Witch Skills: Shielding

pbp1Shielding is a pretty essential tool for — well, for witches, but also for anyone else, really. I’ve used shielding effectively against unwanted physical contact as well as unwanted energetic contact.

We’ve all met someone, or know someone in our friends circle, who is a total energy drain. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it, but sometimes — they do. And sometimes, we can’t avoid spending time with them. Shielding can come in handy here.

Or, say you’re on an airplane and some douche won’t stop playing footsie with you. (Yeah, this happened to me.) Put up the right shield, and he’ll quit. He may even ask to change seats.

Someone launches a magical attack at you? Well, you’ll want your shields to be up.

Just have to spend some time with someone who doesn’t drain you, per se, but just…rubs you the wrong way? Pisses you off? Makes you break out your cursing supplies? Shielding will mitigate a lot of that, and prevent you from murdering someone! (Murder is bad, because it lands you in jail, and jail is no fun. I mean. Um. It’s bad because killing people is wrong? Apparently? Note: Morag would never ever condone the murder of another human being, and in fact wishes rainbows and kittens upon all people. — Morag’s Lawyer.)

The key thing to remember about shielding is this: keep it personal. I’m going to outline my own method of shielding, but if you try to duplicate it exactly when that imagery doesn’t work for you? The shield will not be as effective! Choose imagery that means something to you. It needs to be easy to remember and evocative.


Shielding utilizes visualization — yes, that bugbear of many folks. If you need help in this arena, read my guide to visualization. It’ll help you in creating your own shield. (For the description of my shield, I’ll be going off visuals, because that’s what works for me.)

My shielding is four-tiered, and I’ve based it off the four elements: earth, air, fire, water (making me Milla, in the centre, obviously). The first level is air — a cocoon of wind wraps around me. This level still lets in most things — it’s the most permeable of my shields — but it keeps up enough of a barrier that I won’t get smacked by things out of the fracking blue. It’s good for everyday use, when I’m not expecting to need to shield all that much.

The second level is water — slightly more of a barrier, but still permeable. I put this one up on top of the air shield; it is basically a very thick-walled bubble that surrounds my cocoon of wind. It moves in a slow circle around me. This is still an everyday shield, but I reserve it for when I’m going into arenas where I know there’s more of a chance of dealing with yucky energy or yucky people. (Public transit, for example.)

The third level is earth. This is my block-all-things-while-keeping-me-inconspicuous level of shielding. It’s not up all the time; it only comes up on top of my first two levels when I feel I really need it — when I’m under attack. I imagine it as either a box made of bricks incasing me, with the bricks building up quickly, or as a cocoon of earth that’s more like a bee’s or hornet’s nest — depending on how attacked I feel.

The fourth level is for when I need to pull out the big guns. This is the level I used on Footsie McGroper on the airplane. This level is — you guessed it — fire. This is when I throw my need for invisibility out the window, because it’s not working (let’s face it — no matter how many signals you put up that you don’t want to be bothered, lots of folks will still refuse to respect your boundaries), and get mad. My fire shield is rolling flames, all along the outside of my earth-shield — which is usually more bee’s-nest at this point. I can keep the flames to a dull roar, close to myself, or I can lash them out if people are still messing with my personal bubble.

(The airplane story: whenever I travel by plane I often take my shoes off for the flight and stretch out as much as humanly possible, because I’m 5’10” with long legs and those seats are so cramped as to be inhumane. This means, often, my toes are touching the metal bar that marks the front of each seat, below it. On this flight I’d done this and was stretched out in my socks — I was not going over the bar, because I knew that beyond the bar was not my space, it was the space of the person in front of me. Well, said person reached his foot back and started rubbing mine in a really creepy, gross, “ooh let my foot give you a foot rub fashion.” I moved my feet away for a while, but eventually had to stretch out again because I couldn’t stand the pain of being so cramped up. He started rubbing my feet again immediately. I snapped up my air shield. He stopped for a few minutes, and then started again. So I snapped up my water shield. He stopped for a bit longer, but came right back to rubbing my feet. So I put up my earth shield, and he stopped for a long enough time to lull me into a false sense of security. When he started up again, I snapped up my fire shield — with a vengeance. His feet leapt away as if burned, and he left me alone for the rest of the flight.)

Another important thing about shields: you need to be able to bring out the big guns at a moment’s notice. The best way to do this is to associate some sort of trigger with the shields while you’re still practicing. It can be as simple as thinking the phrase “shields up!” or “Engage!”, if you want to get a bit geekier with it. You can also use an action, like snapping your fingers, or tapping your chin three times. If you have a tiered shield system, you might want to have more than one trigger phrase or action. Whatever you choose, keep it simple and easy to remember as your shield-trigger. (I currently just say “Shields!” in my head, which brings up the first three tiers. Then if I need the fire, I can add it.) If you want, you can also have a trigger word for bringing your shields down. Personally I don’t find this necessary.

So, now that you know the basics of shielding, get to designing your own. If the four elements imagery works for you, go ahead and steal my method. If it doesn’t, think about what makes you feel protected, and safe. The shield’s function is to keep you safe. It is a shield. And you don’t have to go all mystical and solemn on this, either — you can go full geek, or fully quirky. Maybe your shield is made of vibranium and is red, white, and blue. Maybe a big wall of shag carpeting is best. Maybe you like the idea of being in a crystal. Or maybe your shields are like Borg shields — constantly adapting to every new threat.

Use visualization (or whatever sense you’re using) to create your shield in your mind’s eye/nose/fingers/tongue/ears. What’s the consistency of your shield? What’s the material it’s made of? What sound does it make — or is it silent? Does it have a smell? What’s the colour of it? What does it feel like? Is it heavy or light? Is it hard, like rock, or bouncy like rubber? Or both?

Spend some time crafting your shield. Make it personal; make it fit you; make it feel safe to you. Then bring it up around you, using visualization. As you do this, think your trigger word. Hold your shield around you for a while — at first you’ll need to concentrate to keep it up, but the more you practice the less you’ll have to concentrate — see how it moves with your body, feel it around you. Experience it with your senses. Then, take it down.

The way your shield comes up and goes down should follow its form. My air shield spirals around me like a wind that lifts at my skirts; my water shield rains down around me; my earth shield comes from the ground up; my fire shield comes from my dragon’s breath. Is your shield more sci-fi? Maybe you have a “button” you press for it to snap up around you. Is it shag carpeting or a warm blanket? It should wrap itself around you. Is it a bubble? Blow it into existence; pop it with your finger to release it.

If you feel your shield is only suitable for everyday use, spend time coming up with a big guns version too. Perhaps the outside of your shag carpeting becomes spiky. Or your bubble creates a bunch of mini-bubbles on its outside, and those mini-bubbles are made of…acid. Or something else that burns. Your big guns shield should very clearly state to whomever is bugging you: fuck. off. 

Play around with creating more than one version of your shield. See what you can come up with. Or, if you feel your shield is fine for all uses, stay with what you’ve got.

Practice bringing up and taking down your shield daily, saying, thinking, or doing your trigger word/phrase/action as you do. Soon it’ll become second nature to you.

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