Sometimes I find myself repeating information to multiple people over a fairly narrow window of time. The end of December and beginning of January have followed that pattern, and this time the subject is shields – how to create them, how to use them, and when to wear them.
One of the challenges many witches and magickal folk face is an abundance of empathy and psychic ability. Those traits are frequently how my students and apprentices end up on this winding Path – most of the dominant belief systems do not teach any useful techniques for managing psychic talent.
Frequently, by the time someone who needs help with shielding and otherwise protecting their energy reaches me, they’ve hit the wall. They’ve shut down entirely, or have changed their lives so that they do not have to interact with large groups of people at all. Or they’re at wit’s end, struggling to manage workplace and home life dynamics without crying, or punching a wall, or just collapsing in a heap at the end of the day.
Signs you should start using shields
- You find yourself taking on the emotions of the people around you
- Certain people, or groups of people, drain your reserves more than others
- You avoid large gatherings of people
- The tiredness we all experience at the end of the day is deeper for you – you experience emotional and psychic exhaustion on a regular basis
- You have a hard time letting go of conversations with others and find yourself repeating those conversations in your head
- You experience low mental and physical energy after interacting with people. Your thoughts are sluggish and you are physically tired
- You find yourself agitated or frustrated with no discernible source for that feeling
Humans are empathetic, psychic critters. Almost all of us have the ability to feel what another person is feeling to some degree. However, as with any trait, the mileage varies. I find psychic ability similar to vision or hearing – it’s a system of input. Sometimes reduced psychic ability is a natural state. Sometimes folks burn out from overuse, similar to destroying one’s hearing by using firearms without ear protection and venting existential rage on stage to the accompaniment of screaming guitars. Not that I know anyone who did that. *cough*
And, of course, there’s another area where shields are incredibly important – psychic/magickal attack. I don’t love the histrionics frequently associated with the concept of psychic attack. Many times, the ill intention directed toward the victim is not conscious. The number of people I know who have been the targets of a deliberate curse or baneful hex is very, very small. MOST of the time, when we’re talking about psychic attack, we’re talking about someone sending generalized bad vibes out of anger/frustration with or hatred/jealousy of the victim. Unfortunately, if you’re doing anything worth doing, somebody will take it the wrong way. This generalized ill will can be pretty potent, though, especially within the magickal community. The longer a practitioner has been practicing, the more skill they have developed with visualization and the creation of energetic constructs. Which means when one of them gets their feathers ruffled, the consequences can really suck even if there’s never a conscious hex sent.
So what’s a witch to do? Shields. Create them, strengthen them, use them.
Within magick, a shield is a protective covering of your aura – the outermost layer of your spiritual and energetic self – that repels outside influence. Shields can be customized to allow certain kinds of input but block others. I recommend people create and maintain a few different shield systems.
Types of Shields
Impermeable: I refer to this one as my “fuck all y’all” shield. Impermeable shields block everything – good intentions and ill – from all beings and spaces. Some people include a bounce-back on their impermeable shields – an automated response to an attempt to influence the wearer. One of my dearest friends wears a Rue shield – Rue frequently causes blistering in anyone who touches it. My own impermeable shield is made of green flame. It doesn’t have a bounce-back, but if someone touches it long enough, they get burned.
Impermeable Shields are a good place to start if you do not have *any* shields you are currently using. They are particularly useful for environments that are overwhelming – shopping centers during the Yule season, toxic working spaces, etc.
Semi-permeable: These shields allow specific types of energy in. They’re targeted for ill-intent but allow psychic input from beings and spaces that are not malevolent. These are useful for shared spaces where you do wish to connect with others. I use semi-permeable shields for leading rituals, presenting workshops and teaching yoga. I need to be able to read the psychic pulse of a room, and feel available to my students. My semi-permeable shield is made of amethyst.
Specific-permeable: This kind of shield is open to specific individuals (rather than types of energy). I find having a specific-permeable shield to be useful since I am frequently in the company of my beloved, or of the Crows, but also in a busy environment. It allows me to choose who I am open to, and who can ‘hear’ me. My specific-permeable shield is made of black labradorite.
Creating a Shield
Begin by choosing what kind of shield you want to make. If you do not currently have any shields at all, I recommend starting with an impermeable shield. Work on one shield at a time and get comfortable raising and lowering that shield before adding a second or third.
Once you have selected the kind of shield you wish to create, choose a visualization for that shield. I suggest selecting one that’s easy to summon. I use green fire and semiprecious stones for mine because I can see those images clearly and easily in my mind’s eye.
Decide how the shield will be powered. All shields (all spells, all energetic structures) require some sort of power source. The stronger the power source, the stronger the shield. Most of us use a little of our own energy (prana, chi, or ki) to set a shield. We feed energy to the shield as we visualize it forming around us. However, for certain kinds of shields (this is the case with my specific-permeable shield and “fuck all y’all” shield), you may want to add a little more juice. I suggest combining raised or leveraged energy with a talisman or other wearable/carryable object.
In magick, the most common ways to raise energy are to chant/sing, dance and perform breathing exercises (*if you are in Blackfeather training, this is a good spot for semana vayu). To create your talisman-anchored shield, raise energy in the way you prefer, then direct it and your shield visualization into your talisman.
When you wear or carry that talisman going forward, the shields attached to it are very strong. However, stored energy does decrease with use. Remember that you will need to periodically recharge the talisman. How often depends on how much use your shields see.
Practice using your shields. Practice raising and lowering your shields. I personally begin my shields below my feet and send them upward, but you may find a different energy spread more useful. Practice with your shields until you can raise them FAST. For me, lowering my shields is always a little bit slower, but I think that’s okay.
Even if you are using a talisman-anchored shield, you still need to ‘turn it on.’ When you hold or wear your talisman, visualize the shield forming. And again, practice until your shields can go up in a matter of seconds.
Use your shields. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the regular quandaries magickal folks find themselves in is that by the time they realize shields are necessary, it’s too late. During this particular time period, when the overriding miasma is very strong, I would argue that shields should be part of your process anytime you leave the house. Getting into the habit of raising your shields is largely a matter of repetition. Set an alarm in your phone to go off a few minutes before you generally leave the house. Or, hook raising your shields to another task you do when you leave the house – when you put on shoes, or when you grab your purse. Put a sticky note or other bangle on the object you’re using as a trigger until raising your shields becomes automatic.
Good luck out there, my darlings. Remember, I’m here if you’re interested in additional help with shielding or modifying the energy in specific spaces.