Animals (totem): bear, wolf, whale
Landscape: sunset over a peaceful ocean with dark colored cliffs hanging over the water.
When each direction has been dismissed you return to center and mentally unwind the energy. Orally establish the end of your ritual and the opening of your circle. An example would be, "The circle is open but unbroken. Merry meet and merry part until we meet again!"
Suggestions to make a circle more formal
-Write more dramatic invocations and seals
-Use magickal tools to draw out the circle (athame, rattle, etc)
-Set up altars at each direction in a circle with a candle for each element, incense, a cup, or other object.
-Set a statue in each direction of an animal, angel, or other representation of the element.
These are but a few suggestions. Casting a circle can be as complex or simple as you choose to make it.
Invoking element or spirit
When you turn to the direction you call upon the power inherent in that direction. This is done through saying aloud the spirit (or element) you wish to ask for blessing from. A simple sample invocation is
"I call to the spirit of the (direction). I call upon that presence of (element/spirit). May the great power of (element/spirit) housed in the (direction) come and dwell in this space. Hail and welcome!"
By using this base, a practitioner can turn to each direction and invoke that power. Once each power has been called into the space the practitioner turns to center.
Drawing the circle
Drawing the circle is when you draw an mental line between the direction. Usually using your finger or tool, the practitioner invokes a direction, turns to the next but before invoking the next element they will point towards the previous direction and visualize drawing a line from one direction to another. They would do it either completely in their mind or visualizing the energy coming from their finger or tool. This step is more customizable to the individual. You can do it one direction at a time or do it at the end of all invocations.
Once all direction have been invoked the individual turns to the center. Raising their hands up they close their eyes and visualize the powers of the direction around them in a circle. Holding that image the individual imagines a white halo beginning at the starting direction and moving clockwise through each direction until it forms a perfect circle. This forges the circle. Once the visualization is achieved it is verbally sealed. A simple seal is "By this will, the circle is sealed!"
Once it is done the main working can start. Whether that is a spell, ritual, meditation, invoking the gods, or simply divination. If a person wishes to leave the circle without dismissing or dismantling it you will need to 'cut' a door. Using your finger you visualize your finger cutting a door shape out of your circle. Once the person returns through the door visualize the door closing and perform your working. It is recommended you do not cut the circle, only if necessary and pause on the working until the circle is sealed again.
Dismissing and Dismantling
Once your working is done and you are ready to finish up your gathering it is time to open your circle. Turn to center and give an oral thank you to the energies present within your circle. You can also use this as a cue for things to start wrapping up. A simple one is, "I give thanks to all good spirits within our place. With my working done the circle is unsung."
You would then turn to the starting direction and give thanks for its added power, then say your farewell. Some witches suggest being a bit forceful so that you do not have lingering energies. A simple dismissal is, "Thank you (element/spirit), power of the (direction). Hail and farewell, go if you will, stay if you must."
At each direction, going clockwise from the first, you would visualize that power fading.
Circle casting is a common practice in many Pagan paths, however it is not always included in every path. Should your path feel comfortable including casting of a circle, here are some tips to get started.
The basic circle casting includes...
-Preparing and gathering for ritual that will be performed in circle
-Turn to starting direction and invoke element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to 2nd direction and invoke element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to 3rd direction and invoke element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to final direction and invoke element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Face enter (or altar) and seal circle
-Do working. Finish working
-Turn to starting direction and dismiss element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to 2nd direction and dismiss element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to 3rd direction and dismiss element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
-Turn to final direction and dismiss element (or guardian/spirit) of direction
Preparing for ritual
If you are going to do a meditation, ritual, or spell within a magick circle it is suggested that you bring in all your supplies before you cast a circle. Once you cast a circle it is important to NOT leave the circle until it has been dismissed. If a person leaves the circle it can leave the energy muddled, uncontrolled, or unprotected. For this reason, it is recommended that all materials needed for a working be brought in before the circle is cast.
Turning to the directions
The main component of circle casting is turning to the four directions and invoking the power of those elements. The spirit you choose to call upon is up to the individual (or group) but the basic power is the element associated with that direction. Also, it is debated which direction is best to start at. Some say North is the first to begin, but others argue East is best. Whichever direction you choose, the second direction should be direction clockwise of the first. For North that is east, then south, then west. For east it is south, then west, then north.
Here are a few associations for directions and ideas of spirits to call.
Animals (totem): Hawk, bee, or flying creature
Landscape: wide open field with fresh spring wild flowers and cloudless sky.
Animals (totem): buffalo, goose, goat, hoofed creatures
Landscape: White peaked blue mountains in a barren, snowy setting. With black trees and deep green firs.
Animals (totem): snake, butterfly, lion
Landscape: red-orange cliffs in a serene desert with noon-day sun high above.