casting a circle, circles, rituals, spell work, witchery, witching ethics,

Witchery: Is Casting a Circle Necessary?

Another “hot button” issue, along with the ethics of whether or not to charge for magickal knowledge, talents and spells, the ethics of using blood magick, the ethics of teaching with accountability, the ethics of teaching children, period, and the ethics of using some magick in general, is the frequent argument about casting a circle.

Some traditions insist that casting a circle for every magickal working is a strict necessity. Others suggest it is a good way to keep magick confined to keep from harming others if some nebulous “something” gets loose during a magickal working, and others do not seem to care one way or another.

On an individual level, I have met witches who swear that circles are crucial to every working; circles are required only when working with dark forces and dark magick. Some witches cast circles for rituals where power gathered from multiple sources is sent as a whole, for religious gatherings and celebrations, and some never use a circle at all preferring to trust in their skill level to control what is necessary.

Initially, I learned to cast a circle by a trad, which insisted it was necessary for every working. I must admit that I do not believe this is necessary any longer. I have cast for more than a couple of decades now, most of it healing magick, and I do not see a need to cast a circle for this type of magick. Beneficial magick is easily controlled now, since I have more experience in it than with any other type. I have learned to work with the feel of the energy and can tell if something is amiss and how to correct it.

I admit that there are spells, celebrations and magickal rituals where I do believe a circle is necessary, I think that once a witch gets a handle on the more common skills and uses of magick, a circle is a personal preference and not a requirement. When I practice alone, I have a simple circle that I have used since I created it back in the mid- 90s.

When casting a circle, it may be set to protect from within, from without or both ways. Use the setting that is most appropriate for your work.

When working alone, on magick that is unfamiliar, by all means, a circle is helpful. It can contain the power raised while the witch is focusing on unfamiliar things and might be distracted. A setting to prevent what is inside the circle from getting out is used, typically, with darker magicks. I would suggest for dark workings, unless you really know what you are doing, have a great deal of experience and control over what you are doing, that for your own protection you remain outside the circle.

To protect what is inside from influences outside the circle is necessary when the spell work or ritual is complex and the witch needs to be free to concentrate fully on what is happening inside the circle without distractions.

Personally, I only suggest a two-way circle when there are new witchlings who need to be protected from external disruption and need to be monitored to prevent their energy from going astray unexpectedly.

However, as with all things magickal, I believe that the witch who is working is the witch who knows best what is needed. Whether the individual witch wants to include their deities, powerful entities, or go it alone, it is the witch’s prerogative. Just as the witch determines the settings of the circle, they must also determine the medium used that best suits the needs of the circle, but that is a discussion for another post. 😉



9 thoughts on “Witchery: Is Casting a Circle Necessary?

  1. My mother is a witch, though she wouldn’t use that name. And her paternal grandmother was one as well. Neither of them ever cast circles. A lot of books talk of circle casting, and I also find these books to be so entirely hokey pokey and commercial its almost laughable. No traditional witch follows multiple rites (I’ve read in some books people who celebrate days of different god/goddesses from different cultures, and their calendar is literally FULL of different days (from Celtic, to Greek, to Italian, to Hindu, to Egyptian) This is by no means traditional, and older witches would laugh at such things. But most witchcraft you find in books is new, with information from the last 100 years or so. My family traditions go back much farther, and seem entirely different from the mainstream.
    Point being, circle casting is what i call “commercial” but not necessary at all.


    • You said “No traditional witch follows multiple rites”. Actually, I know some traditional witches in my online group who do. Each path is unique to the person who walks it, in my experience. The books you denigrate may help others find a path that works for them, that does not mean you have to follow the same path they follow. Each person has to discover what works for them. What others do or do not do, well, it is not as easy as saying “older witches would laugh at such things”. In making such a broad statement, it seems to me that you are trying to say that others’ need to do it the way you think it should be done, otherwise they are doing it wrong. That is not accurate. If your beliefs work for you, that is excellent. However, you need to remember that what works for others may be as different from your path and practices as night is different from day. The difference does not mean either of you is wrong.


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    • If you read the article you can see that I acknowledge that some traditions require casting a circle for every working. If you choose to follow one of these, then feel free to cast a circle with each working. I do not believe it is necessary to cast a circle for a spell with which a witch is already intimately familiar. I would see it as a waste of time to cast a circle merely to do a targeted healing spell or some other spell which I have cast so many times that I can cast it by rote. If I am trying something unfamiliar or something difficult, I might be more inclined to cast a circle to reduce distractions and contain any energy raised until I am certain of the outcome. As I stated, I believe it is a choice each witch must make for themselves.


  3. So if my High Priestess tells me that I have to use a circle every time and yet I do not think I have to, do I really have to do it just because she says so? I don’t think they are ever really necessary.


    • I would say that if you belong to a coven and you have vowed to follow the traditions of that coven, then you need to either follow the trads/rules or leave the coven. If the HPs is telling you to cast, you cast, that is just the way I see it.

      If you honestly disagree with their ways, or have questions and doubts about the way you are being asked to practice by those with more seniority and of a higher level than you in the coven, you should research on your own to see if there are reasons why they are telling you to do something in a specific manner. It could be they have more knowledge and experience and see something valuable in the specific practice that you do not see, or perhaps they see an area of your training that they feel needs work or would benefit from the structure of a specific way of working.

      However, if you have thoroughly researched the process and you still disagree with the processes you are being asked to follow, you may wish to think about whether or not you have outgrown the coven you belong to, their specific teachings or if perhaps that coven is not a good fit for you. Just because you join a coven, does not mean you have to remain in it if your path and the coven path split ways. Your spiritual growth may determine that you travel with that coven a ways and then split to continue on your own or with a different coven as your knowledge grows. Only you can determine the right path for your soul.


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