Art by Norman E. Masters
In any magical (and metaphysical) work, the process of performing that work is aided by a ceremony that adheres to some sort of ritual. That ritual can and should be changed according to the times and circumstances. We live in a world that is constantly changing; and any religious group can and should change with the times. Why cling to ANY ceremony that has outlived its relevance?
Tradition has a place, but when tradition encroaches on modernity, (and by so doing, limits it) it should be changed to meet the times we live in.
In many groups, the act of worshiping a God or Gods requires a setting. It does not matter where that setting is inside or outside, especially set up, or haphazard in nature. One might venture that They would be attracted to a well laid out circle quicker than to some sloppy piece of work.
To focus the energies of the group and make them a single unit of harmony, we adopt a context that is rather simple, and easy to learn.
I hold that there are many things we do in this life that have consequences that are far greater than we think. We don't notice that we use one hand more than the other, we don't notice that we can estimate the time of day by looking at the sun; we see, but fail to recognize, that birds fly North and South following the lines of magnetic force.
Circles have been used for many thousands of years, with varying degrees of effectiveness. In the records of those that used magical circles, it is widely held that circles aligned with magnetic North seem to be more effective.
All circles are cast with one open side, to be closed when the celebrants of that ceremony are inside. The outer boundary of that circle should be inviolate. No one should be allowed to cross that line unless it has not been closed. Those that attempt to do so should be violently expelled.
That open side should be at the East, long an accepted practice, and all other sides should be closed.
The size of the radius of that circle seems to be somewhat rigid, and one might assume that the radius is connected to some unknown factor dealing with a rate of vibration we are unaware of.
The oldest measurement we know is the so-called "Pyramidal yard;" and the name "Sacred yard" is also applied to this calibration. It is the measure used to construct the Pyramids; and we may assume that it had some significance other than a convenience to them. What that significance was, we no longer know; but we recognize its effectiveness.
To apply this measure to the circle, we must make a measuring stick to conform to the correct size of the circle.
The "Pyramidal Yard" is 2 feet 8 and 41/64 inches. The easiest way to lay out a circle is to cut a wooden stick to use as a "beam compass."
Go to a lumber yard or store that stocks wood pieces, and find a piece of wood, about 3/4" square; if smaller, it is too "limber;" and if bigger it is too heavy and cumbersome to handle.
It is usually sold in 8 foot lengths; and one piece is all you need.
Buy some ordinary garden sulfur at a garden supply store, and a box of "ice cream" salt, about 5 pounds each.
Use a wood rasp or coarse file and cut a four-sided bevel on one end of the wood. Don't bring it to a point, but enough to leave just a small square at the end of the piece. This is to be able to establish an accurate radius to the circle.
Carefully measure from the exact beveled end of the wood to the first sacred yard, and 2 feet 8 and 41/64 is just a hair over 32 and 5/8 inches. Make a careful mark at that point; and then measure to 2 sacred yards. This is 65 and 9/16 inches.
Using the side of the wood rasp, or a sharp knife (an athame will work quite well here) (a witch's sacred knife) make an exact cut at the 1 sacred yard mark, just enough to be a permanent groove in the wood. Repeat this same marking at the 2 sacred yard point.
With a small wood drill (less than 1/16 inch) drill a hole in the wood at the 1 yard mark and the 2 yard mark. Use a drill that will just allow a common nail to go through the hole.
Buy some surveyors' stakes when you go to the lumber yard or the store that sold the wood. Usually they only cost a few cents each; and you will need 3 of them.
Visit a craft store, and buy a box of the small wooden sticks they sell for crafts; "popsicle" sticks is the usual term.
Pick an area of ground that "seems right;" if necessary, have a member of the coven that is a "sensitive" choose it.
If it has grass on it, mow the grass short. If there are weeds, pull them out. If it has rocks on it, remove them.
Make sure that you have enough room to swing the 2 yard stick without hitting any trees or other obstructions.
With a compass, locate the magnetic North. Drive one of the surveyors' stakes in the ground enough to be steady, and extend a piece of string from the stake toward the North, making sure that it follows the exact North line, and extends farther than the length of the 2 yard pole.
Drive another stake in the ground at this point, where it is exactly North of the center stake. Push the nail through the pole at the 2 yard point, and drive it lightly into the center stake.
Starting at the North stake, push one of the popsicle sticks in the ground at the exact end of the pole. Move over some 6 inches, and push another stick in the ground. Continue this until you reach a point that approaches the East side of the circle.
Leave a gap in the circle of sticks that permits an opening into the circle at what is now the East gate. Continue to swing the pole, pushing sticks in the ground all the way around the circle till you get back to the North stick.
From the end of the pole at the East gate, remove the pole from the nail at the center, and using it, lay out a length from the edge of the circle to the center of the Goddess circle. This will be 2 sacred yards from the outer edge of the main circle.
Use another stake and drive it into the ground at the end of the measured length from the edge of the main circle. Push the nail through the pole at the 1 yard mark, and drive it lightly into the second center post.
Using this shorter radius, inscribe a smaller circle oriented to the North, but completely enclosed. Repeat the same procedure as you did on the main circle, but this circle is closed, no gate.
After laying out the circles, sprinkle a complete circle around the Goddess circle, using first the sulfur, and then another circle -- slightly inside the first -- using the salt. Don't stint; have a full and complete circle of both materials. When you finish, remove the center stakes and the North stake.
Cast a circle of the sulfur around the main circle, leaving the East gate completely open. Do the same with the salt, again, leaving the East gate open. Put the packages of the sulfur and salt inside the circle.
If you wish to put a torch or other flame in the circle, use the type known as a "Tiki" torch, but have as little metal in it as possible.
Only after the celebrants are inside the main circle do you close the East gate.
NO ONE is allowed to cross the boundary of the circle after it has been closed! I will repeat, NO ONE!
Only after the circle has been closed do you invoke the Goddess! It is written that the Goddess moving toward the circle attracts others, and those others may not be of "desirable" character.
Never invite the forces into the main circle!
It's a very bad idea!
In summoning the Goddess, there is no special method -- whatever the leader (either the Flamen or the Flamenca) feels compelled to say.
Don't forget to invoke the elementals of the Earth, Air, Fire and Water to participate. If you like, you may have a bowl of earth, and one of water, and use a stick of incense to perfume the air.
Never use any alcoholic spirits inside the circle; alcohol attracts spirits that are best left out.
After any ceremony, the Goddess should be thanked for attending and the elemental forces should be dismissed with your thanks, but admonish them to:
"Go back to your natural habitat harming none along the way".
The elementals of the air are the Zephyrs, the water ones are the Undines, or the Sylphs, the earth ones are the Gnomes or Trolls, and the fire elementals are the Salamanders.