It’s helpful when casting a spell to create a ritual space, and casting a circle is one way to do so. Not only does this ward off distracting energies, it helps to move the practitioner to a ritual state of mind. Not every practitioner casts a circle in the same way and often it’s best to experiment a bit and find what works for you. Here’s a general guide:
1. Determine how much space you’ll need in your ritual. If you only need space for yourself, a good rule of thumb is to make a circle big enough to fit your outstretched arms. If you plan to stand or move around, or if your ritual includes something like an altar or more people, account for more space.
2. Make sure you have everything you need for your ritual before casting your circle. There’s nothing more distracting than realizing you’ve forgotten supplies and leaving to go fetch them. If you do need to leave for something mid-ritual, many find it helpful to visualize “cutting” out a door which you would seal up again when you return. This way, your circle is not interrupted.
3. Cleanse your ritual area. First, clean it physically by tidying up and vacuuming or sweeping (with a regular broom, not a ritual one) if needed. Then cleanse and purify the area of negative energy. Purifying processes include lightly brushing the floor with a besom (ritual broom), fanning incense around the area, smudging, sprinkling salt or saltwater, and playing a musical instrument (I particularly like chimes and bells). The most important thing, no matter what method you use, is to visualize the negative energy dispersing. If you don’t focus and visualize, the physical actions will have little effect.
4. Once your space is cleansed and you are ready to begin, cast your circle. There is any number of ways to do this, but generally people will trace out a circle with a wand, athame, or even their hand. Keep in mind that whatever tool you use does not have to actually touch the ground — you need simply point it down. Visualize protective energy coming from within you and direct it toward your casting arm (generally your dominant arm). Focus it through your casting tool and visualize a beam of energy coming from it and settling on the ground. Some like to cast a circle multiple times (for example, once for protection, once for focus, and once for power), but this is not necessary. Sometimes practitioners like to call the four quarters (east, south, west, north), especially if their ritual involves invocations or presence with the divine. Sometimes a circle is marked with candles, stones, cord, or some other marker. Usually, a circle is imagined as a sphere or dome of energy. Keep in mind that the stronger your visualizations are, the better your circle will be cast. Take your time and focus.
5. When your circle is cast, proceed with your ritual but always try to be aware of your circle. It would be unhelpful if you forgot about it and stepped outside.