In the movies and on TV, Hollywood likes to show witches doing rituals in the center of a circle of salt. In the real world, we often use our energy to create a circle before rituals, without salt. There are a couple of reasons for that.
The most common reason cited is to create a barrier. The idea is, the circle helps keep the baddies away. During rituals, a fair amount of energy is raised, and it’s believed that some entities wishing to do us harm will be drawn to us during this time. So erecting an energetic circle helps keep those entities out.
Similarly, we are taught that the energetic barrier is created to keep the energy we are building in until we are ready to release it in our spell work. It’s easier to build energy if some of it isn’t escaping.
Finally, the lesser-known reason is to create sacred space.
When we create the circle, many of us say, “The circle is cast. We are between the worlds.”
Churches and Synagogues are sacred spaces erected to allow those who worship to find a place of refuge. Spiritual energy is maintained and created there by the practitioners. It’s a place where people can step outside of their everyday lives and focus on their religious beliefs and practices.
Those of us in pagan and occult studies don’t have that luxury. Many are solitary, so finding a place to worship isn’t easy. Or, if they are part of a group, it’s usually pretty small, so finding the funds for a specific location can be difficult.
Many of us have different beliefs and practices. So, even if we find a group of people who are non-Christian, for example, we might not be able to practice together. If we are lucky enough to find a group of people willing to work together, people usually host something at someone’s house. Finding a space to rent for rituals is often unrealistic.
Thus, most of us are practicing where mundane events occur. We might cover the TV in the living room while doing our spellwork. If we are out in a park, we try to stay a little hidden, so we don’t have random passersby asking questions or gawking.
By erecting our energetic circle, we demarcate the space for ritual purposes. Thus, it serves as more than a simple protection barrier.
And the reason we don’t normally use salt? It’s either messy to clean up inside or it can cause plants to die outside.