Earth and sky, photo by Jacinta Iluch ValeroCasting a circle is a fundamental magick practice, and it can serve two vital purposes.

Firstly, the circle contains and concentrates the energy generated prior to casting a spell. The circle does not generate energy itself; instead it functions like a dam that holds back the flow of water and forming a reservoir. As energy builds during the spell or ritual, the circle will likewise hold back the energy. This allows it to be released at the opportune moment, maximizing the effectiveness.

When a circle is used as a reservoir like this, it’s sometimes called a “cone of power.” This term has its origins in traditional witchcraft, and is most commonly used as a group technique. A coven will cast a circle collectively, and channel energy into it. This was most notably done during the Magical Battle of Britain when witches performed a ritual to hex the Nazi threat.1

Secondly, the circle serves to protect the caster from harmful or negative energy. This may be passive energy, which could interfere with a ritual, or it may also be a malevolent force, such as a demon. Either way, casting a circle serves to ensure that the only energies affecting the caster are those they desire, and the circle serves as a barrier through which negative energy cannot pass. In this sense, the circle may be likened to a force field.

Benefits of flexibility and portability

There have been numerous techniques developed for the purposes of casting a circle. Many require a physical circle representing the circle or sphere in a kind of sympathetic magick. An example of this would be the popular image of an occultist surrounding themselves with a circle of salt.

The effectiveness of these techniques is not to be denied, however they can be limiting, as they require the magician plan in advance and access to a suitably spacious ritual area. If a person wishes to cast a hex, or feels threatened by hostile forces, it is hard to draw a circle of salt in the middle of a busy high street. The alternative technique set out below is notable for its utility but has also proven itself to be highly effective.

Create an energy ball

To cast a circle begin by closing your eyes and, in so far as circumstances will allow, clear your mind, and visualize a ball of energy forming above your head.

Those who are new to this technique will often try to force the ball to form, but this only serves to make the process harder. Do not become frustrated. Take a deep breath and calm yourself. Then visualize the space above your head with the casual expectation of the ball being there.

It is worth practicing this stage until the ball is felt to form of its own accord. Only then is it worth progressing to the next stage.

The appearance of the energy forming the ball is distinct to each caster. In my case, it looks like waves of fire and ice washing against each other. Others have visualized a ball of black lightning and of pink light. These variations can be seen as an extension of the caster’s personality, and there is no right way for it to appear.

Projecting into the ball

Once the ball has formed and appears stable, focus on projecting your will into it. This ball has already been generated entirely by your willpower, and is therefore mutable according to your will. It serves as the raw material for your circle.

The ball can be made, by your will, to expand like a bubble being blown. It will grow in this way until it envelops the caster. The bubble can be made as large as is required, and then willed to stop its expansion.

You will not be able to see the bubble with your physical eyes, but you should still able to sense its presence, just as you can close your eyes and still maintain an awareness of the distance to a nearby wall.

If you can do this, you will have cast a circle. Otherwise repeat the process from the beginning until successful.

It’s now ready to be used. If you are casting a spell, perform whatever practices you favour for generating the requisite energy. You may do so confident in the knowledge that the circle will maximize your efforts.

If defence is your primary concern, maintain the circle until the threat has passed or you feel secure. A malevolent entity, for instance, will likely lose interest once your level of protection becomes apparent. Otherwise the circle can defend you until more permanent protection, such as an amulet, can be procured.

Dispelling the circle

After casting a circle you may dismiss it with a burst of will. This can be done at the peak of a ritual by releasing any contained energy as if opening a floodgate. If cast for defence, the circle will be maintained for as long as you will it to endure. Realistically such focused application of will can be maintained for a few hours at most. By this time it ought to have served its purpose. It is not best suited to providing long term defence, but a circle can serve as an effective stop gap measure.

Once you’ve masted casting a circle in this way, it can even be done remotely. By applying sufficient will, a circle may be cast over another person or location, granting its full benefits to them. When casting at a distance, first visualize the target, and then visualize the ball of energy above them. The stronger your existing connection to the target, the easier this will be.

This technique is deceptively simple and therein lies its beauty. The crucial point to be remembered is that the circle is as strong as you will it to be. Sustained practice with this technique will pay dividends. If you can become confident enough to believe that the circle you have cast is impregnable, then it will be.

Image credit: Jacinta Iluch Valero

  1. Ed. note: See Dion Fortune’s Magical Battle of Britain for more on this. []