In occultism and magic the magic circle is a sacred and purified space where all rites, magical work, and ceremonials are conducted. It serves as a boundary for a reservoir of concentrated power and is the doorway from this world to the spirits and gods. The circle is symbolic of wholeness, perfection and unity; the creation of the cosmos; the womb of Mother Earth; and the cycle of the seasons and birth-death-regeneration. Within the circle it is believed possible to transcend the physical, to expose the mind to deeper and higher levels of consciousness. The magician enters the circle expecting to unite the spirits or gods with the forces of nature in a harmonious relationship. Positive or desired deities are invoked, invited, and not commanded, evoked, to witness and participate in the rites. The circle also serves to protect those within it from negative spirits and energies. The circle is been thoroughly cleansed of all unfriendly spirits and negative energies, witches frequently symbolize this by sweeping the space with a boom.
Circles since ancient times have been reputed for magical properties. They were drawn around beds of the sick and mothers who recently bore children to protect them from demons. Their remnants which are seen in the stone circles of Britain give credence to the importance of the circle. Circles were frequently cast for protection in order to ward off psychic attacks or physical intrusion of a home. They must be recast because their protective and magical powers are not permanent, but must be renewed with ceremonies.
The magic circle contains the four quarters, or cardinal points.
North: To ancient pagans north was the source of great power. As the heavens, it was believed, swung around the North Star so the ancient people aligned their temples and pyramids to this star. North, the cardinal point never touched by the sun, is associated with darkness, mystery and the unknown.
There is belief that because of the pagan's reverence for the north that the Devil of Christianity became associated with the north. Cemeteries were seldom on the north side of a church, if such space was used for burial at all it was for unbaptized children, criminals, reprobates, and suicides. Many old churches throughout Europe and the British Isles had a north door, often called "the Devil's door," which was near the baptismal font. Frequently after a baptism this door was opened to let the exorcised demons out. Most of these doors have long since been bricked shut. The north is associated with the element of earth, the new phase of the moon, the Pentacle, secrecy and darkness, the colors of Green or Brown, and spiritual enlightenment as keeping with the traditions of modern witchcraft and Masonry.
East: The east has the qualities of enlightenment, illumination, mysticism and the eternal. It corresponds to the element of air, the athame or sword, the colors of Yellow or Lt Blue. Northeast is the symbolic dividing line between the path of darkness (north) and the path of light (east). In Masonry, the east represents mankind's highest and most spiritual consciousness.
South: The south's attributes are the sun, the element of fire, the colors of Red, and the magic wand. It is said to be the quarter of the will, the direction and channeling of the energies of nature and the psychic. South-running water has long been reputed to have magical powers as it has long been used by wise women and witches in preparing medicine and anti-witchcraft spells. In Masonry, the south is the midway meeting point between the spiritual intuition of the east and the rationality of the west. The south represents the zenith of intellectuality; as the sun reaches its zenith in the southern sky. West: The west is the quarter of the element water, creativity, emotions, fertility, and courage to face one's deepest feelings. The chalice, symbol of feminine creative power and fecundity, is associated with this quarter as are the colors of Blue or Greenish-blue. In Masonry, it represents reason, common sense, and material-mindedness.
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