Traditionally, many rituals and spells are performed in a circle. In a group setting, participants stand or sit in a circle that allows each member to see and interact with everyone else. The circle shows that each person present is important to the success of the overall working.
In Wicca and witchcraft, rituals are often called “circles.” A group of witches who gather to work together magickally can also be called a circle. A circle isn't merely a physical pattern — it is also the people themselves and their spiritual practices.
A physical circle may be constructed for the purpose of working magick. Stones, plants, lights, fencing, or other structures might form the circle's perimeter, providing a clear boundary between mundane and sacred space. Great stone circles, such as those found at Stonehenge and nearby Avebury, offered sanctuary for the enactment of ancient rites and rituals.
Many circles, however, aren't physical — they exist as energy patterns created by the magician's imagination. A witch simply envisions a circle surrounding a designated area, usually for a brief period of time, and shifts the vibrations inside the circle for a specific purpose. Within the area defined as sacred by the circle, witches and Wiccans perform their rituals and spells.
The Circle's Symbolism
The circle represents unity, completion, continuity, and wholeness. To witches, the circle also corresponds to the annual cycle known as the Wheel of the Year (discussed in Chapter 4). In magickal work, a circle signifies protection.
When doing magick, witches frequently cast circles around themselves and the space where a ritual or spell will be performed. This practice serves two purposes: to keep out unwanted influences and to contain magickal energy until it's time to release it into the universe.
Before enacting a ritual, witches usually create a circle to provide a safe haven. The circle may or may not be visible. Sometimes a circle is cast with words, gestures, and visualizations. Participants know the boundary is there — they might even see a faint glow or sense different vibrations inside and outside the circle.
Some magicians actually draw a circle along with magickal symbols on the floor or ground before enacting a ritual. Others light candles or place symbolic objects to designate the sacred space within which a ritual will take place.
Whether you create a temporary or permanent circle is totally up to you. What's important is how you think, feel, and behave with regard to the sacred space you've established. Your circle is both a sanctuary and a place of power. Everything that transpires within it links you with the earth as well as with the worlds above, below, and within you.