How I Spot Serious Mages

by Mike Sententia on September 13, 2012

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When you meet a new mage, how do you know if they’re serious about magick? You can’t just ask, “Are you a serious mage, or a fluffy one?”

I find it’s useful to mention protection. Even just listing topics: “I do energy healing, manifesting and shielding. What do you do?” Every serious mage I know does some protection, but few fluffy folks do. It’s good for sorting.

Why don’t fluffy folks shield? Well, it’s basically the definition: Being fluffy = Believing that everything is safe and happy and soft and, well, fluffy. After all, if you believe that whatever you expect to happen, will happen, then it makes sense to simply expect spirits to never bother you, rather than learning to shield. I think most people outgrow fluffydom when they realize that approach doesn’t actually work.

Hat tip to Magical Experiments for the recent post on shielding, which made me think of this.

Also, for my long-time readers: I wrote another chapter of the book this morning. It’s good to be back on that project.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ona September 13, 2012 at 6:28 PM

That’s an interesting discussion. Meditation may provide some natural shielding, but meditation can also open you up to being more sensitive. I do still shield myself through deliberate action (as opposed to just relying on natural shielding) even though I’ve been meditating a long time and have long-term protection in place (my HGA, God, various deities and spirits I’m initiated to, etc.). I use a simple visualization of a black egg around me if I’m in a chaotic environment; and I clean myself with holy water or prayer as needed, usually at least one a day. I find being very sensitive to energies means I get exhausted or have sleep disturbances quite easily if I don’t keep things cleaned up. Yes, I could just ignore it or allow it to be, as most of it won’t do any significant harm, but not doing shielding or cleanup is sort of like never taking a shower or washing your hands. Ew.

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Amonjin September 14, 2012 at 8:05 AM

I have to disagree with this sentiment Mike. Yes learning how to shield is important, especially when it comes to your safety, but shieldind isn’t a one way street, meaning that shielding might protect you from the outside world but you also isolate yourself within your protection. Nothing in, nothing out.

Anton LeVay wrote something of interest in the Satanic Bible. I can’t remember it verbatim and will post what he wrote when I get home. The principle was simple though, he said it seems hypocritical to call upon an entity for help yet shield yourself from that same entity. How can you receive guidance if you’re shielding yourself from the source that’s giving you guidance. It’s like asking someone for advice but covering ears with your hands while humming.

Using shielding as a litmus test seems impractical. I often don’t shield myself when working. It limits me in many ways. That isn’t to say I don’t know how to shield or don’t when I feel things have gotten out of hand. I also feel that many accomplished mages don’t shield that often either. I could be wrong.

I’m curious if other readers on this post shield themselves routinely when performing operations. Also have you Mike, or anyone else out there found that your efficacy in an operation increases or decrease after shielding.

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Mike Sententia September 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM

I’m talking about knowing shielding in general, not having your shield up 100% of the time. The general sentiment, though, is: Does the mage you’re talking to consider protection to be an important part of magick? I think it’s a good, quick way to find out about the person you’re talking to.

To answer your question: Communicating through shielding is an advanced technique. So, do I find my results change when I’m shielded? No. But would I expect other mages to find a difference? Yes.

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Ananael Qaa September 14, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Not every serious practitioner “shields” the way Taylor talks about it. There are a lot of different ways to implement magical protection and that’s only one method out of many. Now it certainly is a sign of “fluffiness” if you have no idea how to do it, and you’re correct that any serious practitioner is going to understand and make use of protection magick in some capacity.

I will add, though, that the converse is not always true. I’ve met a number of people in the magical community who I consider pretty unserious but practitioners who constantly shield – they just aren’t very good at it. I actually think the belief that the world is crawling with magical nasties that are constantly out to get you is more a sign of ignorant paranoia than magical experience. If you keep up a solid daily practice regimen you hardly ever are going to run into anything capable of causing you much trouble.

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Mike Sententia September 14, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Good points. I don’t shield the way Taylor talks about it, either :)

And agreed: Someone constantly getting drained by spirits probably isn’t very good. Though I will make an exception for someone learning quickly, where they are exploring new areas of magick and attracting the attention of spirits they’re not quite ready for. I did a fair amount of that in my first decade, and I’ve seen some other eventually-skilled mages do it, too.

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Taylor Ellwood September 17, 2012 at 6:17 PM

And as a point to add to this conversation and other comments made above, I haven’t, in that post, described how I shield in any degree of depth beyond noting that I do. My approach involves getting rid of everything I don’t need and bringing in exactly what I will work with. I get that some people may prefer to be less inclined to do that and as long as they can pull it off all the more power to them.

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Amonjin September 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM

@ Ananael Qaa – Out of curiosity, when do you shield yourself? How does it effect your work when you are shielded?

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Ananael Qaa September 14, 2012 at 1:58 PM

@Amonjin: The short answer is that I don’t. 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. If the overall probability shift you can produce is P(Total), then for a shielded ritual your maximum effect can’t be greater than P(Total) – P(Shield). If your shield isn’t perfectly permeable, then you’re looking at R(Shield), resistance produced by the shield. So then your maximum effect becomes P(Total) – P(Shield) – R(Shield). And the reality is that a magician who is “in shape” magically speaking is rarely going to need the shield. Shields also don’t work well against hoodoo-style magick anchored to a substance like powder or oil that comes into direct contact with your body or clothing.

For protective magick, I use a two-pronged approach. First off, I have anchored servitors (or if you prefer, telesmas – artificial spirits that I’ve deliberately created) that don’t drain my personal power and are charged doing nothing but seeking out, helping me avoid, and neutralizing magical threats. Generally speaking they’re overkill and don’t get activated very often, but I built then back when I was more paranoid than I am now and since they don’t drain my personal power there’s no reason to decommission them. Second of all, I try to maintain a solid daily practice, at minimum the LBRP and LIRH followed by Crowley’s Animadversion to the Aeon and a short HGA invocation. Keeping up that practice makes your body of light so dense and conditioned that, really, pretty much nothing can touch it short of a similarly powered magician or spirit. Such an entity is likely to know how to bring down a simple shield anyway.

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Mike Sententia September 14, 2012 at 2:28 PM

Re: “Such an entity is likely to know how to bring down a simple shield anyway.”

To me, the role of good shielding isn’t to prevent an attack, it’s to slow the attacker down so you notice them before they can damage your mental muscles. But, from reading about your practices, I’m also thinking that the way you describe “conditioning your body of light” is similar to how I close my connections. Maybe something to explore in a future series. Thanks.

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Ananael Qaa September 14, 2012 at 2:04 PM

@Mike: Just to be clear, “fluffies” who I’ve seen shielding constantly are generally not being drained by actual spirits. In my experience usually they’re suffering from some sort of untreated anxiety disorder. If anything is draining them at all, it’s most likely that they’re keeping the shield up all the time!

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Ona September 16, 2012 at 1:16 PM

@Ananael’s last comment points out something useful to consider in magickal attacks, shielding, draining etc. Psychological wounds are a great attractor of crap – whether you prefer to think of it as purely psychological or prefer to think of it as spirits/demons latching on to the weakness, or some combination. So a person who is chronically anxious may or may not find relief from that through a practice like shielding or even exorcism. Such strategies don’t usually address or fix the underlying problem. Therapy, meditation or other “inner work” can help resolve the underlying problem, and shielding or protective work can be a supportive supplement during this process. I wrote a more thorough discussion of this thought here: http://alittledeathblog.com/2012/05/23/the-trouble-with-demons/

Thoughts? Alternative opinions?

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Mike Sententia September 24, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Not exactly a reply, but a semi-reply inspired by your post: http://www.magickofthought.com/2012/09/why-the-illness-as-demon-model-needs-to-die/

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