Ritual magic is practiced by a variety of groups, many of which create magic circles before they perform a spell. The circle was traditionally believed to separate the spell casters from the forces that they were summoning. Modern day ritual workers cast the circle as a sacred space, however, through which they can concentrate the energy that they are working with. Separate groups, and individuals, have unique ways of creating a circle. This can be done physically, or just visualized, and can be plain or have a variety of elaborate patterns, often marked with angelic or divine beings.
Wiccans normally cast a circle 9 feet in diameter, before each spell. They may also include candles along its perimeter, to mark the direction and the four classical elements. These are: yellow in the east, as a representation of air, red for fire in the south, blue for water in the west and green, representing earth, in the north. The energy within the circle is raised by using a cone of power, and the barrier is believed to be fragile. This means that passing through the circle’s barriers will weaken it. Whenever it is necessary to break the circle, a door can be ‘cut’ on the east side with the tool that was used to cast it. The door must then be resealed, to ensure that the energy remains inside.
Wiccans also use these circles to open the entrance to the spiritual world. This is achieved through the creation of the sacred space, which releases resistance and allows the practitioner to get closer to the astral plane. Magic can then flow unhindered between the realms. The energy is retained within the circle, making it stronger. This can then be focused for a specific task, including charging amulets and casting spells. The energy is released by breaking the circle, and can be dispersed in separate directions, depending on the spellcaster’s intentions.
Another reason for casting a circle is to confine entities that have been invoked, instead of allowing them to roam freely in the material world. There can be times when entities may not be willing to assist and may try to get away from the ritual casting. The circle also keeps other supernatural forces out, as they may be attracted to the raised energy. These entities can be distracting, disruptive or even harmful and it is important to keep them away. The circle acting like a shield can become counterproductive when trying to take energy in, however, but this can be solved by creating it with the intention of letting certain forces or energies in while keeping others out. A circle should always be dispelled after the ritual to ensure that the energies don’t remain harmfully confined.