In case you looked at my “Gods and Spiritual Alchemy” article and sighed, “TLDR,” or read it quickly, or read it and saw the interesting circle casting that I just slipped in there without any explanation, I thought I’d do you the service of presenting it again, this time with some explanation of what I was thinking.
When do polytheists need a circle casting?
For normal devotionals, I would avoid them. In Hellenismos, anyway, the holiest virtue is Hospitality, and hosting a devotional event where strangers can’t amble in is a lot like closing the door on the gods themselves. In fact, if strangers show up (which they often do, when ritual is outdoors in a picnic area), I behave as though they are gods in disguise until it is proven otherwise. Any impediment to accepting them into my space immediately and with pleasure needs to be done away with.
For certain work, however, what you need is radio silence from the spirit world. You need to create an environment where you can be certain that whatever you are feeling or hearing is the deity and nothing but the deity.
Of course, as I say that, I recognize that most of what interferes with our perception is inside of us, and that no circle casting can fix that. But at the very least, we can assure that we acquire no new confusion.
Such a technique is helpful for:
- Attunements to deity
- Trance work (though, certain people do fine without circle casting, if they’ve done their spiritual homework)
- Any circumstances where a bargain might be struck with, oath sworn to, or agreements modified with a deity. (You really, really, really want to be sure who you are talking to here)
What does a circle casting need to do, in this context?
The objectives for the circle casting were as follows:
- To assure that nothing extraneous is in the space, physically or psychicly.
- To create a boundary which is selectively permeable. That is, nothing gets in but the deity you are calling.
- Assure that the entity you are calling is none other than who they say they are
Do we need to call the four elements to make the boundary work? No. There is nothing inherent in the four elements that makes a boundary work. We know this because people also cast planetary circles, and the planetary circles hold up just fine. The important thing, actually, is that you invoke at least one divine intelligence to support the circle. That’s the way it works in CM, anyway.
Do deities count as divine intelligences? Why yes! Yes, they do! But wait, how can you be sure that the right deity showed up before the circle is cast. Isn’t that a boot strapping problem?
You are quite right. We will need to very carefully call upon the deity before we even begin to cast. Apollon will be my example in this case. Many deities can be gods of truth. Many gods can be gods of healing, or music. However, the number of deities who might answer if we say, “The son of Zeus and Leto” is quite limited, and each connection we call, especially those to ancient humans, pings the deity again and again, and makes our invocation intensely specific to that one sacred personality.
Before you even start, though, you will want to purify yourself and the space in the usual fashion. For some people, this is khernips, but other people use barley and leeks. Having done that, speak the following:
To Apollon I call
Famed son of Zeus and Leto
Far-shooting brother of Artemis
Physician, Father of Asklepios
Musician, Father of Orpheus
Lover of Hyacinthos,
God of Socrates
Come to me. Let the boundaries I draw be for you and me alone,
A place where none other can transgress
Note that this was written slightly differently for Apollon than the one I wrote for Hermes, based on the nature of the god. The general spirit of the opening and closing lines is clear in both cases, and the specific words are not so important.
Next, having declared to the deity in question, one creates a circle.
As you mark the space with the staff or bowl of khernips:
“I cast this circle round about
Apollon, in, all others, out.”
Imagine, as you walk, creating a black line of flame that broadens into a sphere of black flame around your space. Leave a bright white circle at the top.
Why black? Close your eyes and cover them with your hand. What color is it? When you see black, it’s because no light is reaching your eyes from that particular direction. Black absorbs all light. The color is protective. Why flame? Because that blackness is thick, and it burns anything that tries to pass through.
Why white? Because that’s every color of light getting through. That’s the one direction you want something getting in.
Trace the name of the deity over the bright white circle. Say, sing, or vibrate the name of the deity, projecting into the name.
We’ve now made it clear to whom that one portal belongs. You may wish to perform a further invocation of the deity, or ask them to guard the space from particular things while you are working.
Take Down — When you are done with your work, walk around the space in the opposite manner from the way you cast it. Imagine the black flame being gathered into a thin line of black fire, and the black fire being gathered into your staff or bowl.
By respecting the circle as a boundary which must be actively taken down in order for you to walk out of it, you improve your ability to cast stronger boundaries.