and, magnifying it with action and invoked forces, is released for the maximal effect upon the intended aim. See: Cone of Power.

In most circles of power, conjurations of the elemental/divine 'quarters' (or, guardians, watchtowers, etc) are established in the four cardinal directions. This establishes some noteworthy events:

The Crossroads. The four directions intersect and creates a crossroads within the circle. And, according to tradition, all witchcraft happens at the crossroads. The witch/magician who stands within the center then becomes the center axis and conduit upon which the forces are directed. This is one reason why the High Priestess and/or High Priest stands in the center.

Guardians. Whenever you cast a circle, it becomes a lighthouse that beacons across the etherial worlds. This has the uncanny effect of attracting anything to its attention. Thus, the guardians make certain that the ritual proceedings are not influenced by outside, unwanted forces. They are the divine doormen that only allows the invited within and prevents the uninvited guest from crashing the party.

Assistance. Sometimes, they are requested to 'lend their power' to a specific operation. They may be requested to bless and consecrate new tools- or, the new initiate. Their assistance amplifies the ritual and thus increases the certainty that one's Will be done.

It should be noted that the quarters are often established in a circle whose sacred space is purely devotional, too. In this case, they prevent external disturbance and also share in the communion with the gods.

The Circle of Protection

And, finally, the Witch or Magician may find cause in working with a particular entity of which one should hope to never have a direct encounter with elsewhere. Typically, we are talking about negative or chaotic spirits. Sometimes, even, it's not a negative entity, but rather one too overwhelming in presence and you want a buffer between you and the spirit. In all cases, you want to make certain that your circle is especially fortified. Archangelic and God-forms typically stand as guardian. You want to make damn sure that it cannot reach out and cop a feel on your magical rump at any point during the ritual.

Some of these circles can be lengthy in time to erect. Some may include physical boundaries, too, such as with salt or red brick dust, for extra protection. Invocations delivered to invest the magician with the authority of the divine are commonplace, and sometimes demands, backed by threats, are made to submit the spirit to your Will. In other cases, you simply need to ask the spirit, but you still want that partition between you two. Whatever the case, the circle must be flawless in its creation. An error could be quite disastrous.

Why would someone do all me this? For the same reason that a government might 'hire' criminals to do some dirty work. Sometimes, no others can quite do the work like an angry 'ghost' or something out of the belly of the underworld. Far more often than not, however, the vast majority of magic users will be without the need for this type.

That's it for the three major types in terms as why we would cast a circle. Any circle could be any combination of the above, but usually serves in one specific capacity.

For a more thorough look into the mechanics of a circle, I have posted my view here:


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appropriate clothing?  ...

Hey Stonewolf! I'm Anishinaabe, a tribe from the great lakes, and I just wanted to point out the difference between totem and spirit animals as a lot of people make the mistake of using the terms interchangeably.


A totem animal is your clan animal, the animal that represents your family lineage and community responsibility within a specific tribe. The word actually comes from Dodem (dough-DAYM), meaning clan animal in the Anishinaabe language. For instance, my clan animal (the bear) is a keeper of medicines and the protector of the tribe. Anyone who also is of the bear clan is considered a member of my family and I cannot be romantic with them. Clan animals served the purpose of balancing responsibilities and eliminating incest.

Someone who is not a member of the tribe does NOT have a clan or totem animal. If you are not Native, you do not have a clan. Totem animals are passed down through your mother or father depending on your tribe's system.


A spirit animal is actually something a person of any background can have. More or less it is an animal you feel a special personal connection with. The animal can serve as a harbinger, messenger, mentor, guard, inspiration, etc. Some people dream their spirit animal, others notice the animal acting out of character within their presence. I know many non-native people who have spirit animals.


Also, if you were working with Native Americans during this workshop, they should have never used the word "Shaman", in reference to their beliefs. A shaman is a witch doctor in tribes of eastern religions in Asia and most Medicine People actually consider it offensive to use this term in reference to them.


I don't mean to pull the rug out on you, these are just some common mistakes I see in reference to my spirituality :).

Ok... just so we make this very clear.. there are forms of Witchcraft that are religious and NOT Wiccan.  Wicca and Witchcraft are not interchangable and having a religious practices does not make a Witch a Wica.  i.e. Dedicatory Religious Witchcraft (DRW) The holidays, herbs, and crystals are definitely not exclusive to Wicca. 

You looked at pictures of the god and goddess??  What god and goddess??  Which one? By which artist? 

Sang, what Vickie said verbatim :)

Vickie, thanks. The royalty cheque's in the mail :)

You know this information is oathbound, thus why you are not, and have never been, privy to it. 

I was going to let this one through to the keeper because:

a) my 'point of order' might be off topic

b) I thought someone more knowledgable/experienced might have picked up on it

c) I'm still recovering from the concussion I gave myself face-desking following the uber thread you were involved in 'over there'

To your credit, you've not been remotely as obnoxious in this thread as you were that one :)

Anyway, my point is I think trying to project out of (or even within for that matter) someone else's circle is just plain rude irrespective of your motivation for doing so.


As for what initiated Wiccans call the God and Goddess, as Strata said that's oathbound. I'm only an Outer Court Alexandrian so I don't know either. My teachers just refer to them as the Horned God and the Moon Goddess.

The closest I've been to learning their names was when I overheard two Priests clarifying who would be called to witness a handfasting (one was the 'groom'). I was so self-absorbed/nervous about my own part calling the Water quarter that I missed it. Some might say I was supposed to :)

I'm not hung up on finding/being called by specific Deities. I know what the Divine/All/One is for me. It's ..subsidiaries will come eventually. For now, 'saying hello' to the Sun and the Moon works for me.


By the way, a Wiccan circle is a Sacred Space as far as I'm concerned, no matter what reason you cast it for.

(I'll shut up now :) )


ps Bugger! How do you do the quote/arrow bits?

All but the last 'you' ,"your' ...was directed at Stonewolf.

Clear as mud right? :)

I have to admit, I've never had my deities appear to me in RenFaire-style garb, nor looking "clean cut". In most cases, they don't even come about as what I'd qualify as "human" in their appearances.
And that, young man, is exactly what you get when your information is from t.v., pop culture books, movies and the sideshows of the 'net.

I'm not Wiccan, however I have been to rites where a Wiccan HP/HPS were mediating the divine. Since this was at a semi-open event, I can share some of my experience to answer your question. 


Does any initiated Wiccan care to give an account of their experience of meeting the god and goddess?

What's really interesting is that although I remember when it happened, and I remember my feelings about it all, like most good ritual experiences, I don't remember the whys and wherefores. 


What they looked like, what they were wearing

For Him, when the invoking was done, what I was most struck by was the eyes. His were a swirling green and blue sheen like an oils slick. Hers were black with tiny tiny silver pupils that had the intensity of an extreme flashlight laser beam. Knowing the people who were mediating in person, I can say that those were not their eye colors before. What also was a bit interesting for me is that She stood behind Him...the people who brought them in have a huge height difference (she's much shorter than he is). Yet when She was standing behind Him, Her eyes were visible above His head, and given the position, Her face had to have become twice the size of a normal human head. At that point, Her body was not visible at all. She was a Lady of vapor. If you've ever seen the kind of vapor residue that you get from stage lights...imagine that being slightly more solid and yet not in any specific form, but almost like He was "wearing" Her like a cloak. He was vaguely recognizable as humanoid but almost like a topiary with horns from the waist up and "encloaked" by Her from the waist down. Giving this description, I think that you can understand why most people don't share their experiences of deity...it sounds really hokey when put into words. For what They were wearing, He was wearing Her. She was wearing all of eternity. Clothes? Nope, but not naked either. I'd just say clothed in glory, for various values of glory.


how they acted, what the energy felt like

For the "how they acted", I can't give details of what was done that night, largely because I don't remember the specifics in a way that I could share them meaningfully. As far as what the energy felt like... the best word that comes to mind is awe-full (as opposed to awful *grin*). I don't think there was anyone there who was not trembling out of the potency of the experience, and there's a strong sense of panic in the deepest levels of your soul. There's this feeling that if you weren't totally frozen in place, you'd run as fast as you can. This was not the "cuddle the boo boos away" divine that a lot of new age writers try to put the Lord and Lady into. This was that which is responsible for all existence coming to bestow the blessing of another season of life on those present. That isn't to say love isn't present...it can't be *not* present when They are there. It's just not the warm fuzzies that you might think. The warm fuzzies often settle in after rites like that. 


Keep in mind...that's just my experience of that rite (and my husband's experience that night is very similar to what I described...we write down our experiences independently and then swap them later on to read and see if we both saw/experienced the same thing). I have no idea what other folks there saw or felt. What I have observed is that many times when there is a very potent ritual, you refer to it by things like "that Beltane when so-and-so and such-and-such mediated" and that's enough that people who were there know exactly what was meant. This was one of those rites.

Mmmmm. Coffee. BTW meanie... Take a bow girly girl! ;-)

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