As a public witch and teacher, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is about psychic attack. Is psychic attack possible? Can people really do curses? Are psychic vampires real? Are there harmful spirits? What can I do to protect myself? The answer is potentially yes to all those questions. Magick is a subtle reality, but a true reality, and just as there are dangers in the objective world, there are dangers in the more subjective psychic realms. Fortunately we are not at the whims of others, and can do something about it. Protection can be much easier than most people think.
Keeping safe on a magical level is much like keeping safe in the physical world. If you follow some basic advice and common sense, you will generally be okay. The best advice anyone can give you is that if you are fulfilling your true purpose in life (what modern magicians call your True Will), listening and following that inner guiding force, then there is little that can impede you from your purpose. All other obstacles, material and psychic, will fall away.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows their life purpose, or how to fulfill it at this time. Until that path becomes more clarified, there are many techniques of protection magick and psychic self-defense that can be made a part of your regular spiritual practice. Soon they become like exercise, taking vitamins or eating a healthy breakfast. They simply become part of your psychic health and maintenance. As we take care of the physical body, we also need to maintain the subtle bodies.
Regular techniques include meditations to clear and strengthen your aura, your first shield of defense from unwanted energies. Amulets based in the sacred geometries of protection can be carried, such as the pentacle necklaces and rings many witches wear both as a sign of their chosen craft, and the inherent power of protection that is infused in the five pointed star. Stones, metals, and herbs can be carried with similar effect.
If one suspects harm, there are methods, from meditation to folk ritual, to determine if there is deliberate or unintentional harm being cast your way and how best to stop it. Psychic defense is much like martial arts. It's not about being bigger or stronger than another, or harming them before they can harm you. The key is to simply stop the exchange. Stop any potential for anyone to be hurt. If you are being psychically "shot" at, you don't shoot back, or even deflect the bullets. Someone can get caught in the crossfire. You simply snatch the bullets from the air, robbing them of momentum and put them down quietly. That's true magick—powerful and compassionate.
People will ask what the sources of psychic or magickal attack are, and even what the differences between the two are. In essence, there is not much difference between the effect of the two, except perhaps in intensity. Many people unintentionally broadcast harmful psychic energy in their thoughts and judgments, totally not realizing or even believing their thoughts can affect the people around them. Some are not healthy on the subtle level, and lack vital energy; so they seek it out from others, becoming overly clingy and needy, producing the much feared psychic vampire syndrome. Most are unaware of these conditions, but some people learn the mechanics of these psychic exchanges, and they use them maliciously.
A magickal attack usually implies one who has an understanding of magick, ritual, and spell casting, and is purposely using it to harm another. Though I would like to think that most practitioners would be smart enough not to do this, knowing their intention will return to harm them as well, but some short-sighted harmful images and witches satisfy their will, desires, and anger regardless of the consequences. Usually they don't last long and are defeated by their own actions, but the basic defense techniques and deeper curse-breaking rituals are more than adequate to protect you and your loved ones.
The Witch's Shield is a manual of protection magick and psychic defense. Any mystics, from witches, ceremonial magicians, shamans, or yogis, focus their attention on the psychic plane. It's as though their flame burns brighter, and in one stage of development, attracts more attention from others, both spiritual observers and human ones. Sometimes this attention is not always well meant. The process of discovering our magical will—finding it through using magick to keep us stable, grounded, and safe regardless of outside attention—is an important step. The shield is not an impenetrable armor cutting us off from the world, but a range of techniques we can carry and share to make our world safer, saner, and more centered.