The Circle is there to protect you, and is the MOST important thing you can learn before attempting any magick. The reason for doing this is simply one of precaution. Metaphysical energy attracts a certain amount of attention from beings of a spiritual nature. Just as you wouldn’t leave the front door of your house open to anyone who happened by, you likewise need to close supernatural doors. Casting a Circle and calling the Watchtowers do this.
The Watchtowers represent the totality of all existence and the furthest extent of being. They correspond to the four Directions and the four Elements. From ancient times the Universe was believed to stretch outwardly toward the four Directions and to be composed inwardly of the four Elements. When we invoke the Watchtowers we symbolize our connection to all things which exist.
Casting a circle for ritual works can be done in many different ways. A circle is necessary in order to establish a sacred space for ritual works. Some people use them to keep energies inside (to keep other-world powers from escaping into our plane), others use them to keep energies outside (to protect Guardians of the East, Powers of Air; you who are thought and the wind upon my face. Winged eagle of the skies who is the morning breeze and the wrath of storms, I call upon and invite your presence to witness this rite.
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.
White light is considered symbolic of pure protective energy. To begin, sit quietly with your eyes closed, imagining a white light surrounding first you, and then the area where you are working. It is easiest to envision this light as coming from above you as sunlight does. As you see it clearer in your mind, allow the light to grow brighter, you may begin to feel warmer and the room may see quieter or different than when you began. This indicates that you have done it correctly.
North represents the element of Earth, midnight, winter and the sense of touch. The Elemental being associated with North is the Gnome. The Gnome appears as a small man in a pointed hat, who is sometimes misshapen or hunchbacked. He lives in natural wild places and cares for the animals. Gnomes are thought to be somewhat benevolent towards humans.
South represents the Element of Fire, noon, summer, energy and the sense of sight. The Elemental Being associated with South is the Salamander. The Salamander not only represent the element of Fire, it also lives within the element of fire. They are dainty and beautiful, but resent humans because we cannot enter into their fiery realms. Within the Element of fire are untold numbers of tiny kingdoms and the Salamanders live in these kingdoms the same as humans live in cities and towns.
East is the Element of Air, place of dawn, spring, any magic dealing with the mental or our sense of smell, something that is carried on the winds. The Elemental Being associated with East is the Sylph. A Sylph is a race of Faerie that specializes in the wind. They appear as beautiful, delicate humans and can be all size. Unlike most Faeries who have insect-like wings, Sylphs have iridescent feathered wings like a hummingbird.
West is the Element of Water, emotions, intuition, twilight, fall, the sense of taste. The Elemental being associated with the West is the Undine. Undines are always female and can appear in the guise of human, snake or fish. Every form of water has it’s own tribe of Undines, they exist in oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, puddles and even tear drops.
These four points are set up to represent the outer barrier of your magical space, to protect it and help establish a special energy area in which magick can be built.
Four Corners Invocation:
After the circle is cast, you will go to each of the four cardinal points (north, east, south, and west) and invoke the Guardians of the Watchtowers– that is, the Elemental beings connected to the four directions and the four elements. They are called to witness your rite and to guard your circle from unwanted, malevolent energies.
Invoking the Guardians:
“Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtower of the North! By the power of Earth, I do summon, stir, and call thee forth to witness this rite and to guard this circle.”
“Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtower of the East! By the power of Air, I do summon, stir, and call thee forth to witness this rite and to guard this circle.”
“Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtower of the South! By the power of Fire, I do summon, stir, and call thee forth to witness this rite and to guard this circle.”
“Hail to the Guardians of the Watchtower of the West! By the power of Water, I do summon, stir, and call thee forth to witness this rite and to guard this circle.”
And closing your circle would look something like this:
When your ritual is complete and your spells are cast, it is time to thank these Elemental beings for witnessing your rite and for protecting you during your spell casting. Dismiss these beings properly and with the respect with which they are due, never underestimate their power.
Guardians of the West, of Water, I thank you for your soothing presence here tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. Farewell and Blessed Be.
Guardians of the South, of Fire, I thank you for your energetic presence here tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. Farewell and Blessed Be
Guardians of the East, of Air, I thank you for your whispered presence here tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. Farewell and Blessed Be
Guardians of the North, of Earth, I thank you for your solid presence here tonight. Stay if you will, go if you must. Farewell and Blessed Be.
Notice that when invoking the Guardians, you are doing so in a clockwise (deosil) motion around the circle; and when you dismiss the Guardians, you are moving counter clockwise (widdershins).
Some of the above information on the Elements was taken from,
“The Gray Witch’s Grimoire”
by Amythyst Raine