Hecate’s magickal ritual is formed to retain power during energy raising. The Witche’s Circle is often referred to as the womb of the Goddess and therefore is a sacred space in which we meet. That’s why it is so very important if it is a co-ed coven or open circle that the HPS or some other female cast the circle. If not, the circle will not be as powerful. Remember, in casting a circle, the feminine energy is needed, because the feminine energy is considered to be the impregnator on the magical and spiritual planes; just as male is on the material plane. (You can read more about this in the Goddess Path.) It is a place in which we draw away from the world and turn inward to the core of the Goddess Self, rooted within the womb and experience the magick of the Moon and of women’s power.
When building up power for a spell in one of the old ways such as dance, endless chanting, visualization and so on, Witches attempt to hold it inside their bodies until it has reached is peak. At this time, it is released and sent toward its goal. It is difficult to retain all of this power–especially during dance–and so the circle does this job. Once you have released the power, however, the circle in no way impedes the flow of energy to its destination. Circles aren’t necessary for the practice of magick, though if you invoke the Goddess to help you, the presence of the circle ensures that the power you receive will be properly retained until you decide it is time to send it forth.
Some Witches evoke/invoke the rulers of the four quarters. (Please see Evoke/Invoke to find out the difference between the two, because there is a huge difference which you must be aware of.) I am sure your witches of yesteryear were not so ceremonial in their practices and probably did not evoke/invoke the four quarters. However, I like to evoke them to guard my circle, as I am not living in the past but working with what I know in the here and now. Some Witches see them as Elementals, others see them simply as anciently placed Guardians or Watchers of the four directions, while others view them as the Mighty Ones, former humans who have spiraled up the incarnational path until they have reached perfection. This allows them to dwell with the Goddess. These Mighty Ones are mythologically linked to the four directions. Perhaps it is best to get in touch with these energies and discover them for yourself. No matter how you view these rulers, open yourself to them during invocation/evocation. Don’t just say the words or visualize the colors during the circle casting; invite them to be present. Stretch out with your awareness. KNOW whether they have arrived or not. Words do not have to be used to invoke the rulers, but they are tools which train the attention, focus out awareness and stir up the emotions–when properly stated.
Invocation requires a willingness to open yourself to the Goddess. It need not be a pristine performance. As most rituals begin with invocations, this is, in a sense, the moment of truth. If the invocation is not sincere, it won’t contact the Goddess within, and the ritual that follows will be nothing more than form. Practice invoking the Goddess not only in ritual but daily throughout your life. Remember Witchcraft and the Goddess path isn’t limited to Full Moons and/or Sabbats–it is a round-the-clock way of life.
In a more metaphysical sense, invocation/evoking is a dual-level act. It not only invokes the Goddess, it also awakes us (shifts our awareness) to that part of us which is divine–our inviolable, intransmutable essence: our link with the Old Ones. In other words, when you evoke/invoke, do so not only to higher forces but also to the deities that dwell within, to that spark of divine energy that exists inside all living creatures.
A little bit about earthing the power. Once you have sent energy, residual power usually rushes around within you. Some traces may still exist inside the circle. This should be earthed. Even if you performed no magick, an earthing is desirable before closing down the ritual. You do this through Cakes and Wine which also has sacred aspects as well. Eating kicks your body into a different mode. Since food is a product of the Earth, it gently returns our awareness to the physical reality. Food is a manifestation of divine energy. However, prior to eating, make a small offering to the Goddess by either scattering cake crumbs and pouring a few drop of liquid onto the ground or put it in a special bowl which is called a Libation Bowl and return it to the earth after ritual. You can also taste a bit of salt or try visualization to help in earthing.
Whatever occasion you wish to do ritual, there is a general procedure in ritual setup. Only the body of the ritual changes, as it depends on what you are doing is what the body of the ritual will be about. In your general procedure in ritual setup you chant the same sweeping of the circle, casting the circle, calling in the Quarters and if a Moon ritual, the same invocation to Hecate or whatever Goddess you choose to invoke/evoke whether it be full or dark. Naturally, Sabbat invocations to the Goddess are different. Below is a ritual setup in which I use all of the time. You can use the many appropriate chants which are in this website or from any other source.
Also, I play music while setting up ritual and during ritual in helping to set the mood.
Ritual Bath - participants bathe to symbolically cleanse the body and free the mind from daily care and bring its power to bear on the purpose of the ritual at hand.
Lighting of the Temple candles - This is a visible signal of the beginning of the ritual. All candles should be lit except for the Altar/Goddess candles and Quarter candles.
Consecration of Participants - The Witch anoints herself with oil and thus named sacred/holy/vehicle of the Goddess within. She may say "I am Goddess ___________." This oil also opens up the mind's eye.
Sweep the Circle - this is done with your besom to sweep out negativity and sweep in positive energy.
Cast the Circle - Creation of sacred space. The circle forms a boundary between the everyday world and the Magickal world now being entered. As you cast the circle, see the blueish light being formed. Also, when done casting the circle, walk around and "feel" the boundary which you have just created and know that is there. This is very important. As mentioned before, some Witches prefer using a Sickle to cast the Circle of Hecate. The sword and/or athame is more of a man’s tool and not that of a woman. The sickle is the symbol of the Crone–of harvesting and death. In hunter-gatherer societies, women were responsible for gathering and harvesting plant material. When cultivation began as a result of Demeter’s gift of wheat, it was the women who were instrumental in the harvest. Hence, the sickle is an appropriate (and ancient) women’s tool. Its crescent shape further identifies it with the Moon and so with the Goddess. It is the waxing and waning crescents of the Moon. The sharp edge represents the gift of discernment–the ability to know what needs to be cut away–either to promote growth/provide food or to remove disease/the unwanted. As the Priestess walks around casting the circle, she visualizes a bluish white beam of light/power extending from the tip of the sickle to the ground. This beam marks the actual boundary of the Circle.
Cleanse and purify the water, fire and incense. Salt is already cleansed and purified. We just say a little blessing over the salt honoring its perfection.
Cleanse the circle with the salt and water with a chant.
Cleanse the circle with the fire and incense with a chant.
Evoke the Goddess Quarters - Calling on the elemental rulers, Mighty Ones, or the Goddess of that Quarter to come guard the Circle and to lend their powerful aid to the rite and the participants.
Ceremony of the Triple Goddess - I have a Triple Goddess Candle holder sitting on the altar. I ask the Maiden to join us and then She speaks; I ask the Mother to join; then She speaks her words of wisdom; Then as ask the wise old Crone, and She speaks. I light each candle as I evoke the Maiden, Mother and Crone. These can be found in my Goddess Quarter Chants.
Invocation of the Goddess - Calling on Her to join the Circle, to aid the Magick and to guide you. The Charge is said. I have made my own by taking different information that I have gathered over the years and made it into a Charge of the Goddess Hecate.
Then stop and look around your circle and feel the presence of everyone. Many people just zoom right through this without feeling the presence of the Goddess and the Mighty Ones.
Magick is Done - Then do your body of ritual or intent of ritual like candle magick to rid negativity that has built up throughout the month, if you are doing a dark moon; to something positive if you are doing a Full Moon. Most anything you do, you can use a candle......from magick, or to honoring something. You can inscribe whatever it is on your candle and then anoint the candle with appropriate oil and splash your consecrated salt and water from you altar on the candle and run it over top the incense in your cauldron and then light the candle. As you are doing all of this, you are thinking what the purpose is and envision what you want to envision. I always light the spell candle from the Goddess candle, and as I light the spell candle, I say what this is for either silently, if you are in a coven and this is sacred to you, or if a solitaire, then out loud. But everything you do sets the mood of your ritual and the true essence of it. Build your cone of power and then send it off.
Blessings of the Cakes and Wine - I do not use what is called the symbolic Great Rite, as first off, it is a Wiccan tradition and not something Witches did long ago. If I did the Great Rite, I think the appropriate time would be at the Beltane Sabbat and not at all during Moon rituals. I bless and consecrate the cakes and wine but I do not do the "athame into chalice" which is the Great Rite in its symbolic form.
Toasting to the Goddess - I toast and pay homage to the Goddess and place wine and cakes in the libation bowel.
Then sit and relax a bit - Drink your wine and feast on your cakes. This not only helps you to relax but also to ground yourself.
Thank the Goddess - When it is time for the ritual to come to and end, thank the Goddess for Her attendance at your rite. (I never recommend anyone to "dismiss" the Goddess, as I think those words are not appropriate.
The Triple Goddess is released - starting with Crone, then Mother, then Maiden.
Quarters are released - Many witches go widdershins in releasing the Mighty Ones.
Call back the cast circle into your staff or sickl - power cast and then wasted is a shame. Many Witches call back that power into their staff. Many Witches go widdershins in calling back the circle into their sickle or staff.
Circle is opened but unbroken - circle is opened but unbroken. May the love of the Goddess be ever in your heart; Merry Meet and Merry Part and Merry Meet again.
Whew! You're done. But once you get it all down on paper in a ritual format, the rest is easy. I recommend putting your standard ritual setup in written form in its entirely. It not only helps the ritual go smoother, but you will not forget anything.
Yes, it is a lot to do if you are a solitaire but then your circle is never boring! I use to do it when I was a solitaire. Each time you do a ritual in the same manner, the same words, the same way, the stronger your ritual becomes. I have been using the same chant for casting my circle, for calling in the Mighty Ones, sweeping the circle, etc., for years and my circle cooks. You can get the chants that I have talked about in this website. Just before a ritual, I always go over my ritual format and read it through and through so that I do not stumble over the words and everything runs smoother. Also, it helps set the mood instead of just starting the ritual without any preparation. Even a few hours before ritual will help you in your preparation and setting the mood. I even go to my temple room and burn some incense a few hours before ritual begins. Naturally, if you want, you can add some other personal touches to your ritual.
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