by Selena Fox
The Circle Craft tradition is a form of Pagan spiritual practice which combines old and new Pagan folkways, Shamanic Wiccan spirituality, cross cultural shamanism, and transpersonal psychology. This tradition emerged out of the studies, spiritual practices, and experiences of Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and others.
The tradition began taking form in 1971, with its primary influences being ancient Greek and Roman Pagan religions; American adaptations of European folkways imported from Scotland, Germany, and Latvia; and American folk magic practices from the Appalachian and Ozark mountain regions. The Circle Craft tradition was initially known as Circle Wicca during the 1970s, and then was called Wiccan Shamanism during the 1980s and 1990s. At the beginning of the 21st century, Selena Fox changed its name to Circle Craft in order to distinguish it from the many other forms of shamanistic Wicca and Paganism that had emerged in the US and elsewhere.
Central to the Circle Craft tradition is Divine communion in and with Nature, plus the developing and sustaining of spiritual relationships with the Divine both as a great interconnecting Unity, or Spirit, and with the Divine in multiple sacred forms, including Deities, Ancestors, Elementals, and Nature Spirits. Deities honored include both Goddess and God forms. Circle Craft is animistic and practitioners also develop sacred alignments with the Spirits of particular plants, creatures, and places. The Circle Craft worldview is panentheistic, recognizing the sacred both as immanent, or indwelling, as well as transcendent.
Whenever possible, Circle Craft rituals are held outside in natural settings. Nine sacred forces, realms, and directions are invoked and honored in rituals: Earth in North, the physical realm; Air in East, the mental realm; Fire in South, the behavioral realm; Water in West, the emotional realm; Cosmos for Above, the universe; Planet for Below, the biosphere; Spirit in the Center, the all encompassing spiritual realm and the interconnecting center that is Divine Unity; plus Soul in the direction of Within, and Community in the direction of Around. Ritual Circles are cast clockwise beginning in the North, and usually the main altar is in or near the center of the circle.
Circle Craft practice is enhanced by the use of ritual tools. These include, but are not limited to: altar and altar cloth; candles and matches; incense burner and incense; feathers; wand; staff; chalice of water; pentacle and/or dish of salt, soil, or herbs; quartz crystals; sacred art, such as images of Deities; rattle, drum, bell, and other musical instruments; broom; cauldron; seasonal symbols; sacred foods and beverages; divination tools, such as Tarot and Runes; ceremonial garb and jewelry; and spiritual journal and pen. Blades may be used by individual practitioners in personal work and in certain group rituals but are not essential tools in this tradition. The scourge and measure are not used. Most practitioners wear some form of consecrated jewelry, such as a pentacle, or an amulet known as a Spirit bag.
Dress in Circle Craft group rites is diverse, reflecting individual preferences and expressions, with some dressing in robes, some in ancestral folk costumes, and others in street clothes. Color of dress usually reflects one or more hues associated with the seasons. These include black, orange, and indigo at Samhain; red, green, white, and gold for Yule; white and red at Imbolc; pastel green, yellow, and lavender at Spring Equinox; bright green, blue, and multi-colors at Beltane; green, gold, and yellow for Summer Solstice; green, gold, and brown at Lughnassad; and yellow, brown, orange, red, and purple for Fall Equinox. Both women and men as part of Spring and Summer festivals sometimes wear garland crowns fashioned from vegetation in season.
In the Circle Craft tradition, the spiritual year begins at Samhain and includes the eight Sabbats, plus the celebration of Full and New Moons. Community celebrations of the eight Sabbats are multicultural. Bonfires and ecstatic drumming and dancing are usually part of seasonal celebrations.
Initiation by a teacher or group is not required in order to be a Circle Craft practitioner, but this is an option for those who complete a course of study and meet other requirements, including a preparatory outdoor vigil in a natural setting. Circle Craft principles include: Harm None, Be of Service, and Live in Balance. An important part of personal and group spiritual work is healing, and one or more modalities may be used to direct healing to others or to self, such as guided imagery, therapeutic touch, work with crystals and herbs, movement, drumming, and chanting. Work with dreams, meditation, and intuition are also important dimensions of Circle Craft study and practice. Additional information about the Circle Craft tradition has been published in periodicals, books, and on the internet, but much continues to be transmitted by word of mouth and guided experiences at study sessions and festivals. An on-line course is planned for the future and is currently being developed.
Selena Fox is high priestess of Circle Sanctuary and the founder of the Circle Craft tradition. She guides Circle Craft rituals and learning experiences at events at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin, at the Pagan Spirit Gathering in Illinois, and at a variety of festivals, conferences, and other events across the USA and elsewhere. She also teaches on the weekly internet radio show, Circle Craft Study with Selena Fox.
A shorter version of this article has been published in "The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism," by Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, editors; New York: Citadel Press, Kensington Publishers, 2002, pages 46-47.