Symbols - What does heaven look like
The Magic circle is symbolically the Egg. By extension it is also symbolically related to the Wheel. As there are Eggs within Eggs within Eggs, the Magic circle is also the Aura and by extension the Atom. By symbolically drawing a circle round yourself for example, you define the boundary of your own Aura and the area of energy beyond which any outside influence cannot pass.
Herder Symbol Dictionary,
In magical practices, the circle is valued as an effective symbol of protection against evil spirits, demons, etc.; the protective function ascribed to such items as the belt, ... ring, hoop, and circular amulet
So in this sense a magic circle is what in German would be called a "Bannkreis," a circle which keeps something out, which "bans" or "banishes" it. In the novel The Last Temptation of Christ, Kazantzakis has Jesus draw a circle around himself in the sand when he has to confront his tempters. In Dracula there is a similar image of the circle as magical protection. And the Handw"rterbuch des Deutschen Aberglaubens reports a wide variety of similar practices. In his Tavistock Lectures, Jung mentions the customs of making a magic circle around a 'field' both when digging for a 'treasure' and when protecting the 'harvest'.
It is a ritualistic act, but as we can see from the activity Enacting ritual and ceremony, ritual works.
But there is also a sense in which a magic circle serves to keep something in. The Dictionary of Symbols and Imagery, for example, describes the magic circle as "a circle of nine feet: the area within which the magician has contact with a spirit, and which he cannot leave before he has broken the spell." In traditional rituals, the "casting of the circle" serves mainly to keep a certain energy or focus within the gathering rather than to protect against "evil" forces from outside.
Carl Gustav Jung
The vas bene clausum (well-sealed vessel) is a precautionary measure very frequently mentioned in alchemy, and is the equivalent of the magic circle. In both cases the idea is to protect what is within from what is without, as well as to prevent it from escaping
In this context it would be to keep in the energy generated and needed for whatever act or activity came next. One might symbolically draw a Magic circle round oneself before practising Sexual stimulation, for example, with the intent of opening the crown chakra.
When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, the Western press stated that the wall was an attempt by East Germany to keep its citizens from escaping. But I visited Berlin in the mid 1960s and the rationale I was given in East Berlin, was that it was more an attempt to keep out the pernicious influence of Western European culture. It did strike me at the time that walls actually do both.
Of course the magic circle of the magician as jester and as conjuror is the area in which his "performance" takes place, whether it be a simple clearing or a formal stage. The circus ring is a Magic circle. The function of having a well-defined space of this sort is to focus the attention of the spectators or participants and to show that something special is to happen here. In this sense, the circle or stage is similar to putting a frame around a painting and hanging it on the wall.
A related way of conceptualizing the function of the magic circle is to imagine it dividing the secular from the sacred or the ordinary from the extraordinary.
The Magician Within by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette:
Ancient cities were sacred spaces, usually roughly (and sometimes precisely) circular by design, with the palace-temple complex always located at the circle's center. Thus the King dwelt at the organizing center, from which the created world radiates. Sacred mountains, sacred trees, and inner sanctums all were the "power spots" through which an energy exchange took place between the various dimensions of reality. The center was always bounded and contained by impregnable walls or "magic circles" or some other device designed to separate ordinary from extraordinary time and space.
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- A P Elkin - Aboriginal men of high degree - Dieri initiation
- Faithfull, Marianne - Witches' Song
- Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India - Evocation in the First Degree
- Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India - The Guru of Evocations
- Lethbridge, T C - The Power of the Pendulum – Flying easily from place to place
- Miro - The Lark's Wing, Encircled with Golden Blue, Rejoins the Heart of the Poppy Sleeping on a Diamond-Studded Meadow
- Shah, Idries - The Sufis - On Psychokinesis
- The Ancestors - Neolithic Orkney - The Neanderthals and Trolls of Orkney and the Shetlands
- Waterhouse, John William - Circe offering a cup to Ulysses
- Waterhouse, John William - Consulting the Oracle
- Waterhouse, John William - The Magic Circle