Of Weights and Measures, and the S Word

May 20, 2012

The History of Astrophysics

I’ve been reading up on the history of astrophysics. Astrophysics is pretty interesting, to me at least, because just 100 years ago it really wasn’t a science. It was just a bunch of guys taking readings and speculating about how the universe worked. Some of that speculation was genius. Some turned out to be completely wrong.

Back then, to be an astrophysicist, you didn’t really need to be a scientist. Some of the pioneers had university degrees and were well learned, but others weren’t. All you really needed to be an astrophysicist was a nice telescope, or you had to work for someone that had one.

To these early pioneers it must have seemed impossible for astrophysics to ever be a real science. We hadn’t yet breached outerspace, and these early astrophysicists were trying to figure out the science behind systems that were sometimes millions of light years away.

But there were some really smart people. They found the right measurements to take, sometimes because they were looking for it, and sometimes by accident. They were able to infer data from those measurements, match up a model of the universe that is consistent with how we understand the natural forces of physics, and by and by astrophysics became a scientific discipline. It’s now a complicated subject with a variety of specialties and various university degrees. Almost all of the great contributions in the field from the current generation have been made by those with a degree in astrophysics or a related field, usually a doctorate degree.

Nearly all sciences seem to have started out this way. They weren’t initially a science, at least not as we know them today. They started out, pretty much, as a sort of philosophy, and it’s no coincidence that the earliest recorded Western scientists were the Greek philosophers. Science always begins with a bunch of guys doing experiments and making observations to help them understand how things work, the practice, and then formulating various hypotheses and theories to put their understanding into words, the theory. As the theory and practice builds, empirical evidence starts top present itself, and these philosophies start drifting more and more into being sciences, until eventually they turn into the current complicated messes requiring special degrees.

The reason why I’m talking about astrophysics is because that early stage it was at 100 years ago, where it wasn’t really a science but more a philosophy, is where I see magic today. Right now we’re a bunch of guys trying to piece together a philosophy that works through personal practice and theory. As practicing magicians, it’s a pretty neat time to be involved with magic, because right now anyone that is practicing magic and contributing to the collective theory may end up being a major contributor to a future branch of science. And I don’t mean a major contributor in the sense of Hawkings, or someone else of Hawkings caliber who maybe isn’t so famous. I mean a contributor at the caliber of Newton or Aristotle.

Weights and Measures

With astrophysics, the transition from philosophy to science happened because of a convergence of different things. Better technology, in terms of telescopes, and a better general understanding of physics were key components, but they weren’t necessary. Even if the improvements on the telescope had stalled at some point, and even if physics were not as well developed, astrophysics may still have made that leap. With every philosophy turned science though there is one key component that is so vital that the field cannot evolve without it, measurement. Every field has been developed into a science only after there is something to measure, a means to measure it, and a unit to express that measurement in.

Once these things are established, we then have some empirical evidence that we can chart and graph and feed into equations. It allows us to develop the field mathematically, to discover previously unknown relationships, to better explore the field through a comparison of what we expect to see and what we actually see, and it also allows for laboratory conditions, independent verification, and repeatable experiments.

So far this lack of measurement has been the biggest stumbling block in the evolution of magic as a scientific field. The advent of a measurement system is the key event that will catapult magic into the realm of science. Anyone wanting to make waves into the study of magic should seriously consider attempting to develop a system of measurement. That will be the single most important contribution to the field in the history of the world.

A lot of people have already realized this, and this has led to two schools of thought on the development of a measurement system, neither of which has shown any progress.

The first school of thought involves measurements of correlation. This is very big among the paranormal investigators/parapsychologists/ghostbusters schools. Basically we take something we can already measure, and see how those measurements vary when taken during a magical working or paranormal event. Things like temperature and EMPs are commonly measured.

So far the best these measurements of correlation have been able to achieve are abnormal measurements. These are measurements that are different than what is expected. However they’re not different in any expected way. Ergo the room doesn’t automatically drop between five and eight degrees when a ghost enters. It doesn’t automatically drop even, some experiments have it increasing in temperature. The data varies so wildly that we can’t peg a difference in measurement to any sort of paranormal activity.

These are really just stabs in the dark. Usually the practitioner isn’t sure exactly what is being measured, or even if, say, a ghost were really in the room, or if the magical operation were successful and not pure hokum. Theories as to how and why a metaphysical event would affect what is being measured are usually purely speculative hypotheses which are rarely predictive when put into practice.

We’re taking measurements, and hoping, like the astrophysicists of yore, that we’ll happen upon a measurement that will finally tie something together, and give us the first step towards empirical evidence and actual science. Unfortunately it’s a crap shoot, and thus far we’ve failed miserably to come up with anything of any use. The technology to take these measurements is getting cheaper, and as more and more magicians start taking measurements, there’s a better chance that someone will stumble upon something and win that lottery. However there’s no guarantee that there’s anything to find, or that we’re taking the right measurements. The continued lack of any success is making me believe that this is most likely a fool’s errand.

The second school of thought is waiting for a new invention that will accurately measure something we couldn’t measure before. Of course the most important thing to measure would be magical energy. Once we can measure energy, assuming even the most common theories are correct, measuring magic will be a cinch.

Unfortunately this will never happen, not like they thing anyways. No one is going to serendipitously figure out a way to measure magical energy. Even if they did accidentally invent a device that could do that, they wouldn’t know what they were measuring, or that they were measuring anything at all.

Imagine that our bodies completely adapted to the temperature of the room, and we had no sense of heat. One day some fellow notices that putting mercury into a glass tube causes it to rise and fall sporadically. Through observation he may be able to determine some things. It’s always lower during the night than during the day. In winter, it’s usually lower, and in summer it’s usually higher. When it rains, it tends to get lower. For every theory he can develop about why the mercury rises, there’s going to be contrary evidence. An unseasonably warm spring may cause the mercury to rise more than it does during the summer, so it’s not activated by the cycle of the seasons. Maybe he notices that it rises a lot when he sticks it in the fire, so he assumes it measures light. But it still goes up in the darkness. In fact, in an enclosed space with no circulation, it may go up more than it does when exposed to the light of the sun or moon. He may notice that if he puts it into food as it cooks, it will tell him when the food is done. But after the food stops cooking, the mercury will go down, even though the food is still cooked.

Without understanding what it is he’s measuring, the thermometer becomes a novelty item, so misunderstood it’s useless for anything other than being a fun toy, or an always mysterious object of scientific inquiry. Coming across an object that can measure energy poses the same difficulties. Even if it does come to fruition, we may never figure out what it is that the object is doing.

The Units Come First

We can’t just go around measuring crap, then making up units. First we have to figure out what we’re measuring, then we make up the units to measure it with. Only after we have all this can we start constructively developing a way to measure it.

We could start with a basic unit of measurement that we’ll call a Crowley (because everyone seems to like Crowley). As with all American units of measurement, we’ll have other units that match up with Crowleys in a manner so convoluted only the initiated can understand the reasoning. So 1 Crowley = 2.5 Grants = 20 Regardies = 1340 Duquettes = 100,000,000,000,000 Levays. Likewise there will be 666 Crowleys in a Super Crowley. The Brits will develop their own unit of measurement, the Waite, with 1 Crowley being equal to 2.145 Kilowaites.

That’s all good and fine, but now that we have our unit of measurement, the Crowley, we need to apply it to something that can be measured.

Measuring Something

We don’t need a measuring device in order to apply our measurement to something. The best part about a Crowley being a made up measurement is that we can say a Crowley equals whatever we want. All we have to do to make a Crowley a valid point of measurement is to apply it to something, then we can use that something as a baseline for measuring other things.

For instance a BTU is equal to the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. It is sometimes equated to the amount of energy released by one match. Sure, comparing it to a match is a rough estimation, and not all matches are the same, but if we could do just that with energy, we’d have a starting point.

Some care has to be taken in choosing what to measure. As I see it, there are three core concepts we need to keep in mind when choosing what to use as the baseline for our measurement system.

First we need to keep the act simple. In fact it should be as simple as we can possibly make it. The more complicated the magical operation becomes, or what we’re trying to do with the magical operation, the more we open ourselves up to unforeseen variables and outside influences.    This will only lead to the wild discrepancies we get when we try to measure temperature changes or EMPs. A simple act makes it easier to achieve laboratory conditions. Even if laboratory conditions aren’t completely met, by keeping the act simple we come closer to achieving laboratory conditions than we otherwise would have, and our approximations, though still approximations, are more exact and fluctuate less widely.

Second we need to do something that is observable and measurable. This allows us to both verify that an observation was successful and correlate our measurement of magical energy to other measurements. This means we can’t do something that is, as of today, unmeasurable, such as raise energy, or make someone fall in love with us, or astrally project. Unfortunately these are the sorts of magic that magicians tend to be good at.

What we need to measure is something like moving a chair half an inch through telekinesis, or causing a candle to spontaneously ignite. These tricks are a bit more difficult to do, and even magicians who have succeeded at them have difficulty reproducing the event with any regularity.

Third we need to stay away from probability magic. Percentage shifts are too difficult to measure when we don’t yet possess a verified method of measuring energy. The issue with percentages is regardless of the percentages, the outcome of a successful operation still can’t be determined because an instance of success or failure has no bearing on the outcome future attempts.

For instance, suppose I have a completely unbiased coin that has a true 50/50 chance of coming up heads and tails. If I flip the coin 100 times, there’s no guarantee that the coin will come up heads 50 times, or even about 50 times. Although unlikely, the coin may never come up heads and always come up tails. Even if I use probability shift magic to make that coin come up heads 99% of the time, out of 100 flips, or even ten million flips, it may still come up tails every single time. Under these circumstances it’s impossible to measure the effects of magical influence versus pure luck (although with ten million flips we could, arguably, establish a case for magical influence, but it would be too physically difficult to continue repeating the feat to prove the likelihood of the argument).

The Problems With Magical Energy

Even once we tackle the normal issues with measurement, energy poses new issues when we try to measure it. For one, at least how we understand it today, not all energy is the same. There exists thousands of identified forms of energy. It’s not unlikely that there are millions or even more forms of energy existing in the universe. Each form of energy has its own peculiarities, and would most likely have to be measured differently.

One of the easiest issues to explain is negative versus positive energies. Negative energies, like fear and rage energy, tend to be more wild and more difficult to control. That means that when using these energies to perform a magical act, more energy is lost, therefore more energy must be expended to do the same act. Much less joy energy is needed to light the candle or move the chair than rage energy, since more of the rage energy will be misdirected and lost by the practitioner.

Another issue deals with higher energy versus lower energy. For the most part, positive energy is higher energy, and negative energy is lower energy. These types of energy behave differently. Lower energy has a dissipating affect. It naturally moves towards the lower planes. The affect, as felt, is that it works itself up, it exerts itself, it totally expands its stored power, and then it fades out. Positive energy, on the other hand, draws more of itself into itself. So when there’s some of it, it tends to snowball. So when rage energy leaves your hand, by the time it reaches the chair to move it, it may have died out, and there’s much less energy acting on the chair. In contrast, once joy energy leaves your hand, it should start drawing more joy energy into it from on high, so a larger amount of energy will actually be acting on the chair by the time it moves it.

However energy doesn’t always behave like this. If you build up enough of a negative energy, and are well enough connected to the lower planes, the energy may start snowballing as if it were positive energy, and may even have an adversarial affect on the snowballing effect of positive energy.

None of this should matter though. Whether or not an energy snowballs, or there’s lost energy, the actual energy needed to perform the act should still be a constant, ergo the same amount of energy is being used. The efficiency of the machine (in this case the practitioner), or the energy itself is inconsequential to the measurement being taken. In practice though, energy sensing and manipulation is entirely subjective, and this subjectiveness needs to be taken into account in order to move all aspects of energy manipulation into an objectively verifiable state.

The third issue deals with the somewhat sentient nature of energy. Different energies are better at different things. We can make an energy do whatever we want it to, but it’s always far easier to get an energy to do what it naturally does. This is why, for instance, having the wood of a wand match its purpose is helpful. By their nature, rage energy is destructful, fear energy scatters and inhibits, joy energy is blissful, and love energy is powerful. Making Joy energy destructive is possible, but it’s far more difficult than when using rage energy for the same task, and more than likely it’s going to require a lot more energy.

Solutions, Sort Of.

These issues with energy measurement can be sidestepped by using a specific type of energy. We set the measurement to a specific type of energy, and then we chart variations between the different types of energy. Again though we reach a few problems.

One is that we don’t have a good system of classifying energy. We’re largely dependent on broad approximations. Calling something joy energy should give a competent magician an idea of what I’m referring to. However the energy that I associate as joy energy may not be the same energy they associate as joy energy. In some instances, they can be very different kinds of energy.

The best classification system magicians have ever come up with is a color based classification system. Exact shades of colors should tie to specific energies. Unfortunately with the limited spectrum seen by most humans, a large number of energies are not represented. Also, in order for the color system to work, the shades need to be exact, otherwise we’re still working with broad approximations. In the past this was impossible, but technology has made accurate recreations possible. Still differences in human vision and lighting conditions may still make these classifications approximations.

Secondly we have to take into account the fact that different people are better equipped to deal with different energies. This again adds an element of subjectivity to any experiment, since the practitioners own efficiencies and preferences need to be taken into account.

Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and Magic

One other method to possibly move magic into the realm of science is by using it to fix a major hole in the modern model of physics. Accordingly there are four known forces in the universe, and possibly other unknown forces. These forces are Electromagnetism, Weak Nuclear Force, Strong Nuclear Force, and Gravity. The first three forces are codified and covered under the theories of quantum physics. Gravity, as of today, has not yet been codified with the other three forces, and instead is covered under the theories of special relativity. This hole is the biggest mystery of modern physics.

What’s clear is, even with special relativity in place, gravity isn’t fully understood. Gravity deals with the fact that, for some reason, objects containing mass tend to be attracted towards each other. For ages magicians have been stating in various ways the law of attraction, simplified as like attracts like. The fact that objects containing mass tend to be attracted towards each other, to me anyways, seems like the law of attraction in action. Like is attracting like.

Magical theory could provide the missing link needed to codify Special Relativity with Quantum Mechanics. It would solve a good deal of modern physics’ issues.

The best part of special relativity and quantum mechanics is that a lot of people have already put a lot of work into figuring those things out. A good portion of it has been proven through experimentation, and there’s a good deal more data that has been inferred through observation. Although there are still missing pieces, a lot of that jigsaw puzzle has already been put together. If magic is fitted into modern physics, it will no doubt offer up, nearly instantly, methods of quantification and wholly new theories based on the current information of the sciences.

The problem is, despite using the law of attraction to explain magic, the law isn’t very well understood. There’s never been a concrete reason given as to how or why like attracts like. It’s not common sense. The universe could have just have easily been built upon the premise that opposites attract, or that like things repel each other. If we could unlock and fully understand the law of attraction, it may unlock some of the mysteries of modern physics, and in doing so elevate magic to a science in its own right.

Secret Information and Oaths of Secrecy

I’m going to touch upon this subject ever so briefly. For the most part, I don’t think it’s relevant to the discussion. It’s also something that needs a much bigger explanation than I can give in a handful of paragraphs. I hope to do a much larger post discussing secret information in the near future.

I will say that science is not a game of secrets. It’s dependent on open information and peer review. Furthermore the sciences thrive on working off of the collective knowledge of the human race. From time to time we’ve found it prudent to keep certain technological advancements under wraps, mainly for the purposes of empowering ourselves over others. However, by and large, science has always been based on the fact that we achieve more by everyone working together with the same base of information.

This has been one of the major obstacles with magic. By not sharing data and results, and not encouraging peer review and dissension, magic has remained a philosophy, and it has yet to reach the potential that physics and chemistry has.

The idea of secrecy is already falling apart, and as a result magic is moving closer to becoming a field of science. The more we move towards becoming a science, the more we’re going to throw away the notion of secrecy, and many other worthless superstitions that plague the practice of magic. The more we eliminate secrecy now, the quicker we’ll come to realize the potential of the field.

Of Shielding and Banishing Rituals – Shields

May 3, 2012

Part 1 – Shields
Part 2 – Banishings


The Method of Shielding

In its most basic form, a shield is a wall of energy which surrounds and follows an individual, and is structured in such a way that it will deflect or stop purely energy based attacks. Some shields may be further developed to stop other kinds of attacks, such as vampiric drains, bindings, or general hexes, although this isn’t true of all shields. The ideal shield would stop all forms of attacks, including physical attacks, although shields of such power are rarely seen.

Shields are usually developed, at least initially, by manipulating the naturally occurring energy in ones aura. An aura usually consists of the energy that is normally shed by a person. This energy is still strongly connected to the individual, it tends to follow the individual around, and a relationship is formed between the energy and the individual where anything that affects one will have an immediate effect on the other. For example, when a person becomes emotional, the energy of their aura will change to match their emotions. This may be partially due to the fact that the person is constantly shedding energy, but it is also due to the fact that the aura energy is linked to the individual, and affected by their condition.

In the same way an attack against an individual’s aura can be felt by the individual.

As time passes energy moves further away from the individual, and the link weakens until it reaches a point where there is no longer a significant connection between the individual and the aura energy. Until the link becomes weak, the energy in a person’s aura can be easily manipulated by a trained practitioner. With Shielding, the basic idea is to make this aura energy more solid so that it becomes a barrier and prevents other things from passing through it.

Shielding and Wicca

Shielding is a very simple technique. It’s not hard to figure out, it’s not hard to do, and we can safely assume that most magicians through out history knew about shielding, could do it, and kept it as a tool in their magical toolbox.

However up until recently there hasn’t been much written about Shielding. Granted shielding is so simple that perhaps the old masters didn’t see much need to discuss it. Still, even within works that deal specifically with magical attacks and defenses, shielding is hardly mentioned.

But in recent times, and rather suddenly, Shielding has become THE magical technique. It’s offered up as the solution to nearly every spiritual or magical problem that exists. Entire books have been written on how to shield. New practitioners are often encouraged to concentrate on learning shielding and developing their shielding abilities. Usually that’s the only form of defense they are taught (other than banishing rituals).

The popularity of Shielding seems to have a direct correlation to the rise of Wicca, and it’s easy to see why. One of the main tenets of Wicca, which has been stressed again and again by practitioners, is harm none. Unfortunately, in matters of self-defense, harm none is one of the worst philosophies for a person to have. Once you’re in a violent situation, the best ways to defend yourself involve harming others, usually harming them a lot. In fact there are very few ways to protect yourself without hurting someone else.

Shielding has become so beloved among Wiccans, and other adherents of the harm none philosophy, because it is a method of defense that doesn’t hurt anyone. However it’s a very poor method of self-defense, one that doesn’t work very well when it’s done to the exclusion of other techniques, and one that if it is done too often will ultimately harm the practitioner. Not to mention that by focusing on shielding, the practitioner is leaving themselves extremely vulnerable to attacks, because they lack the tools to defend themselves when shielding doesn’t work.

Proactive vs Reactive Defenses

There are two different types of defenses against an attack, proactive defenses and reactive defenses.

Proactive defenses are those defenses which always need to be on. In order for these sorts of defenses to be effective, you need to be doing them before you’re attacked, and you can be attacked at any time. Shielding is a proactive defense. If you don’t have your shield up, and you’re attacked, your shield won’t help you. It has to already be up for it to work.

The second type of defense is reactive. A reactive defense is a defense that you only turn on after an opponent has already started an attack. When you move your arm up to block a punch, that’s reactive. When you throw a punch in retaliation, that’s also reactive.

When compared to reactive defenses, proactive defenses are inefficient. A proactive defense has to be on all the time. You need to expend energy to maintain that defense whether you’re being attacked or not. A lot of energy is currently being spent on shields that aren’t doing anything, because the practitioners who use them aren’t, at this moment, being attacked.

In contrast, reactive defenses only require energy be spent on them when a person is being attacked. You don’t spend your life with your arms covering your face. You put your arms up after a punch has been thrown.

Passive Defenses

Shielding is a passive defense. As already discussed, from a harm none perspective, this is shielding’s biggest advantage over a lot of other forms of defense. As a matter of self-defense though, it’s a huge disadvantage.

There is no inherent deterrent to shielding. If someone attacks you, and the shield successfully deflects that attack, nothing negative has happened to the attacker, and there’s no reason for them not to try a different kind of attack, and to keep trying different kinds of attacks until something succeeds.

Your best hopes with a shield are that the attacker will expend so much energy that they need to take a break and rest for a while before they try again, or that they’ll get bored trying to break your shield and move on to something more interesting.

Now imagine if your shield hurt the attacker every time they attacked you, if it caused them to feel pain. There’s now an inherent deterrent to the defense. This won’t make the shield completely unbreakable, or deter those that are absolutely determined to hurt you, but every time the attacker fails it will give them a reason not to attack you again. And if they finally do succeed in breaking the shield, the shield’s counter-attacks will have weakened them, which will make them easier to defeat with other methods.

This is why, with self-defense, it’s best to hurt your opponent. Even if you can prevent them from hurting you right now, you have to give them a reason to stop trying to hurt you, and if that doesn’t work, you have to make it so they can’t try to hurt you anymore.

Shield Vulnerabilities

Shields are not as powerful a defense as some practitioners make them out to be. I’ve seen a lot of shields, but I’ve never seen one that I couldn’t easily break. In fact the strongest proponents of shielding usually have some of the weakest shields.

I’d say at least 95% of all shields have a couple of easily exploited defects. As Spock pointed out of Khan, the practitioners who use these shields tend to think two dimensionally.

It’s common for a practitioner to imagine a shield and think of it as a wall that’s in front of them, and behind them, and wrapped around their sides (some, in fact, just see it as a wall in front of them, leaving their backside wide open). They assume every attack will come towards them in a straight line. They never think that someone will arc the attack over the shield so that it comes at them from overhead.

Some practitioners think of their shields more spherically though. In this instance, the shield is sort of like an egg that comes up off the ground and meets at an apex a little above their head. These sorts of shields protect the magician from having something lobbed over the shield. However these practitioners assume, usually without even realizing that they do it, that the floor will provide them some protection against a magical attack. This would be true of a physical attack, but in all but a few rare instances, this isn’t the case with a magical attack, and these practitioners can be easily reached with a gopher attack which moves underneath the ground and then comes up at their feet.

To make a shield properly, it either has to be a full circle, which extends underneath the ground you’re walking on, or it has to be enclosed around your skin, so that it’s human shaped and covers your entire body.

If you’re reading this right now, you can easily fix your shield so that it doesn’t suffer from these two common defects. Even so, shields are still incredibly easy to break. I literally have hundreds of other methods to go after a shield, and I can say with almost certainty that one will work. If fact I’d wager that most of them would work against your shield.

Broken Shields

One of the biggest issues with a shield is that, in a lot of situations, it’s effective. A lot of weaker spirits, light magical attacks, and weak magicians can be successfully fended off with a shield.

But these aren’t the sort of attacks you should be afraid of. These are the sort of things that, if the shield wasn’t there, probably wouldn’t hurt you all that bad anyways. It might be annoying, even painful, but it isn’t going to kill you, or destroy your life. It’s probably not even something that’s going to take a few weeks to recover from.

The good things about these small attacks is that they give new practitioners some experience with being attacked and fighting back. A practitioner can use these attacks to learn how different attacks feel, to develop various defenses against attacks and actually try them out, and to formulate their own counter-attacks and see how well those counter-attacks work in practice.

Unfortunately when a magician is always shielding, the shield prevents these light attacks from getting through. Often times the magician doesn’t even notice when they are being attacked, and the only type of defense they’re developing is shielding.

Most magicians, if they practice long enough, will eventually come across something which is hostile or malicious and strong enough to break their shield. Once the shield is broken, a magician that hasn’t developed any alternate forms of self-defense against weaker attackers will be left completely defenseless against an attack that can seriously injure or even kill them.

Two Way Street of Shielding

A shield doesn’t just deflect attacks. In fact, a shield doesn’t just deflect. A shield is a barrier. It keeps things out, both good things and bad things. Also anything that flows in one direction must be able to flow in the opposite direction. So for a shield to be effective it not only has to keep things out, it also has to keep things in.

This results in a couple of things. First off, a magician with a shield isn’t going to be able to feel the world outside of his own shield. The energy flowing around him, his empathic abilities, his precognitive abilities, all of that is going to be cut off. To work, all of those things need access to the energy outside of the shield.

Secondly the magician isn’t going to be able to cast spells outward. If, for instance, the magician tried to counter-attack, the shield would prevent the counter-attack from leaving the magician’s little shield bubble, effectively stopping counter-attack in the same manner that it stops attacks from the magician’s opponent.

Some magician’s go to great lengths to work around their own shields. Usually this involves creating some sort of backdoor through which the magician can work. One common trick is to use an energy blend or filter. Basically the magician will create a shield so that certain energies can pass through it while others are deflected. Usually the pass-through energies are ones the magician views as non-violent, passive, or harmless.

In practice though a filter just adds a new vulnerability to the shield. Now an enemy can bypass the shield by keying into an energy that the magician has decided can pass through the shield. Many magicians don’t realize that energies like happiness, tranquility, and love can be turned into devastating attacks (especially in the case of love).

These backdoor techniques also require more complicated shields, which means more energy needs to be expended to maintain them. The more a magician wants to open up his shield, and the more he wants to guard against vulnerabilities, the more complicated the shield needs to be, which ultimately leads to even more vulnerabilities.

Other magicians, meanwhile, have such piss poor shields that they’re able to work through them to some degree without a backdoor.

No matter how well a magician develops their backdoors, and no matter how weak their shield is, they’re still not going to be able to feel energy around them as well as if they didn’t have a shield, and the magic they cast outside of the shield still isn’t going to be as effective as it could be.

This is the best argument I can make against shields. When a person uses a shield, it makes them a weaker magician. Having a shield up will degrades their magical ability. Worse, by degrading their magical ability, the magician won’t be able to practice at full strength, nor will they be able to take advantage of all the opportunities around them to practice their magical skills. Ultimately this leads to a retardation of magical and spiritual growth.

It’s the constant, daily practice of magic that, over a long period of time, builds up strength in a magician. Using a shield once in a while isn’t going to have an effect on ones spiritual growth, in the same way missing a gym session isn’t going to have any noticeable effect on a professional body builder’s physique. Constantly using shields over a long period of time, however, will result in the magician spiritually evolving to only a small fraction of their full potential. Because the effects aren’t immediate and only happen over a long period of time, the affected magician usually won’t even notice the damage being done to their spiritual growth.

When To Use a Shield

Enough about how horrible shields are, there are two instances where shields can be very effective, and in one of those instances a shield is probably going to be the best option.

The first effective form of shielding is an instant shield. An instant shield is a shield that only goes up after the attack has been made, but before it reaches the practitioner. The shield then goes down once the attack is deflected.

Imagine that I throw a psychic fireball at you. Right before the fireball hits you, you put up a shield to deflect the fireball, and then you immediately tear down that shield. This sort of shield requires a lot more practice and ability than a shield that is always up, but it’s far more advantageous.

First off an instant shield is reactive, not proactive. This means it only requires that energy be expended on it when it’s needed. Secondly, because the instant shield only goes up after an attack has been made, the attacker usually won’t have time to try to break the shield. By the time they realize a shield is up, the initial attack will probably have already been deflected. And lastly, unlike normal shielding, this isn’t something that is usually used as an end-all be-all form of self-defense. It’s one of a variety of tools that would need to be used to defend oneself during an attack.

The second time that you would need to use a shield would be during a strong continuous attack. By strong I mean an attack that is powerful enough to seriously harm or kill the magician, in which case the attack can’t simply be toughed out. In fact, during this kind of attack, shielding is really the only good option.

Some very powerful entities have an ability where waves of powerful and aggressive energy flows off of them naturally. It’s not even really an attack, it’s just an aspect of their being. If a magician gets too close to one of these entities, and stays exposed for too long, they could die just by being in proximity.

There are also certain areas, and even realms, that have a powerful drains connected to them. Weaker drains can usually be dealt with without shielding, but it’s much more difficult to do with very strong drains. Sometimes these drains can be so strong they can be fatal, or they can cause rapid decay or accelerated aging. Other times the drains can weaken the magician so much that if the magician is exposed, it can make it so the magician doesn’t have enough energy to do what they need to do. In a draining situation there are often times other options, but sometimes a shield is the best option available.

Better Alternative Strategies To Shielding

A quick overview of a couple of strategies that are better than shielding:

1. A Good Offense

A good offense is by far the best defense you can have. If you cause a malicious entity or magician enough pain through magical attacks, they will probably stop attacking you. If they don’t, eventually your magical attacks will probably kill them, in which case they’ll no longer be attacking you.

It’s also empowering to know that you’ve fought with powerful entities and defeated them. It gives you confidence in your abilities, it enables you to push yourself magically, and it allows you to still feel safe despite all the dangers that exist in the universe.

A lot of the entities out there that attack people unprovoked are relatively weak. Stronger entities, even very evil, violent, and malicious ones, tend to have more important things to be doing than randomly attacking folks. Once you start getting into fights with more and more powerful things, and winning, you start to become so powerful that those weaker entities get scared of you. Suddenly nothing is attacking you, because it’s all either too powerful to care about attacking you or so weak that it’s scared to.

2. Soaking It Up

In Dragonball Goku had a common strategy he employed against a new foe, one that was taught to him by the Turtle Hermit. He stood there and let the guy beat the crap out of him. In this way Goku was able to accurately gauge the ability of his opponent. He was also able to learn about his opponent’s attack. After receiving the attack, he could figure out the best way to counter it, and sometimes could even mimic it afterwards.

Goku’s technique is an excellent strategy. A lot of times the only way to learn an attack is to allow yourself to be hit with it. Once you’ve felt the attack and seen it used against you, you can usually sort out how it was done. Then you can figure out the different ways you can counter it in the future. Often times you’ll also figure out how to do the attack yourself, and it becomes another tool in your self-defense toolbox.

Plus if you want to be a magician, you need to not be such a wuss. Sometimes you’re going to get the crap beat out of you. You need to be able to handle that, and the best way to be able to handle that is through practice.