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Author Topic: Closing the Circle  (Read 4295 times)
jacktrivia
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« Topic Start: March 12, 2009, 03:47:06 am »

I'm interested in what people who cast circles think is the proper way to close a circle. I'm learning on my own and have read of different techniques for this. One source I've read said after the ritual to go back around widdershins (counterclockwise) 3 times with the athame to draw back in the blue light (originally cast walking deosil [clockwise]). Another source said to close the circle this way, but walking deosil after casting it deosil. Another source said that after thanking and saying farewell to the dieties and the powers of the 4 directions that the circle will just dissipate on its own, without needing to formally close it. I'd be interested to hear opinions on these methods, which method works for you or if another method works. The one ritual I've tried recently I cast and closed the circle both walking deosil, but I'm not sure if that's "the right way" or the way that's right for me.
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« Reply #1: March 12, 2009, 03:55:32 am »

I'm interested in what people who cast circles think is the proper way to close a circle.

I have a couple of techniques - depending on how formal I'm being and how large the circle is. If it's basically just a strengthened shell/shield around myself, I will concentrate on drawing it back from a sphere into a small point and ground the energy (in the earth or a tool). If I've done the whole bells and whistles - walking the perimeter E-S-W-N-E, calling the quarters E-S-W-N - I will do the same to close it, in reverse order. Thanking the quarters N-W-S-E, drawing back in the energy into me or the casting tool E-N-W-S-E. And then grounding it again.

Last night I was informal, but I still remove the circle so that the energies are consciously moved where I want them to be rather than floating aimlessly around in the room.

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« Reply #2: March 12, 2009, 07:05:01 am »

I'm interested in what people who cast circles think is the proper way to close a circle. I'm learning on my own and have read of different techniques for this. One source I've read said after the ritual to go back around widdershins (counterclockwise) 3 times with the athame to draw back in the blue light (originally cast walking deosil [clockwise]). Another source said to close the circle this way, but walking deosil after casting it deosil. Another source said that after thanking and saying farewell to the dieties and the powers of the 4 directions that the circle will just dissipate on its own, without needing to formally close it. I'd be interested to hear opinions on these methods, which method works for you or if another method works. The one ritual I've tried recently I cast and closed the circle both walking deosil, but I'm not sure if that's "the right way" or the way that's right for me.
I'll banish counter-clockwise when I want to actually banish the energies, and clockwise if I have the good fortune to be working in a space in which I don't have to be worried about the remaining energies having unwelcome effects on other users of the space, so I'm mainly concerned with taking down the circle structure and returning the space to the everyday world (if you don't work in a system in which the space is placed "Between the Worlds" for the duration of the ritual, returning it may not apply - though it could be relevant to returning yourself from ritual frame-of-mind to everyday frame-of-mind).

For example, if I'm working in a public park, I want to leave things at least as tidy as, and maybe tidier than, I found them, and that includes not leaving stray energy around; if I'm working in common-area space in a household that includes non-practitioners, it's impolite to have the residues of my doings imposing on them (unless they request it).  But when my coven was still active and had a covenstead, we found it beneficial to have the ongoing imprint of "used for ritual purposes" on the living room.

Either way, it's usually preferable to banish formally - a circle will dissipate on its own, but that doesn't mean the energies don't exist anymore.  As Stardancer notes, if you don't consciously put them where you want them, they'll be (hugely metaphorical) just lying around where you can trip over them.  One thing we often did at the covenstead was to direct the energies into the household wards.  (There are some things I do in solitary practice in which I can't be sure I'll be up to doing a proper banishing afterwards; in that case I pre-set them to ground out by themselves afterwards - being able to do that is the result of many years' working with this sort of thing, though; you could experiment with it some, but it'd be unwise to count on it working until you've developed your skills quite a bit, and you should definitely continue to use more formal banishing for the most part because that's part of how you'll develop the skills.)

As a side note, the "blue light" thing is a common (but not universal) visual description/manifestation of circle energy - it's worthwhile to remember that it's not that the blue light is the circle, it's that it's how you perceive the circle.  Some folks don't perceive energy visually very well or at all; they may perceive by sound or by feel - me for one.  I've long since lost track of how many circles I've cast (heck, I've even lost track of how many years I've been saying, "I've cast more circles than you can shake an athame at"), but only once have I had a visual perception of a circle - or rather a sphere - of light, and that was under very unusual circumstances.  If it's working well for you, Jack, that's excellent, but I thought it worth mentioning because I've known a lot of people who were hindered, rather than helped, by the emphasis many sources put on visual perception and the "circle of blue-white light".

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« Reply #3: March 12, 2009, 10:35:23 am »

I'm interested in what people who cast circles think is the proper way to close a circle. I'm learning on my own and have read of different techniques for this.
I'm in a similar place as you.  Very new to this and just trying to find my way.  I cast my first circle Tuesday night and I actually wrote down what I wanted to say and do in a notebook.  I was afraid I'd get nervous giggles, but I was surprised how natural and good it all felt.
I have a couple of techniques - depending on how formal I'm being and how large the circle is. If it's basically just a strengthened shell/shield around myself, I will concentrate on drawing it back from a sphere into a small point and ground the energy (in the earth or a tool). If I've done the whole bells and whistles - walking the perimeter E-S-W-N-E, calling the quarters E-S-W-N - I will do the same to close it, in reverse order. Thanking the quarters N-W-S-E, drawing back in the energy into me or the casting tool E-N-W-S-E. And then grounding it again.
This is very similar to how I closed my circle.  I basically did everything in reverse and drew the energy back.  I did feel the energy linger, but I knew the circle was no longer intact. 

Thank you for posting this, I'm very interested in how more practiced members do this.
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« Reply #4: March 12, 2009, 06:01:18 pm »

Another source said that after thanking and saying farewell to the dieties and the powers of the 4 directions that the circle will just dissipate on its own, without needing to formally close it.

This time, Sunflower's said much of what I would have. (yay!)

We:
- banish unwanted energies from the circle (counterclockwise)
- scribe the circle (clockwise)
- bless the circle (clockwise)
- call quarters, etc. (clockwise)
[deity, working, etc. here]
- devoke the quarters (counterclockwise)
- unmake/open the circle (counterclockwise)

We do occasionally swap the directions, for specific workings, where we're deliberately starting by banishing or removing or rolling back a particular thing, and then rebuilding it. But in general, as above. We start in the east, and (therefore finish there).

I definitely agree with Sunflower's comments about cleaning up the space energetically when you're done. I admit to being somewhat hard-line about this, but part of my job as priestess is to make sure that we *enter* into sacred space (that's the casting the circle), but also that we *come back* to the physical world - and that means coming all the way back, not just letting some of it drift back in.

That's true even when I do my own personal work: I owe it to myself to come all the way back so I can also do all the things I need to do in this world (sleep, eat, go to work) to the best of my ability.

We do use a quick uncasting method (my teacher's have always referred to it as skyhooking, but I'm honestly not sure where that phrasing comes from.) It's a bit more abrupt than working through the full uncasting method, but there are times it's handy - and it's a *lot* tidier than 'will dissipate over time'.   
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« Reply #5: March 12, 2009, 06:52:34 pm »

I definitely agree with Sunflower's comments about cleaning up the space energetically when you're done. I admit to being somewhat hard-line about this, but part of my job as priestess is to make sure that we *enter* into sacred space (that's the casting the circle), but also that we *come back* to the physical world - and that means coming all the way back, not just letting some of it drift back in.
Thank you for this explination, I never thought of it in terms of 'coming back to the physical world'.  You've given me a lot to think about.

We do use a quick uncasting method (my teacher's have always referred to it as skyhooking, but I'm honestly not sure where that phrasing comes from.) It's a bit more abrupt than working through the full uncasting method, but there are times it's handy - and it's a *lot* tidier than 'will dissipate over time'.   
Do you mind explaining this method?  I'm really curious now. 

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« Reply #6: March 12, 2009, 07:27:38 pm »

I'm interested in what people who cast circles think is the proper way to close a circle. 

For myself what I do is imagine a bubble of sorts surrounding me, when I am finished with ritual I mentally lift the circle and give it back to the God(s) or I "dissolve" the circle and release it's energy within my space (usually my kitchen or spare bedroom).

When I practice with a group we usually close the circle counter-clockwise, release quarters, thank deity and sing May the Circle be Open.

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« Reply #7: March 12, 2009, 08:49:17 pm »

Do you mind explaining this method?  I'm really curious now. 

This is far easier to demonstrate than it is to describe (and it's something we generally don't teach someone to do until sometime after initiation - they have to be able to comfortably set up and take down circle the more thorough way confidently and competently (without checking notes, leaving things out, etc.)

Best tool for it, if handy, is a staff, and the slightly-silly but effective imagery I tend to use for it is picking up the energies of the circle and winding them up like you wind cotton candy onto a cone to eat it. Spiral the staff in the air counterclockwise, gathering all of the energies of the circle and collecting them in the top of the staff, then when everything is gathered, ground and disperse the whole thing by bringing the staff down to the ground.

The feeling can be really abrupt (especially if you do it quickly, and bang the energy down rapidly) - sort of that drop in your stomach feeling. But it can also be done a bit more gently with some practice and attention. You can do this without the staff (my covenmate tends to do it this way) but the staff directs the energy downwards, and gives you something to collect it on.

It's not great to use it all the time - there are things it doesn't do, and it's harder to direct any extra energy to other purposes, like our circle uncast does. It's also a fairly abrupt change of internal mode (from circle to daily life world). 

But it's also nice to have a quick option handy for days when ritual ran *much* longer than we were anticipating (and people have to work the next day, etc.) or times when our focus is rapidly diminishing. And, though we've never needed it for this purpose, I'm glad to have the method in my tool-box in case of serious emergency (like someone having a significant medical issue, and needing to take everything down *fast*.)
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« Reply #8: March 12, 2009, 11:46:18 pm »

This is far easier to demonstrate than it is to describe (and it's something we generally don't teach someone to do until sometime after initiation - they have to be able to comfortably set up and take down circle the more thorough way confidently and competently (without checking notes, leaving things out, etc.)
Thank you for taking time to explain it further. Your explanation was actually very visual.  I'm really fascinated with the different ways everyone practices rituals, but I do agree this method is not for someone like myself who is still trying to find their way.
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« Reply #9: March 13, 2009, 07:26:09 am »

Thank you for taking time to explain it further. Your explanation was actually very visual.  I'm really fascinated with the different ways everyone practices rituals, but I do agree this method is not for someone like myself who is still trying to find their way.

Oddly enough, it's the only circle-related thing where my primary mode is visual. (Generally, I'm all about the sound: different layers of the circle have different echos). This? Visual. 

It's also a practice, that, honestly, I don't generally need when working as an individual: an individual set-up and take-down already goes significantly faster than with multiple people, and working on my own, if I want to get the circle opened in a hurry, I'll just do an abbreviated form and run the energy, rather than skyhook. It's of most use when you've got multiple people, and you have some specific need.
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« Reply #10: March 14, 2009, 05:52:50 pm »

I've long since lost track of how many circles I've cast (heck, I've even lost track of how many years I've been saying, "I've cast more circles than you can shake an athame at"), but only once have I had a visual perception of a circle - or rather a sphere - of light, and that was under very unusual circumstances.  If it's working well for you, Jack, that's excellent, but I thought it worth mentioning because I've known a lot of people who were hindered, rather than helped, by the emphasis many sources put on visual perception and the "circle of blue-white light".

Sunflower

It's not working well for me, actually. That is, I don't actually visualize the blue light, at least not yet. I'm still enough of a beginner that I'm probably just "going through the motions" until I get more practice.

Thanks, everyone, for the replies.
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« Reply #11: March 14, 2009, 08:46:40 pm »

It's not working well for me, actually. That is, I don't actually visualize the blue light, at least not yet. I'm still enough of a beginner that I'm probably just "going through the motions" until I get more practice.

Thanks, everyone, for the replies.

Something that will help with just about everything magical is practicing visualization techniques. Visualization (at least for me - and most everyone I know who practices) is a skill that very important. If you take just ten minutes a day to work on your technique(s) you should see a vast improvement in the easibility of casting a circle, among other things.

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« Reply #12: March 15, 2009, 09:29:43 am »

It's not working well for me, actually. That is, I don't actually visualize the blue light, at least not yet. I'm still enough of a beginner that I'm probably just "going through the motions" until I get more practice.
I both agree and disagree with Hufflee (though it may not be actual disagreement, just a difference in emphasis).  Visualization - or any other means of perceiving the energies - is a skill, and can be improved with practice, and putting some time into doing exercises to develop your visualization skills is an excellent idea.

I'd have to say, though, that one of the reasons visual energy-perception is as important as it is, is that so many resources focus on it as if it was the only avenue of energy-perception.  That's a disservice to those to whom the visual doesn't come as readily (like Jenett or me), and also to those to whom it does come readily, because it means they don't know to develop other energy-perception avenues.  I'll note that some sources use "visualization" as an umbrella term to cover not just the visual mode but others as well - as one example I'm well-familiar with, Starhawk's The Spiral Dance has several exercises for developing your ability to perceive (and to create non-physical constructs), that put emphasis on a broader range of skills ("visualizing" an apple, f'ex, includes smell, texture, etc).  Developing all apects of perception means you have a wider range of tools in your toolbox, and that's always good.

I'd suggest, too, that when you cast a circle, focus less on "blue light" and more on "am I getting any sense of the energy?"  A lot of people pick up on it tactilely (my onetime coven Maiden once described it as being like the hairs on the back of her neck standing up, which is also as good a description as any of how it is for me - the hairs on the back of my neck don't actually stand up, but it feels very similar) - in my experience, tactile perception of some kind is more common than picking up on it visually, though it could be that I'm more likely to be a suitable teacher for those whose modes are similar to mine, which'd bias my sample.  Others might pick up on it auditorily, perhaps as a hum.  A very few might catch a faint aroma (or something that seems best described as being like an aroma).  Or it might be more subtle than a hum or blue light:  sounds from the other side of it might seem muffled, or objects on the other side might seem a little misty.  See if you can find out what way of perceiving the circle works for you - your description of what it's like might not match how anyone else describes it.

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« Reply #13: March 15, 2009, 11:09:33 am »

I both agree and disagree with Hufflee (though it may not be actual disagreement, just a difference in emphasis).  Visualization - or any other means of perceiving the energies - is a skill, and can be improved with practice, and putting some time into doing exercises to develop your visualization skills is an excellent idea.

I'd have to say, though, that one of the reasons visual energy-perception is as important as it is, is that so many resources focus on it as if it was the only avenue of energy-perception.  That's a disservice to those to whom the visual doesn't come as readily (like Jenett or me), and also to those to whom it does come readily, because it means they don't know to develop other energy-perception avenues.  I'll note that some sources use "visualization" as an umbrella term to cover not just the visual mode but others as well - as one example I'm well-familiar with, Starhawk's The Spiral Dance has several exercises for developing your ability to perceive (and to create non-physical constructs), that put emphasis on a broader range of skills ("visualizing" an apple, f'ex, includes smell, texture, etc).  Developing all apects of perception means you have a wider range of tools in your toolbox, and that's always good.

I'd suggest, too, that when you cast a circle, focus less on "blue light" and more on "am I getting any sense of the energy?"  A lot of people pick up on it tactilely (my onetime coven Maiden once described it as being like the hairs on the back of her neck standing up, which is also as good a description as any of how it is for me - the hairs on the back of my neck don't actually stand up, but it feels very similar) - in my experience, tactile perception of some kind is more common than picking up on it visually, though it could be that I'm more likely to be a suitable teacher for those whose modes are similar to mine, which'd bias my sample.  Others might pick up on it auditorily, perhaps as a hum.  A very few might catch a faint aroma (or something that seems best described as being like an aroma).  Or it might be more subtle than a hum or blue light:  sounds from the other side of it might seem muffled, or objects on the other side might seem a little misty.  See if you can find out what way of perceiving the circle works for you - your description of what it's like might not match how anyone else describes it.

Sunflower

I like to start all of my students with Sensation 101.  Not visualization, since that limits how they WILL experience things.  We use visualization, of course, but learning to hear, feel, smell and taste the numinous is just as important, and for many, far easier to master. 

Feeling, especially, seems to be the easiest means of sensing energy.  A good friend of mine thought for years that because she couldn't SEE auras, they weren't real.  Then it dawned on me that she might not see them, but I bet she could feel them.  I blindfolded her and had her report any "unusual/unexpected sensations" as I moved around in her personal energy field.  Sure enough, she could feel my presence as a tingling, from several inches away, and a fainter hum up to a couple of feet away. 

Another friend can't see anything at all when working in trance, but every other sense goes into overdrive.  Her aetheric self must be blind, but she more than makes up for it in being able to hear, taste, smell and feel everything so acutely.

So, with this information at hand, I start with what seems easiest.  Feeling energy is fairly simple.  Most newbies can pick up the hum of energy with their hands with a few minutes of training.  That first success is vital to learning to use their other senses to pick up the unseen world, and visualization, the most difficult for most people, can be worked on over time. 
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« Reply #14: March 15, 2009, 11:42:30 am »

Developing all apects of perception means you have a wider range of tools in your toolbox, and that's always good.

Exactly. Plus, you never know where life is going to take you - even if you're a visual processor, you never know if you're going to have a friend or student or child or whoever down the road who isn't, and who could use help.

My trad's initial training includes learning how to create in the mind all sorts of different senses. Some examples:

Starting exercises:
- See an orange in your mind.
- Smell it and taste it.
- Hear a bell ringing
- Feel the touch of bark, or velvet.

You'll note that all of these are very distinctive things - oranges have a lot of flavor and  very precise one. Bells are distinct. Velvet and bark both have very distinct tactile sensations.

Once you get those down, then you can move onto other - more subtle - sensations. Other kinds of fabric (or stones, or plants). Other kinds of food. More complex sounds.

Part of it is also recognising other stuff you've already learned: in my case, my music training had long ago taught me to hear (complex) pieces in my head when reading them on the page, and to replay things that I was working on. I'm pretty sure that part of this was my natural inclinations - but having years of practice with it before I started magical training definitely didn't hurt! And yet, knowing that I could do it with music gave me something to compare the other senses to, and to figure out how long I might need to practice to get the other senses clearer.
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Cauldron Announcements
RandallS 15 5689 Last post May 06, 2010, 10:24:33 pm
by RandallS
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