The circle is the most common space created for the working of magic and witchcraft. It stands in sharp contrast to the rectangular space that the average Christian church defines. The circle is easily drawn on the ground and just as easily erased. The circle has been a popular form for worship since ancient times as demonstrated by numerous stone monuments found around the world.
In modern magical and Wiccan practice, the circle is seen as both a protective barrier and a container of energy. It is the visible manifestation of a sphere that completely surrounds the worker of magic. Where the invisible sphere intersects the ground or floor, a circle is defined. While occasionally a more permanent circle is drawn and remains for regular workings, the circle is usually created only at the beginning of a magical ritual and dissolved at its close.
Modern magical rituals begin with the imaginal setting of a sphere of energy around the individual or group performing the ritual. Commonly, there are specific words that are spoken to create the sphere or circle. Most Wiccans believe in the existence of an array of spirit beings, from deities to elemental spirits. Most rituals are designed to invoke one or more of these deities and the intrusion of unwanted entities would disturb the focus of the ritual. In such settings, the circle is seen as a barrier that protects the ritual and keeps entities attracted by the power raised by the ritual from disturbing its fruitful conclusion. The ritual is closed with a banishing act dispersing any attending entities.
Modern rituals are also seen as acts that raise, focus, and direct energy to a specific purpose such as the healing of someone or the gaining of some particular favor. In such thinking, the sphere or circle is seen as a container that holds the energy so raised until the ritual's climax, when it is sent forth to do its work.
In modern Neo-Paganism, where worship predominates over magic, the idea of creating the circles as the creation of sacred space, apart from the mundane world, predominates. Sacred space is, or becomes, space in which the veil dividing the common everyday world from the realm of spirits is thin and communication is possible. While some sacred space is defined by the environment, a particularly beautiful or striking spot, it can be created anywhere. In the pantheistic Pagan world, all space is ultimately seen as sacred. Sacred space is often entered only after participants have cleansed themselves and donned special dress, commonly a ritual robe, or as in the case of some Wiccan groups, in the nude.
Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979.
Crowley, Vivianne. Principles of Paganism. London: Thor-sons, 1996.
"Circles." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/circles
"Circles." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved February 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/circles
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"Circles." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/circles
"Circles." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved February 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/circles