Daniella Mooney & Nicola van Straaten
casting circles

a game played by two people, with one small apple, three chestnuts and twelve stones placed in a circle. the stones (boundary stones), are cut with a line down the middle, gently holding a blade of wheat. as the players move around the circle, following the rules of the invented game, other elements start to emerge. weaving together play, ritual-space, and invocation, casting circles is an embodied practice in building and directing energy together.
instruction manual

casting circles is a game for two people played in an area (ideally) of 6m x 6m. the playing surface should be flat and able to be drawn on or marked.

what you need:
12 medium-to-small sized stones, with a line made or drawn on each surface, and that can be placed in a circle.

3 shakers (an object that has an "up" and a "down". suggestions: chestnuts, coins or you can make your own by marking one side of a small, throw-able object.)

1 marker (suggestions: an apple or any smallish-special object)

a seed or intention that you would like to grow/build (?) for the duration of the game, which will be released at the conclusion of the game.

the goal:
the marker needs to complete one journey around the circle, according to the designated meanings of how the shakers land when the players throw them (see instructions below). on this journey, as the players build energy through playing the game, each stone that the marker passes is "opened". when the marker completes the circle, all of the stones will be opened and the players can then enter the circle to release the energy and intentions that have been created.

setting up:

step 1:
identify the four directions (east, south, west, north).begin to lay out the circle with the stones in a "closed position" (see illustration 1), with four stones marking the four directions.then fill in the eight remaining points in the circle.the circle should not be smaller than 2m in diameter.

step 2:
mark the starting point at the east stone (for example, with a little stick or whatever is at hand).

step 3:
in the middle of the circle player 1 draws a small inner circle. no smaller than the size of your feet, but not too big either. it depends on the size of the stone circle (you'll figure it out).

step 4:
player 2 places the marker on the east stone. the space is now prepared and the players can take their starting positions, one behind the north stone and one behind the south stone. players always remain opposite each other.

playing the game

rule 1:
the game starts. player 1 throws the 3 three shakers into the circle. at this point there are three possible arrangements with varying effects, they are:

—if 1 or more shakers land inside the circle drawn during the setup of the game, the marker jumps 2 stones forward.

—if all 3 shakers land “up”, (remember, you have chosen which side is which), the marker jumps 1 stone forward, and the previous stone is moved to an “open”position.

—if all 3 shakers land “down”, the marker jumps 1 stone backwards and the stone which was opened is now closed again.

—if either 2 shakers land “down” and 1 shaker lands “up” OR 1 shaker lands “up” and 2 shakers land “down”, the marker doesn’t jump, instead both of the players jump. there are two types of jumps: the player(s) behind a “closed” stone, proceeds to hop once over the stone and back again. the player(s) behind an “open” stone, remains outside the circle and jumps in the air spinning one rotation (in any direction).

rule 2:
the marker always moves in a clockwise direction, and the players always move in an anti-clockwise direction. whenever the marker does not jump to the next stone (ie. on a 2 up/1 down combination), the players move to the next stone after they have jumped, in this way, they always keep the axis by standing opposite each other.

rule 3:
play continues in this fashion. with the accumulation of throws and marker progression, at some point, either player might land in a position behind the stone with the marker on it. when this happens, the player behind the marker is allowed to draw another circle within the greater area of the stone circle. there are now two options at the players’ disposal:

—the player draws another, larger circle (or ring) around the original circle drawn at the set-up of the game

—the player draws another independent circle anywhere within the main circle.

note: this new circle cannot be larger than the original circle. the additional circle/s influence the marker progression too. this is how:

—if a shaker lands in one of the additional circles or extended inner-circle ring, the marker jumps forward one position.

note: this rule only applies to the players in an alternating fashion. so if player 1 lands behind the stone with the marker, player 1 draws a new circle. however, if player 1 lands behind the marker-stone a second time, the rule does not apply. player 2 has to land behind the marker-stone for another circle to be drawn.

don’t forget: when a player moves the marker, they must also open the stone that the marker jumps over.

rule 4:
once the marker approaches the east stone where it started its journey, its important to note that the game is only concluded when the marker lands directly on the east stone. this means that additional throws must be made until this happens.

rule 5:
if any of the shakers land outside of the circle, but roll through two open stones, the game is safe and can conclude as normal. but if any of the shakers roll outside the circle through two closed stones, the marker has to move back one stone. (so maybe try not to throw the shakers so enthusiastically).

concluding the game:

note 1:
once the marker has arrived at the east stone again - hooray and well done!now the game is ready to be concluded.

all of the stones are now open, and the players may now enter the circle through the eastern facing stones. each player then takes turns to sequentially close the stones, starting with the eastern stone moving clockwise.

once all of the stones are closed, with the players inside the circle, the players then take a moment to express (in whatever way that emerges) their intention/seeds that they had at the start of the game. this is an open time and space for the players to occupy and refine the energy that has been built throughout the playing of the game. it is during this very important part of the game, that the players take a moment to direct this energy with their intentions, towards whatever positive desire or need they may have.

once this has happened, the players then open the circle again taking turns and sequentially opening each stone - this time starting in the west and moving anticlockwise towards the east. as each stone is opened, the energy built through the game is released and travels out into the world on the intentions that have been planted into the game.

everyone has won!


Staged in Mooney’s studio, Neuköln, Berlin, and at various locations in the city