Today, we will be exploring how to cast a circle for general Witchcraft and for Wicca. There are many different pagan religions which utilise casting a circle but we are going to focus on these two because they are the most widely practiced and also the easiest to adapt into your own specific practice.
This article contains a step by step guide and a materials list of everything you need to cast a circle safely.
Before casting a circle
Casting a circle is a foundational skill used by Witches and Wiccans. It is mostly used for energetic cleansing and protection from negative energy. Often casting a circle is a necessity to prepare space around the caster and make it sacred for magical spells, rituals, communication with a deity or spirits and divinational work.
It often requires the caster to calm their minds, center their energy and then energetically cleanse the space around them and then invite deity, spirits or the angel guides the caster works with to aid and protect them. Casting a circle can be used to contain magical energy during the spell, protect the caster from negative energies and forces and also to block out distractions from the mundane world.
A circle also helps the caster ‘build upon’ their magic/energy. Casting a circle means to place down good foundations for the spell or ritual that is about to be performed. It is not always necessary to cast a circle. If you are at home and regularly energetically cleanse your home (use sage which is a cleansing incense for example) it may not be necessary.
But if it has been a while or you are in a public place, performing a large spell that requires more than just your own energy or are working with mischievous spirits/energies/deities then a circle is definitely recommended.
So now we know the why, what and when let’s gather our materials and begin.
How to cast a magic circle
A witch’s circle is as individual as the person whom casts it. As with everything in witchcraft there are no rules that every single witch and Wiccan follows, there are guidelines which can be used and customized over time to create your own sacred path. Generally the most basic circle uses the quarters: or directional elements.
These are: earth at North, air at East, fire at South and water at West.
The quarters are used for power and protection. The next addition is the Spirit; this could be any guides, angels, ancestors or deity that the caster works with and for Wiccans it is often the God and the Goddess.
There are many different pantheons that harness magic, including but not limited to Norse, Greek and Celtic. This is the most widely used circle casting method and is easy to tweak to fit your own path.
*indicates this item is only for Wiccans
- 4 white candles (tea lights are excellent for this).
- Salt (of any kind) to represent earth.
- A feather (any kind) to represent air.
- Incense of any scent and type to represent fire.
- A small jar or bowl of rain water (or distilled tap water).
- A cloth to sit on if casting outside – preferably black.
- A calm and quiet place of at least 7ft (*9ft for Wiccans) in diameter where you will not be disturbed for the duration of casting the circle and whatever ritual or spell you will be casting within it.
- 3.5 ft of any string or cord or *4.5ft for Wiccans.
- *Athame: a magical knife (this is only for cutting energy never used to harm or even cut herbs or magical ingredients).
- A compass or your phone to find North.
- A lighter or safety matches.
- Bundle of dried sage.
- *A wand: for directing energy, this can be a crystal or wooden wand, these are usually handmade by the caster.
- *A black candle and a white candle to represent the God and Goddess, respectively.
Gather all your materials so you will not need to leave the circle once you have cast it.
Place down your cloth if you are outside stand in the center of your space facing North (use your compass or phone) and place your items in front of you.
*Wiccans will place their black and white candle (black on the left, white on the right) now.
Ground yourself by taking a few deep breaths. As you breathe in picture a beautiful green light coming from deep in the ground up through your heels. Every inhale brings it further up your body to your middle. Now picture a pure beam of white light coming down from the sky entering at the top of your head and down to your middle.
Allow the lights to mingle and feel safe and comfortable suspended with green earth energy holding you steadily to the ground and for any excess or negative energy you have been carrying around to float away through the beam into the sky. When you feel completely grounded (very calm) allow the light to gradually depart the way they arrived and thank the universal forces silently.
Gently shake out or stretch your body with a few neck and shoulder rolls if you feel the need to release any physical tension.
Take your string and holding it taught from the center pointing the other end to north, place a tea light and your salt here.
Turn your string 90 degrees to the right from the center (face East) and place another tea light and your feather (place a rock on this as a weight if there is any chance of it blowing away).
Again turn right from the center facing south and at the end of your string place your third tea light and the incense.
Finally turn right for the last time facing West place your final candle and bowl of water at the end of the string.
You should now have a 7ft (*or 9ft for Wiccans) circle with 4 tea lights and a correspondence for each element facing North, East, South and West.
Return to North and light the candle as you say “North quarter of Earth, I ask for your grounding power of protection, I feel you here and I welcome you”.
Next walk to East and say “East quarter of air, I ask for your power of wisdom and grace, I feel you here and I welcome you”.
Walk to South and say “South quarter of fire, I ask for your power of life giving warmth, I feel you here and I welcome you”.
Finally walk to West and say “West quarter of water, I ask for your power of gentle cleansing, I feel you here and I welcome you”.
*Wiccans may choose to instead place their items and candles silently and then stand in the center and use their wand to direct energy in this way, saying the same words and directions to the elements but pointing with their wands to each element from the center.
Return to North and light your sage, walk clockwise around the inside of your circle 3 times. Each round saying “by the power of three by three, I banish all negativity”.
*Wiccans may decide to forgo the sage and instead might walk with their Athame and cut their way around the circle, cutting the energy and making a boundary in this way saying the same words, or they may chose to do both.
Return to the center and call in spirit, holding both hands over your heart say “ _____ (deity, spirit or guide name, if you are new or unsure you can simply say the universe) I call upon your infinite grace and power to be here with me in this sacred circle. Protect me from all harm, negativity and malicious intent, bestow upon me the correct energies and vibrations needed to perform this _____ (name of spell or ritual) and remain with me throughout granting me _____ (results you wish to obtain) I feel you here and I welcome you” as a Wiccan you would most likely insert the God and the Goddess in the deity space.
Now you would perform the spell or ritual which you cast the circle for. It is advised to never step out or allow any part of your body to leave the circle until you are finished. Also never cast a circle without a reason, magic can be very tiring to perform so doing this without a spell or ritual in mind would be a waste of your time and energy.
Closing the circle
Once you have performed your spell or ritual it’s time for a very important step, closing or releasing the circle. It is very important to thank the energies that protected, guided and helped you perform your spell.
- Standing In the center facing North thank your deity for their time, protection and energy in helping you with your magical endeavor.
- Walk forward to North and say “powers of Earth, I felt you here today with me and I thank and release you” blow out the candle and then turn Widdershins (anti-clockwise) to west and say the same but substitute water for earth. Complete your way anti-clockwise around the circle thanking and releasing each element and blowing out their candle as you go.
- Go back to north and walk anti-clockwise 3 times each round saying “May the circle be open but never broken” and on the final round gather each correspondence of the element (leave candles if they haven’t cooled yet) put these away, dipping the incense in the water to cool it then pouring the salt and water away and throwing the feather to the wind. Sit for a few moments and allow yourself to be grounded once more, collect your candles and be on your way. That’s it.
So this is a simple guide you can use whenever you wish to cast a circle. The basic principles of drawing in elemental energy, using spacial cleansing and carving out sacred space for deity welcoming should serve you well and keep you magically and energetically safe in all your witchy and Wiccan endeavors.