Thrice Around the Circle’s Bound

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One of my favourite protection chants is very simple. It’s from Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham, and it goes like this:

 

Thrice around the circle’s bound, 
evil sink into the ground. 

 

Obviously, just chanting these words will do little for you except some reassurance, perhaps, but linked with the energetic working of a circle or sphere of protection, then this is probably one of the easiest protection spells there is. Of course, you don’t have to use a circular field of protective energy if you don’t want — you can visualise and bring into being whatever you wish — but there’s a certain rhythm about these words which evoke that circularity. It’s also a rhyming couplet, which makes it easier to remember, and it’s discreet — I once used this whilst walking through an isolated part of a semi-familiar town, late in the evening, chanting it softly beneath my breath, and keeping the circle spiralling around me as I moved. Whether it helped or not depends on how sceptical you are, but it certainly gave me something to focus upon, and a great deal of comfort at the time.

 

I find that protection magic can be a controversial topic among Witches and other magic-users: some say it’s mandatory, others not; some say it only works in a circle, others not; some say salt is essential, others not — and so on. I come at my magic from a place of “better safe than sorry”, so I usually throw up some kind of protection whenever I can. That said, I am lucky enough to have a dedicated magical working space where I can leave some protection up most (if not all)  of the time,  so that only really gets re-enforced when I feel it necessary or if I’m trying something new. Also, some small spells and rituals don’t really require it — stirring intentions into your tea, lighting a candle and incense before writing this blog post, scrying in the water used to wash the dishes, et cetera.

 

Protection magic is a huge topic and one about which there’s quite a few books written (I’ll list some of my favourites at the bottom of this) — so I’m not going to cover everything in one blog post! It’s important to acknowledge that protection magic isn’t simply a case of throwing up a circle and job’s a good ’un. One of the things that seems to surprise people when I talk about Witchery is that there is a lot of thought that goes into it, behind the scenes (so to speak), and this is as true for protection magic as it is for any other form. It’s also why a lot of magical workings look different from Witch to Witch, because they are personalised to that person’s own beliefs, experience, skills, and preferences — not to mention who they are as a person. Everyone has their own requirements as to what makes them feel safe, not just magically or spiritually/psychically, but on physical, emotional, and mental levels as well. Our own histories, heartbreaks, and healings will impact any magic that we choose to do, and even with the same Witch, it may look different from day to day.

 

For example, one of the things that helps me feel safe is to light candles and incense. However, there are situations in which doing so wouldn’t be appropriate — for instance, if I am an in-patient at hospital; if I am travelling; or if I am staying somewhere which has a strict fire prevention policy (in itself a form of protection magic). In those situations, I may choose to wear or carry a piece of black tourmaline, I may use energy work, or I may use a spray containing frankincense and lemongrass oils and/or vibrational essences such as Walnut from the Bach Flower Remedies or Turtle from Wild Earth. All of these, and many more, are valid forms of protection and reassurance, especially when you’re outside of a comfort zone. And, let’s face it, there’s going to be instances when a full-blown ritual circle and intricate spellwork isn’t going to cut it — though the latter is incredibly useful if you’re undergoing a prolonged set of circumstances which warrant a high level of magical protection, or if you’re warding a piece of land or property for a longer period of time.

 

In the instances I’ve given above, my focus has been on magical and emotional protection, but we also need protection on both mental and physical layers as well. Some ideas for the former may be remembering to take your meds, or setting and reinforcing good boundaries, or continuing the deep work you began in your therapist’s office. Physically speaking, there’s making sure that your home has good-quality locks, potentially has a home security system — whether cameras or an alarm, or both — or ensuring that your car’s brake-pads are not worn through, and that you always wear a seatbelt. If you have caring responsibilities, a form of protection could be buying a panic button or personal alarm for your vulnerable loved one to wear. You may also find value in learning a martial art or some other form of self-defence. And, of course, you could empower all of these with some magic.

 

Crow & Dogwood (Intelligence), Skunk & Magnolia (Protection), Porcupine & Anemone (Boundaries) from the Woodland Wardens deck by Jessica Roux

In terms of psychic protection, especially if you’re working as a medium or a healer, or reading tarot professionally, there are tools and techniques that you can learn and use to protect both yourself and your client. These range from any kind of magical spells and skills to more advanced energy work and connecting with specific divine helpers. There is also working to integrate and embody your spiritual, psychic, and magical experiences in a way that doesn’t send your central nervous system into stress or panic, and which supports your polyvagal nerve.

 

I’m only scratching the surface here, and I doubt this will be my only blog post about protection magic, but already I hope that you can see it’s more involved than just casting a circle. Yes, the more energy-based workings are perfect for when you’re working magic, but on a day-to-day level, it’s so much more involved than this. I believe it was Doreen Valiente who spoke about “the Witch of the head and the Witch of the heart”, and here is where the head part of it comes in: having some common-sense practicality and using your natural intelligence to help you make good, if not better, magical choices. Taking the time to think about what safety means to you, what protection looks like, where there may be unhealed traumas in relation to these concepts, and which boundaries you already have and which ones need creating or re-enforcing — these are all good things to consider “behind the scenes” of your Witchery. You may find that journaling around these areas, and/or using divination, will bring added insight and depth here.

 

Discernment is key: knowing yourself, and trusting your instincts, your intuition, is a solid foundation for any magical practice, and being able to discern what is true for you is incredibly powerful. When you can come from a place of knowing who you are and defining your own sense of safety, boundaries, and protection, then you can come at magic from a more grounded place. Remembering that magic is not a be-and-and-end-all solution is also an important mindset to have: not all magic works, and sometimes it works but not in the way you expect. There are many reasons why a spell may fail, and if it does, this does not mean that the Witch or magical practitioner is to blame; often there are other aspects that carry more weight, such as a tired or distracted driver, an unlocked window, or door left ajar, or simply being in the “wrong place, wrong time”. This all sounds very melodramatic, and I don’t mean it to; a healthy dose of realism is essential in any form of magic and helps re-enforce the quality of your discernment.

 

Learning, practicing, and integrating different forms of protection, magical and otherwise, all takes time. However, if done consistently and well, they can become instinctive, quick, and ease-filled — even if it is just a rhyming couplet with a bit of energy work behind it.

 

Recommended Reading: 

 

Photograph is author’s own. Deck shown: Woodland Wardens by Jessica Roux.

 

Soundtrack for this post: Carry the Fire by Delta Rae.

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