RealPagan- Paganism for the Real World

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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Thank you. I learn when you write. It reminds me of things i read long ago and yet puts new perspective on things. thanks again.
Love your stuff Sang!!
Thank you, kindly, everyone. :)
Thankyou :)
The old song comes to mind ''I conjure thee a space between the worlds...''
What exactly do you mean by "demonstration ritual to meet the Wiccan god and goddess???"  The God and Goddess of the Wica are oathbound.  ????
This should be interesting.
Agreed. I'm waiting for this one..

How did they cast the circle??  In this ritual they called on deity??  (btw.  in no way is this the God and Goddess of the Wica) What do you mean that "the ritual got going and we all went into a trance?"  What did the ritual consist of?   This has captured my interest...

and HUGE btw.. Witchcraft and Wicca are NOT the same.  The words cannot be used interchangeably.  This is a new age mistake. 

Hi Stonewolf,


I'll try to keep this short since I don't want to hijack the thread with a discussion about Deities.  But I thought I might be able to provide some information that might help you understand the way in which Trad Wiccans view their Deities.


There are two schools of thought about the nature of the Divine and these are soft polytheism and hard polytheism. 


Soft polytheists view all Gods as one God and all Goddesses as one Goddess.  And they may go even further and state that all the Gods and Goddesses are simply aspects of a greater and unknowable Divine presence.


Hard polytheists view each of their Gods and each of their Goddesses as being separate one from the other and individuals in their own right.  So many of us would disagree that calling upon one Goddess or on one God would be like calling upon all of them.


Since we come to our understanding of the nature of the Divine only through spiritual experience it is quite possible for a coven to have a mix of both hard and soft polytheists within it.  But I would dare say that even the soft polytheist does not believe that a rite to call upon a specific Deity results in all similar Deities being present.


If you go back far enough into history you would find that specific tribes would have their own sets of Deities that were known only to that tribe and which that tribe called upon in need.  The neighboring tribe in the next valley over would likewise have their own Gods and would have no knowledge of their neighbor's Gods nor would they expect those Gods to answer if they called on them.  It might help to understand how the BTW view their Gods if you think of them as being like the ancient tribal Gods.  The Gods of the BTW are not known outside of BTW practice and they answer only to the BTW.  So when the BTW are saying that you can't know the Gods of the BTW they are correct because you not only don't know the names (which are oathbound) by which to call on them. nor do you have the spiritual connection to them which would cause them to respond to you.  In fact, even if you were to call upon a God or Goddess whose name were the same as those of the BTW it would still not be the same Deity nor would the spiritual connection to the Gods of the BTW be present.  It's not a way of putting anyone down.  It's simply acknowledging who is or is not part of the particular tribe.


If you'd like to discuss theological questions further you might want to start a thread on the topic so we can go more into depth on the question.

It should also be noted that it is the names of the Gods of the Wica that are Oathbound. The Gods themselves are free to do as they please.

I see what you are saying Jet (welcome btw)  ... but I find it far-fetched to beleive that a ritual would have been designed to call to gods they most likely had no personal experience with.  Especially, an open ritual.

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