Circles, Why are they Important (or not) in Modern Druidry and Pagan Practice?

I had someone ask why we were ‘breaking’ the sacred circle boundary so often during our Samhuinn ritual on Saturday. My response.

Thanks for the note (name with held). Remember that any circle you may perform magickally is a construct to keep your mind focused. It is not required to do any healing work, or workings in general.. That being said: When we do public ritual with moving parts and invocations, we move ritual participants in and out of the circle. In this specific case, we invoked Cailleach – which was an exterior entry to the circle and ritually brought forward for the purpose of the Rite. The interesting thing is that it was one of the participants that transformed to that energy. No new energy added or removed from the ritual circle. So in a poetic way, we drew the Cailleach from the energy in each of us… If you reference some modern thought on magick circles and magick in general, you’ll see advice not to get too hung up on constructs cause you’re just weakening your own magick capabilities by relying on them. Kerr Cuhulain in his book ‘Full Contact Magick’ is a great reference guide for more contemporary quantum thought on Magick and less 18th century ‘mechanicalism’. He is a Wiccan practitioner and his book is great for any pagan tradition to draw from. It is very much in line with the OBOD traditional thoughts on the subject (druid and ovate grade) and expands a bit on areas of Magick that aren’t heavily outlined by the order. I have a few hard rules I use for our public rituals. This is to keep them grounded well and understood by a wide range of participants that may or may not be druids:

  • Don’t let people leave or join a circle where deep work is taking place (judgement call of the ritual leader). The energy being added or taken away is far more disruptive than crossing some imaginary boundary, though they are related loosely to understand who has ‘joined’ or ‘left’ the circle, or merely watching. You have to be strong practitioner to do public ritual because you are limited in your control of geography.
  • I ensure that we always do a standard opening and closing based on OBOD tradition. This creates sacred space (less about boundary) and more of a sacred place within each participant.
  • Certain level of uniformity in dress and ritual tools for the main directions and principals of the ritual. This shows unity and balance of the circle – also is a powerful effect on the dignity of the Rite itself.

John Beckett also wrote on the subject. You can check out his blog article at the link below. “The circle is also an organic arrangement for gathering. It gives everyone unblocked heat from a common fire. It allows everyone to see everyone and facilitates conversation. Like King Arthur’s Round Table, it promotes egalitarianism. The idea of gathering in circles is a very old, very natural, very pagan idea. While we can only guess at the purposes behind such ancient monuments as Stonehenge and Avebury, it is no surprise they are circular.”

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