An important part of ceremonial magic was the drawing of
a magic circle around the magician to protect him from the
malice of evil spirits that he might invoke to perform his will.
The circle was symbolic of a sphere that was believed to surround
the magician. It both isolated him from the chaos outside
and held in the magical power that he raised.
Magic circles were used for thousands of years and often
took elaborate forms, requiring the inscribing of magical symbols,
such as the Seal of Solomon (a double pentacle). In ancient
Hindu folk customs, the bed of a woman in childbirth was
encircled by red lead or black pebbles to ward off evil influences.
In medieval magic practice, the circle was usually marked or
drawn around the magician with a magic sword or knife. It
might be some nine feet in diameter to allow the movements
of the magician in his evocations. Portable forms of magic circles
were sometimes drawn on parchment and used as talismans.
(See also magic square; necromancy)