Recording the witch trials in his book Saducismus Triumphatus (1681), Joseph Glanvill recorded the 1664 confession of the witch Elizabeth Styles, who said that when they parted from their meeting the witches said “A Boy! Merry meet, merry part”, which may be the origin of the “merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again” at the end of ceremonies. However the words spoken at the end of the old second degree Masonic initiation could also be the root of this phrase, being “Happy have we met, happy have we been, happy may we part, and happy meet again!” In fact it would seem some form of merging between the two is likely for the words spoken at the end of some Wiccan ceremonies.
In discussing the use of the magick circle we drew attention to its function to contain the power raised and also to exclude any unwanted influences. In his book Fifty Years of Wicca, Frederic Lamond quotes Gerald Gardner as saying:
“Ceremonial magicians draw a circle to keep out the spirits they summon. Witches draw a circle to keep the power we raise in.”
This is a simplistic generalisation, as in fact the magick circle in the Wiccan tradition fulfils both of these purposes. Let us consider the antecedents of the magick circle being used to contain power. Anglo-Saxon leech-craft made use of circles to keep power in at times, and may be the source of this belief. Although it contained a merging of Heathen and Christian belief, the significant magickal practice which occurred was the drawing of circles around wounds or infections to contain the affliction. This principle was also applied to the picking of some plants, where a circle was drawn on the ground with a knife to contain the healing power of the plant within it when it was picked.
A recurrence of the same principle is seen in Renaissance alchemy, where we find examples such as the drawing of “a circle around a pestilential carbuncle with a sapphire, the carbuncle will soon turn black and fall off.” Similarly circles were drawn around the eye with a sapphire to preserve the sight in cases of measles and smallpox.
This idea of the magick circle being used to focus power has much earlier roots however, showing far earlier precedents for the subsequent Wiccan practice. Kieckhefer makes an interesting observation in his work Forbidden Rites when he states:
“The circle as a locus of power, enhancing the power of the operator, is ancient; it appears, for example, in the early Jewish story of Honi the Circle-Drawer and in the Greek magical papyri.”
A variant of this can also be found in India, as recorded in the book Witchcraft in Western India by Kapur, who describes in a necromantic rite how:
“A magic circle is drawn around the particular grave, which is then opened. The corpse brought out of it kept within the circle – with its head facing east. The black magician touches the body three times with a wand of human thigh bone or his sacrificial knife, and commands it, in the name of Kali, to rise and answer.”
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.