I’m an empath.
That’s one of those meaningless buzzwords a lot of pagans and newagers toss around these days. It seems every one is an empath. They all know what you’re feeling, you see. They’re sensitive. They can read you. They’re in tune and they know.
I have never once had a so-called empath pick up on when they were annoying me. So much for picking up on my feelings.
Empathy for me was not just being able to pick up on (or guess at) someone else’s feeling. I can feel the feelings, the joys, the pains of other people as if they were my own. Not as in “you’re in pain so I’m in pain, too,” but as in “holy shit I’m so angry for no reason at all I just want to punch something oh, it’s just because that guy I walked by found out his girlfriend was cheating on him.” I directly experience the emotion and even physical pain of others. (I once had track marks manifest on my arm because someone I was close to was using. Scared the hell out of me.)
I don’t really think of it as a “gift” as the newagers like to pretend it is. It’s more like walking in a sandstorm without any skin on. Sensing magical energy becomes problematic for me not because I can’t tune in to it, but because my entire life has been dedicated to building up thick shields to keep everything out, and sometimes I can’t remember how to take them down. Because without that barrier, without that boundary, I will lose myself completely in other people, and have no center from which to define myself.
My teenage years were kind of rough. Walking down the hall at school meant feeling twenty different emotions and not knowing why. Shrinks just told me it was normal teenage hormonal things, and I’d get over it and life would be fine as long as I got my homework done on time. Oddly enough that didn’t help much.
Learning magic helped. It helped me realize what was going on, and to start being able to control it. Realizing that I was capable of being “me” independent of what the people around me were broadcasting was an amazing feeling. I still keep my natural passive shields pretty thick (they’re actually a by product of how I “ground”) and I maintain a pretty strong ego so that I have an anchor point to remember who I am. But I’m better able to drop those barriers when I need to, and there are some cool advantages to being able to read people that deeply.
I do it very rarely. I kind of hate it.
So what does this have to do with psychic vampires?
I’ve heard a theory tossed around that psychic vampires are “broken empaths.” That these people have an empathic connection to others and simply take it too far. The poor dears, they’re really victims here. They’re sensitive, fragile souls who are sharing in an intimate connection with other people and just don’t know how to pull back.
I believe this to be utter bullshit.
I have yet to meet a psychic vampire who is not an insufferable drama queen. I have yet to meet a psychic vampire who is not childish and entitled. I have yet to meet a psychic vampire who does not expect others to take care of every problem that they have. And I have yet to meet a psychic vampire who has any significant consideration for other people. And I realize that is very harsh to say, but it is what I have observed. And I’ve dealt with some pretty hard core psychic vampires.
These are not people who feel what you feel and take some off the top. These are self-absorbed people with boundary issues.
The worst psychic vampire I have encountered is a woman I shall call Willow. She was one of the most manipulative people I have known, and used her “sensitivity” to control a number of groups she was a member of. Her disregard for personal boundaries extended to the psychical, and she would commonly caress, fondle, or grope people in a manner that would have gotten most men arrested. The slightest opposition to her whim would be met with anger and appeals to others to protect her, and calling her out on that would result in tear-filled protestations of persecution and reminders of various anxiety issues.
She loved to do energy work. Any excuse to feel up someone’s aura was okay with her (The group I was in stopped doing such work because of her). She greedily sucked up ambient energy from the room or other people. I still will not allow her to touch me — she once drained me so severely that a quick poke to my back left me instantly sick. And she has described her vision of her astral form, with many tendrils that lovingly caress everyone she meets. Oh, and she once mentioned to someone that he has an ethereal penis, which she presumably also uses to lovingly caress people. She was an auric molester of monstrous proportions.
So why do I say she wasn’t an empath?
As an empath — at least when I open up to it — I feel what someone else is feeling. As my own feelings. If they are angry, I am angry. If they are happy, I am happy. If they are sad, I am sad. And it’s not as if I suddenly become aware they are feeling something and then figure out what it is. I feel it as if it were my own feeling.
So if I am in a room of people, and I am feeling them up physically and astrally, and violating and ignoring all of their personal boundaries, and they all feel violated and disgusted and annoyed and uncomfortable —
I feel that way too.
And I want to withdraw.
And if I am making someone uncomfortable, and I sense it, I stop doing what was making them uncomfortable. I back off.
Willow doesn’t, and neither does any other psychic vampire I’ve dealt with. For supposed empaths, they don’t have much empathy.
But empathy and psychic vampirism are connected.
Shielding is very important to me. They keep the noise out. And because of my empathic sense, I build some elaborate ones sometimes. And I can get through other people’s pretty easily if I want to.
I have a channel in if I can get that empathic connection.
And I’ve seen psychic vampires work the same way. They often have an innate ability to bypass shields.
Empathy and psychic vampirism seems to be defined by an ability to make fast and strong magical connections to things.
In my case, my ability to connect to other people is so strong I feel them as I feel me. In the case of psychic vampires, they connect easily to other people as a source of energy. And I think that this is what psychics do: they have an innate ability to form fast and strong magical connections to events and objects. And this is what mediums (media?) do: they form fast and strong connections to spirits and beings from the other side.
So I don’t see psychic vampires as broken empaths. But I think we’re different types of a certain class of people that for whatever reason has an stronger (or even instinctive) ability to create magical links. And I happen to think that makes magic come a little easier to us. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to go to the dark place of natural-born wizards versus the muggles.)
I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts or observations on this. Have you had experiences with psychic vampires like this? Are you an empath? have you ever thought of your ability in this way? Because it brings up some very interesting implications and possibilities for magical work …