Shielding ourselves from harmful forces is a common practice, but there can be nasty consequences when it’s done incorrectly. If we are constantly using an energetic gas mask to reduce potential problems, then we are wasting our energies. A better way is to save that gas mask for dire emergencies and invest our time and efforts into healthy self protection techniques, like standing in your own power. Here’s my list of seven risks of shielding and seven practices for effective self protection. Put that gas mask away while you read this.
I’m defining shielding as the whole host of practices characterized by energetic encircling of one’s personal being, property or loved ones. For this article, I’m sticking with self protection strategies and I’ll take on protecting others and our homes some other time.
Although shielding can incorporate many different symbolic energies, I chose the gas mask to illustrate the real dangers of this practice. The gas mask protects us when there are real dangers present, but is completely useless when there isn’t. In fact, it’s a real burden to wear one all the time just in case the highly unlikely event of a poison attack happens. Shielding all the time comes with the same risk. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when we are stuck in a poisonous cloud, just that it’s rare. If you’re often in a toxic wasteland, consider moving to fresher air. Seriously.
There’s no need to continually shield. The world is not out to get us. Maybe 5% of the population has the potential for harming us. If this percentage is higher for you, pay special attention to my point below about reducing risks. Repeat after me: the vast majority of the world is not out to get me. I can definitely be a bit paranoid so I say this to myself as needed. Someone else’s motives are not your business, unless they are (see below.)
Sometimes, this five percent seems to have congregated in our life. We can have dysfunctional families and romantic partners. Let’s not forget coworkers and bosses that are perfectly horrible. Then there are those on the periphery of our world that are real assholes. Did I mention those exes of ours with whom we share children? The best self protection technique I can think of for dealing with these folks usually involves throwing my crystals and stones at them, or at least through the windshield of their brand new sports car (while child support goes unpaid). However, I am trying to be a civilized witch who reigns from personal power while staying out of jail. It’s tough at times. Are you with me?
Add to the five percent the increased risk that those of us who are highly energetic creatures draw unto us those in a great deal of pain and shielding continually starts to seem like a good idea. But, listen to me, this simply isn’t true. Yes, there are times when we need to put that gas mask on, but most of the time we are far better off to breathe in the fresh air. It requires trusting our energetic “noses” to know when there is toxic energy about. There are those who say most people aren’t capable of developing this skill, but I completely disagree. I’ve had it up to my nose with the know-it-alls who claim that you are all too simple to practice sophisticated techniques. Truth is, it’s far more work to shield than to engage in healthy self protection, although it does require some practice and confidence.
There are many ways to engage in healthy (and effective) self protection, including standing in your own power, being present and eliminating risks. I’ll discuss those later, but first the seven dangers of continual shielding.
The Dangers of Shielding
There are certainly times when shielding is a necessity. Overall, it’s not. Here are some of the major risks of continual shielding. Please let me know your thoughts and ones I’ve missed.
#1. It’s Exhausting
Honestly, having to always feel on the defensive is super tiring. It will drain you dry. Carrying a purse full of rocks with you at all times is a heavy burden. Casting your bubble constantly will wear you down. This is especially important if you already have other energy sucks, like chronic illness or a difficult relationship. I’m not saying that crystals don’t help or that there aren’t times when using techniques aren’t required, but get to the place in your abilities where you can relax most of the time.
If you are highly energetically sensitive or have social anxiety, it may be necessary for you to use self protection when in groups or strange situations. I’m telling you that faulty shielding is only going to increase your risk, partly because you’ll be too exhausted to actually be protected. See “Your Secret Sword” below.
#2. Not Actually Being Protected
Constantly thinking about shielding is not only tiring, but we’re likely to miss the times when we actually need to do it. It’s like wearing the gas mask with the vents open but not paying attention for the presence of actual poison. I hope this makes sense. Intentional living is the best remedy for this risk, see below.
#3. Giving Away Your Power
Don’t let anyone who’s done nothing tell you how to do anything. More importantly, don’t hand them your power. Shielding is a defensive strategy where you are pouring all your energy into blocking the energy of others. There’s an inherent idea that these “others” are more mighty than you. Usually poisonous people aren’t mighty at all. Nope. We willingly give them our power by shielding. They suck up all that energy and use it to their benefit. I can’t be bothered to help these losers anymore. Honestly, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way by investing too much of myself in helping those who had no desire to better their circumstances themselves. Of course, this doesn’t apply to people going through difficult times or experiencing health problems. Even with them, watch yourself.
#4. Missing Out On The Richness of Social Interaction
For every negative social interaction, there are 99 that are beneficial in some way. Trust me. If yours aren’t, then get different people to socialize with. Being open to new experiences and learning from others, especially those who are mired in their own miasma, is the richness of life. If you think it’s not, then it’s time for a change of attitude. As witches, we are supposed to be expert energy workers, right? Take someone else’s toxicity and transform it for your own benefit. Sometimes we choose to let them poison us and there are other times we when think we are too weak to tolerate the stink of someone’s bullshit. You are so much stronger than you think. Fierce love is the answer.
#5. Relying On Energetic Objects To Do Your Work
I get all twitchy when I read articles about shielding that are all about defensive strategies rather than utilizing your power to manage risks. Completely dangerous and irresponsible of writers. Yes, crystals will help. But, listen to me on this, stones, botanicals and other energetic objects support your energetic work (magic(k) if you prefer). They do not do it for you. Do NOT give your power to others and never think that any magical object is more powerful than you. They are only as powerful as the practitioner using them. I’ve listed claiming your own power as the #1 practice of effective self promotion further in the article.
#6. Being a Lazy Witch
I recently wrote in my 13 Types of Toxic Witches article to “shield. shield. shield” when it comes to certain personalities. While this is true, especially for the Zombie Witch typology that I was referring to, I felt like I should have said more so I am remedying this through this article. Zombie Witches are always Lazy Witches, although Lazy Witches aren’t always Zombies. Got it? I should have included The Lazy Witch as a poisonous category, but instead I cautioned against being one in “Witches Behaving Badly.”Putting rocks in your pockets and thinking you’re protected is dangerous. Don’t be a lazy witch.
#7. Not Thinking About Where The Crappy Energy Ends Up
So here we are all shielded from the bullshit of the world. All that crappy energy bouncing off of us like rubber balls. Do you ever stop to consider where it goes? Wouldn’t transforming it be a better approach? What about reversing it back on the poisonous person?
Call it toxic sludge, miasma or even black bile, unless we deal with it, it will still be out there. In my experience, those shield get dropped sometime and often that garbage is lingering about waiting to attach to our delicious witchy energy signatures. Toxic energy is drawn to us like moths to the proverbial flame. If you don’t deal with it, it will always catch up to you.
Healthy Self Protection Strategies
The dangers of shielding are very real, but knowing the risks without giving you some ways to practice healthy (and effective) self protection would be downright irresponsible of me.
Before getting into the list, I want to say that self protection strategies is a bit of a misnomer. The best defense is always a great offense. Self protection is all about shifting the focus from what others have done, or could potentially do to you, to being about what you do. It’s about knowing you have the gas mask available in the rare event that you need it, but not relying on it. You don’t want to deny yourself of your own strength or the wonderful experiences the world has to offer.
#1. Call All Your Power Back To You
You really are so much stronger than you realize. Consider all the times you solved your own problems, stood up for what you believed in or walked away from a toxic nightmare. That was you. This energy is always available for you to use. Call it all back to you. Stop giving it to people who don’t deserve it. Make a list of all the times you stood in your own power and carry that in your pocket, along with a chunk of amethyst to activate the list.
Part of standing in your own power is learning to mind your own energetic business. They really aren’t your monkeys and it’s not your circus. If someone needs your help, let them ask. Standing in your own power requires letting others do the same.
#2. Intentional Living
If we’re wandering through life without a plan, then we are going to get into poisonous situations. Stop all that shielding, or at least do so long enough to develop a vision for your life. Figure out who is part of your vision, either eliminate toxic people or discuss things with them. Let them know that you have an action plan for your life that doesn’t permit others to treat you a certain way. Perhaps they will actually change. Sometimes we don’t know that we are poisoning others. A person who isn’t actually toxic will appreciate the wake up call. If they don’t, consider cutting them out of your life. Yes, that can be enormously difficult, but it’s always far less exhausting than perpetual shielding.
#3. Fierce Love: Know And Enforce Your Boundaries
That last bit about speaking your truth to someone who is toxic is an example of fierce love. This is the energy of compassion tempered with not putting up with bullshit. Fierce love naturally flows when we know and enforce our boundaries. Read more about ways to practice healthy boundaries in my previous article in this series on “better living through witchcraft.”
Another part of boundaries enforcement is refusing to take things personally because you aren’t dipping into other people’s minds or energy fields. What other people think of you is not your concern. Healthy boundaries help you realize this. There are times when we do need to be aware of other’s motives. Practice keen detached observation to develop your ability to discern truth without getting butt hurt.
#4. Live In The Present
When we are in the moment, we choose to be present. Our full attention is intentional, on our lives, boundaries, the day ahead and the situation at hand. If we are constantly looking back at the past, then all the shielding in the world won’t keep us from getting poisoned. Being present permits us to not only observe and learn, but stand in our power more effectively. Do what you need to do to release the past. Techniques like cord cutting are very helpful.
Alternatively, we can get too forward thinking. Always waiting for that other shoe to drop. Trust that you can smell the poison, put on your mask and handle the situation.
#5. Ground, Center and Balance
There’s a lot of chatter about grounding, but it’s complementary practices of centering and balancing often get overlooked. I should write an entire article on the three for everyone who doesn’t take courses from me. Until that happens, here’s a bit about the Big Three Power Practices. Grounding involves connecting to the earth beneath you. Boost this by envisioning toxicity sliding off you into the earth where it is transformed into beneficial energy. You’re like a giant nonstick skillet. Not because you’re blocking others, but because you are so damn powerful.
Centering is about physical power. Your solar plexus, heart center if you prefer, is the place from which centering flows. You are connected above and below, within and without. No one can mess with you when you are centered.
Balancing is a bit more tricky to learn. It’s also connected to our personal boundaries because we all have differing balance needs. Some of us are more Higher Self or thought-based while others are mostly emotional energy. Knowing your spiritual chemistry will help you determine what balance is for you.
#6. Eliminating Risks
I wrote earlier about toxic relationships, but there are other sorts of risks that we can reduce or even eradicate. Social situations, particularly large crowds, are a huge problem for many. My oldest son, the professional rock guitarist, finds nonperforming interpersonal interactions with new people quite demanding. It would be easy for him to avoid them, but he persists in challenging himself in a variety of ways. He works to eliminate the risks by choosing where he goes, being well prepared and carrying his secret sword.
#7. Your Secret Sword
If you take nothing else away from this article except this last point, then you’ll be on the path of healthy self protection. Here it is: a shield without a sword never won a battle. There are poisonous people out there. Pull down that gas mask and whip out your secret sword. This is a technique that is an integral part of my personal practice and that of both my boys.
Envision a beautiful, incredibly strong sword that grows out of your spine. It is the extension of all your powers – abilities, experiences and characteristics. In normal situations, it is hidden down the back of your shirt. Held in place by your fabulous bra if you wear one. When you perceive a threat, activate your sword. Don’t be afraid to use it. That’s what standing in your own power truly means. And it’s how to practice healthy self protection.
I wish you all the best on your witch’s journey. Claim that power. Don’t pull down that mask unless necessary. Wield your secret sword.
Yours in Witchery,
Further reading: Christopher Penczak’s The Witch’s Shield: Protection Magick and Psychic Self Defense
In The Witches’ Realm, we discuss effective self protection and other ways to achieve better living through witchcraft. Apply to join here.
Connect with me on Facebook