Heathen’s Journey Podcast Episode 11: On Secrecy, Warding, and Psychic Self Protection

Heathen’s Journey Podcast Episode 11: On Secrecy, Warding, and Psychic Self Protection

This episode covers the necessity for secrecy in witchcraft, some examples of why you might want to keep your magic a secret. This episode also covers some psychic protection basics, as well as instructions on warding your home from negative entities or energies.

You can listen to this episode on anchor.fm at: https://anchor.fm/heathens-journey

I’ve been thinking a lot about secrecy lately, in the occult sense of the word. I’m a fairly open practitioner online, and I love to trade advice on witchcraft and share my methods with others. It’s a huge part of why I love teaching witchcraft. I think we learn so much from each other. And at the same time, the more I teach, the more of my personal craft I keep to myself. 

There is a huge movement to bring witchcraft out of the shadows, to support witches in being as open as they would like to be about their magic. I love this! I think that my spirituality is just as valid as any other spirituality, and I long to be accepted for who I am. Witchcraft and magic are obviously a very important part of my life, and I like being able to share that. I mean, hi, I create a podcast about it and write very openly about my own process. 

However, here’s a reason witches cast in the dark. There’s a reason we gather in secret, or that we work on our own.

One of the things I learned from my conversation with Johannes a couple episodes back is that within the tradition of Trolldom, if you teach a student one of your troll formulas, they are no longer able to use that formula. So people will often talk about the theory of magic, or methods of folk magic, but the specific words used in the spell remain a secret – unless and until the teacher wants to transmit that knowledge to the next generation. 

This was part of thel inspiration behind this episode, and is also the reason that I’ve dug into this topic.

If you didn’t listen to that episode, you might want a primer on what “troll formulas” are, just because they are a big part of the inspiration for this episode. Troll formulas are basically spells, but there is a spokenn component to the spell. It is the words that are said – often whispered in secret – that will activate the spell. 

Another thing that I have talked about with Minta Karlson of Needfire Apothecary is the idea that it takes time for magic to “harden” after it has been cast. In Trolldom, Johannes refers to this as the hardening of the spell. You’re not supposed to talk about the magic for at least a day after it has been cast. This has felt intuitively right for me for a long time, and I will even wait a day after writing things down in my magical record. Some practitioners of trolldom will say that you might even want to wait three days before mentioning or thinking about the magic, just in case. 

This is especially an important distinction in client work. If you are doing magic for someone else, you need to give that magic time to work before you discuss any details of it. 

I always recommend when you do spellwork to double check to see how effective it was. I keep a section of my magical record blank for me to come back and note down any results. If I’m doing really specific spellwork, like for a certain amount of money to make its way to me, then that is easy to track. However, it’s also useful to track any synchronicities in your journal as well. Synchronicities are basically patterns or coincidences that give you an indication of what is happening with your magic. For example, if I’m working with Odin for a specific rite, and the next day I go to the brewery and one of the beers is named “Old One Eye,” that’s a pretty clear synchronicity that he is present in my life. It can be that dramatic or much subtler, depending on the working you performed or the spirits you’re working with. 

When working magic for others, this can look like a quick chat with your client after the working has had time to do its thing, or energetic readings when you speak to them. Sometimes, the client will reach out and tell you that the magic worked, and will share the results with you. However, it is my belief in working magic for other people that it’s important not to tell them what exactly I did for them. I might tell them “yes, I worked some abundance magic for you” or I might talk about the kinds of magic I think will be effective, but unless there is a part of the spellwork that they need to complete on their own, I will not tell them the full steps of the spell. This is a very important energetic boundary to me, and I think it’s important for the client not to know the details.

Part of this is because words and thoughts have power. If I tell a client what I did, and it’s a smaller spell than they were expecting, they might discount the ability of a small spell to get them what they need. Knowing exactly the working I did for them can also break a sort of confidence. It’s a very “don’t look at the man behind the curtain” issue to me. It takes a bit of the glamour out of it, and may make it harder for the client to believe that the magic will work. This can essentially ruin the spell before it has had time to do its work. 

Another reason not to tell clients about spellwork involves being polite with familiar spirits. I have a spirit that I work with, but they are my spirit to work with. They have their own relationships and agendas, though they will help me with my magic. If I were to tell a client “Oh, you don’t need to worry. My familiar is working on it for you.” that is a breach of confidence between myself and the spirit. Obviously, I talk about working with a spirit, but I will never share their name, seal, what kind of work I’m doing with them, or anything else with anyone else unless we are in an established coven. Even then, I would need to consult my familiar before introducing them to anyone else. 

Of course, a lot of this secrecy doesn’t apply to the spells that I write for public consumption.

When I write spells for articles, like through the ritual guides that I write every month for the new and full moons on patreon, I write spells that are intended to be customized by the person doing the working or that are generic enough to be done by many people at once. They might not even be spells – but rather recipes for magical oils, or lists of correspondences, or other work. 

I don’t personally believe, at the time of this recording, that if I share a ritual or spell in my ritual guides that I am no longer able to use that spell or ritual. But I do believe that those spells then will work for anyone who reads them, and I will be careful to customize it when I do it for myself or when I repeat it. This is always a good approach, because it’s important to refresh spells for the working that you are currently doing. They are more likely to work that way. But this is also important because it obscures your magical signature. 

Why would you want to do that?

I don’t care about obscuring my magical signature for healing work. If it is magic that is generally positive, I don’t mind if people trace that back to me somehow. I don’t mind if my friends know that I’ve done some magic to help them feel better, or have prayed that they find a doctor who can help with their healing process. With healing magic, it’s sometimes even helpful when people know that I have cast for them. 

However, if I am doing political magic or baneful magic, it is best that others don’t know that I have done that casting. One of the things that has felt very odd to me in the last four years of revolutionary magic making is how very open so many people are that they’re doing a specific ritual at a specific time. I feel a couple of ways about it. 

First, I think that the Bind Trump rituals that have gone around are designed to be done in large numbers. The magic ricochets off of itself, building in intensity and cementing the intention of those who are doing the casting. I have nothing wrong with designing and sharing spells that are meant to be done by large groups of people, because there is definitely a place for them. 

When witches meet for a large public ritual at a specific time and place, the leaders of that ritual will often get there early to do extra consecration of the ritual space, as well as some grounding and warding. This could look like a lot of things, but it usually looks like casting a protective circle as well as raising a cone of power. The cone of power is basically like a magical amplifier, creating a more successful container for the magic to do its working. When the members of the public show up to the public ritual, they are welcomed into the circle and the warding that has already happened.

However, these parts of the ritual are not a part of the public instructions for the rituals, for reasons I have talked about at length. 

With these large rituals I worry about counter-magic. For example, if a witch who actually *does* support Trump sees all the other witches circulating the time and exact spell instructions for their binding magic, couldn’t the Trump supporting witch interfere? 

We know that there have been other interruptions of large group castings. In February 2017, a bunch of witches led by Michael Hughes showed up outside of Trump tower to cast a binding spell. One Christian mystic showed up, and shouted prayers and held up a mirror to reflect the magic back on the witches. Of course, the leaders of this ritual had likely done protection work ahead of time for the participants, but if there were mirror events across the country, the leaders of those rituals might not have done so. 

Activist magic has also fired up a lot of beginner witches, who may not have a teacher or the experience to understand that they should be doing warding and protecting magic before these kinds of workings. 

There are other examples of protection/healing magic, but can also include “return to sender” aspects that you don’t want to open yourself up to.

In 2018, the Miami Herald reported that a pastor spoke a sermon warning that witches were hexing the president, and called for prayers and counter measures to be taken. Another instance came from this year, earlier in the month. Paula White went viral speaking in tongues and calling in angels to protect Trump.

Of course, evangelicals would not necessarily call speaking in tongues witchcraft. But it is certainly energy work, and I do believe that prayer and other forms of energy work can interfere with witchcraft. I’ll often describe witchcraft as a sort of ritualized prayer anyway. We’re all working to connect with the divine, yes, even people who are filled with hate who do this energy work.

I don’t want to make this episode into an argument about whose magic worked, and whose magic didn’t. That’s not the point, as far as I can see. The point is that when you broadcast the working you are doing, you give people the opportunity to interfere in that working. When people know exactly what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, and the purpose behind your craft, they can interfere. And those interferences might be detrimental to the spellwork, or they might fall flat and the spell prevails. It’s not about personal power. It’s about protecting the potential of your magic from interference, regardless of your power. 

I do magic because I want something to happen. That means that I will do everything in my power to ensure that I have things in order. 

Of course, secrecy can mean a lot of other things. It’s important to have conversations with people you cast with about secrecy, and what it means to them to be secretive about their workings. And for a lot of things – getting together to celebrate holidays or feast days, doing some mutual aid workings, other beneficial magic. Those just feel like a part of life, integrated with my own magic, not separate from it, and they feel much less prone to something going wrong. 

A lot of this episode so far has been about secrecy, and about how we protect the results of our magic. I also think it’s important to provide some options for warding and self protection.

So, basic warding and protecting. Let’s dive right in. 

There are many ways to protect yourself magically, and this is just a podcast episode so it won’t go as in-depth as I would like. There are full books written about protective magic, and I highly recommend that you check them out. 

It will be important for you to get really grounded when you do this work. Tapping in to earth energy, and asking for protection from the earth itself, is essential. There are also a lot of other benefits to grounding and centering that don’t have anything to do with protection. Grounding is one of the most important ways that I manage my anxiety, for example. 

My favorite method of grounding is earthing, if it’s available to you. This is a magical process of putting your feet on the ground and sinking into the earth consciously. Actually making contact with the earth, or the floor, or whatever it is that you’re standing on, and meditating on that for a few seconds can be really helpful. I’ll imagine my scattered energy coming back to me, slowly gathering it from the brink. 

If you can’t go outside, I will imagine myself rooting down into the floor, my energy moving through the house or office or wherever I am, and past the building’s foundation into the earth. 

A lot of protection work is extremely connected to visualization, so it’s important to get to a place where you are able to visualize safety and protection. 

Another really good alignment/grounding exercise is a cord to the earth. Get comfortable in your seat or stand comfortably, and tune in to the earth beneath your feet. This can look like just noticing what it feels like, and perhaps doing an energy scan. Now, you will visualize a cord or roots growing out of the bottom of your feet. It will gently burrow into the earth, moving past the floorboards and foundation of your home, and into the earth below. Imagine that cord reaching all the way to the center of the earth. Imagine that the earth sends a gentle, calm energy up the cord to your center. I also like to add an alignment with the heavens. I raise my arms above my head, and imagine that my fingers lengthen and turn into branches, reaching up towards the heavens. They reach into the clouds, and the clouds and the air will give me a gentle energetic blessing, which goes straight down into my core. 

Other grounding exercises might include a quick body scan. So, starting at your toes and working your way up, you will check in with each part of your body and gradually relax them. This is a great way to check in with where different energy might be impacting your body. 

If you would like to make this kind of body awareness a bigger part of your practice, I recommend checking out some yoga nidra meditations. This is a specific kind of meditation that is meant to help you physically process what you’ve been going through, as well as heal. I love this kind of meditation, and will often do it before bed. 

I’m getting a bit far away from protection practices, so I’ll get myself back on track. 

The first kind of magical shield I learned was what I will call the Bubble Method, for lack of a better term. When I do this, I will imagine that a bubble of bright light is shining out from my core. This light can be any color that feels good to you, though I often imagine a white light. The protective bubble will push out any energy that isn’t yours as it gains strength. When you have covered a good area of your energetic field, imagine a cord coming out from the bottom of your feet. This cord can be any material really. I often imagine that it is a vine or ivy for the protective earth energy they represent. Gradually, the cord will wrap around your body, sealing in the protective energy. When the cord has completely wrapped around your body and energetic field, you know that it’s complete. Now, you can work whatever magic you would like. 

This kind of shielding work can also be done in the morning, before you leave your house or get down to the business of the day. This is especially helpful if you are an empath of psychic and struggle to create healthy energetic boundaries with the people around you. This is something that witches like to refer to as “psychic hygiene.” Just like we need to clean our physical bodies, so too do we need to cleanse our psychic selves. 

Psychic cleanliness might feel a little out of line with the rest of this episode if you’re new to these practices, but I assure you this is an essential aspect of protection. If you take care of your own energetic field, you can more clearly understand when something that isn’t yours has crossed into it. You will have a better internal alarm system if anything does go wrong. 

The best advice that I can give you in terms of psychic cleanliness is to come up with a good routine that works for you, and then to vary the things that you do for psychic cleanliness. 

The thing that has stuck with me most naturally is to practice psychic cleanliness in sync with the moon. The dark moon and new moon are both optimal times to practice psychic cleanliness. I will often take this time to burn incense and waft it through the home, or make offerings to house spirits that protect the home, or do a full house smoke cleansing. I have been working with Tjarved (a resin-filled pine wand) or Juniper. Both of these are bracing, but will help raise the energy. They are also both traditional in Nordic folk magic. 

Another thing that really helps me ground on a weekly basis is a salt bath. Salt is known for its cleansing and protection energy, and epsom salts have the added benefit of helping me with my pain. I will also add some kind of blessed oil, whether that is my Black Tourmaline gemstone essence, a Holy Oil, an Uncrossing Oil, or any other kind of magic. You can also add herbs like Angelica Root or Lavender to the bathwater for additional support. 

If you are in a particularly difficult situation in your day to day life, I would recommend doing the warding visualization and some form of cleansing regularly. The warding can happen in the morning, and the smoke cleansing can happen in the evening when you get home. 

Another simple way of carrying protection with you is to anoint yourself with a protective oil. I will often just use a Holy Oil, but during especially difficult times, I might use an Uncrossing Oil. There are different recipes for magical oils that come from different traditions of magic, so definitely look within your own tradition if you follow a specific tradition.

To use anoint yourself with an oil, think about where you would like the most protection. I will often anoint the bottoms of my feet (to help protect myself on the road), my hands (to protect my work and because they are often the first point of contact between me and the rest of the world), my third eye center, over my heart, and the crown of my head. You can think about other areas that may need protection for specific reasons and anoint those as well (though to be wary of anointing your groin with an oil that might be absorbed by the mucous membrane and cause you some issues.) You may want to speak some words of power as you anoint yourself, such as “I am protected from harm.” This affirmation should be fairly broad and spoken in the present tense.

You can also create a protection talisman to wear close to your skin. I don’t have time in the scope of this podcast episode to talk about talismans, but I might do another episode just on talismans and magical crafting. The basic thing to do in this case is to create some kind of object, and then charge it with protective energy. If you don’t have the time to create an object, you could purchase a stone that is known for protective qualities (obsidian, black onyx, jet, or black tourmaline are all great options), or you can fill a small bag with herbs and use those (I love Angelica Root, Rue, Lavender, Agrimony, and Hawthorn for this). 

If you are looking for a talisman or jewelry to wear that will aid in your protection, you can of course look for jewelry featuring protective stones. There are also several symbols that are known to be protective, and there are many witches who will create beautiful, unique pieces for you. 

Some protective symbols include: Pentacles, Crosses, certain runes, a Hexagram, Thor’s Hammer, and a triple knot or spiral. I would use runes like Algiz, Hagalaz, or Thurisaz for protection, or an Aegishjalmur, a magical stave from Iceland. 

These are all everyday instances of self protection, but there are also rituals that you will want to do in the moment that would help protect your magic and yourself in the spiritual realm. 

We’ll talk about that – and warding your home – after a quick sponsor break. 

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Welcome back!

Let’s start up with home warding. A big part of home warding is in cleansing the home before you set up wards. This is a pretty logical step: you don’t want to trap any bad energy in with you. I usually crack a window when I’m cleansing my home, so that the energy I want to get rid of has a place to go. This is appropriate no matter what method you’re doing for home cleansing, whether that is a floor wash, smoke cleansing, ringing bells, or other methods. 

Think about cleansing your home in much the same way I talked about psychic cleanliness for yourself. I will often pass Juniper or Tjarved smoke over myself, and it will take away the negative energy. Smoke cleansing your home follows the same principle. I also use magical baths often for cleansing myself, and you can do the same with your home. Pour a holy oil or any kind of protection oil in with your mop water when you go to wash your floors. I use a refillable swiffer mop, and will put the cleansing oil or mist right in with the swiffer water. This will also reinforce the cleansing of your home whenever you use the mop for practical cleaning. 

Now, moving on to warding. There are many different ways to ward your home, and it’s up to you to decide what will work best for you. A part of that is figuring out the potential spaces where negative energy can come in. It’s traditional to ward the doorways and windowsills. This can look like a lot of things. For me, it looks like smearing some protective oil or perfume on the windowsills. You could also sprinkle salt, black salt, or any protective herb along your windowsills and in doorways. 

Another way of warding your home goes along with grounding. This is creating a grid of stones around your home. This could be protective crystals (I’ve seen black tourmaline or clear quartz used most often in this instance), or it could just be rocks that are special to you. You will place a stone in the four corners of your home. For additional protection, you can place a stone in all corners of each of your rooms. I have also seen people place stones in every windowsill of the house, which works just as well. 

If you would like to ward your home energetically, one thing that you can do is a sort of energetic bubble, but for your home. This could be stepping out into your yard and walking in a circle around your home, concentrating on protection while you do. You might visualize a wall or protective bubble coming up from the ground and protecting your home from harm.  Usually walking three times around your property, focused again on that protection, is the way to do it.

You can also create a talisman or talismans to ward off bad things, and leave them in the doorways of your home. This should keep things that would harm you at bay, and when you feel the need, you can always re-charge your talisman.

The next section is really just a teaser of a future episode, because magical circles are a very specific kind of magic and honestly, I could go on and on. So magical circles will just have to get their own episode. 

Basically, magical circles are a way of protecting yourself at the same time that they raise energy and assist in the magic you’re working. There are many methods of casting circles, but the basic idea is that you go through several steps to create a balanced ritual space, and by the end of the circle you are in a new, liminal reality. Casting circles will often call on the five elements, or the spirits in charge of those elements. There can also be an aspect of casting circle that helps you ritualistically move into a different plane of reality, where the magic will take place.


“The Witch’s Shield” by Christopher Penczak

“Psychic Self-Defense” by Dion Fortune



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