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Week 3 Circle Etiquette

Fundamentals in Witchcraft
Week 2. . General Etiquette Points As a Circle Guest Etiquette As a Host/Celebrant Etiquette Setting up an Altar Etiquette Outline Homework

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ +++++++++++++++++++++ General Circle Etiquette


I. Come to Circle with respect. In Circle you stand outside of time and the world, between the worlds and in all the worlds, among the spirits of power whom you have called to stand there with you. We sometimes get awfully silly in Circle, and laughter is the rule rather than the exception, but it is never the laughter that demeans, but the laughter that enriches, that supports. Enter the Circle in perfect love and perfect trust and be prepared to honor the others and the trust they have placed in you. No ifs! No ands! No buts! The Circle is the sacred space of Wiccan and other Pagan ceremonies. It should a special place but can be created anywhere, many people hold Circle in quiet areas of public parks, their living rooms, or for large groups a rented hall. A place used many times for Circle can become special, polarized or permeated by the power and energy raised there. II. Keep the silence about rites and magickal workings you have done or have been part of, people you have worked with, or people you have reason to believe are Pagan/Wiccan practitioners As a rule, things done in Circle are treated as private and confidential. III. Silence about magickal workings is purely practical. Talking indiscriminately about them, before or after, tends to fuzz their focus, since talking about them is in a sense doing them again. IV. Silence about fellow practitioners is simply courtesy. Despite freedom of religion. There are still people out there that do not respect others faiths, and some of them are violent. V. Dont smoke in Circle. And if you do smoke in a Circle area never leave the butts or put them out on the ground. You would be defiling sacred space or ground. Teaching Circles sometimes allow exception to the rule of smoking (but not the part about putting out your butts on the ground) as they are mostly done inside a home environment) VI. We always walk deosil (clockwise) inside a circle, unless otherwise instructed by the high priest/priestess.
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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette

As a Guest Circle Etiquette


1) RSVP When an invitation to attend a private rite or ritual is extended to you, make sure you accept or decline graciously and as soon as possible. Usually, you will be told the intent of the rite, so try not delay the host/hostess from inviting others by asking for intimate details of the ritual. Ask them to call or email you at a later time with the details (and youll have a nifty little reminder, to boot!) If there is a need to check your social calendar, then tell the person that at the time of the invitation. Should another engagement or other plans prevent you from attending their rite or ritual, as soon as you are able to, let the person know via phone or email that you will be unable to participate. It is very important as a ritual guest to inform the host/hostess that you will or will not be attending. If you plan on attending, you may wish to call or email the host/hostess the day before the planned event, as a courtesy, to verify that you will be there. Most of the time, public or open rituals do not require an RSVP, but it is nice to let others know that you will be there in case they wish to be there with you. 2) Ask the Intent of the Ritual Be an informed guest and ask the host/hostess of the nature of the ritual before confirming or declining your attendance. If you do not believe that you would be comfortable with the intent of the rite or ritual, then decline the invitation with a tactful explanation. This is also the time to ask whether you may invite someone else to the rite. In most magickal practices, the High Priest/Priestess has the final say over who may enter their rite, so dont be upset if they say no. If you are working with others, make sure everyone knows what is being done, and agrees with it. Dont ever bring someone into a rite without telling them your intent and how you intend to achieve it, and dont lend your energy or power to a rite, which is not explained, to your satisfaction.

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette 3) Cleanse Yourself Physically, Emotionally and Mentally In todays busy world, we sometimes must attend rites and rituals after a full day at work or fulfilling other obligations. Take a moment to ground and center before you enter the hosts/hostesss home or wherever the event is taking place. Take a deep breath in your car or on the front doorstep to help release some of the stress of the day and start to shift your mind into a ritual frame of mind. Do not vent frustrations and/or emotional turmoil before the ritual. If you were unable to shower or bathe before arriving, excuse yourself to the restroom and take a symbolic ritual bath by washing your face and hands. Ground and Center. To root oneself in the power of the earth and balance the flow of the power through you. This gives you access to great power from the earth (so you dont wear yourself to a frazzle trying to be the source of all the energy your working will require), but it also lends you the stability and a world wide view, and links you with the others in the Circle. Again many ways to do this a spoken meditation by one of the participants, drumming, chanting we have even drummed on the ground with our hands. 4) Dress Appropriately Ask the host/hostess the type of ritual clothing that they would like you to wear. A comfortable, loose-fitting robe is usually appropriate, as is any clothing that helps put you into a magickal frame of mind. For those new to the Craft or those who do not yet have ritual clothing, mundane or street clothes are usually acceptable to wear to a ritual. If you wear mundane clothes, they should be loose-fitting and, preferably, be solid colors. Try to avoid wearing logos or patterns that may be distracting during the ritual. Sometimes, you may be requested to wear something specific. For example, I once asked everyone to wear clothes that you would clean your house in for a symbolic spring cleaning ritual. If the ritual is skyclad, then just do the best with what you have.

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette 5) Magickal Names Most pagans have adopted a magickal or Craft name that they use during ritual. If you know someones magickal name, use it during the course of the ritual to keep the sense of separation from the mundane. If you prefer to be called your magickal name during ritual, then introduce yourself to others using your Craft name. You may wish to tell them your given name after ritual for networking or social reasons. There are some pagans who use two Craft names: one public and one private. Public Craft names are usually a name that the person used earlier on their path, such as before they were recognized as a Priest or Priestess. A public Craft name may also be one that they feel others can easily remember or associate to that person. For example, if a man has a dragon tattoo on his forearm, he may simply introduce himself as Dragon publicly and hold a private Craft name for more intimate Circles. If someone you know chooses to use two Craft names, respect the private name and do not reveal it to others unless given permission to do so. They should hold the same respect for you should you use two Craft names. 6) Suppress Criticism It is basic human nature to want to comment about a ritual, especially when it is done in a manner different from what youre used to performing yourself. Even if a ritual is the complete opposite of the way youd perform it, try to suppress any negative criticism that you may have about it. Whether it is basic or complex, a ritual usually serves the same purpose(s), celebration or magick and there are many ways of fleshing out a ritual. If you have genuine questions about the ritual, then ask the Celebrant(s) after the rite is complete. Sometimes, what seemed odd during the ritual can make sense once you understand the intent behind it. Constructive criticism is sometimes welcomed by the Celebrant(s). Mentioning points of improvement (such as reading slower or projecting ones voice) can often help the Celebrant(s) become more proficient at performing rituals. Preface your conversation with May I offer some constructive criticism? to gauge the acceptance of such statements. While attending the ritual, try not to focus on the minor mishaps that can, and will, occur. Lingering on whether a candle is lit or if a name is mispronounced can sour your experience. Entering with a what will be, will be attitude can be a great help in enjoying the ritual and ignoring the snafus and fubars.
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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette 7) Guardians, Cleansing and Smudging Guardians (or Ward Summoners) are sometimes posted at the entrance to the ritual area. The Guardians usually ask each person How do you enter this Circle? or other questions along that line. The proper response usually is In Perfect Love and in Perfect Trust. Having Guardians serves two purposes. They provide the Celebrants and participants with a measure of safety for the Guardians are able to deny entrance to someone that may disrupt the ritual by their physical presence (for example, someone whos drunk or stoned) or those whose energies may cause the same effect (for example, someone whos visibly angry). They also provide the participants with one final reminder that they are entering sacred space and they should leave the mundane world behind. Oftentimes, especially at public or open circles, there will be a symbolic cleansing of the participants before they enter sacred space. Symbolic cleansing may take many forms: contact with the four elements [Earth, Air, Fire and Water], walking through incense smoke or even a gentle flagellation [being beaten with branches or other such practice]. All are intended to help the participants release negativity before entering into ritual. Some Celebrants (those who perform the ritual) may even smudge the participants. Smudging is the practice of burning sage and/or sweet-grass in an abalone shell and cleansing the participants aura with a birds wing or feather fan. In my opinion, this is a Native American practice and should not be used in a Wiccan circle. You may form your own conclusion about this. If you find smudging to be unpleasant, contrary to your magickal practices or if you are allergic to the herbs being used (as I am), then you may wish to politely refuse to be smudged and explain why. 8) Anointing It is common in most rituals for the participants forehead to be anointed with oil and receive a blessing as it is being done. Anointing is another form of symbolic cleansing and sometimes is the only form that is used. As a proper guest, one should focus on the intent of the blessing and graciously accept it. The anointing and blessing is done not only to empower you and help you achieve a spiritual frame of mind, it also provides all of the participants with a commonality that spans our differences and unites us in ritual.
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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette 9) Stand Up! Unless you are physically unable to and/or requested to do otherwise, it is proper to stand during the Casting of the Circle, the Invocation to the Elements and the Invocation to Deity. One should also stand during the Thanking of Deity, Thanking of the Elements and Opening of the Circle. 10) Circle Casting One of the most important aspects of a ritual is the creation of sacred space (Casting the Circle), which formally defines the sacred space, the ritual area. As a participant, you should lend your energy to the one casting the Circle and focus on the creation of the Circle around you, not create your own Circle within the one being made. Some Celebrants may cast the Circle in specific colors or with certain types of energy. Listen attentively to the words being spoken during the casting so that you may align your visualization appropriately. Remember, different people may cast a Circle in different ways. Be open to the possibilities. The casting can be done with the Athame, a ceremonial knife used to divide the Circle from the rest of the world(s) and from time, with a wand, staff or even a finger. 11) Invocation of the Elements In many rituals, the Celebrants will invoke, or call upon, the spirits of the four basic elements to attend the ritual for various purposes. This is also known as Calling the Quarters. As a proper guest, listen attentively to the words of the invocation so that you will know the reason why the elemental spirits are being invited; whether it is to gift their particular qualities to the participants, to aid in any magick that may be performed during the ritual, or to simply witness the rite. If you are not listening, you will not know. When the Quarters are called, most of the time a portal will be cut into the Circle to give the elemental spirits a formal opening to enter the Circle. This is usually done by tracing a pentacle in the air and piercing the pentacle to open it. Focus on the single portal being opened by the Celebrant, visualize the elemental spirits entering the Circle and welcome them with a raised hand, a silent nod or the greeting commonly used, Hail and welcome!

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette In my opinion, it is improper and disrespectful to the elementals and to the Celebrants to open your own portal. By opening your own portal, you are essentially saying to the Celebrant(s) I dont believe that you have the ability to open a portal to another realm. You may also confuse or possibly anger the elemental spirits by giving them multiple points of entry. Too many portals being opened also runs the risk of turning the Circle, meant for protection and focusing of energies, into magickal Swiss cheese that would defeat the very purpose of casting it. The four quarters have many meanings and potencies; among other things, they mark the boundaries of our known world and metaphors. NORTH = Midnight, silence, EARTH EAST = Dawn, knowledge, AIR SOUTH = Noon, desire, FIRE WEST = Dusk, caring, WATER These powers are called to witness the rites, to guard the Circle, and to lend their specific strengths to the working. We usually start with the EAST (where the sunrises) but wherever we start we always proceed clockwise (deosil) around the Circle. The quarter markers should be in the appropriate direction, the compass points do not change; i.e. East is ALWAYS East. If you are in a circle where they are marked differently, it would be acceptable to ask the celebrants if they could share with you the reason. Maybe it has to do with the rite, their tradition, etc. Ask with an attitude of learning, not criticizing. 12) Invocation of Deity As with the Calling of the Quarters, there is usually an invocation to whatever Deity/Deities the ritual is aligned with to make their presence known and to attend the rite and to lend their power and presence. When invoking a (or the) Goddess, the Celebrant may assume what is known as the Goddess stance: the head is held slightly upraised, the arms are spread high and wide, the hands are palms up and the feet are spread wide. As a participant, you may also take the Goddess stance, although your hands should be lower than those of the Celebrants and your feet not spread as wide. When invoking a (or the) God, the Celebrant may assume the God stance. That is, feet together, back straight, arms folded across the chest, right arm over left, and the hands at the shoulders with the outer fingers straight and the middle fingers and thumb curled under.

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette As a participant, you may also take the God stance, although your hands should be lower than those of the Celebrants (perhaps at chest level and not shoulder level) and your feet should be slightly spread. Should the Celebrant call both Goddess and God at the same time during a single invocation, you may wish to stand with your feet slightly spread, left arm out to your side, palm up and your right arm folded upon the left side of your chest with your hand in the proper God position. Sometimes the Celebrant may open a portal, although I do not believe that it is necessary to do so. After the invocation, welcome Deity into the Circle in the same manner as you welcomed the elements. 13) Ritual Observance Whether it is for celebration or for a specific goal, a statement about the intent of the ritual is usually made by the Celebrant(s). This serves to help focus the participants about the nature of the rite and what is hoped to be accomplished. Sometimes this statement is made before the ritual even starts to let the people who do not know the intent of the ritual what the course of events will be. This is especially true during a public or open ritual. During the statement of intent, maintain proper decorum and listen attentively to the words being spoken so that you may align your thoughts and energies to the focus of the ritual. Proper focus can intensify the spirituality and experience of participating in the ritual. Do the work of the rite. You had a purpose, coming into circle. Accomplish it. You may do a healing, or casting a spell for prosperity. Maybe youve created a space for solitary meditation, or have set the stage for a sharing Circle where the participants speak of important, private things (fears and old hurts, things loved and lost, victories won or battles in progress). Or have come to adore Deity. Now is the time.

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette 14) Call to Magick Magick during a ritual can take many forms: chanting, dancing, drumming, singing, meditation, etc. Try your best to take part in the magick. Dance if you are able, cooperate with any movements requested and sing or chant if you know the lyrics. If you do not know the words, then simply hum along with the rhythm. Do not worry about the quality of your singing voice, as it is more important to join in than to have perfect pitch. Regardless of the form that it takes, you, as a guest, must be comfortable in participating in the goal that the magick is intended for, thus, the reason for asking the intent of the ritual beforehand. If you feel that you cannot participate in the magick for any reason, then dont. Step to the edge of the Circle or simply stay out of the way until the magick is done. If you feel that an explanation is needed or if an explanation is asked of you, then politely offer to explain why after the ritual is completed, rather than disrupt the ritual. If you are raising power for a magickal purpose (for instance to send healing energy to someone) you will reach a high point of power, send the power on its way, and then you should ground any remaining power so you arent all jittery later on. One way to ground that power is to touch, or even to lay down upon the ground, sending the last of the power flowing into the Earth. 15) Ritual Gifts Occasionally a ritual gift is given to the participants as either a part of the magick performed or as a memento of the event. Either way, the gift should be graciously accepted and honored for what it is. 16) The Simple Feast As part of the celebration of the ritual event and as a means to help ground excess energy that was raised during magick, a small amount of blessed food and drink are provided to the participants. This is known as the Simple Feast but may also be called Cakes and Ale or Wine and Loaf.

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette When the food is passed, it is proper to give the person you are passing the food to a blessing such as May you never hunger (this is the most common blessing used). If you are the one receiving the food, it is proper to wish this back unto the person handing you the food by responding with May you never hunger. When the wine or other beverage is passed or received, the blessing used is May you never thirst. It is proper to pass the wine or loaf to the next person with a kiss on the persons lips or cheek after giving them the blessing. It would not be improper to use a symbolic kiss (such as a social air kiss) if you are uncomfortable with kissing someone of the same gender or if you do not know the person well. During some rituals, the Simple Feast is a time to make toasts or comment on the ritual. If this is the case during the ritual you are in, keep your toast or comment simple and sincere. 17) Thanking of Deity and Thanking of the Quarters As with the invocation of Deity and of the Quarters, when it comes time to thank and/or release the spirits that have gathered in the Circle, focus on the words being spoken by the Celebrant(s) and lend your energy unto him/her/them. After the Deity or spirits have been released, show your gratitude for their presence with a smile or bid them goodbye such as Hail and Farewell. 18) Leaving the Circle Before the Rite is Completed Simply put, you should not leave the Circle unless it is an emergency. Someone on fire, bleeding, having a heart or asthma attack and/or giving birth qualify as emergencies; having to go pee is not. Although it is improper to leave during a ritual, if you feel that your situation is or would disrupt the experience for the other participants, then perhaps it would be best to excuse yourself. The best option if you are new to the Craft or unfamiliar with energy work is to ask one of the Celebrants to cut a gate in the Circle so you may leave. Try not to disrupt the flow of the ritual when asking. Go to the edge of the Circle, reach down and unzip it upwards, spread the edges like a curtain and step out, sealing it once youre out. Repeat process when you return.

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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette IF you have experience working with energy or if the boundary of the Circle is clearly marked, you may walk to the edge of the Circle, take a deep breath and step into the Circle (that is, visualize the thickness of the Circle surrounding your body). Then step out of the Circle and exhale. In essence, you meld with the Circle, causing the least amount of disruption to the ritual, the Circle, the spirits and the energies . Opinions vary greatly about leaving a Circle, so ask the Celebrant(s) how they feel. Unless it is a dire emergency, you should never simply walk out of, or break, a Circle without consideration of the fact that you are in Sacred Space. It is inexcusable. 19) Feasting It is almost standard practice at public rituals to have a pot luck feast after the ritual. When contemplating what to bring, try to plan a dish that will appeal to a broad spectrum of tastes. You may also wish to take into account spices, salt, potential allergies, dietary considerations and vegetarian preferences. Whatever dish you plan to bring, try to make enough to feed 6 to 10 people. If your finances or cooking abilities prevent you from preparing a food dish, keep in mind that beverages and/or ice are almost always welcomed at any public event. When feasting at a public event, take small portions from a variety of dishes and be sure to leave enough for others. For private rituals, ask the host/hostess what they would like for you to bring and adjust accordingly. 20) Handy Ideas for the Feasting Table Whether a public or a private event, it would be very thoughtful to write or type up a small sign telling what the dish is and what the ingredients are. This sign may be placed alongside the dish, taped to the container or posted on a toothpick or skewer and stuck right into the food itself. Signs on the food would aid vegetarians in their food choices and/or help to prevent possible allergic reactions. Another considerate idea is to write/print a few copies of the recipe for your dish to share with others. This can be easily done if you have access to a computer or copier. This idea occurred to me after I attended a ritual where a dish was so well-liked the woman who brought it had to repeat the recipe more than a few times.

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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette When bringing something to a pot luck feast, use some of the sturdy and reusable plastic containers available now. They are inexpensive and are great for worry-free dish recovery. If you cannot use a reusable plastic container to bring your food, then write your name on masking tape and tape it to the dish and/or serving utensils to easily identify the dishes you brought when it comes time to go home.

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Help Clean Up One of the most thoughtful things you can do as a guest at a ritual is to help clean up after the rite is complete or, at least, offer to. Washing dishes, taking down the altar and taking out the trash are all wonderful ways to show the host/hostess that you appreciate the invitation, the host/hostess and the ritual itself. It is a simple act of kindness that goes a long, long way.

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Some Afterthoughts Cell phones, beepers and watches should not be brought into Circle except under rare circumstances. If you work in the medical field and are on call, then a cell phone and/or beeper may be brought into Circle, but it should be put into silent mode and not be visible by any of the participants. Make sure you inform the Celebrants if you are in this situation. Electronics, in general, should also not be brought into the Circle. Although recorded music in the Circle can help with the ambiance, if you bring a CD player or other device into the Circle, try to hide it from view and turn it on and off as subtly as possible. After all, being in a Circle is supposed to be sacred space, a world between worlds and a place without a place in a time without a time. Having blatant reminders of the mundane world isnt very conducive for achieving that effect. Did you know that in some magickal practices, it is requested that there be no knots in a Circle? Hair that is braided or tied up, shoelaces, ribbons and even source cords are some of the examples that are often overlooked. It is believed that knots tie up the energies that are raised and interfere with the magick. If you are able to, ask the Celebrants whether they adhere to this practice or not. In some magickal practices, one should wear their robes (or cloaks) hood from the moment they approach the Circle until after the Circle is cast.
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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette

As a Host/Celebrant Circle Etiquette


A. Keep the Date in Mind When planning any ritual, be it public or private, the date and time of the ritual are the two most important considerations. Even though the event may happen during a weekday, in todays world, most rituals are planned to take place on weekends, as people are more likely to be able to attend. B. Extend Your Invitations with Wisdom Carefully think about how many people you will invite and how many people your ritual space can comfortably hold. Consideration must also be taken into account for who can interact with whom without any negative occurrences. If your ritual is planned for a select group, then say so when extending invitations. Remember, more participants are not always better. It would be more meaningful to have a small group, who you know, trust and have worked with than to have a large group of strangers just to show off your ritual. C. Set a Reasonable Time-frame Invite people three to four weeks before the ritual to give them enough time to plan to attend. If you make an invitation too early, people will tend to forget; make an invitation too late and people may not be able to attend. D. Follow Up on Your Invitations It would not be improper to remind people a week or even a few days before your ritual, even if they have already RSVPd. Use your follow-up as a reason to give driving directions, to tell of the ritual intent or to let people know what to wear. This will also give your invitee an opportunity to ask if they can bring anything. E. Make Your Ritual Interesting As a Celebrant, you should plan for your ritual to be something to look forward to. Whether your ritual is self-composed, compiled from many sources or straight out of a book, it should be general enough to appeal to and be understood by everyone that you are inviting. Plan the basic outline of the rite. What are you planning to do in Circle? It could be anything, from a quick meditation (with a cast circle for protection), to a full-scale ritual; an Initiation or Greater Sabbat, perhaps. Decide who will be there, what supplies you will need, when you should hold rite, and where. Who will bring what items, and sometimes it will be necessary to also plan for feasting after the rites as well.

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Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove

Week 3 Circle Etiquette Planning for a ritual is an art, whether spontaneous or planned months in advance, every element of your ritual should harmonize with the rest of the rite, and contribute in some way to your intent. Focused intent is the essence of witchcraft. However, this doesnt mean that you must follow your script to the letter without deviation once the ritual has begun. Once you are in Circle, if you are listening to the power, you will find yourself departing from the script, sometimes drastically. Part of the art of Circle, like the art of white water canoeing, is seeing the currents and working with them becoming one with the river. Working solitaire, these deviations are not a problem, in a group, early on, they may cause problems. One of the goals of a working group is to become attuned to each other and to the power youre raising, so that every turn is taken together. Collect all your tools and supplies you will require within the space. Prepare everything, keeping in mind that it is best to not leave the Circle until your rite is completed.

Setting Up An Altar
Altars can be set up anywhere you want to place one, be it a personal one somewhere in your home, or one set in the Circle for a rite. Most times the altar is set in the North, or center of a circle, rarely is it set in the West, unless it is a ceremony of a rite of passage for the dead. The items commonly used are God/Goddess candles, Symbols of Deity, incense burner, Athame, Bowl of Salt, Bowl of Water, Chalice and Plate (used for Cakes and Ale), pentacle (usually used as offering plate). Other items sometimes used are, power candles, broom, bell, sword, staff, and wands. Along with these items you can use any number of symbols placed on the altar to correspond with the intent of the rite, or theme of the Sabbat being performed. Dont forget matches - you will need to light the candles and incense.

Note: This class is based on a course initially created by Aljust, a High Priest of Between Worlds, with addition of a Circle Etiquette outline by Cheyuk, a High Priest of Between Worlds, input from Arkose and Draco. 14

Fundamentals of Witchcraft Drakon, Hierophant, Mystik Grove