There are several schools of thought concerning How magic works in spirituality...
1. Psychological changes occur through magic and we create our reality during magic, but our circles, energy, etc is all psychological... when we change our inner mind, we act differently, and that change casues things to naturally fall into place. "Magic is all in our heads"
2. The Astral Plane. When we do magic we "heighten our conciousness" and partially enter into another realm of existance. We "pull the strings" of the other plane, and that plane in turn affects events in OUR plane to help us acheive our goal.
3. Manifestation of real forces in our OWN plane.
So.... hmmm... All of this has to do with reality... Are we REALLY creating changhe during ritual, and is that change manifested here, or elsewhere. Obviosly, the first one is the most currently scientifically supported idea. Years of Psychology show that if you change your thoughts, you can create real, lasting change throughout your life. But when we work magic we are not simple "changing what we are thinking"... we are trying to use our minds and spirit to manipulate and direct ENERGY. That energy is not necessarily the simple common energies of the universe that science recognizes- physical motion, light, sound, electricity... Instead it is something unique, energy with enough level of consciousness to actively create or manipulate reality.
So is it REAL? When you are casting that energetic circle, are you creating a mindset? Are you making a circle on the astral plane? Or is there REAL energy that you are REALLY working with on this plane?
I ask all these questions... But I do have my own opinion, so please don't tell me what TO think, but rather, what do you feel, based on experience.
I personally feel I am 99.9% sure that there is very real energy being worked and creating change on this plane of existance. I also feel psychological change takes place AND there is some "string pulling" on the Astral and Divine planes.
When I cant a strong circle I can feel it. It feels slightly more "buzzy", a degree or two warmer than outside of my circle, and has a "film-like" surface. I am an artist, so It would seem that I would be a visualizer, however,I can only sometimes "see" my circle, and that is when i focus a lot on it, but I can always feel and sense it. It is REAL, and it is on this plane. When I am no longer in trance... it is still there UNLESS I take it down.
To some degree, I feel that what you believe makes your reality. So, if you don't believe the energy is really there, naturally you WON'T harness and direct the energy in such a way to create a real energetic circle. and so you will only have psychological change. If you feel the circle is only manifesting on the astral plane, naturally you will only direct that energy TO that plane, and you wont have energy in this one.... But if you believe in all of the groups of manifestation, all will naturally occur....
That said, we are still limited by natural law. there are some things that cannot be done. This isn't to say you can't try new things. Science has yet to figure out all the forces in the universe... and if you can telekinetically move a paperclip around, or you can psychically communicate, by all means, DO IT!... That said, beware of scams. There are some smart people out there who have come up with clever devices and tricks that are simple illusions, and they sit back collecting money while laughing at the "poor fools" who think they can levitate pencils or whatnot... Psychic development should be relatively free, require no special devices, and works all the time.
Real magic works WITH logic, not against it.
So, here is your homework... If you are of any of the above schools of thought... I challenge you to do this excercise:
Prepare for a ritual or circle. Take a ritual bath and dress however you feel comfortable (be it skyclad, yoga gear, robes, etc).
First, cast a circle of the "mind" Physically draw out a circle considering it a construct built within your own mind that will allow you to be open to emotional and spiritual change.
Second, draw a second circle on the astral plane... try to feel your conciousness "rising" and in that "dreamlike" plane cast a circle. Realise that you are the command center and you can direct energies on this plane with the inhabitants there with freedom and ease.
Third, even if you are skeptical, draw a energetic circle on out real, everyday physical plane. Try to feel in, not just with your mind, but with you sense of touch, taste, sight, smell even hearing. Firmly believe that it is a real entity you are creating on earth. "Pour" Your energy into it until the air feels slightly "thicker" and more tangible.
Now that you have cast all three circles... do you feel like this circle is more powerful, mor connected, stronger? Does it feel that same as other circles. Don't doubt yourself, don't second guess yourself, allow yourself to trust your intuition and not be dissuaded by our CULTURAL ideas.
If you are new to circle casting, the affect may not be as strong as those who are practiced. After you have done this excercise, please come back and comment! Did you feel or notice a change... are you skeptical, did this help or hinder you spiritual experience.
Hehehe... I accidently expended quite a bit of energy without grounding first while i wrote this, so I feel a little "woosy"... Oh well... time to get realigned!