1. The magic circle is drawn in the astral world about the Magus and the place where the ritual is worked. It forms a division between the magical place and the ordinary world, setting the interior space apart. This allows the region inside the circle to hold a heightened charge of magical potency, and because it is a pure space devoted to worship and magic, it permits the manifestation of spiritual Intelligences that could not be readily perceived in the ordinary environment. The circle also acts as a barrier that protects the Magus from the intrusion of discordant, chaotic forces that seek to disrupt communications with higher spiritual beings, or even to harm the Magus in emotional and physical ways.
The circle is always inscribed from the inside, ideally from the center, in a sunwise direction, and visualized as a glowing or flaming band of light that sustains itself in the air at the level of the heart. Often a corresponding physical circle of the same radius is marked on the floor of the chamber beforehand; but the magic circle does not actually exist until it is made in the astral by a deliberate act of will. For convenience, the circle is made of a size great enough to enclose the ritual place. A single ritualist, if working without an altar in a confined space, might project a circle of six feet in diameter. With an altar at the center, the circle might be nine feet in diameter to permit movement around the altar. Since the circle is drawn in the astral, it can be made larger than the actual physical chamber.
Whatever its size, the circle should always be large enough to comfortably hold all who work within it. Because the circle is magically real, even though immaterial, it must never be casually broken. It is extended from the heart center of the Magus clockwise from the point of the right index finger, or the point of the wand, sword, or knife. It should be reabsorbed at the end of the ritual in through the left index finger, or magical instrument held in the left hand, by retracing it widdershins——against the course of the Sun. It must never be stepped through, although this is a common mistake among occultists. To disregard the substantiality of the circle is to weaken it, and so render it a less useful tool.
SOURCE: Truth about Ritual Magic, Donald Tyson
2. A temporary boundary within which a séance or magical operation may take place. The theory is that is becomes a kind of psychic container for the energies used in the operation and a barrier to unwanted energies from outside.
The Magick Circle—whether drawn physically or in the imagination—is the "container" of magickal operations. The "Opening" and the "Closing" of the Temple—or of the Circle—is an operation that is both magickal and psychological. The rituals of Opening and Closing are various but all are simple projections of energy guided by will power with the express intent to provide a barrier against exterior forces while establishing the Circle (or Lodge) as container of the magickal energies
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Terence P Ward, author of the new Empty Cauldrons.
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