A magic circle (魔法陣, Mahoujin) is a figure composed by a great number of symbols related to the powers, techniques and precedence of the magician. Generally, the magic circles are what differentiates mages from one another, each creates a magic circle of their own - similar to that of a signature.
Magic circles work as a field of energy that activates the moment a mage is about to perform a spell. This magic circle is visible under the mage's feet, and its power surrounds him/her as if it was a Ki or aura.
Clow Reed's Magic Circle
The figure for Clow's magic circle consists of a 12 point-star, with the symbols of the cardinal points inside the corners. It has the image of the Sun in the centre, and next to it is the Moon. Clow's magic is symbolized by "Light and Darkness", and his guardians are Cerberus (Sun) and Yue (Moon).
As revealed after the climax of the "Sakura Card Arc", Clow Reed's magic was imbalanced in its nature; as shown in Clow Reed's magic circle, the design of the circle is dominated by the sun and the moon symbols; the Sun representing 'Yang' (陽), and the Moon representing 'Yin' (陰). The arrangement of the Sun and the Moon in the circle highlights the nature of the imbalance; the Sun takes centre-stage, while the Moon is pushed to the side; the balance of Clow Reed's magic is tipped in favour of Yang over Yin. As his incarnation/son, Eriol, reveals after Sakura succeeded to recreating all of the Clow Cards as Sakura Cards:
- "When I was Clow Reed, using small magic was a problem; because I knew everything before hand, nothing was pleasant. So, when as Clow Reed, I split myself into two; my present-self and Fujitaka Kinomoto; I couldn't divide the magic, Clow Reed's powers remained whole. And the only one who could do, what Clow's magic could not, was someone is someone who could surpass Clow's power."
This imbalance that caused Clow Reed's problems was also the reason behind his unusually-long life span. In contrast to Clow Reed's magic circle, Sakura's star takes centre-stage, holding the Sun and the Moon in place, the Yin and Yang in her magic kept in balance.
It should be noted that whenever Sakura used the Clow Cards, Clow Reed 's magic circle appeared, as she was drawing upon his magical powers and not her own.
Clow's magic is also a mixture of both Western and Eastern magic (having an English father and a Chinese mother), so it also has both Chinese and English characters on it.
- This magic circle is the same used by Yukito (TRC Ch.1), Fei Wong Reed (TRC Ch.183), Xing Huo, Syaoran Li and Kimihiro Watanuki (TRC Ch.213).
Sakura Kinomoto's Magic Circle
Sakura Card Arc
The main symbol in Sakura's magic circle is the Star within it. Like Clow's, it forms a 12-point star with three squares, surrounding these are the symbols of the Occidental Zodiac. Next to the 10-point star in the center are the Sun and the Moon. These represent Cerberus and Yue, who protect the star, meaning Sakura. In contrast to Clow Reed's magic circle, Sakura's star takes centre-stage, holding the Sun and the Moon in place, the Yin and Yang in her magic kept in balance.
During the final confrontation with Eriol Hiiragizawa, Cerberus and Yue's powers are combined into Sakura's staff. This once more transforms her staff into a final Guardian version, although the magic circle stays the same.
"Sakura’s magic is drawn from the power of the stars, which may start small, but are ever-shining with their own brilliant light." - Clow Reed
- This circle is the same used by Sakura Li, possible due to the fact that she received the Star Wand from Sakura Kinomoto.
Clear Card Arc
In the Clear Card Arc, Sakura has obtained a new magic circle.
The circle keeps the symbols of the sun and moon on opposite sides. The center is comprised of a 12-pointed star with 6 5-pointed stars on every other point. Two of elements are situated on either side of the circle, between the sun and moon circles. The order of symbols in the outer circle are as follows (from left to right, clockwise): Sun, 火 (Fire), 風 (Wind), Moon, 地 (Earth), and 水 (Water).
Unlike the previous gold-outlined magic circles, Sakura's new magic circle has more than one color. The inner circle is blue while the stars are a lighter blue. The outer circle that houses the 5-pointed stars, element, sun and moon symbols is a light pink-purple color.
Li Clan's Magic Circle
In the Sakura Card/Star Card Arc in the Manga, Syaoran Li is seen using a magic circle similar to the centre of the Rashiban, while trying to divine the owner of the coat left on an unconscious-Sakura after Windy was remade from a Clow Card into a Sakura Card.
In Clear Card Arc, Syaoran now has a magic circle in the form of his Rashinban compass layout, and is even now able to use the same magic compass to summon his Chinese Ceremonial Jian AND use it to store and hide the Sakura Cards.
Although not really a magic circle, the Rashinban compass outline is also seen used by Tsubasa Li; Syaoran Li and Tsubasa Li both use the same magic compass and sword.
From the characters closest to the yin-yang symbol, and going around clockwise, they read:
冬、春、夏、秋 - winter, spring, summer, fall
水、火、風、地 - water, fire, wind, earth
北、東、南、西 - North, East, South, West
天、鬼、地、神 - Heaven, Demon, Earth, God