Reviewed by Entwife
The Witch's Shield: Protection Magick and Psychic Self-Defense
by Christopher Penczak
published 2004 by Llewellyn
Paperback 203 pages
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Right out of the gate, Mr. Penczak presents us with a clear, well organized and complete list of all concerns when pondering the subject of psychic self-defense. Beginning with a look at why one would need what is, essentially, protection magic, Penczak moves us through the concepts of how we draw attention to ourselves, what we may be defending ourselves from and illustrates how in many ways, we are actually our own worst enemies.
Often times, we draw the wrong sort of attention to ourselves, don't listen to our instincts, and second guess ourselves into a corner. Awareness and self-confidence are certainly key in self-defense, psychic or otherwise! However, one can also learn to avoid vulnerable situations before they arise, to heed instinct, and to camouflage ones self below the line of notice. Useful tools in any situation, Penczak reminds us that danger comes in many forms and outlines several specifically for examination throughout the book. In my opinion, these were two of the most important points he makes right up front...
Protection Magic vs. Physical Harm
"(It) doesn't block fists or deflect speeding bullets, but works in a subtle way, intuitively guiding a person out of the path of potential harm."
"Arguments, violence, grief, depression, stress, and illness can leave unbalanced energy in an environment that lingers like dustballs under the bed."
I couldn't agree with Mr. Penczak more! Harmful energy is often the "unconscious remnant from day to day living." These harmful "psychic dust bunnies" rarely get cleaned away as "most people don't know how to clean them up, because they can't see them. So, they often remain for quite awhile." They can also accumulate and find strength in their build-up. No, we aren't talking about 8' sinisterly looming predatory dust bunnies with un-guessed mental powers, red eyes and slavering fangs awaiting us in the dark corners of our lives.... amusing as that notion may be. However, there is no denying that we all go through tough times and prolonged bouts of grief, depression, stress or violence have a direct effect upon ourselves and our environment. Such harmful influences can create situations that cause physical, mental, and emotional discomfort of all sorts.
Worst of all, those who live under such polluting influences get used to it, as if they were simply living in a dirty or cluttered house. The longer this goes on, the more strength these energies will gain over a given area. Those living in such an environment will feel drained, irritable, frustrated, ill and inexplicably nervous whether they are sensitive or not. Which only increases the likelihood for a continued downward trend. For those who are sensitive and lack control over their abilities, this is an assault that leaves you open to the harmful influences of these energies. In extreme cases, even those who are well-developed in their sensitivities and abilities can buckle under such a heavy attack. One of the easiest ways to psychically cleanse ourselves or an area of average pollution is by spreading the smoke (smudging) of an agent used to clear negativity, like Cedar.
Another form of dangerous energies that we would need to defend ourselves from is potentially even more common and thought about even less... harmful judgments. When one actually directs a thought towards another person in a negative or destructive manner, we are, in a very real sense, attacking them. Thought is energy after all and when someone things about you, they can affect your energy, mood, and even strength if you are not centered within your self and abilities. We've probably all heard the homely advice of "let good thoughts be your sword and shield" and "treat others how you want to be treated." This stands out as some of the absolute best advice one can attempt to follow in life. It isn't easy to avoid thinking angry thoughts about someone who has hurt or wronged us. The Witch's Shield can certainly help to educate and arm us from the many baneful influences we are likely to encounter, as well as help us to find ways to channel our angry and wounded thoughts in a better direction.
"Hatred, jealousy, and anger are also forms of attack, even though they are often unintentional." It really is true that you get out of life what you put into it. Cautions like, "judge not lest ye be judged." have been bandied about for centuries, yet most people rarely direct their thoughts and words in a conscious manner during their daily lives. "If you think to yourself that someone will never be successful, never be healthy, find true love, or amount to anything, you are sending out harmful projections." It is distressingly easy to return one destructive emotion for another. For example, when I am dealing with a difficult customer at work in my retail position, it is a definite struggle not to linger on their unpleasant qualities or, worse, ridicule them afterward.
It is so easy to laugh at the folly of others under the cover of humor, in fact, that we often forget that laughing at another's expense is actually a "harmful projection." Even if they invite it by their own actions! Who really wants to be laughed at in life? Here is something to think about, by giving in to these impulses we are actually inviting the same energy into our own lives. So, when we find ourselves in such a situation, it is best to extend the hope that this individual grows out of this behavior, finds balance, and/or learns a better way to live. This will encourage the same learning and growth in our own lives where we need it most. Religions and philosophies around the world have been encouraging us in this direction for time out of mind! It is hardest to apply to those that truly antagonize and set out to hurt us, but the best thing we can do for ourselves is to wish the best for our "enemies". If we encourage them by our hopeful thoughts and compassionate attitudes to become better people, we All benefit!
There is no instant fix, of course, what we are talking about here is, in great part, a mindset, a way of life, a commitment to ones self and world to strive always for awareness, balance and compassion as much as for the ability to protect and defend ones self, loved ones and home. It is this "whole life" approach that most appealed to me personally. This is by no means an easy way to live, but I do feel that it promotes a better environment for all of us. It is well worth our while to look at how we live our day to day lives and ponder what we are actually inviting into our lives. "Just because you have one or more of these symptoms does not guarantee that you are under magickal attack.", Penczak cautions us here, "As previously mentioned, sometimes you are your own worst enemy and need to reflect on that possibility."
The topics covered in The Witch's Shield are clearly stated in the list of contents and include discussions on: symptoms, denial, paranoia, diagnosis, psychic hygiene, examining the spiritual/physical/emotional/mental and soul portions of our bodies, using symbols/stones/herbs for protection, the importance of developing various techniques for grounding, creating boundaries and shields, mental flexibility, compassionate defense, a wide variety of helpmates as well as banishing, bindings and other techniques for riding your life of harmful influences. This is a truly complete work designed to take someone from uninformed accidental life tourist to a compassionate and aware psychic black belt.
This work would be equally useful to novices and established practitioners seeking to further their understanding and skills in the Protection and Defense fields. Clear, engaging, inclusive, sensible, compassionate, and full of personal experiences I found this work both informative and inspiring. An excellent resource book on a rarefied topic. I've added this particular work by an author I was unfamiliar with to my Must Have list and find myself interested in finding more of Mr. Penczak's works.