My wife was recently on a spiritual retreat and she told me that many of the people there didn't shield themselves and then were visited by the ghosts and had weird dreams. She shielded herself each night and had no weird dreams or encounters with the dead. I have to admit to feeling puzzled that any occultist wouldn't know how to or wouldn't think to shield themselves. But evidently this happens a lot, and I have encountered the occasional occultist who doesn't shield him/herself as a conscious choice. I was once even told that the person didn't shield because s/he wanted to experience whatever s/he encountered. I can't say that's a wise policy as you can end up encountering things you don't want to deal with, but if the person is willing to deal with the consequences...
Personally I'm not willing to go anywhere without having shielded myself and when I sleep in a hotel or anywhere else, I always have the space I sleep in warded. And I think what amazes me the most is that many of these occultists don't seem to know how to do even a basic shielding. I know there are books on the topic, so I'm not sure why they don't know, but its odd and it speaks to a fundamental lack of training.
When I first started practicing magic, one of the first activities I learned and performed daily was shielding. There were a couple techniques provided in Ted Andrew's books on working with spirits...They had you create a shield by vocalizing the names of gods and visualizing different energies enfolding your physical and spiritual surroundings with protective energy. I noticed that when I did that practice that I did feel a sense of protection, as well as a clearing of the space around me, so I did it everyday. I don't do that particular practice anymore, but I still do shielding each day, for the benefit of shielding, but also for the benefit it provides me in terms of starting my day. I feel good, and I feel focused. It takes me a half hour each day to do the practice, and its well worth the time.
Some people say that daily practice isn't that important, but I disagree. Daily practice is the application of your spirituality to your life. Shielding is one form of that, but there can be other forms. However when your spiritual isn't practiced diligently, how can you really know it or rely on it? The answer is you can't because its something you aren't applying to your life. Your mouthing the words, making the motions, but its not something you know. That knowing comes through daily work.
As for shielding...any person who chooses to practice magic knows that s/he is inviting a different awareness of the universe that brings with it possible encounters and experiences that can nonetheless be filtered out through shields. I shield so that I can focus on manifesting the experiences that truly speak to the core of my practice as a spiritual and practical application of my experience of the world.
What about you? Do you shield, or not shield? Why or why not?