The Need for Protection

Pagan Basics: Shielding. Why, How, and What From?

You wouldn’t go out in the snow (or sun, or rain) without the appropriate clothing to protect you. Nor tap into a live current, or handle a blazing fire. So why should working with any other sort of energy be different?

I’ve found a lot of practising Pagans tend to be rather blase about shielding. It’s like stretching before a run – those who know, do. Those who don’t… hurt afterwards (and accomplish less).

Why do we assume ‘oh, it’ll be all right’, and then skip it to get to the ‘good’ bits? Because, quite honestly, that assumption stems from the vague idea that what you’re doing isn’t actually that important. A version of ‘it’s not really real, so it doesn’t matter.’

If that’s your point of view, stop with this path. It’s not for you. It requires someone who’s willing to put in the work at every stage, from the foundation upwards.

You’re here, so I’m presuming you’ve some knowledge of working with energy. Whether consciously in ritual or unconsciously in your daily life… because, after all, you have. From the nastiness of a crowded shoppingย  centre in the January sales, to the peace of a hilltop at sunset, you will have experienced the feeling of different energies impacting on your own. It’s just a matter of working in relationship to that.

This is a key skill within Druidry. If you follow this road, you will find yourself actively noticing those energies daily as you learn more of your connection to the world around. This isn’t just for formal ritual.

One of the first things that Paganism 101 teaches us is how to Cast a Circle. Why? Circles are cast to protect, from within and without, both individual or group. But (contrary to what the Ceremonial Magicians will tell you) your own personal circle can be any shape. It’s yours, after all. It’s a matter of focusing on your own energy to affect that around – in other words, magic. Or Quantum Physics, depending on your point of view.

And it’s not necessarily all about the correctly coloured candles in the correct places at the correct times. It’s about you, now, this moment, being able to look after yourself. A little like Pagan Self-Defence. Practice, and after a while, it becomes instinctive.

I’ve found a variety of ways of creating personal shields. From the slightly ritualised, based on the ‘Spoils of Annwn‘, to a quick visualisation from ‘Stargate‘, I’ve worked with ideas suggested to me, translated into a way that works for me. When I first started out, I was protecting myself from something both very physical and also intangibly threatening – so I envisaged myself armed with sword and shield. At other times, I surrounded myself with a net of beautifully crocheted thread, that catches those energies that may harm.

But even now, I can forget… and soon feel the overwhelming awareness of the world taking hold and attempting to drag me under. This isn’t necessarily negative or ‘evil’ – it’s just the sheer amount of energy that everything in the world gives off, again consciously or unconsciously.

Consider that crowded shopping centre. The screaming child, the harrassed mother, the worried unemployed person, the pain of the old lady in the wheelchair, the tiredness of the staff. Multiplied by the number of people. Every curse is a physical blow, every internal sob felt in your own chest. And there’s no natural light, the very air is recycled, the ground under your feet concrete above a car park. Your roots can’t stretch that far, the natural world seems so far away…

It’s not about the formal fighting of mystical demons. It’s about using your own focus to protect yourself daily, when such onslaughts occur. They’re not necessarily directed at you (although they certainly can be), but you need to respond.

Yes, it’s difficult. This is one of those tasks that is constant ‘practise’, every time – because every time, it’s a subtly different situation. You still have to deal with it.

One of the quickest ways to protect yourself is to find a quiet place as best you can (a handy bench, a corner booth in a coffee shop, or even the stall of a public lavatory). Centre yourself. Root down, ground if you can. If you’re in plain sight, don’t worry – everyone else will pass by, thinking you’re just having a rest. Close your eyes a little if it helps and is safe to do so.

Imagine that circle surrounding you, coming from within to surround you. Visualise it however you prefer – a bubble, a web, a ball of light, even a circle of thorns. Feel the space inside as your own, protected from the outside hubbub. Breath. Use a talisman if you find it helps: a necklace pendant, telephone charm or tiny medicine pouch.

You aren’t disconnecting from the world. You’re standing in your own energy, within it. Know your intention, what you mean that ‘safe’ energy to be, what its’ purpose is. Let theย  protective layer settle around you. Then stand up and go about your business. Finish your tasks, and when you’re in a place of safety, let yourself breath out… and the shields can relax. Ground once again, remember your connection. Then – and this is most important – find some solid food.

It’s important not to cut yourself off completely. Investing too much energy into those protections for too long can go too far, blocking out the world, so that you’re detached and unable to understand or truly see what’s going on around. You’re still part of the life on this planet – total disconnection is harmful in itself (worse, in its way, than returning to the ‘sleep of ignorance’ that most people are content to stay trapped within).

Working with your own energy (as well as that around you) is part of your Pagan practice. That’s another topic in itself, but the key word here really is ‘practice’. Learn your own power and stand in it. If you lose that connection, work to regain it. Exercise, gain strength in your energy.

It’s a constant task. But if we are to live in conscious relationship to the world around, we need to be able to recognise and ride the tides – and know how to help others when they start to sink.


Note: This is a very large and complex topic – if you require any further information, please feel free to message me privately.



  1. Personally, I virtually never do any self-protection unless I perceive a direct assault (in which case the golden sickle gets used to cut more than mistletoe), but it isn’t so much from a mindset of “this isn’t real”; I just haven’t had that many instances of being negatively influenced.

    I’d be interested in hearing how you would address self-protection in a public rite, with many persons present, both enacting and just observing the ritual, as this is a time when, attention being directed elsewhere, things can get messy.

    • druidcat said

      Thank you for this – an intriguing comment! I think it may result in another blog post to go into things a little more deeply…

  2. Naomi said

    This is really useful – thank you. I’ve been trying to use shielding techniques for a long time and getting nowhere. (I’m on the autistic spectrum and I believe that I allow a lot of energy in without meaning to.) I can cast a pretty good circle, but can’t do much visualizing of shields for meditation/journeying or walking around in life. Would love more info or advice about it. Maybe at the next workshop? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • druidcat said

      I’m sure we can manage that, Naomi! ๐Ÿ™‚ One trick is to try grounding, and then maintaining your roots while moving about. You can then cast a small circle around yourself… and move about likewise. Try to get a feel for your own energy too, and you’ll grow more aware of possible intrusions. As I said, it’s a complicated topic! I’ve no doubt that I’ll be dealing with it some more on here too.

      • Naomi said

        Those are really good ideas – I’ll try both and see how I do ๐Ÿ™‚ Will let you know!

  3. The River Witch said

    I tend to shield unconsciously, and by that I mean that I don’t strengthen my shields consciously unless in ritual, but still appear ‘closed for business’ to many and don’t tend to let energy in easily. I need to work at becoming more conscious of it so that I become attuned to which situations require more effort, and which ones I need to relax in more. Great post ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Dane said

    in response to Solitary Druids post; I have found a number of times that if I don’t protect myself at Public Ritual I end up with a massive headache and feeling nauseous.
    I generaly do this by only allowing a small amount of my energy to connect to the Circle and hardening my own energy field to stop too much energy flowing back to me.

    on the point of walking in shopping centres I must admit to ‘playing’ with my ‘Field’ and expanding it, making it spiky to push people away from me or contracting it and making it ‘soft and fluffy’ for those I pass who are attractive ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Many Martial Artists can do this as well, it’s good practice and can be quite fun watching people suddenly veer away from you before they even get to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    But, even within the play is a serious note, it enables us to learn to control our energy levels and shields to protect our Nemeton or Core energy that is ‘Us’ and can be seriously harmed by attack or feedback from other peoples energy.

    Sorry I’m rather teaching to suck eggs at this point ๐Ÿ™‚

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