sphere of art

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.

The value of limitation in magic

The first time I encountered the principle of limitation it was in The Cube of Space by Kevin Townley, where he discussed a little known quabalistic glyph and the principle of limitation as it applied to magical work. Recently, in reading R. J. Stewart's The Sphere of Art 2, he also discusses the role of limitation in magic:

Only when we understand how protected, how beneficially limited we are, in our sacromagical work, can we begin to be truly effective. In the classical magical worldview, such wise limitation is often associated with the North, the cosmic Laws of Being the element of Earth. Such limitations associated with Earth require that to take form we must limit force.

It's a point well made that often isn't as appreciated as it could be. Limitation has value as a principle precisely because the movement from potential into reality involves the focus of force into the creation of form. Magic isn't about tossing fireballs or levitating. It's about the focus of force to create measurable results or changes within a person's life, but even change is limited to some degree by the physicality in which it is expressed in.

The realm of ideas is also the realm of endless possibilities or chaos. Nothing is true and everything is permitted, but without limitation all that exists is endless potential. The change from possibility to reality involves some form of limitation. This is why a magical working is really a descriptor and definer of the possibility being brought into reality. In other words, a magical working in and of itself limits the expression of possibility into specific results. The benefit of this is that you achieve a specific result that can be applied to your life, other people's lives etc. The more improbable your possibility, the harder it is to bring into reality, for the simple fact is that it requires more "energy" to overcome the distinct limitations that we deal with on a practical level. At a certain point the exertion of so much "energy" becomes more and more impractical.

Limitation provides an awareness of boundaries, but also provides the magician something to strive for, in terms of bending the rules. While force must be limited in order to manifest form, drawing on force is necessary to create form. Potential doesn't become reality unless force is applied to potential. The realization of form, or the result, is due to the application of force to potential, shaping it, defining it, limiting it, and thus creating form. Force is needed to create form, but the application of force necessarily is a fixation on a specific form or result.

Limitation, in and of itself, is a form of force, in the sense that the limits we encounter actually serve to create possibilities that we can interact with. Sheer potential, which has no limitation, can't really be worked with, until some form of limitation is imposed on it. A blank sheet of paper is raw potential, but once you draw a line, you've limited the potential and started to create the form. The limitation of potential still creates possibilities, but those possibilities are defined by the limitation, and have a relationship with it. The exploration of that relationship is what allows a magician to discover possibilities and begin to move them from potential into reality via magic.

Book Review: The Scientific American Healthy Aging Brain by Judith Horstman

This was a fascinating book to read because of the information it provides on the brain in general, as well as what occurs as your brain ages. The author provided useful advice for keeping your brain sharp as you age and reducing the risks of Alzheimers and Dementia, as well as explaining what types of activity keep the brain stimulated. What I enjoyed the most was how the information was presented without a lot of technical terms or jargon. Anyone could pick this book up and learn a wealth of information about the brain and how it works as well as how aging effects it.