Within the realm of witchcraft and sorcery, the circle represents consecration, or the protection of the divine. This symbolism is used in the sign of the pentagram, and is also used by itself in the practice of magic, though in a different form. A witch uses a magic circle as a sacred space which segregates the energies she is channeling from the random and chaotic energies of the world, which could potentially interfere with her spell. It can also act as a barrier against evil influences. Summoning of angels or demons is most commonly performed within such a magic circle, for the protection that the circle provides as well as the attraction a consecrated space provides.
Variations of Magic Circles
Different varieties of magic circle exist, each adapted for different tasks. No single circle guarantees results however. Ultimately only trial and error can determine which colors, symbols, and materials work for your spell. Magic circles may be painted onto the floor or wall or even fabric, drawn with a white powder, or carved into the dirt. They should be large enough to fit all the participants comfortably within the circle.
Instructions on How to Cast the Magic Circle
Casting a circle in preparation for a ritual is a relatively straightforward, yet involved process. First, as you would with all spells that you cast, perform a ritual cleansing. This refers to both physical and mental cleansing of yourself and the area that you will set up the circle in. Take a bath, then remove all extraneous objects from the area and sweep up as much of the dust as you can. Set up an altar (though it need not be a special altar; a table that has been set aside for use as an altar is fine as long as you mentally separate its use as an altar from its mundane use), with ritual implements: paired black or white candles, an athame (ritual dagger) or sword, and a pentagram pendant on a chain or cord. Other useful implements are: a bowl of salt (for purification), a bowl of water (likewise), a bell (to call the magic to the circle), a chalice, or saucer.
The next part of casting a circle involved the visualization of action, combined with a prayer or chant designed to focus your mind. Light the candles on the altar first, offering a prayer to the deities you are trying to invoke, appease, or request aid from. Using the athame or sword, walk around the circle and trace the circle’s outline on the floor. This symbolizes the division between what lies within the circle and what lies without it. Then stand before the altar and ring the bell thrice. With each ring, imagine yourself drawing the eye of the world to you, and call out the name of your deity in a clear, steady voice. At each of the five corners of the circle, offer prayers to the gods and goddesses in each direction—it is not required to name them individually, simply honor them in the abstract.
Place the bowl of salt on the pentagram and rinse the blade in it. Repeat the process with the bowl of water. Add a pinch of salt to the water and take the now consecrated water and sprinkle it around the circle to purify it. Pour the water into the chalice, then into a saucer for the deity, before placing the chalice atop the pentagram.
While entering and exiting the circle, do honor to the deities you favor and give them thanks. When you are done with whatever spell you are performing within the circle, thank them again and give them a proper farewell.