Circe is a sorceress and herbalist first referred to as a goddess in Homer’s Odyssey. Although exiled to the mysterious island Aeaea, Circe managed to encounter famous adventurers and carve out her name in legends still told.
Circe is yet another feminine entity in Greek mythology that has been demonized for using her voice to stand up for herself and for revealing the true nature of men. Featured in tales used to demonstrate the evils of sorcery, the duality of Circe’s nature is not lost to ancient philosophers. While some saw Circe as nothing more than a dangerous witch and temptress, others viewed her ability to transform men into animals as an act of mercy.
Regardless of Circe’s actual temperament, we can’t deny that she is an incredible sorceress. Known for her talents with transmutation, illusion, and necromancy, Circe is different because she learned these witchcraft skills as a human, at least according to some myths.
Therefore, Circe is (in my opinion) an ideal goddess for human witches to work with, unlike many other deities who never fully experienced humanity, especially not on a magical level.
The Goddess Circe In History & Myth:
Like many primordial Greek deities, Circe’s parentage is often disputed from one source to another. In some traditions, Circe is the daughter of Hecate, the chthonic goddess of witchcraft. According to Homer, Circe is parented by the sun god Helios and the sea nymph Perse, an Oceanid.
Our Lady Circe makes appearances in two of the most famous written traditions in Greek mythology: the Argonautica by Apollonius of Rhodes and Homer’s Odyssey.
Jason And The Argonauts Receive Circe’s Blessing
In the Argonautica, Jason and his crew are sent to the land of Colchis – an area modernly occupied by Georgia, Turkey, and Russia – on their hunt for the Golden Fleece. Tasked by King Pelias with stealing this priceless coat of a winged gold ram, Jason would be granted sovereignty over the city of Iolcus upon his return.
The ruler of Colchis was King Aeëtes, who was none other than the goddess Circe’s brother. With the help of Aeëtes’ daughter, the witch Medea, Jason outsmarted the King of Colchis, snuck past his sleeping guard-dragon, purloined the Golden Fleece, and slipped away into the night.
During their escape, Medea was pursued by her brother Apsyrtus’ ship. Her response was…brazen, to say the least, cutting her brother limb from limb and dropping his pieces into the depths of the ocean.
Zeus was so outraged at the murder of Apsyrtus that he sent a raging storm to punish the crew and throw their ship off-course. While plummeting through the Apsyrtides Islands, the ship called out to them: the only way to quell Zeus’ wrath would be to receive a blessing of purification from the goddess Circe. The voice may have been divine intervention, or it may have just been the scurvy. Regardless, they convinced Circe to perform a sacrificial rite to purify them of their crimes.
Although she did not approve of their actions, Circe’s blessing allowed the Argonauts to proceed forth in their adventures, and Jason returned home with the fleece to claim his rightful place on the throne.
Odysseus And The Island Aeaea
In the great legend the Odyssey, Circe’s role is much more complicated. Years after her encounter with the Argonauts, another crew of seafarers travels home from their skirmishes in the Trojan War, only to find their ship washed ashore on the enigmatic island of Aeaea.
Lured onto the island by Circe’s captivating song, the crew eventually finds itself at an enchanting palace tucked away within a dense forest. When Odysseus’ men first encountered the goddess Circe, she was surrounded by a myriad of creatures. She welcomed them into her home, greeting the band of seafarers with libations and a wondrous feast.
Once the men started filling up on pork and wine, Circe waved her magic rod – the rhabdos – and turned them into wolves, pigs, lions, and other animals reflective of their character.
One member of the crew, Eurylochus, found this behavior incredibly suspicious from the beginning. Rather than feasting with the crew, he snuck back to the ship to warn Odysseus and the rest.
Odysseus, hearing of the fate that has befallen his crew, charges back in to help them. On the way, he meets the messenger god Hermes, who reveals to Odysseus the secret of resisting Circe’s transmogrification. He would need to mix her potion with a trace of the “moly root,” a mysterious magical herb with black roots and white flowers that grows only from soil enriched with the blood of giants. Only then would he be spared from her sorcery.
While resisting her powerful transformative magic, Odysseus fell instead to Circe’s charms, spending a year with her on the island of Aeaea. In some versions of the tale, Odysseus fathered three children with the goddess before returning home only to be slain by one of their sons.
Paintings of Circe commonly depicted her with braids piled atop her head, as well as her trusty staff in one hand and a chalice in the other. Circe’s braids are said to be threaded with gold, which is meant to suggest her ability to weave the very threads of fate.
After her role in the Odyssey, the goddess Circe was often hypersexualized in works of literature. Descriptions of Circe tended to focus more on the voluptuous nature of her body and the implication that possessing such beautiful features somehow tarnished her character. The name Circe was used to describe a type of woman much in the way Jezebel of the bible is spoken of today.
While not acknowledged as a goddess by all, Circe is always portrayed as an immensely-powerful witch. It’s not known for certain that she is the daughter of Hecate, but she was often said to be a priestess of the goddess of witchcraft.
Hailed as the first spellcaster and the very spirit of magic, Circe’s magical abilities are innumerable. While her power to transform humans is by far the most famed, she is also skilled in the ways of plant magic, or pharmakeia. She uses this blend of alchemy and herbalism to craft potions, poisons, and the like.
Some of the men that shapeshifted as a result of Circe’s brew found themselves to be quite happier in their beastly forms, implying her ability to impart mortals with the divine understanding of animal spirits in their reconnection to nature. There’s also something to be said of having the power to easily put men in their place.
Circe’s voice was described as shrill, a quality that one might ascribe to a woman who uses that voice to establish herself and speak her truth. An entity already persecuted by men for having a sexual nature, it comes as no surprise that the importance of the words she speaks is ignored and her tone mocked.
It sounds like a lot of these stories are based solely on the “horror” that is revealing truths that men don’t want to hear. For example, while Odysseus, a married man, spent a year in the arms of Circe rather than returning home to his wife Penelope, Circe is still portrayed as the villain in the story – an enchantress who leads men to wrongdoing.
If we’re going to blame Circe for that, then let’s acknowledge that she must be extremely powerful in the ways of charms and sex magic – potent crafts that are not meant to be taken lightly by the practitioner. Again, Circe’s power can’t be understated, regardless of how we choose to view her morals!
Her tools are the wand and the chalice, and like the tarot suits they represent, manifestation and emotions are deep-running themes within Circe’s realm of power. Also, she is said to be born of entities of both the sun and the sea. If you are familiar with tarot, then you may know that fire and water are the elements which influence the wand and cup suits, respectively.
How Do You Know If The Goddess Circe Is Calling To You?
Although you can theoretically call upon a deity with extensive amounts of worship, deities often reach out to us when they want to work with us. However, I’ve found that the Goddess Circe will be receptive to anyone who specifically wants to learn magic, even if you reach out first. I’ll discuss ways to do this later in this post.
When she initiates contact, the Goddess Circe tends to reach out in very subtle ways. It can be difficult to determine if she is the goddess reaching out to you, but there are a few specific tells.
Some of the indicators that the Goddess Circe is reaching out to you include:
1. You feel pulled to practice witchcraft. As a powerful sorceress herself, Circe is a goddess that is likely to call out to you if you are a practicing witch. She shows favor to those who follow in her footsteps and dedicate themselves to their craft.
2. You have a new desire to spend time isolating in nature. While some say Circe was exiled to her island, others believe she sought Aeaea for solitude. If you enjoy meditating in nature, it can be a great way to focus your abilities and ask Circe for a sign if you’re still unsure.
3. You’re looking for a teacher who can teach you to harness and manipulate energy. Circe definitely won’t help you for nothing in return, but I’ve found that she does enjoy teaching magic to those who dedicate themselves.
4. You’re interested in herbalism, potions, illusions, and transformation magic. As a master of her craft, Circe is often willing to work with students who have a specific interest in these subjects.
5. You prefer to be alone. Circe was a bit of an outcast and focused specifically on her craft rather than on interpersonal relationships.
Alternatively, you may be noticing signs and symbols of Circe in your everyday life. Pay attention, especially when there are multiple occurrences that can’t be overlooked.
How To Work With The Goddess Circe:
There are many ways to begin deity work, and each practice is unique to the practitioner. Before getting started, make sure you know how to ward yourself for protection from any unwanted energies or entities, can identify trickster spirits, and have the ability to properly cleanse yourself and your space after inviting contact. Protection is always the first priority when working with otherworldly entities.
If you’ve exercised caution in your approach and contacted an entity that you believe is truly the goddess Circe, you can ask for her permission to work with her or even perform devotional acts to gain her favor.
I recommend performing 1-2 devotional acts before asking Circe if she’d be willing to work with you. I also recommend being very specific with your ask. I have found that Circe is often willing to teach magic but isn’t really willing to give general life guidance. She cares more about the specifics of the craft (however keep in mind that this is just my experience!).
Devotional Acts To Circe:
Offer wine or burn a candle. The traditional offerings seem to work with the Goddess Circe, so I usually start here then ask Circe what other offerings she would like.
Create a magic wand. Circe is the first goddess in Greek mythology to use a wand or staff in her magical workings. If you plan on working closely with Circe, you can craft a wand to dedicate to her and use in your craft.
Go harvesting with Circe. As a goddess who loves her expeditions in the forest, you can ask Circe to accompany you while foraging herbs for potions and spells.
Create artwork in her image or name. Create statues and artwork for your home or altar in Circe’s likeness or in dedication to her. You can include statues of pigs,
Meditation. Although she possessed the ability to transmogrify her enemies long before her encounter with Odysseus, Circe’s powers were enhanced over time by her years of meditating and practicing in isolation. You can even perform a shapeshifting or animal spirit meditation in her honor.
Braid your hair. To show your devotion to Circe, whose hair was woven like the threads of fate, you too can pleat your hair each day as a sign of devotion.
Practice knot magic. A powerful school of magic that can be used for binding, protection, charms, etc., knot magic can seal a practitioner’s intent with any rope, string, or lock of hair.
Offerings For Circe:
Obviously, you should make any offerings that feel right to you. However, I’ve compiled a list of popular offerings to Circe based on her likes and her associations.
- Pigs – once sacrificed in the name of Circe, you can make offerings of pork or statuettes of pigs if you don’t partake in meat.
- Moly root – although difficult to identify, historians believe this magical herb could have been garlic, mullein, or even snowdrop. Nonetheless, offerings of white flowers with black roots are not left unnoticed.
- Mandrake root
- Poisonous herbs and berries
- Statues & artwork of animals
- Red or white wine
Circe accepts all offerings, from the elaborate to the humble. Whatever you choose to give to Circe, she will cherish it so long as it is from the heart.
My Experience Working With Circe
While many deities have helped me through personal struggles, Circe didn’t appear to me until I was in a good place. I had been practicing magic for some time and was trying to “level up” beyond what you read about in most modern-day witchcraft books. I was looking for something different, for old-world knowledge.
I then saw many various symbols of Circe. Her name popped up over and over. I decided to leave out an offering and ask her if she was willing to work with me. At the time, I was mainly communicating via the pendulum and through some clairaudience, and wow: Circe’s presence was strong!
We established a mutually beneficial relationship: she wanted one offering per lesson and she wanted me to commit and work hard, which I was happy to do.
The Goddess Circe then taught me about binding, transmutation, illusion spells (including all types of glamour), potions, herbs (including gardening), natural poisons (of which I am very careful), crystalline structures, and much more. She’s especially gifted at using actual ingredients for spells, unlike other deities who tend to just snap their fingers. She knows how to manipulate energy here on Earth using the tools that we have.
As a practicing pharmakaeia, an expert in plant magic, Circe lends her blessing to potions crafted in her name and is especially favorable to green witches. Invoke her for her aid in the ways of herbalism, alchemy, and the like.
In my opinion, Circe is less of a traditional deity and more of a teacher. If you’re willing to learn, she will probably be happy to help as long as you commit and follow her directions. I will say that she’s not soft at all with her magic (and she definitely doesn’t believe in the rule of 3), but she’s taught me some insanely cool stuff that works.
She is the mysterious hermit goddess, introspective, protective, calculating. She teaches me to do what is necessary and to wash my hands of it. She leads me to understand and accept the primal nature within myself. Through the goddess Circe, we can all learn a valuable lesson about the divine power of transformation.