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Geometric Magic

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"Wow! Magic shapes!"

Special powers that, somehow, rely on the power of traced shapes and diagrams to function. Almost always a circular design, with additional shapes of varying complexity inside the circle. Sometimes only required for a special ceremony, sometimes necessary for anything and everything remotely magical. Only very rarely will the mechanism for how the symbols affect the magic be explained.

A form of Hermetic Magic. Geometric Magic usually sets itself up as a type of Functional Magic, frequently paired with Ritual Magic. When the magic seems to spawn the shapes rather than the other way around, it's Instant Runes. Instant Runes are generally involved anyway as the activation of the shape may cause writing to appear.

A Symbol Drawing Interface is a way to put this in a video game. Mystical City Planning is when architect spellcasters hide a giant spell in the shape of a location.

For pentagrams specifically, see Magical Star Symbols.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess: Many of the major works of magic in the series require elaborate geometric setups or create them. A few are re-drawn here.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura:
    • The title character forms a circle with astrological signs in it when she performs magic with the Clow cards and wand, (and later a different circle when she forms the Sakura cards). Then, in the opening chapters of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, we see several different forms of magic perform the same function — sending a person or persons to the Witch of Dimensions — each with their own special magical designs.
    • Almost every magic user in CLAMP's multiverse uses a magic circle with designs unique to them with few exceptions: Watanuki uses Clow Reed's circle or smoke from his pipe to cast spells and Fai D. Flourite doesn't use a circle at all, but some kind of script that flows out in a ribbon from his middle and index fingers.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Alchemy requires "transmutation circles" that are essentially Geometric Magic. The relationship between the various transmutation circles is never explained, though it's implied that more complicated designs are required for more complicated alchemy. (A very basic transmutation circle consists of nothing more than a square inside a circle. Some of the symbols are actual alchemical symbols used way back when people were experimenting with various metals, chemicals, etc, and used the symbols to keep track of what they were doing.) They're called "Arrays" and most Alchemists have to prepare them beforehand on items they possess or their bodies; e.g. Roy Mustang's gloves, Scar's tattoos. However these things are all drawn ridiculously fast, with the most egregious example being drawing half of one on two tables, and shoving them together, each taking about half a second.
    • Averted with philosopher's stones, which as a secondary feature allow the user to transmute things without circles. that's why people using (or "being") a philosopher's stone can transmute without a circle.
    • Ed, Izumi, and Al don't have to draw the circle, but the series explains that they are still forming an array: their clapped hands form a circle out of the body/arms with a simple triangle on one end. The rest of the details of the array are held in the alchemist's mind. You need immense knowledge of alchemy to pull this off; this is why the only people who can do it are ones who have opened the Gate. Consider it a perk of being crippled from attempting human transmutation. They can still draw out an array if they're doing really big feats or if they don't have two functioning hands at the time.
    • Alkahestry, also called Purification Arts, refers to the slightly different form of Alchemy used in the country of Xing. Alkahestry differs from Alchemy in both its practice and its goal. Whereas Amestrian Alchemy claims to have its roots in the energy of tectonic shifts and practices manipulation of matter toward scientifically practical ends, Alkahestry is centered on a concept called the "Dragon's Pulse" which speaks of the Earth itself having a constant flow of chi (life energy) which flows metaphorically from the tops of mountains down to the land, nourishing everything it passes with that energy as does blood coursing through the veins. Using this concept, Alkahestrists are capable of a higher level of medical transmutation than Amestrian alchemists — transmitting chi through the pathways of the human body to cure mild ailments as well as minor injuries - and can even project their transmutations over long distances and wide areas by accessing and guiding that current to their own means with Purification Circles and Alkahestric markers, a function of which Amestrian Alchemy is altogether incapable.
    • In the manga this is why the Big Bad has to spend generations having a country-sized Philosopher's Stone array dug around the country in order to execute his plan.
  • Ga-Rei — A circular seal is used to hold Byakuei in check, and appears when the seal is partially released.
  • In one episode of Hetalia: Axis Powers, England does his Summon Magic by chanting near a magic circle. Another one is seen in The Movie, but never used.
  • Related: The Instant Runes in Lyrical Nanoha adopt different geometric shapes dependent on the class of magic the caster is using. There are at least 4 known variations, 2 of them corresponding to major schools of magic and one to magical specialization.
  • A variant features in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Steel Ball Run: the Spin functions by spinning a ball in a path resembling the Golden Spiral, which is stated to be where the Spin gets its power. While there are no physical diagrams involved, Spin users typically need to visualize the spiral through some kind of natural reference. A horse’s natural gait also uses the Golden Spiral, and harnessing that momentum with stirrups, then combining it with the user’s own Spin, enables an armor-piercing infinite Spin.
  • Magical Circle Guru-Guru: Kukuri's Guru Guru magic requires her to trace magic circles along the ground around her to cast spells and summon.
  • Magilumiere Co. Ltd.: The Magitek of the world of Magilumiere is deployed in "summoning circles", pre-written computer code that manipulates magical energy in preset patterns to attack and destroy Kaii. These naturally take the form of large arrays of Instant Runes each designed for a specific purpose.
  • The pactio spell in Negima! Magister Negi Magi requires a magic circle to operate properly. Other spells also require circles to be drawn (or created out of Instant Runes), but as a mage grows more experienced with that spell, they lose the need to draw the circle. Generally the more complex and powerful the spell, the more complex the circle required to activate it.
  • In Witch Hat Atelier, using magic is as simple as drawing the right diagram in the right kind of ink. These glyphs have three basic parts: a central rune dictating the effect the magic will generate; keystones drawn around the rune that define what form the effect will take; and an enclosing circle, which triggers the effect when completed. The more precisely drawn the glyph is, the more stable the magic is, and the bigger the glyph, the more powerful the effect.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In Discworld fic Why and were, Mustrum Ridcully demonstrates this to Ponder Stibbons and a sceptical Matron Igorina using nothing more than a length of string and a piece of chalk. An entire hospital bed plus occupant has to be lifted inside a very big magical octogram; the reasoning is that Ruth N'Kweze would go inside the circle, but the Howondalandian magical entity possessing her could not enter and she would therefore be freed.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Swift-Pad is a Rune Caster, able to channel his inner magic through the proper runes (which have to be carefully carved and the magic infused into them while doing so), and it's a relatively common skill in the Packlands. He begins teaching Twilight the ability later on.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, Howl draws a magical diagram on the floor in chalk when preparing to change one of the castle real-world endpoints to become the house next to the hat shop.
  • In Turning Red, the red moon ritual requires a chalk circle to be drawn on the ground.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Attachment: The exorcism involves drawing a circle on the floor within which Leah is placed for containing the dybbuk inside her.
  • Doctor Strange seems to work like this, and the mages have ways of quickly drawing circles in the air. In this case though, the shapes themselves aren't of as rudimentary value, as it is moving the hands through the air in the right way to control the energy that they will emanate.
  • Geometria is a Comedy Horror Short Film by a young Guillermo del Toro, about a teenage boy who makes a Deal with the Devil to help him pass geometry class, with a ritual that involves this trope. Turns out that if you're trying to protect yourself from a summoned demon, you really need a good grasp on how many sides a pentagon has. On the bright side, he doesn't fail geometry again.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) even has a reference to this; Dana's apartment building was designed by a group of cultists in the 1930s with the specific purpose of serving as a "spiritual array" for the summoning of Gozer.
  • The Lament Configuration of Clive Barker's Hellraiser series and adaptations had variations in puzzle boxes and even whole buildings. Any of them could open a gate to Leviathan (hell) or summon, banish and control cenobites (demons) by finding the correct geometric state in the puzzle.
  • The Skeleton Key deals with Hoodoo in Louisiana, and some magic circles are seen, including during the climax where the protagonist thinks she's drawing a circle of protection around herself, but in fact traps herself inside the circle as the person who planted the instructions on her planned
  • Magic in Warcraft (2016) is based around various geometric shapes, mostly triangles, circles and squares, with runes to compliment them. They mostly work by the way of Instant Runes, but less-advanced mages like Khadgar draw more complex shapes with chalk before casting them.


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By Work:

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy is the epitome of this trope. In this series of books, almost all magic is the result of summoning and confining spirits inside pentacles, which are described as being composed mainly of words. This is a necessary step because the aforementioned spirits are usually quite vengeful for their long imprisonments in the physical realm and most of them have developed a taste for human flesh.
  • In The Belgariad demon summoning includes the drawing of a protective circle which the summoner stands within. This is to stop the demon eating the summoner should the binding break, allowing him opportunity to banish it.
  • Carnacki the Ghost-Finder makes extensive use of protective circles, measuring them out in precise detail and constructing multiple layers of defense with crushed garlic, sacred water, candles, and his signature Electric Pentacle.
  • The magic system in Catherine Asaro's The Charmed Sphere employs both the color spectrum and geometric shapes. A mage's rank is determined by the highest color of magic they can cast (red being the most common, violet being the rarest) and the most complex geometric shape they can use to focus their spell (from lines, triangles, squares, pentagons, hexagons, etc... up through perfect circles, and then three dimensional shapes starting from simple pyramids and working their way up through perfect spheres). More complex shapes focus more powerful spells, and three dimensional shapes are more powerful than two dimensional ones. Mage Mistress and Royal Advisor Della No-Cozen is a jade pyramidal mage, meaning she can cast red, orange, yellow, and green spells using any shape up to one as complex as a four-sided pyramid. Protagonist Chime Heartwind is an emerald faceted-ball mage — she can cast more powerful green (and yellow, and orange, and red) spells than Della, using any shape in complexity up to a 20-sided icosahedron (but cannot use perfect spheres in her casting).
  • Carol Berg's trilogy Collegia Magica features magic based on this principle.
  • The fortress dungeon in Dark Ones Mistress has a circle of glyphs embedded in the floor, these glow when Lucias uses Black Speech and are apparently necessary for him to steal souls, but not leave people momentarily Brainwashed.
  • Daughter of the Sun: Orsina draws protective runes in a circle around herself and Aetia while they're sleeping to prevent any dangers getting them. Aetia, who's secretly a chaos goddess, was harmed by the circle inadvertently, though Orsina isn't aware what happened.
  • Various spells and rituals in Discworld require octograms to be drawn on the floor. An example is the Rite of Ashk-Ente, which supposedly binds Death to the inside of the octogram... but he just stays in to be polite. Also, it is explained that most of the magical paraphernalia are used only for the look of the thing and are not really necessary, so it could be considered a subversion.
    • When Susan is standing in for Death, the Rite of Ashk-Ente works as expected on her. She's trapped in the circle until the summoner lets her out.
    • Apparently magic circles are actually of use, but don't require elaborate ritual: to prevent fallout from a magical duel Nanny Ogg uses the side of her foot to draw a big rough circle around them, confusing the apprentice witches who thought elaborate diagrams would be needed. Possibly subverted, in that the circle itself was meant to prevent the spectators from crossing into a zone boiling with magic which later Nanny Ogg's grandchild Pewsey does, causing the child to fall down hurt and crying.
  • The Dresden Files uses circles a lot, occasionally with other figures (like the Seal of Solomon, a pentagram, or a triangle) in them. A circle creates a barrier nearly impervious to anything magical, useful as a shield against such things as demons, zombies, and spells. Magic within the circle is calmed and concentrated, making spells easier to perform. Materials used to construct circles range from simple chalk to inlaid precious metals. Humans, however, aren't the only ones who can use this. In their own realm, The Fair Folk can use them as well, usually constructed from the famous "Fairy Ring" of mushrooms. The key difference is a magic circle, any magic circle, crafted in the human realm and containing a native born human within, can summon something into the circle.
    • The protagonist prefers five-pointed stars, but states that he's used to amateurs using triangles because they're easier to draw.
    • Interestingly enough, Harry himself points out that technically, you don't need to actually make the closed geometric shape to work your magic, since it's all based on intent and willpower. If a person believes starting the pentagram from the top point gives it more power or more suited to attack magic, the end result will reflect this as well. Most everyone uses circles, triangles, etc anyway, because while you technically don't need them, they make it a hell of a lot easier to use the spell in question, and there's no reason not to when you're not using off-the-cuff evocations and the like.
    • And in Small Favor, Harry shows what happens when you use a deliberately imbalanced geometric model (e.g., a pentagram with one point longer than the others) for an invocation — a lot of energy let loose in an uncontrolled fashion. However, since the casters in question were effectively using it for a hellfire explosion...
    • Circles also have another advantage: they're quick. Magical fog swooping down on you? Take two salt shakers, spin, add a bit of willpower, and bam, you're safe. They're so quick and easy to use that any human who is given a bit of instruction can pull it off, regardless of ability with magic (although it costs a small blood sacrifice — a few drops is generally plenty — if they don't have some decent magical training).
    • In Cold Days, it turns out that the original Merlin was the grandmaster of this trope. Through application of this on an epic transtemporal and transdimensional scale, outright defying the laws of physics, he designs a prison in which Eldritch Abomination is minimum security.
    • Skin Game shows that it doesn't even need to be a flat circle, as one character makes use of one that's marked out partly on a floor and partly on the adjacent wall.
  • The AonDor magic system in Elantris requires drawing symbols in the air with a lot of attention to detail and proportion. The geometry of the symbols is in turn based on the geography of the region; when a chasm was opened up by an earthquake, all the magic instantly stopped working until the symbols were updated to match. Notably, the titular city itself is such a diagram, empowering the magic of its inhabitants. When the geography changed, the empowerment changed to a zombie-like curse.
    • All magic systems on the world of Sel (one of many planets in The Cosmere, where Elantris and The Emperor's Soul take place) work under similar rules to AonDor where specific symbols hold specific meanings. Dakhor monks inscribe mystic runes onto their bones with the help of blood sacrifices to gain various powers, including Super-Strength and Anti-Magic. ChayShan practitioners form shapes with their own body for various effects. Forgers can carve magic stamps capable of rewriting the history of objects which they are placed upon, doing things like changing an old worn table to have been well cared for instead, or changing a painting into a perfect replica of an existing masterpiece.
  • Necromancy in The Elenium mostly involves drawing binding symbols to prevent summoned ghosts from turning on their summoners. Resident dabbler Tynian prefers to write the symbols with strategically placed rope, as they're more visible on the ground and less likely to be accidentally smudged or broken.
  • Circles are popular in the Evie Scelan novels, including I-95 surrounding all of Boston for one spell.
  • In Martha Wells' trilogy The Fall of Ile-Rien the wizards are busy reverse-engineering a kind of "travelling circle"-spell, where altering the symbols lets you go to different places and worlds.
  • In Ghost Roads, Rose gets trapped in a Seal of Solomon by a vengeful mage who blames her for her boyfriend's death. In the InCryptid series set in the same universe, Antimony summons her other ghost aunt Mary into a magic circle to protect her from the Eldritch Abomination that Mary is forced to serve.
  • In Good Omens the demon Crowley spends many years and much effort causing a highway to be built in the shape of an evil sigil, thus causing a malaise of bad vibes and mild evil to be produced by all the cars driving over the shape.
    • The motorway in question is the M25, which encircles London - anyone who has to make frequent use of it suspects this also to be the case in real life.
  • The kanji in The Grimnoir Chronicles books are revealed to be 2D sympathetic representations of the various aspects that make up the Cosmic Entity from whom superpowers/magic spring.
  • N. K. Jemisin's Inheritance Trilogy: Scriveners use the divine Language of Magic to write out spells, which can either take effect immediately or be stored until a trigger condition is met. The format is a safety measure — the language is so complex and precise that a spoken spell would more likely cause a deadly Magic Misfire.
  • I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level: Magic circles aren't necessary for spellcasting, but can be drawn on the ground to make long-lasting effects more reliable to cast. Azusa uses a large hexagram-and-rune formation to create a major Protective Charm, while demons sometimes print them on paper to store single-use telecommunication spells.
  • In The Laundry Files by Charles Stross, magic is an application of higher mathematics onto reality via dimension-bending "Dho-Na Curves". It's all very complicated, but suffice it to say that most magical rituals require a sort of "summoning grid", a geometric structure paired with some form of computation. Technically, an advanced mathematician can simply perform the necessary calculations in their head—but since this tends to summon hungry microscopic demons into one's brain, summoning grids are a lot safer. The grids can be drawn, like how it's done traditionally, or you can go more advanced and use electric circuit or laser-based system.
  • In The Machineries of Empire, the Kel formation channelling is based around this. By arranging their troops—or ships—in a particular, mathematically-calculated formation, the Kel can manifest various exotic effects, such as force shields or energy lances.
  • The central premise of Medusa's Web is the existence of "spiders", mysterious eight-spoked pictograms with a variety of arcane effects. The legend of Medusa, with the snakes radiating from her head, is said to be a corrupted record of the discovery of the big one, the original spider from which all the others are derived and which combines all their effects. One of the characters refers to the use of spiders as "black geometry".
  • Charles Stross's The Merchant Princes Series concerns a family with hereditary ability to jump between parallel worlds, triggered by looking at a Celtic Knot-style figure. (The protagonist learns about this the hard way when she examines a locket that belonged to her mother: she traces the twists and poof. As the figure becomes more familiar, it triggers her more quickly.) One member of the family made a flawed version of the figure from memory, and jumped into a different parallel world. Later books in the series have the younger and more progressive Clan elements using the computer program Mathematica to determine what the two figures have in common, and what others can be drawn with the same properties.
  • In The Mortal Instruments, this is the primary form of magic employed by the Shadowhunters, who use Angelic Runes to perform a variety of functions, including giving themselves superhuman physical abilities. Clary's special aptitude with Runes is essential to the plot.
  • The shapeshifting whatever-it-is that Jack and Snuff keep imprisoned in the basement, in A Night in the Lonesome October, is barred from escaping via this trope. Indeed, it's even called "The Thing In The Circle".
  • Described vaguely in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series, "Charter Magic" is more or less defined by the use of names and runic symbols ("Charter Marks"), each of which has a unique power. Charter Mages are "baptized" with a Mark on their forehead soon after birth (usually).
  • Oliver Twisted: Good and bad magic appear to differ in the shapes they appear with. While Fagin's den has symbols of sharp angles and points, the intricate patterns in Brownlow's home which heal Oliver are round, consisting of circles and spirals that flow into each other. The spell in which Oliver uses to grant the woe-begottens peace consists of forming two circles attached by an upwards thread with his hands.
  • Ra goes in for REALLY BIG circles. Adjusting for the curvature of the Earth big.
  • Dodecahedrons are important in Patricia A. McKillip's The Riddle Master Trilogy.
  • In Rune Breaker almost everyone is taught to access magic by drawing simple patterns. These patterns can be used multiple times if drawn permanently, or one use if drawn in the caster's mind. Skilled magicians can draw the patterns virtually. Patterns can be extremely simple, e.g. a circle with four lines, or extremely complex.
  • Second Apocalypse: While anagogic magic relies in analogies to affect the physical world, gnostic magic is based on pure logic. Therefore, while anagogic cants do things like create dragon heads breathing fire, gnostic cants are abstract, often described as "glittering geometries."
  • Serwa Boateng: Magic is harnessed by drawing symbols called adinkra.
  • In Shaman Blues, beginner shamans have to rely on circles and pentagrams for ghost banishment. Similarily, magic circles are used in another novel set in this universe, The Girl from the Miracles District, to provide protection and weaken supernatural forces or outright keep them out.
  • In Shaman of the Undead, a circle is sometimes used by the shaman to talk with the ghost, although it's not necessary. On the other hand, necromancers and demon-binders need circles to do their jobs.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel The Spirit Ring not all spells use this form of magic—some can be accomplished (by a mage, at least) with a simple word—but at least some more powerful spells involve drawing "sacred diagrams" on the ground with chalk (of different colors). The chalk lines are said to contain the forces of the planets and their associated metals, along with sacred names written to compel spirits. If the chalk lines are disturbed mid-spell, it causes the caster physical pain; the chalk lines also cause a burning sensation in anyone else who touches them.
  • The Sword of Truth books contain several examples. The most powerful spells in the book require special signs drawn in powdered herbs, bone, blood, and, for the most powerful spells, sorcerer's sand (crystallized wizard bones from 3000 years ago). It is stated that in the last case, even the smallest mistake cannot be corrected and means death. At least one wizard family lived in an entire palace built as a magical sign. There is also a form of magic where an artist uses various shapes, formulas, and such in conjunction with a painting of a person in order to place curses on them.
  • Spell-diars in Tough Magic are used to power and control spells. Although they're not absolutely neccessary, spellcasting being possible even without them, they still provide a significant boost in efficiency.
  • The One Power in The Wheel of Time is heavily geometric, involving "weaving threads" of the five elements into intricate patterns. Disturbing the pattern by trying to pick apart the weave (extremely difficult) and losing control (extremely easy) collapses the weave with unpredictable (but probably dangerous) results.
  • The Witch Watch has sorcery that depends entirely on circles of writing. They can be written in various materials: chalk, grease pencil, blood, electrical wiring.
  • Most wizard spells in the Young Wizards universe use this, excepting some magic that can be done solely with spoken Speech (the Masons Word, for example). Spell diagrams are likened to mathematical equations that must be balanced, simple ones can be 'drawn' in the caster's head, more complex ones are drawn out, pre-compiled in the wizard's manual or fashioned into illusion forms the wizard can place or carry inconspicuously, like Nita's charm bracelet, Kit's dimension-hopping leash for Ponch, etc.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Frequently used on America Unearthed, most notably and specifically in the episode Secret Blueprint of America but used frequently throughout the series.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Shakespeare Code", the Globe Theatre's 14-sided design amplifies the Carrionites' abilities so as to allow them access into our world as they come from a star system with fourteen stars.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Kieran, an ancient Seeker who's possessing Richard, draws a Grace spell which will bring his lost lover's spirit back and possess Kahlan, so they can live together again.
  • Lovecraft Country: Magic symbols are drawn as part of casting spells.
  • Frequently used in The Magicians. Many of the spells and rituals that are shown in the show use different runes and shapes to create various spell effects. Some even require more than one magician in order to be executed properly.
  • On Shadowhunters, angelic Runes are utilized by the titular Shadowhunters to perform feats of magic and physical enhancement.
  • Used quite a bit on Supernatural. A wide variety of symbols and runes are used for protection against or to entrap different supernatural beings such as demons or angels. This is one of the few types of magic that Hunters regularly rely on.

  • Runes with inscribed circles are scattered throughout Magic Girl.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town, Olivia paints an occult symbol in the "Space Hell" room of the teens' haunted house to spruce up the place. It ends up summoning the game's monster.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: In Spell Construction, the easiest way to cast magic on a large group or area is to design the spell to affect everything within a circle; such spells can also be designed to last as long as the circle is unbroken. It can be any size, but the mage must personally trace the circle while casting the spell, and any lapse in concentration causes an automatic Magic Misfire.
  • In Castle Falkenstein, most forms of sorcery require creating a specific seal or diagram first in order to channel the magic.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There is a 2nd edition wizard kit (subclass) called the Geometer that specifically uses Geometric Magic. This kind of magic is much more efficient for storing spells, among other abilities of the class.
    • Not to be confused with earlier editions' rules for certain spells (such as Lightning Bolt and Fireball) that actually required the players to use geometry to figure out the exact effect of the spell.
    • The Runecaster kit also makes use of geometric magic, as it needs to physically carve or draw runes to be able to invoke the attendant magic.
    • The Binder class from 3rd edition uses a weird mixture of this and Powers via Possession; to be able to wield magic, a binder first draws elaborate arcane sigils to make contact with the Vestiges they wish to invoke, and then allows them to co-habit the binder's body in order to gain access to their magic.
    • The 3.5th edition Geometer is a Prestige Class which grants greater insight into glyphs, sigils, runes and other symbols. Its geometric magic also allows Geometers to replace verbal and material components with a spellglyph written in advance on parchment, and to scribe their spells in a much condensed form taking less pages of a Spell Book.
  • In Heroes Unlimited, wizards can use circle magic, which—as the name implies—requires them to create and stand in intricate circles to cast spells. This is more expensive and time-consuming than conventional spellcasting, as even the simplest magic circle takes half an hour to set up, but it can produce some impressive effects which regular spell magic cannot replicate.
  • The Circle of Protection cards in Magic: The Gathering.
  • In the Mutants & Masterminds Meta-4 universe, Suleiman is seeking mastery of this magic.
  • In Shadowrun, hermetic mages must spend several hours scribing hermetic circles for advanced magic such as sendings or summoning spiritual allies or elementals. Shamans, who are essentially the same but summon nature spirits, not elementals, do not need circles; instead, they rely on spirit lodges for their magic.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay:

    Video Games 
  • The seals in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow; you actually have to draw the seal with the stylus to completely beat every boss.
  • In The Darkside Detective, geometric figures with mystic runes around the edges are a recurring way of achieving magical effects.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series, the Order of the Black Worm is a secretive Magical Society led by infamous/legendary necromancer Mannimarco and dedicated to the study of The Dark Arts. A black pentagram is a common symbol of the Order, representing the "damnation of their souls". Members are forced to get one tattooed onto their bodies.
    • A common term in some of the deeper and more esoteric lore also refers to the concept of mythitecture: the way that many major structures — the Imperial City, the continent of Tamriel, the planets themselves — mirror and reinforce the metaphysical nature of the universe. Most commonly, as in the case of the Imperial City, that is the visualization of the Aurbic Wheel, which consists of a hub or axle (White-Gold Tower) surrounded by eight spokes (the eight districts of the city, counting the Arcane University and Imperial City Prison).
  • Eternal Darkness: One of the few times that the mechanics of the system is explained — each spell is a combination of various glyphs that translate into specific words, essentially making each spell a sentence. Not quite Instant Runes; they take a few seconds and can be cancelled by the slightest movement of the caster.
    • Comes in triangles, pentacles, and septacles, by the way. The only difference is that the spell is stronger with more points; a fourth rune is added multiple times to the same basic three-rune spell to increase the power. At the end, it uses an anneagram (a nine-pointed star), which doesn't seem that much more impressive until you realize that the spell pattern is now the size of an entire city.
  • Used sometimes in the Final Fantasy series, example in Final Fantasy VIII the Diabolos summon shows one and every single summon in Final Fantasy XI is summoned with this.
    • Specifically in the case of Final Fantasy XIV: The Arcanist class uses this in combination with Formulaic Magic to cast their spells, using books inscribed with complex formulas and diagrams.
  • Hades II: In the reveal trailer, Melinoë attacks her witchy mentor Hecate, who then activates an intricate magic circle beneath Melinoë's feet that blasts her backwards.
  • LostMagic has a Runic Circle as part of the gameplay interface; the runes you draw are used to activate spells. You can even combine them, leading to about 400 different spells.
  • Mega Man Star Force: Solo always opens his Transformation Sequence by drawing the runic symbol of Mu in the air with his Ancient Star Carrier. Then a few more blink into existence, and suddenly everything goes to hell.
  • The former page image came from Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver; normally the series doesn't use this trope much/at all, but the image is from an event activated by Arceus, an event-giveaway Pokémon, who will create for the player an egg containing either the ruler of time, space, or antimatter.
  • In Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches, Boswell's wand was hidden away using elemental sigils arranged in a pentagram. The elemental orbs, together with the chapel door (?), form another pentagram made of light to seal away the Big Bad.
  • One of Runescape's older quests, Legend's Quest, has a few uses of this trope. You are told to seek out a shaman in a cave which is marked by rocks in the the holy shape (a triangle). The shaman, as your character doesn't realize until after freeing him, has become possessed and used his last moments of sanity to lock himself in a flame barrier which is in the shape of some type of star.
  • Scrabdackle: Geometric shapes play an important role in the game's magic system, taking the form of many-shaped magic bits and squiggly energy spells. The save points scattered around Scrabdackle also come in the form of geometric ritual circles.
  • The Star Ocean series features this, where it's just called magic in the first game, but later it becomes Symbology (or Heraldry, in 3).
  • Crops up once or twice in Super Robot Wars, most notably by Asakim Dorwin and his Shurouga in Z. He takes Goth tropes to absurd levels, having his Humongous Mecha cut its palm and trail "blood" (stay with me here) as he attacks the enemy from every angle. The screen then zooms out to show that his "blood trail" has formed a diagram, causing an explosion. Another attack has him create the same diagram, then fly through it in order to... um... "bust leys" and make Gothic artwork appear.
  • Although most of the symbols in Tales of the Abyss are of the Instant Runes variety, there are a few instances where more powerful magic is required, and huge fonic glyphs are drawn to accommodate their power. There's actually a brief mini-game where you have to re-draw one that you were meaning to use as an escape route (on a time limit!) because a villain wiped it out.
  • Trauma Center's Healing Touch is activated by drawing a five-pointed star. The gesture has no inherent power per se, but it helps the user focus their concentration and tap into their natural ability.
  • In A Witch's Tale, you draw runes using the stylus to cast powerful spells.
  • Witch's Wish has the player draw runes with the stylus to cast spells.

    Visual Novels 
  • Juniper's Knot: The fiend is trapped within a magic circle and cannot step outside it without facing excruciating pain. The only way she can safely get out is if another life enters the circle to take her place.

    Web Comics 
  • Gunnerkrigg Court generally uses Instant Runes, but at one point Eglamore draws a chalk rune on the ground to dispel an etherically-summoned fire.
  • Witches in Imp cast spells by drawing "hexes", which look like pentagrams. Apparently picturing the hex, however, produces the same effect and the witches of the north use incantations to summon magic.
  • Talies Heoria, from The Motley Two, is a WRITER-MAGE and thus his weapons of choice are pens, with which he draws symbols on sheets of paper, releasing magical effects. He has a tendency to scribble randomly, and sometimes accidentally ends up drawing an unwanted rune.
    You spend the minutes after your conversation doodling idly in your sketchbook. Only one of them blows up in your face. Progress!
  • When Prequel 's hapless main "player character" Katia Managan is finally goaded into graduating into a proper magic user from her previous continual How Do I Shot Web? status (by Cloudcuckoolander Aggy's inexplicably effective "think like a Witchhunter" exhortations), the mental interface she uses to interfere with the "bones of the world" is a mix of particularly complex Geometric Magic sigils and some kind of simplified Matrix-meets-Minority-Report computer graphics representing various characteristics of whatever she's looking at. Prequel being Prequel, and more particularly its suggestion-contributing audience being generally sadistic and the author being entirely happy to indulge them, this still isn't the end of her trouble with learning how to use her long-hidden abilities, as the sigils aren't entirely obvious and each only change one very limited aspect of the target's personal reality.
  • In Stick in the Mud monsters disgused as humans can be revealed by the Sign of Eel.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Kalliv and Mao find a summoning circle which Copycat had made, from which Kalliv infers that "something really strong" must have been summoned with it (the king centipede).

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-259 is, as someone in its discussion page noticed, essentially a modern-day version of a magical diagram: a fractal which, when rendered on a computer, opens a portal to Another Dimension.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, summoning Hunson Abadeer (Marceline's father) requires a ritual where the would-be summoner draws a circular face on a nearby wall.
  • Gravity Falls features Bill Cipher, a triangular demon who must be summoned from the center of a circle of candles.
  • In The Owl House, witches cast spells by tracing a circle of light into the air. Luz Noceda, a human, figures out she can do the same thing by physically drawing the circle and the spell's corresponding rune onto a physical object, though the object is destroyed in the process. In the past, witches used to do the same thing Luz does, but they seem to have streamlined the process to the point where they don't need the rune, or at least puts it in subconsciously so fast that it's not noticeable to the naked eye. Most witches who have attempted it in the present day are rather sloppy in the technique. Luz on the other hand is a master artist, which is an advantageous skill in this practice.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Plenty of New Age gurus claim that the Pyramids of Egypt were built on cosmic geometries, which preserved the remains of the mummies inside and could do wonders in the modern day. Busted by the MythBusters, and one of the last "oogie-boogie" myths they did on the show.
  • Wiccans arrange their ritual spaces into specific patterns and use symbols of varying complexity in their religious rituals.


Video Example(s):


Luz's first spell

Luz casts a spell for the first time by replicating a geometric pattern in the spell circle.

How well does it match the trope?

4.59 (32 votes)

Example of:

Main / GeometricMagic

Media sources: