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Wicca practice - days 200-204. "Casting the Circle: The First Layer"

Hello again. I have begun learning how to cast the circle.

Blessing the elements was the start of absorbing this process. Water is the first element to be blessed because it's a symbol of chaos and the unformed. It represents potential and fluctuation. Nothing lasts forever; even rock will be eroded away, and all things are tidal, rising and falling. Many religions have stories of the first existence of the universe being one of water, or the void.

The first task of circle-casting is introducing water to the sacred space, and you begin by blessing the water. When you bless it, it symbolizes the beginnings of order emerging from chaos, the focusing of the emptiness into order and structure.

Four days ago, I went out to the garage with a small, simple bowl of water. I held my hands over the water and focused on my breathing. When I inhaled, I imagined that I was drawing inside blue energy, and when I exhaled I concentrated on sending the blue energy through my hands into the water. I kept doing this until I felt that the water was fully energized (over five minutes..). It certainly feels physically like I'm sending power through myself, even if the effects are purely psychosomatic: I'm expending effort in rhythm with my breath.

When it was full of energy, I said, "I consecrate thee, O creature of water, in the names of the Great Mother and the Horned Lord." I placed my forefinger and middle finger together into the water and brought them up to anoint myself in the center of my chest, saying, "I am consecrated with the power of water." I imagined that when I did this, a blue radiance bloomed within and filled me with the cleansing powers of water. I then sat and meditated for a few minutes, aware of the changes it wrought, mainly a cold clean feeling and balanced.

For the last three days, I did a similar ritual with each of the remaining elements. The second one was earth, representing the concreting of the chaotic matter of water. In blessing earth, you are symbolically solidifying unformed energies into the form of the magic circle. It was similar to the water ritual; I used a bowl of kosher salt, and imagined drawing in green energy and then sending that energy into the salt until I felt it was energized. Then saying the incantations as above, and anointing myself by scooping a little salt with two fingers and touching the salt to my root chakra and the crest of my head.

After water and earth I practiced blessing fire, using a tall red candle as my fire candle. Fire represents the spark that earth needs to move into action; by blessing fire, you are symbolically enlivening the earth energies of the circle. Before I lit my fire candle, I anointed it along its length with Fire oil*. After blessing the fire as the others above, I held the candle flame a few inches from my body and brought it down in a slow line from my head to my groin when I blessed myself. Like the others, you can also bring the element to another part of your body that specifically needs it the most. When I was finished, I made sure to extinguish the candle flame with my fingertips because blowing out a candle is pitting one element (air) against another. Pinching it out only denies it of oxygen.

Air was the last, because it is the finest and least dense of the elements. It symbolically fans and encourages the spark of flame, feeding the fires of life that you've invited into your magical circle. Incense represents the element of air, so I used Air incense**. I brought out the fire candle with the rest of the stuff yesterday and after lighting the fire candle I used its flame to light the self-activating charcoal. After I began burning the incense, I energized and consecrated it as above, then blessed myself with it like I did with fire, fanning the smoke from the top of my head slowly down to my groin.

Today I cast the first layer of the circle.

Casting the circle means setting up the energetic, spiritual essence of the ritual space, sealing the perimeter with the energy of the five elements (spirit being the fifth). The first layer, which I did tonight, involves using the energies of water and earth to seal the perimeter. The second layer seals the edge with air and fire, and the third layer seals it with spirit.

I went out to the garage tonight with a boatload of stuff, the first time that I've needed quite this much. I swept the area with my broom, imagining that I was sweeping away any vestiges of malevolent energy. I set up my altar in the center with a black cloth, facing east. I laid out my four unconsecrated magical tools in ritual positions, laying the wand on the east side of the altar, the athame on the south end, silver chalice on the west side and my pentacle on the north. Even if you don't plan to use them, you should always have your four tools on your altar during rituals because they inherently represent the actualization of each of the elements. They are direct symbolic representations.

I set a bowl of salt on the north end of the altar and a bowl of water on the west end. I laid my thurible on the east end and put a self-activating charcoal in it (but didn't light it yet) then placed my fire candle on the south end. I have four quarter candles of the proper colors (really big thick ones) and I put them in their simple glass bases and set them out at the edges of the circle in each of the cardinal directions. I lit these one by one in the order that I would bless the elements in (water, earth, fire, air) and each time I lit one, I said, "Fire, flame in the Old One's name."

After doing all of this, I sat in front of the altar for a few minutes and meditated. Then I consecrated each of the four elements. It was the first time to bless all four in a row on the same day, and it took some time. I could have hurried the process, but didn't. I also didn't want to extend the blessing of an element longer than it needed, either (like feeling inadequate because I didn't spend a long enough time blessing the element). Instead I did as before, sending energy into the element until I felt it was ready, doing so in a natural way and trying not to overanalyze it. Blessing the four elements, then myself with each one, took about 20-30 minutes. After, again I sat and meditated for a few minutes, noting the changes it made me feel.

It was like each little part of the ceremony didn't seem to have a gigantic impact on its own, but as you do them one by one you can feel the effects starting to stack together and the energies involved becoming more noticeable.

Finally, I began casting the first layer of the circle with water and earth. I scooped salt with my fingers from its bowl into the bowl of water. I held my hands over the bowl full of water and salt and said,

"Water and earth I cast thee 'round,
By thy essence, life be bound,
Flowing vision, holy birth,
Blessed be by water and earth."

I stirred the water and salt together with my fingers and then took it to the eastern part of my circle. Going clockwise, I walked around the inside of the circle sprinkling the water/salt along the edges of my sacred space. As I went around sprinkling, I avoided thinking and obsessing about technical perfection or minutiae like the size of the circle or the water droplets falling exactly on the edge or anything like that. Instead, I concentrated on imagining that as the drops fell, they sealed the sacred space with a blue and green light.

After I had gone around the circle once, I sat back down in the center and meditated, alert to how I felt. I felt like the four elements within me were alive and completely balanced. The energy around the sacred space also felt somewhat sacred and active, although the sensation internally was more powerful than the energies I felt externally. It was quite an experience.

When I felt ready, I closed this layer of the circle by standing in the east again, facing out, and held my hands out to the east. I slowly and silently circumambulated counterclockwise (deosil) and imagined that the energies in the circle began to subside and ebb, sinking into the earth where they were reabsorbed and neutralized. When I came back around again to the east, I paused to sense the difference in the atmosphere; while diminished, it still felt like there was energy... after I started cleaning up, that feeling eased and disappeared. I maybe should have gone around the circle again to close it if I was still sensing energy, I don't know.

I picked everything up right away and moved it all back in my room. I made sure to empty the salt, water, and burned ash into a stream of moving water (for us urban witches that essentially means pouring it into the sink).

Next time, I will cast the first and second layers. Til then.

* Fire oil: vegetable glycerin, water, cinnamon leaf oil, clove oil, bay leaf oil, pinch of cinnamon.

** Air incense: vegetable glycerin, powdered sandalwood, crushed japanese star anise, crushed eucalyptus leaves, lavender oil.
Christopher Guokas's profile photo
Thanks. I really had no idea what was involved. Seriously.
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