~ Casting the Circle ~
Casting a circle comes in handy for protection when astro
traveling, and some ritual work, But it is not needed everytime you need to do something
(other rituals, spell work, etc),for the land is already sacred.
The Call to Worship is an essential part of worship in many
religions all over the world. In Judaism the shofar is blown, in
Protestant and Catholic churches the church bells are rung. In Pagan
rituals we also begin with some type of Call to Worship, some way to
let everyone know that ritual is about to begin. Some traditions sing a
song, some read from their Book of Shadows. This is a way to focus
everyone's attention on ritual and all that it entails. In doing ritual we
are connecting with everyone who has ever done ritual before. Every
ritual action connects us with every time that ritual action has been
Sweeping the circle is a way to clear unwanted emotional
baggage, "vibes" and to prepare the circle space for casting. The
handmaiden literally sweeps the ritual area with a broom, often called
Ritual space is defined by walls in churches, by casting a
circle in Pagan rituals. Circles are cast using the sword, the athame,
or in some traditions, the wand. Usually the Priestess casts the
circle. Holding her tool, the Priestess walks about the ritual space,
defining the sacred area with that tool.
At this point often the elements are blessed or asked for their
blessing by bringing the symbol of each element around the circle. Air
- incense, Fire - red candle, Water - water in a cup, Earth - salt in a
cup. Sometimes this is called censing and aspurging. Watchtowers or the
quarters are called. These are the elements. Each element; air, fire,
water and earth, correspond to a different direction. East, south, west and
respectively in most traditions. We believe that we
and the planet we live on is made up of the elements. We invite or ask
the elements into ritual so that they may share in the worship of
The Gods and Goddesses, or the guests of honor, are invited and
candles lit in their honor.
Now comes the work of the circle. In many traditions power is
raised by chanting, singing, dancing or other methods of raising
energy. This energy should be raised for a specific purpose and with a
specific intent such as peace, health or success in a particular
venture. Remember that the Threefold Law
prohibits things that would harm
someone. (see the Definitions link) If the group does invocation, now
would be the time for this.
After the work of the circle is done, the circle is dismantled
in the reverse order. The Gods and Goddesses are thanked, their candles
extinguished. The elements are dismissed and the circle is banished.
The circle is often ended with the words "Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry
Meet Again". This is a common goodbye phrase in Paganism.
This is a *very* rough outline of a ritual. Rituals vary from
tradition to tradition and often from group to group within any
particular tradition. Some groups work in robes, others work skyclad,
which means nude (clothed in the sky). Some rituals are outdoors,
others inside. Sabbat
rituals may be more involved and
complex than Esbat (or Minor Sabbat) rituals.
There are many variations on this theme. If you are interested
in joining a group or even seeing some rituals, check out several so
you can be sure to get a feel for what's out there.