Back to Basics: Casting the Circle and Calling the Quarters
Back to basics: casting the circle and calling the quarters. It goes by many names; calling the quarters, calling the directions, calling the watchtowers, and calling the elements, to name a few. But if you ever encounter a book that talks about “calling the corners”, put the book down, and walk away from it quickly. If a person says it, walk away from him or her very quickly. There are no corners in a circle. Someone misheard “quarters,” took it to be “corners”, and has been spreading the disinformation to the Pagan community ever since. We don’t care what their “qualifications” are, it’s incorrect.
This is similar to the idea that a male Witch is a warlock. A Witch is a Witch is a Witch. But if you know anything about the Norse Heathen tradition, you know that warlock comes from the old Norse warlogr, which means sorcerer. In English, it got twisted to gnarled or twisted, to an oathbreaker, one who betrays his own kind.
There are several ways to cast the circle. One way is to cast it with each of the elements, as it is done in NROOGD, a tradition which we’re both familiar with. In both the Craft, and ritual magick the circle is cast in order to contain and focus the power and energy that will be raised. In ritual magi ck, the circle is also cast in order to protect the magician from any entities that may see fit to manifest themselves. There are many ways of casting and charging the circle, one each for each tradition that has come forward. Tegwedd personally favors the NROOGD method. First she puts together the charging bowl, and then she and and any other priestesses present will cast the circle using the tools of the different elements. One of the circle castings of NROOGD is
“Athame draws the circle round about
Power stay in, world stay out.”
Then follow three more chants with three more tools.
Aidan Kelly wrote a great book Beatnik Commie Hippy Witches about the history of NROOGD. We urge you to get a copy of it from Amazon.
In the different TV shows that feature magick, and Witchcraft the writers and producers are actually beginning to do research on how spells are done. For example, a merchant in Supernatural had a well done circle under the rug in her store. While she doesn’t approve of the letting of blood, and feels that it is somewhat sensationalistic, Tegwedd and Stephen liked the way that the rituals were done in both the Originals and Supernatural. One even suspects that the two shows may have consultants who are experts in these fields, and that the producers and directors are actually listening to them. We feel that this is only the beginning, that there will be more shows in which magick is done. Case in point: when True Blood returns, they’re probably going to have magickal consultants and do their research
Back to casting the circle: When you cast a circle, you’re really not casting a two dimensional circle but a sphere. Tegwedd likes to visualize it as she casts it. She likes to visualize a sphere of light that fills the entire room, and extends above the ceiling, and below the floor. When Stephen casts a circle, it is very dependent upon how much space he has. If his space is very limited, he just stands in one place and revolves as he casts it. Stephen visualizes the elements while casting the circle. He also smells scents while casting the circle. “Don’t limit yourself to just vision. Incorporate your other senses such as smell, taste, and hearing.” It is best if you do everything you have to do before casting the circle so that you don’t have to make a door and leave the circle. Everyone in the circle, should for example take their bathroom breaks before the circle is cast, and make sure you have everything you need for the ritual in your working area and turn off your phone.
Calling the quarters. Basically you are calling upon the four guardians of the watchtowers, each of which have a direction, an element, a color, a name, and a shape. One woman of our acquaintance talked about screaming birds of the east when she did a ritual. The guardians don’t have to be noisy, but they should be ferocious. After all, all they are doing is protecting you from the astral nasties that are attracted to the psychic noise of someone doing a ritual. When Stephen is calling the directions, when he’s calling the east, he feels wind, when he calls the south, he feels heat, when he calls the west, he feels moisture, when he calls the north, he feels the ground under his feet. The key is to us more than just vision. Tegwedd will have to try this. She admits to having used just vision, but she thinks this might be good.
Tegwedd was told online a few days ago that the original covens ( to Tegwedd, this spells Gardnerian) had a circle within a square, and that’s where the corners come from. Having studied both Gardnerian and Alexandrian trads, she thinks this is so much BS. Stephen tends to agree. The square is the room you’re having the ritual in. The “corners” aren’t in the quarters . Stephen said “It’s fanciful BS, but it’s still BS.” We both agree that it’s BS. Where’s the proof? That person brought forth no evidence to prove her case, so it truly is BS. If it were part of the original covenwork, Aidan Kelly would have mentioned it in his Crafting the Art of Magic. Tegwedd did research on both Gardnerian and Alexandrian coven practice, and it doesn’t mesh with either her research her or her personal experience. So her warning about it stands. So there. The thing that bothers us about it all is that people are out there perpetrating and perpetuating a fraud. People who don’t know any better are buying books with this disinformation in it, thinking this is part of the Craft, and passing it on to others. We challenge you to do your own research. Research the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions for yourselves, after first ascertaining that you are researching the actual traditions, and see if we’re not right. Sometimes the members of those traditions will spread disinformation to “protect” their oathbound material. We feel that it is beeter to say nothing at all, rather than spread disinformation, if you have oathbound material to protect. Or come up with something completely different but genuine, as Dorothy Morrison did with her The Craft: A Witch’s Book of Shadows. Tegwedd is a big fan of Dorothy Morrison for this and many other reasons, and has all of her books. The people who are talking about “calling the corners” in their books are ripping off people and hurting them. If they honestly don’t know that it’s incorrect, then they don’t know what they’re talking about, and have no business writing about the Craft or teaching it.
Another piece of BS Tegwedd learned a few days ago was in one of her Tarot groups. A woman said that in the guidebook accompanying The Witches’ Tarot Deck it said that “If your client gets freaked out or scared then you lose part of your soul.” Why would you lose part of your soul? It sounds like hype and sensationalism. So much BS. It isn’t that easy to lose your soul or parts of it. Stephen says “This bizarre statement should not detract from the deck itself, which does great readings.” There has been this conspiracy among Tarot writers from the very early days to make out like the Tarot is this ugabuga scary thing, when it isn’t. Sure, there should be an air of mystery surrounding the Tarot, and reading the Tarot isn’t for everyone. Heck, divination isn’t for everyone. The cards don’t speak to just anyone. If they did, Senator Ted Cruz would read Tarot. Can you see how dangerous that would be? But this aura of danger surrounding the cards is just so much huey. How can 78 pieces of colored card stock be a danger to anyone? A goodly amount of critical thinking is called for here. All any reading can do is give you a snapshot of the way that the currents of psychic energy are flowing now.
The standard call to the quarters goes something like this”
Hail onto Thee O guardian of the Watchtower of the North, East, South, West
Thou Who art the gnome, sylph, salamander, undine,
We call upon Thee to guard this circle and to witness this ritual.
Hail onto Thee from the abodes of Earth, Air, Fire, Water,
Hail and welcome!
Then using either wand or athame you inscribe the pentagram for that element in the air.
“Notice there’s no corners,” says Stephen, who is here for comic relief. “But to get serious, I use colors, numbers, Gods and Goddesses, animals, and scents.” But Tegwedd likes things simple and basic, stripped down to their basic components. The colors of the elements are: green, brown, and black for Earth, yellow of gold for Air (in ritual magick the color of the dagger is yellow because it represents Air.), red for Fire, and blue for Water. Spirit is the sacred center, and for that, you invoke the Goddess and the God. In ritual magick, you start calling your quarters in the east, while in the Craft, you start in the north.
Well, that’s about it. If you have any questions about casting the circle and calling the quarters, do ask them in replies to this discussion and we’ll answer them.