How To Make A Spirit Shield
Spirit shields were and are treasured warriors’ allies in Native American, Celtic and other cultures, and shared common purposes when it came to spiritual connection. In many Native American traditions, a warrior was provided with a totem to paint or otherwise depict on his shield, which was generally made from leather, after a vision quest. This would represent his quest for the remainder of his life and death, and he carried it into battle for its symbolic and deeply personal protective qualities. The Celtic warrior’s shield was generally an actual battle shield, made of leather-clad wood and metal, and often bore a spiritual totem animal or symbol on its front. In most cases, the shields were buried with warriors when they died.
For sure, these shields served as powerful spiritual partners, warding off the blows of seen and unseen adversaries alike, deflecting other threatening influences and helping the warrior maintain a strong connection with Spirit through right-mindedness, bravery, integrity and service. Perhaps the Native American concept best captured the essence of spirit shields by equating them with spiritual “medicine,” as in the medicine wheel.
Today, spirit shields maintain a prominence for a growing number of people on a spiritual quest. Like the vision quests of old, modern life can seem to be an unending test of one’s ability to survive amid an increasingly troubled world around them. And under such circumstances, it can be become more and more difficult for a seeker to maintain a connection with Spirit. Thus, and as with the warriors of old, many people today find strength and comfort with their own spirit shield.
It’s easy to make a spirit shield, even an elaborate one. But it’s the preparation that is the challenge.
How does one prepare to symbolically represent such a personal journey, while at the same time imbuing it with spiritual medicine and power to call on when needed? Ah, that’s the challenge.
But the fact is, if you wait until you feel completely ready to make a shield, you may be missing the point. It takes a lifetime of preparation! The complexities of modern life can be equated with a daily vision quest where the seeker undergoes stresses and challenges that can take the better part of him or her. And that is one reason why the time to make your shield is now. Find your power and focus as it is now, and imbue into the shield. It will reciprocate as you continue to grow and change. And you can update the shield as you go along. Like life, it continually expresses and creates.
How To Make A Spirit Shield
Shape: Any shape or material will suffice, a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, made from wood, leather, metal, clay/stone, cloth, rope, hemp, even plastic, though the latter is not a personal favorite of mine because it denotes a creation at the hands of profit-driven chemists, rather than being an unrefined natural material provided directly by Mother Earth. Allow Spirit to guide you to the shape and the material that appeals.
Size: You may want to contemplate how and where you wish to place your sacred shield, and allow that to help you determine its eventual size. If you plan to place it on an altar, or in a car, or in your pocket or elsewhere, you can scale the shield to fit. Or make more than one.
Your shield is totally personal, so only you can know what to include in and on it. You may find the following helpful, though, in stimulating your creation.
Four Sacred Directions: In most cultures on Earth, and for sure in all early cultures, a sense of direction was paramount to survival. Long before the invention of GPS, or even the compass, our ancient ancestors could navigate any terrain. And they came to honor and cherish the four main directions and to associate various things with each of those directions. Those same peoples, however, also viewed the middle of the directions as the “sacred center.” Does that represent God, Great Spirit, you? Perhaps what goes into the center of your shield will be a focal point of your spiritual quest.
Totems: These can be symbols of your spiritual helpers, as you perceive them. Angels, animal guides, teachers of any and all kinds. Sacred objects, like rings, buttons, keys, stones, or anything else that you consider to be spiritually important can be included.
I know I already mentioned the importance of preparation, but this time I am referencing the preparation you may want to consider doing once you have accumulated everything you want to include in your shield. This is not a hard and fast procedure, but only a few suggestions on how you may wish to proceed.
Cleansing: First comes the spiritual cleansing of everything intended for use on the shield, including you. A water ceremony is a good start, and I’ve produced a podcast (will open in new window) that provides some ideas on how to do that. Smudging is also an effective means of cleansing away the negative, and of then inviting in the positive. Soulful prayer and asking for your spiritual allies to join with you in empowering the shield (and you) is a next logical step.
Gathering, Assembling: If you have the luxury of time, devoting a full day or more to gathering and assembling your shield will reward you a deepening sense of connection, both to it and to Spirit. There is not a deadline and no “shield police” expecting you to finish this most sacred project, so take all of the time you can.
And when you are finished making the shield, devote sufficient time to placing it. Make up a ceremony meaningful to you in order to honor this new ally into your life.
Indeed, we all face challenges in this world. But if you are reading this article, you are definitely a spiritual seeker and a warrior at heart. You may want to spend some quiet time meditating upon those ancestors whose genes and spirits passed through time to give you birth and the fire of life. And as you contemplate these things, recall too that they often relied on their spirit shields when they faced challenges, or when they sought help with connection to the creator force of the world at the center of all things. For when you get right down to it, the spirit shield represents the heart of all things, and that is, of course, your heart. Use it wisely.
Aho & Namaste,
About the author
As an author, editor, publisher and journalist Bob values freedom, tolerance and open expression. He is now fulfilling a life-long dream of service and teaching through his practice of shamanism and his on-going independent research into comparative spirituality. His impulse for service also extends into the making of sacred drums and other ceremonial items for people on a spiritual path.
His Bio and Mission Statement
What I Do: Complementary & alternative medicine explorer / practitioner / teacher and citizen journalist.
How I Do It: I'm tracking the story of the century--how we may heal ourselves and each other without pharmaceuticals, a failing mainstream healthcare system or the increasingly irrelevant and hypocritical religious institutions in our societies. I certainly don't know all the answers, but it is evident that we must somehow make positive changes amid the assault on our lives from corporate / government oligarchy, media incompetence / fear mongering, and crumbling institutions. I believe the Truth is in your heart, and that positive change begins with its soulful expression in service to others and to All That Is.
Please find out more at my Website http://NaturalShamanDrums.com
References and Further Reading: (All links open in new windows)
http://www.support-native-american-art.com/medicine-shield.html About Native American spirit shields.
http://www.ehow.com/about_5374860_native-american-shield-design.html Some designs of Native American spirit shields.
http://books.google.com/books?id=M1RopeW8XQ4C&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=celtic+spirit+shields&source=bl&ots=SrFdHyXMSD&sig=9aEnN9cGEyQDNlqQ5xDUcYYtiUs&hl=en&ei=F67CTu6XNsHbtwee_o0F&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=celtic spirit shields&f=false Book excerpt about Celtic shields.
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/celtic-symbols-for-strength.html More about Celtic shields.