I conjure thee, O circle of i power.…”

As the priestess spoke the words, the 12 green-robed figures stood in respectful silence facing the round table in the center of the room that served as an altar. Athame (ritual knife) in hand, she proceeded around the room inscribing an imaginary circle on the floor as she continued to chant:

“… that thou become a boundary between the world of men and the realms of the Mighty Ones.”

With the circle completed and the sacred space thereby defined, she moved to each point of the compass to summon the four Guardians, symbolic of the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Tonight is Samhain (Halloween to the uninitiated), the Witch’s New Year, a time to reflect upon the past 12 months and work high magic (personal change) for the coming year. Samhain is also that point in the year when the veil between this life and the beyond is very thin, and the spirits of the departed gather close.

The ritual begins. The priestess raises her athame and invokes the prime deity, the Great Mother, Diana, and then the priest, who has played only a superficial role to this point, intones the invocation to the horned god, Pan. For the remainder of the ritual, those inside the circle view the priest and priestess as representative embodiments of the deities.

The opening is complete. The group readies itself to work its magic. A young woman begins a song, “We all come from the Goddess, and to her we shall return, like a drop of rain.…” One song leads to another. Soon the whole coven is singing and dancing within the circle. The dance is simple but brisk, and raises the cone of power, the magical intensity experienced as a sense of oneness and a high ...

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