Holy Space — anywhere.
Every religion has a concept of sacred space – an area specially designated for the purpose of worship, where devotees can be brought closer to the divine. Sacred space is not required, just as prayer does not require a church, but it is nevertheless an important component.
Because we tend to gather in small numbers, it is generally not financially possible to establish permanent temples. Also, when weather allows we prefer to conduct our services outside. The Circle addresses both of these issues, allowing us to erect sacred space wherever we choose to gather in a size appropriate for the number of participants.
The circle is frequently marked on the ground by inscribing it in the dirt or tracing it with a length of cord. Candles generally mark the four cardinal points as representative of 4 physical elements – north for earth, east for air, south for fire, west for water. These markings are not necessary, however, as their primary purpose is to act as a guide for participants.
Sacred space is considered a particularly appropriate place for worship because it has been purified out of respect for the gods and forms a bridge between the material and spiritual worlds. Because of its altered state of existence, it also offers protection and containment, keeping raised energy within and unwanted influences without.
The circle is also intensely symbolic. Without sides, it is a symbol of infinity. As it lacks hard corners, the circle is a more natural geometric shape. Flowing energy is viewed as a spiral. The circle represents the Wheel of the Year and the cycling of the moon phases.
The historical existence of circle casting is extremely dubious:
…the visualisation of the circle, and the pentagrams at the quarters, are both based upon the standard GD [Order of the Golden Dawn] Pentagram Ritual; both the concept and word “Watchtowers” are of course from the Enochian system of Magic, passed to Wicca via the GD (although I would like to make it very clear that their use within Wicca bears no relation to the use within Enochia – the only similarity is in the name); the Elements and colours generally attributed to the Quarters are those of the GD