My career with the KU Cauldron started almost a decade ago, now. Back in those days, I thought I was hot shit. I had a lot of raw talent, had seen and done a whole bunch of strange shit, and was generally more well-read than almost anyone there. (The fact that I had mostly read Scott Cunningham, and Amber K, and DJ Conway, and a fuck-ton of weird shit on the internet makes that really fucking sad.)
My main problem with shielding had (and has always) been that I tend to build walls I can’t see out of without taking them down, and this was particularly true then. So, increasingly, I didn’t bother: I was confident in my ability to detect and deal with threats. When I did, though, I was always experimenting with textures and structures.
I tried great spheres of “glass” with windows that could be opened and closed at will; these worked very well, but still kept things out even when I wanted to let them in. I tried textured cloaks to draw or distract attention from myself; these worked fabulously, particularly the latter, which could and often did render me near-invisible. I turned my aura inside-out, squeezed it to a thin plane and turned it “sideways”, which was also produced an effect of near-invisibility—obviously, not literally invisible in either case, but pointedly unnoticed. Most often, though, I would simply draw my aura back, condensing it until it fit well within my body, leaving only a “corona” at the original edge, which I would use as a shield.
It was during this period that I was really able to test my theories of energetic layers or frequencies of reality, slipping in and out of others awareness and around their shields during games of “tag”. I cast circles by spinning webs of light into my Pentagram Ward, the likes of which they had never seen. I was still going through my antagonistic agnostic phase, but I was able to conjure more energy and cast bigger circles by my will alone than they could with elemental and divine invocations.
In general, I postured and strutted about like you’d expect from a dude in his late teens and early twenties who went, basically overnight, from being a social pariah to being someone that others looked up to. I got cocky and arrogant … and increasingly emotionally erratic. I had only had two lovers at that point in my life: the first, a one-night-stand, “left” me for someone that would go on to abuse her; the second was also a singular arrangement, and though we became dear friends, she lived quite a ways away and we would not be lovers again for some years. I was just coming out of the closet as bisexual, and being consistently rejected by everyone I took an interest in. I had more friends and respect than I’d ever had before … but I was constantly thwarted in the one thing I wanted most.
To add injury to insult, these were also the days when the Cauldron’s resident vampire was starting to emerge. In retrospect, I wonder how she contributed to the other problems: if, even when I was shielding, she could pierce and/or exhaust my defenses for longer than I’ve ever realized. I’ve seen the wreckage left by vampire attacks. That period of my life matches the profile.
All this drama culminated about the time that I started experiencing my first migraines. When I recovered from all that madness, I really didn’t have any faith left in personal shields as method of defense, at least not from spiritual threats, and it would be years before I was tuned in enough again that I was even certain that my memories of psychic empathy weren’t the delusions of a lonely youth.