Some further Thoughts on Shielding

Recently Mike made a post on his blog mentioning my post on shields, and there was some interesting commentary that occurred as a result about whether shields were really effective or not. Several people argued that while shielding protected you it also didn't allow you to interact with the world as effectively. Ananeal argued that:

Working shielded makes your magick less effective in terms of influencing material events. Even if you put up a shield that’s perfectly permeable to your own magical workings, which takes some skill, it still takes some of your energy/power/strength/whatever you want to call it just to maintain the shield.

He then proceeded to mention that he'd developed specific entities to take care of magical protection and that he also did a daily regimen of practices. The points that he and the other commenters made were valid ones, but I've never had any of the troubles with shielding that they suggest occur.

Like Ananael I do a daily practice. It consists of Tumo the raising of psychic heat, which I generally use to "wake up" my internal energy, and a combination of Taoist Water Breathing used to dissolve any internal blockages and the Zeroing technique that William Gray writes about in Magical Ritual Methods. There is a derivation of that technique developed by R. J. Stewart called the Sphere of Art. The zeroing technique involves creating a space of Zero Time, Zero Space, and Zero Event, essentially a space/time where nothing exists save the practitioner AND what the practitioner chooses to bring into that space/time. I use this technique with my magical work in general and it can, for all intents and purposes be considered a "shielding" technique.

Now when this technique is used it does serve to create a very specific space/time that excludes anything not brought into it by the practitioner. However the beauty of it is that you can bring into it exactly what you need to work with, be it an entity, possibility or something else. Additionally, what is also significant is that when you wrap up the magical working, and return that space/time to regular space/time, you merge it with and embody it into reality, making a seamless transition where there is no resistance to the possibility being manifested. That problem mentioned in the comments about not connecting to the world or being able to effect material events? Not a problem with this technique.You draw in the event you want to affect, as well as the possibility you want to use to solve the problem, work the magic and mesh it into your own identity, and then release the zeroing space/time, or sphere of art and allow yourself and the magic to fully reintegrate into the world around you, embodying a new reality in the process.

Back when I did shielding in other ways, I also had my shields set up so that I didn't have to maintain them. I let the influences, people, etc that were trying to interfere do the maintaining for me. Always worked like a charm and can be used with wards as well, when shielding a place. The shields only activate when something directs energy that would be harmful or distracting to the magician. And those shields are fed by the very energy, influence, etc being directed against them. Simple, effective, no draining of your energy required.

And my point in mentioning all this is simply that if you know what you're doing, a given act such as shielding shouldn't have any of the problems that the people mentioned in the comments. Defining a technique by its limitations means you accept those limitations and don't question them. While you should know what the limitations of a given technique are, define it in terms of what it could do and then experiment! Don't settle for explanations offered by others about the limitations and problems of a given technique. There's always a way to solve the problem or limitation of a given technique if you are willing to experiment. I only encountered those problems when I first started practicing magic and when I encountered them, I got curious and decided to see what I could to fine tune my shields and avoid the issues they mentioned in the comments. It took a bit of a work, but its nothing that anyone couldn't discover, provided they are curious enough and willing to experiment with a given technique. Why settle for allowing a technique to limit you? My answer: Don't settle...experiment.

Some thoughts on Magical protection

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?