The Sacred Circle is the one most common features of all pagan and magical traditions. Perhaps it was first established when early cultures built henges from Florida to the Far East and everywhere in between–a worldwide religion still little studied and even less understood.
The basis of most European magical traditions is to be found in the text left to us by Hermes Trismegistus, the Egyptian priest who finally recorded the magical traditions of a priesthood that dated back to 5000 or 10,000 before the present era (depending upon which researcher you are talking to). The Hermetica is available on Amazon today–but there was a time when it was the most jealously guarded secret book of Europe’s early magical traditions and secret societies. While acquiring to book is easy enough, understanding its arcane language and subtle meanings is another matter. Like the Bible, much depends upon which language the text is read in, the original hieratic being the closest to the original words. Not that words are the best way to understand the ancient Egyptian spiritual mind, for this advanced culture kept their sacred secrets to the language of unspoken symbol. The sacred circle emerged from the Egyptian discourses on number–not the math you and I know–but the magical power the language of number has over the entire Universe.
The magical circle is the symbol from within which all major rituals are cast. The magician or the priestess ‘casts’ the circle in spirit over a physical circle upon the ground or floor. Starting at the north quadrant, the practitioner utters certain magical incantations and at the same time draws symbols, usually called sigils, in the air with an athame or sacred dagger. The ritual is repeated at the east, south and west stations. On returning to the north the sacred circle is declared ‘closed’. Thus the celebrants have created a spiritual protection for themselves against the forces that are being called upon to perform a magical work. You can call these forces negative energies, or you can personalize them as demons of one kind or another (depending upon whether you are of a man-made religious bent or a scientist).
The high magick traditions of ancient Europe are doubtless using a magical process derived from Hermetic magick. Could it be that the same process of the pagans is handed down from an even older Henge related tradition? The origins of both do not appear to be from the same source.
In “The Watch: The Secret War for the Soul of Germany” Adolf Hitler, as a young man in Vienna, is trained in the magical tradition of the Templars by his mentor, Lanz von Liebels. Later we see the Witches of the Kentish Weald raise a cone of power against Germany from a long buried henge. Both work from within a sacred circle–for very different ends.