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Setting A Circle

The Basics of Spiritual Circles
Most Traditions perform rituals and hold their festivals in Spiritual Circles. Additionally, most witches set a circle around their altar to perform their magikal workings. There are several articles here on the site that give various components of information for this is done, but I'd like to try and tie it all together under one roof for those who may still need some direction. But you may want to read the following articles to get a basic foundation of the terms and concepts that will be used in this article.
Connecting With Nature's Energy
Traditions very in how they use or connect with nature, their energy and direction. A lot of people think of this as calling the 4 corners, working with the 4 towers and so on. Traditions often how their own name for this concept, my tradition refers to it as the Alchemy of Life. Basically, each direction North, South, East and West are associated with an element Earth, Air, Fire, Water and an energy. Some traditions also include the quarter directions, such as North-East or South-West as part of their circle workings.
  Graphic owned by SpringWolf
These are things you're going to have to work out and decide for setting yourself how you want to incorporate them into your circle. The key aspect is making sure you feel connected to the system you chose work with. Let me give you an example of my tradition's system.
North, where the cold wind blows (air)
East, where the warm sun rises (fire)
South, where the warm waters flow (water)
West, where the great mountain rises (earth)
My tradition historically practiced on the east coast of the United States. The directions set made sense to our location. But if I lived in Los Angeles, California on the west coast these would be out of whack for my magikal practiceses. The North and South might still be the same, but to the west is ocean and it doesn't make sense to use that direction for Mother Earth. And to the East are the Rockies, so facing that direction for water again doesn't make sense. And what if I lived in Brisbane Australia? The east and west might be the same, but the north and south would be out of whack.
Going with the flow of nature is not just a quaint euphemism when you're working with energy. It's important to know where you are, how nature flows around you and how the energy of Mother Earth changes depending on where you are on her great world of life. So the first thing you should do is figure out what makes sense for your location.
Connecting With Nature's Essence Graphic owned by SpringWolf
For spiritual uses, it's important to know where each essence of nature resides so that you can match your spiritual intent with the correct orientation of spiritual energy. It's not enough to know what element resides in what direction, but what type of energy resides in that location as well. The spiritual circle is like a wheel of life. The wheel denotes the energies of life, and the bridge between nature and spirit. Through learning how these natures relate to the universe, you can learn about yourself, your place on the wheel, the underlying purpose of a lesson, or the best location for planning out ritual workings.
Once you have your directions and elements assigned, see if you can place the elements of Nature's Essence in their proper location. Again a lot of traditions have their own set system for doing this. Some see the East as the location for the Divine God because that's where Father Sun rises. Others locate the Divine with Mother Earth because she represents the Goddess. My tradition places the Divine GreatSpirits in the north because it's the location for Air, and represents the 'breath of life'.
Setting Circle Boundaries
Many practitioners use physical items to create the boundaries of their circle. Some use a rope made of natural fibers and lay out the circle each time they perform a working. Outdoor circles are often designated by stones, wood or even plants and shrubs. Some groups have the luxury of a dedicated room or building and incorporate the circle into the decoration of the floor with paint, tile or some other form of permanent physical structure.
Some people put limitations on their circle. They place their altar in a corner or against a wall and wonder how they can create a circle around the entire altar. They can't put the rope through the wall? So what do you do?
It's important to remember that these physical tools are just mechanisms for focusing energy. When you're setting a circle, it's your energy that creates the boundaries, not the physical tool. In reality, you don't need a physical item at all to create your circle. You just need focus, visualization and the ability to set energy around your space. Energy goes through physical obstacles. So you can imagine your energy moving through a wall, brick and mortar, the floor and the ceiling. The only limitation is those you set for yourself.
A lot of people think about setting their circle horizontally, but don't think about 'as above, so below'. In this context we're talking about setting protection and shields vertically as well. Acknowledging GrandMother Moon and Mother Earth is also part of connecting with nature's energy. You can think of setting your boundaries as creating a ball of energy around your space and not just room with walls and a doorway.
Anyone can set a circle. It just takes a little planning, a little fore thought and some imagination.

Source: 1, c3, c4, c8, c13, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14, m1, m5, m18, m23