The Wheel of the Year, The Mayan Calendar, the May-pole dance, the Earth itself – all of these things represent a circle or sphere in sacred form.
All cultures have a form of sacred circle in their mystical, religious and metaphysical teachings. Native Americans have Sacred Circle Wisdom also known as The Great Hoop or The Web of Life. The Mayan calendar is the oldest known record of time and is based on sacred numbers and sacred space. Other cultures use the space for sacred circle dance, the lineage of which can be traced through Shakers, Sufism, traditional witchcraft, heathenism, and other forms of paganism.
Two Forms of Sacred Circle
There are two main types of magic circles used. Those formed by ceremonial magicians are designed to protect the magician from the forces that he or she raises. The Ceremonial magician would choose his Spirit to summon, and align all aspects of the ritual with the desired energy. Using a pentacle to help focus the ritual’s energy, the magician would invoke the spirit, and seek to compel it to do his or her bidding. To do this the magician would create the Sacred Circle (usually three circles, 9, 10, and 11 feet in diameter) which he or she would stand outside. This was for the Magician’s protection from the spirit that would be contained within the space. The magician would stand inside a Triangle to magnify his or her own power. Modern Ceremonial magic and its use of the sacred circle can be traced back to the 16th century in most texts, while others say that it goes back much further.
Sacred Circles formed by witches and wiccans, are mainly used to create sacred space in which to meet and commune with Deity. Many witches refer to the sacred circle as “a place between worlds.” It is a space that is between the world of the mundane, where the focus is on the physical, and the “other world” or astral plane, where the focus is on the spiritual. Unlike the Ceremonial circle, witches stand inside their circle. However, like the Ceremonial circle, the witches’ circle is also meant to contain – not a spirit but the spiritual and magical power raised by the practitioners.
“Having a Circle”
The Sacred Circle of the Witches does not have a clear historical beginning. References to circles can be found in many ancient texts and among various religions. The use of the term circle can also refer to a meeting, wherein magical practitioners would come together in a circle of bodies, standing to meet on various magical aspects, events, sabbats, etc. This form of sacred space, created merely out of the presence of witches, has very little written history at all but can be guessed to go back to the dawn of man since, when humans gather around a fire for community and sacred blessing of light, it is in the shape of a circle.
The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-Paganism by Raymond Buckland
Comparative Religion by Rev. Don Lewis-Highcorrell
First Degree by Rev. Don Lewis Highcorrell
**Essay on Lesson 6 of First Degree through Witch School