Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rituals & Ceremonies Part II - Casting Circle & Calling Quarters

In the last Rituals & Ceremonies post I explained how to cleanse a sacred space.  Now it is time to move to the next step in preparing for a ritual, casting a circle and calling the quarters. 

One of the most popular questions posed to pagans is, "Why do you cast a circle?”  The question might be worded differently but that is the general inquiry.  People will give you a lot of different answers. 

First, creating a circle creates a barrier between you and the outside world.  A buffer if you will.  It is a way to keep outside influences from interrupting your sacred rite.  Of course, there are things that get a free pass through the circles barrier, cats most notably.  Also unless you are using a mosquito net to enclose your circle; bugs and other natural creatures will surely venture in and through your circle, so be ready.  Second, a circle will act as a container to hold energies rose during the ritual.  Those energies would otherwise be lost before they could be directed toward the intended goal.  Third, is to create sacred space for communion with the divine. 

So now that we have the reasons that we create circles down, lets get down to the good stuff, how to cast the circle.  Casting a circle can be as simple or as complex as you like.  The circle may be large or small, delineated with a cord, drawn in the dirt, or simply visualized.  Traditionally, some ceremonial tool is used to direct the flow of energy that we intend to use for casting. It can be an athame or wand, even a sword set apart for ceremonial use.  When nothing is available, all is not lost. Just point your index and middle fingers in the direction where you want to lay down your circle and begin. 

Take your preferred tool and point it at the ground where you want your circle to be cast.  Visualize a blue light or flame rising from the ground at the point and continuing as you walk in a circle, deosil, around the altar.  Be sure to encompass all the area and persons you want to include in the circle.  Continue until you have returned to point you began.  Some traditions pause during the creation and acknowledge each of the cardinal points, additionally; some people tie a knot at the end using the infinity symbol.  A chant is usually said during the creation of the circle.  There is a wonderful one in True Magick: A Beginner's Guide by Amber K. 

”I conjure thee, O circle of power, that thou shalt be a boundary between the world of humanity and the realms of the mighty ones, a guardian and protection to preserve and contain the power we (or I) shall raise within;  wherefore do we (or I) bless and consecrate thee!”
  You are now between worlds and in sacred space.  If you must leave the circle a door must be ‘cut’ in the boundary, resealed and cut again when you return.  As I mentioned before, pets do not need to be cut in or out of circles.

HAZZAH! You have cast your first circle.  Enjoy it, explore it, experience it and be ready for the wonders contained within. 

Next we call the Quarters.

“What do you mean by Quarters, I don’t have any change on me.”  Not those Quarters silly, the quarters of the circle.  You can think of them as the four directions on the compass.  North, East, South and West, alternately East, South, West, and North, depend on your tradition.  Each of the “cardinal” directions can be represented in many different ways and fashions.  Traditional each direction will have an elemental correspondence.  Lets talk about each direction separately starting with East.

East.  The direction of the rising sun.  The elemental correspondence for this direction is Air and the color yellow and shades thereof.  Aspects of the mind such as creativity and imagination are also associated with this direction.  Elemental Sylphs are the air creatures.

South.  The direction to your right as you face the rising sun.  The elemental correspondence for this direction is Fire and the color red and shades thereof.  Aspects of passion such as vitality, will and purpose are also associated with this direction.  Traditionally, salamanders are associated with this direction but the phoenix; a creature born of fire is perfect for this direction. 

West.  The direction of the setting sun.  The elemental correspondence for this direction is Water and the color blue and shades thereof.  Aspects of the emotions including intuition are also associated with this direction.  Undines are the elemental being for West but any creature associated with water is perfect.

North.  The direction to your right as you face the setting sun.  The elemental correspondence for this direction is Earth and the color is green and shades thereof.  Aspects of grounding including the body, foundations, and the material plane are also associated with this direction.  Gnomes (no…not the Travelocity Gnome) are associated with this direction. 

Using all this information you can create some unique ways to call upon guardians to ‘witness and protect’ you in your ritual.  Remember that you should be respectful when calling the guardians.  Some traditions us the word ‘summon’ when calling.  This denotes that the guardians are subservient to you.  This is not the case and there is nothing worse then an angry or pissed off guardian, well accept for a pissed off deity but we will discuss that later.  I personally favor asking kindly and reverently that he guardians come observe and protect you in your ritual and maybe offering guidance relating to their particular aspect.  Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura has some wonderful and simple calls for each direction.  Here is the one for North.  
"I call upon you, Elemental Earth, to attend this rite and guard this circle, for as I have body and strength, we are kith and kin."
 After each call it is nice to add “Hail and Welcome!”, again as a sign of respect to the guardians. 

So you have cast a wonderful circle, strong and powerful.  The sacred space inside is at peace and pleasant.  You have some glorious elemental guardians at each of the cardinal points waiting with anticipation at what will be happening.  Now what?  Well my wonderful readers…that is what we will discuss next time.  Rituals & Ceremonies Part III : The Deities – Whom to call and how coming in two weeks.

Oh I can hardly wait (squeaks). 

Blessings to you and yours my dear readers.  

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