The Magic Circle
Magic Circle, by John William Waterhouse (1886)
Ceating a magic circle is known as casting a circle, circle casting. There are many different techniques for casting a circle.
The common feature of these practices is that a barrier of energy is traced in a circle around the working area. Some traditions say that one must go around the circle deosil three times. There are also various starting points based on cardinal directions. A typical size for a circle is nine feet and an individual's circle is five feet in diameter, though the size can vary depending on the purpose of the circle, and the preference of the caster.
Some practitioners choose to mark the physical boundary of their circle, either before or prior to the actual casting. This can be done using a cord, a chalk line, a line drawn in the soil, or small objects such as stones.
Some practitioners mark the four cardinal points with candles, either white, or of colours representative of the elements: North: green for the element of Earth; East: yellow for the element of Air; South: red for the element of Fire; West: blue for the element of Water.
Though some practitioners, associate North with Air and East with Earth. Generally, as with most magical practices, an incantation is recited stating the purpose and nature of the circle.
Traditionally, circles were used by ritual magicians to form a protective barrier between themselves and what they summoned. Nowadays, the circle has taken the more benign function of containing the energy raised during the ritual that follows.
As more and more energy is raised from chanting and dancing the energy becomes more concentrated. After the circle has been cast it is believed that it forms a sphere of energy, which intersects the ground at its equator. This shouldn't be confused with the cone of power, a method of raising energy.
Circles can also be used as barriers for non-magical work such as meditation. The barrier is fragile and sensitive to things passing through it. Leaving or passing through the circle often weakens or dispels the barrier. This is referred to as "breaking the circle". It is generally advised that practitioners don't leave the circle unless absolutely necessary.
The Magic Circle is a British organisation dedicated to magic. Its headquarters are in London, and professional magicians who want to join need to first demonstrate their skills to existing members. There are currently approximately 1500 members (including Charles, Prince of Wales) in 41 countries.
The Magic Circle was founded in 1905 after a meeting of 23 amateur and professional magicians at London's Pinoli's Restaurant. The first official meeting was held at The Green Man public house in Soho, but meetings were later held in a room at St. George's Hall in Langham Place. The current president (2007) is Alan Shaxon whose term of office will end in September 2008.
The motto of the society is the Latin indocilis privata loqui, which may be roughly translated as "not apt to disclose secrets"; Members give their word not to wilfully disclose magic secrets other than to bona fide students of magic. Anyone breaking this or any other rule may be subject to expulsion from the society.
Since 1998, The Magic Circle Headquarters building in central London has also been available for use as a venue for meetings and corporate entertainment. It has been voted best unusual venue by the hospitality industry. A virtual tour of the building and information are available online.
Happy New Year!