The space around us in nature is sacred. If you are tucked away in some secluded natural location, casting a circle may not be all that desirable. If you want to feel the breezes, hear the birds and sense nature, you may not want to cast a circle. For doing magick, ritual and communing with the gods, casting a circle is important especially indoors, in a backyard or in a setting with other people in the area. There are many ways of doing this, but some ways are better than others. A circle is a place that is not a place and is timeless. It is a safe place to do magick, celebrate natural cycles and work with the gods.
Think about the space in your home or in your backyard that you want to use for ritual or magick. Choose the area to use well. If you choose an outdoor location, have an indoor one in mind in case of inclement weather. What is the environment of the place like? What is the lighting like? Some people like dim light while others like bright light. How about traffic into the space or sounds that could disrupt your work? Give the chosen space a good physical cleaning and organize it so that it will work well for you as a ritual space. Think about items on your walls that need to be taken down and new items that you may want to put up. Note that clocks should not be visible from the sacred space. There is nothing to ruin the wonder of the event than even a glance at the time. Note that many Wiccans and Pagans take watches off before they enter sacred space. Consider a piece of furniture that you can use as an altar. Think about a special storage space for items for your altar. Where do you want your altar? Some people like it in the middle of their circle and some people like on the edge of their circle. You will need to experiment and find out what works best for you. Will the altar be temporary only set up for rituals, or will it be permanent? Which direction will the altar face? Some people like it facing north because it is a direction of magickal power. Others like it facing east because it is the direction of the sun and moonrise. It is a good idea to purify and consecrate this place for use as sacred space.
To begin define the circumference of your circle. Consider measuring it out. For one person make it no larger than nine feet in diameter. You may define the circumference of your circle with a cord, rocks, shells, acorns, pine cones, sprinkled cornflour, laid out flowers or herbs. It may be drawn with a piece of chalk. The circle may be defined by a circular rug. You may come up with other ideas of what to lay out on floor or ground to create the edge of a circle.
Two dimensionally the circle is a circle on the floor or ground. However, in three dimensions the circle is in the form of an egg. If it were a sphere, you would fit inside the sphere in the middle of it. However your head would stick out of the sphere if you were near the edge of the circle. But in the form of an egg when you are near the edge of the circle, your head will not stick out. This is an important idea to grasp. (See drawing below.)
When you cast a circle I suggest that you cast it three times. Three is a special number. You know the saying, “Three is the charm.”? In this case that is true. One represents singularity. Two is about duality. Three is harmonic and dynamic. Casting a circle three times can create a structure that is alive and vibrant. Therefore three is the best number of times to cast a circle.
When casting a circle it is important to imagine the form of an egg building up around you. Ground. Allow power from Mother Earth to build up inside of you. Start in the north or the east and walk around the circle deosil (clockwise). Deosil is the normal direction of movement in a circle. You may use an athame to help channel the energies, but as you become more skilled, you may use your hand only. Point your projective (dominant) hand toward the edge of the circle. Imagine the energies flowing from your hand to the edge of the circle. The energies may be purple, red, white or rainbow colored. Allow these energies to build up in the form of an egg. Complete the circuit three times. Some people even use their feet to trace and cast the circle. Casting a circle is a skill which takes practice. You may want to concentrate in silence to build this vibrant container around you. If you want to chant this is a verse you may use.
I create a space
the mode of time
and the mode of place
of the everyday erase.
The circle I do trace.
One method is to cast the circle in the following manner. 1. Direct your energies to build the circle as suggested above, but make one pass. 2. Sprinkle salt water on the edge of the circle to purify it on the second pass. 3. Cense the circle, remembering to hold the censor low because the smoke from the incense will rise. Make this the third pass. Note that you cast the circle three times this way. You also use the four elements casting the circle in this manner: Salt is for the element of Earth. Water is for the element of Water. Incense is for both elements of Air and Fire.
Next in the creation of sacred space is calling the Quarters. You may decide to call the the elementals, watchtowers or the Guardians. Each of these are quite acceptable. Deborah Lipp and Scott Cunningham discuss this in further detail. (See Suggested Investigation below.) To set up altars for the Quarters, see one of my previous posts titled “Elements/Quarters/Directions”.
Once you have your circle cast, it is not a great idea to leave it in the middle of your magick or ritual. I highly recommend writing a plan for your ritual and/or magick. Create a checklist for supplies you would need and use it. In your supply list do not forget to include your ritual plan, water to drink and matches. If you are in the middle of the ritual or doing magick, it is possible to leave without damaging your circle badly. With your hand or athame cut a door in your circle just big enough to get out and back in the circle. Do not forget to seal it afterwards.
At the end of the ritual or magick, clean up of energies is very important. You need to release or open the circle and not have any of those energies left. Hold your receptive (non-dominant) hand out. Hold an athame in your receptive hand if you wish. Allow the energies of the circle to flow into your hand or athame. Make sure to ground. Start in the direction you started in when you cast the circle. Since this is a final act of releasing the circle, this is a time when you may walk widdershins (counterclockwise). You may use the following chant as you release or open the circle if you wish.
Around, around, around,
may the circle be unbound.
Enjoy learning ways to create sacred space!
I will continue to post on Wednesdays.
Cunningham, Scott, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Llewellyn, 1988.
Lewis-Highcorrell, Donald, Rev., Witch School First Degree: Lessons in the Correllian Tradition, Llewellyn, 2021.
Lipp, Deborah, The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water & Earth in the Wiccan Circle, Llewellyn, 2021.
Sabin, Thea, Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice, Llewellyn, 2006.
Wigington, Patti, “How to Create a Sacred Space for Pagan Rituals.” Learn Religions, September 10, 2021, learnreligions.com/how-to-create-sacred-space-2561781