The magick circle is one of the most quintessential aspects of Wiccan practice, defining the space where all the ceremonies are performed. The magick circle is usually cast by the High Priestess of the coven. Typically the athame or sword is used for the casting, though the wand may also be used in some circumstances. The person casting the magick circle walks a complete circuit in a sunwise direction around the circle speaking words of conjuration, whilst tracing the boundaries of the magick circle.
When considering the origins of the magick circle, there are a number of factors we need to explore. These factors include the size of the magick circle, the use of tools and words in constructing the magick circle, the form of the magick circle, and the use of the circle to contain power and to exclude unwanted influences.
In his book Witchcraft Today, Gardner wrote that the magick circle should be nine foot in diameter, unless it was created for a very specific purpose. He went on to say that:
“There are two outer circles, each six inches apart, so the third circle has a diameter of eleven feet.”
The same instruction for a nine foot circle, with two subsequent outer circles, each a foot greater, can also be found in some of the earlier Wiccan Books of Shadows. This would give a diameter of eleven foot for the outermost Circle, as stated by Gardner.
This practice is taken directly from the Key of Solomon which we will subsequently demonstrate as providing much of the ritual of purification and consecration of the magick circle. Mathers’ publication of the Key of Solomon records that you should:
“take thou the Sickle or Scimitar of Art and stick it into the centre of the place where the Circle is to be made; then take a cord of nine feet in length, fasten one end thereof unto the Sickle and with the other end trace out the circumference of the Circle, which may be marked either with the Sword or with the Knife with the Black hilt. Then within the Circle mark out four regions, namely, towards the East, West, South, and North, wherein place Symbols; and beyond the limits of this Circle describe with the Consecrated Knife or Sword another Circle … Beyond this again thou shalt describe another Circle at a foot distance with the aforesaid Instrument.”
There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that this is the source of inspiration for the creation of the magick circle as found in the Wiccan tradition. However, it is not correct to say that the magick circle used by Gerald Gardner has been taken directly from a Key of Solomon. Considering the magick circle as recorded by Gardner in his novel High Magic’s Aid we find some rather strange differences to those given in the Mathers edition of the Key of Solomon. The magick circle shown in High Magic’s Aid is the same one which Gardner had in the Witchcraft Museum in Castletown, in the Isle of Man, as illustrated in photographs from the time which have been reproduced in books such as Doreen Valiente’s The Rebirth of Witchcraft.
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.