Spiritual Formation Thursday: Celtic Circle/Caim Prayer

Celtic Trinity KnotToday’s post is about a protection prayer from the Celtic Christian tradition.  The Celtic Church developed differently than the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, mainly because of their distance from the central locations of Rome and Constantinople.  They also were not as influenced by the Roman Empire, although they were part of the Empire for some time.  The Celtic Church developed around the monks and monasteries on the British Isles.  So it would follow that some of their traditions would differ than the more mainstream Churches.

The Celtic Church developed a special type of protection prayer, the Caim Prayer or Circle Prayer.  This was a way to surround oneself with the protection and blessing of the Triune God.  To perform the Caim Prayer, you stand up, point your right index finger at the ground and turn in a clockwise circle.  At certain positions you will say prayers.

Imagining your circle is a clock face at the:

  • 12 position, “Circle me Lord, Keep protection near, And danger afar.”
  • 3 position, “Circle me Lord, Keep light near, And darkness afar.”
  • 6 position, “Circle me Lord, Keep peace within, Keep evil out.”
  • 9 position, “Circle me Lord, Keep hope within, Keep doubt without.”
  • Back at the 12 position can finish your prayers with:
    May you be a bright flame before me
    May you be a guiding star above me,
    May you be a smooth path below me,
    And a loving Guide behind me,
    Today, tonight, and forever.

In this prayer you can imagine the circle you drew with your finger as a circle of protection, where you are in God’s protection and care.  He has removed all evil influence from your circle; you can be at peace within it.  You can even imagine this as a traveling circle, it is always around you, when you walk it comes with you.

I have found the St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer is another good protection prayer.  The full version of the prayer is quite long.  However, there is a simple 15 line section which is quite powerful and beautiful.  The prayer goes like this:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I hope that you find these prayers helpful and comforting.  They can be good prayers to pray before you start listening prayer, intercessory prayer, or contemplative prayer.  Of course anytime you start to feel any possible spiritual attack they can be good protective prayers.

Question: Do you have a protection prayer that you like to use?  Have you ever used these prayers, if so did you find them comforting?

About Jesse

I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Theology focusing on Church History. I am a Third Order Benedictine monk, in the Company of Jesus. I am married to a wonderful woman, we just had a baby Michaela Rose. You can follow me and be alerted of new blog post by following me on Twitter @jtalexanderiv. Or following this blog.
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3 Responses to Spiritual Formation Thursday: Celtic Circle/Caim Prayer

  1. gary carson says:

    All very interesting, Bro. Jesse. Thanks.

    There is a rubric in the Lorrha-Stowe Missal to make a “caim” over the head of the person who has just received the Blessed Sacrament…..do you know any more about this? Were special words or blessings said?

    In Christ,


  2. Pingback: Fifth after Epiphany | gospelfeelings

  3. Reblogged this on MMM… Meditation, Mental health, Mindful crochet and commented:
    I am following David Cole’s Celtic Lent. Today’s chapter is about st N I n I a n and mentions circling prayers. Here are some examples.

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