-July 22, 1998
Using your athame or wand, trace the circle. Start at compass north and walk desoil (see the Spelling Dictionary) around where you want to circle to be. You can mark the boundries with sprikled herbs or something, but those of us who have to hide rituals can't do that. ANYWAY, walk three times around the circle, then step inside.
(WARNING: NEVER EVER EVER EVER STEP IN OR OUT OF THE CIRCLE WITHOUT MAKING AN ASTRAL DOORWAY WITH YOUR ATHAME/WAND FIRST! I'm not sure why, but everyone I know hints at dire things happening if you do. *I* don't wanna test it...might end up as a green woodchuck or something equally unpleasent. To make an astral doorway, just walk up to the edge of the circle and move your athame/wand downward, like you're cutting thought something. To close the doorway, repeat the gesture in reverse.)
Once you're inside (and all your materials are inside..."Ooops! The matches are still in the kitchen!") it's time to call the quarters.
Calling the Quarters (sometimes called "Watchtowers") is obviously not an essential part of the ritual. I say obviously because (A) Everyone says it's optional, and (B) No one explains how to do it. Calling the Quarters is calling on spirits (or Angels or whatever) to witness your ritual and provice protection from bad stuff. Here's how you do it:
Start with compass North. Face that direction and say a short rhyme to call the spirit/angel/tower/mystical snail/whatever to you. Each direction is associated with an element, so that's what I use. Some people have candles at each compass point ready to light as the call their quarters. Having only one candle, I can't do that. So hopefully that part is optional.
After north, face East, South, and West, doing the same thing (calling the spirit, lighting the candle, or whatever you did for North). I have a rhyme I use for all my rituals to call the quarters. You should make your own, but I'll give mine as an example.
"Sprits of the Earth come forth, guard this circle from the North."
"Spirits of the Wind, in peace, guard this circle from the East."
"Spirits of Fire, from volcano's mouth, guard this circle from the South." [You'll notice it's hard to ryhme "south". Don't get discouraged!]
"Spirits of water, do your best, guard this circle from the West."
And that's it! The Quarters have been Called! Now you can get on with your spell!
To close the circle, start at compass north and trace the circle widdershins (see Spelling Dictionary) while holding your wand/athame over your head and moving it in the same direction. Trace the circle this was three times. When you're finished, say something like "The circle is open, but never broken" to make it absolutely clear that the circle isn't active anymore.