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
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 rituals climax, when it is sent forth to do its
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
Crowley, Vivianne. Principles of Paganism. London Thorsons,