Morgan le Fay, Wicca, and Casting a Circle

The magic that Morgan le Fay does in The Circle Cast is based on modern neo-pagan witchcraft, known as Wicca.

Modern Wicca is eclectic, incorporating anything from Greek mythology to Native American spirituality. But its core is a re-imagining of traditional Celtic paganism.

The catch is that no one really knows what traditional Celtic paganism was. There are no surviving spellbooks. The pagan priests, known as druids, considered it sacriligious to write rituals down. We only know about Celtic mythology from the writings of Christian monks.

The first step of a Wiccan ritual is casting a circle. The witch draws an invisible circle around herself, which is meant to keep in any power she invokes. Then she calls in the powers of the four elements — earth, air, fire and water — to cleanse and empower the space. Then “the circle is cast.”

The title The Circle Cast is a metaphor for Morgan's first step into the world of magic. Morgan may be the most powerful magical talent of her generation, but she has to discover her powers, and how to use them.

While Morgan's spirituality is based on Wicca, the religion of her people is the traditional pre-Christian Irish religion. We know from Caesar and other historical evidence that the ancient Irish worshipped a goddess of war, the fearsome Morrígan. If a warrior was valiant in battle, the Morrigan would send crows to eat his body, transporting him, like the Valkyries, to a Valhalla of endless feasting and fighting.

Among the ancient British and Irish, pride was a virtue, not a sin, and vengeance was an act of the highest nobility. In The Circle Cast, Morgan’s tragedy is that she holds to these old pagan virtues when she has a chance to learn forgiveness, and a chance to learn to love. But her tragedy is what makes her such an unforgettable character.

(I go into a little more depth about Morgan, Wicca and the Morrígan on my blog.)

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Who is Morgan le Fay?
Why is the story set in 500 AD?
Who is Alex Epstein?
The Circle Cast blog.
The YA Fantasy Guide interviews Alex
Praise for The Circle Cast
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