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I have deleted this post pending further thoughts on the subject.  I’ll post it again soon.

Winter Solstice   Leave a comment

6:38 tonight, at least in our time zone, is officially the Winter Solstice.  It is said that the beginning of Winter is the time when the veil between the spirit world and the human is at its thinnest.  It is the time of the shortest day and the longest night.   For those of us who honor the Solstice, it is a time of reflection, a time to look back at what we did not accomplish during our year’s journey, and a time of looking forward to the New Year, to the return of longer days.   This year is especially powerful, as the Solstice occurs during a full moon, as well as on the same day as a full moon lunar eclipse.  The moon is a red moon, and the Winter Solstice also occurs this year during the Geminid meteor shower.  That’s a LOT of energy.

It is no secret—indeed, it is a well known fact– that Christmas is not the time of the birth of the Jesus of the Christian Bible.  Cultures around the world for millennia have celebrated the return of the “sun”.  The Romans celebrated Saturnalia, the Persians the birth of the Sun God, Mithra.  In 274 AD, the Roman emperor Valerian declared December 25th to be the birthday of Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun.  Greeks celebrated Dionysus, who was born in the winter, and sacrificed in the summer during Lenaea.   The Egyptians celebrated the death of Osiris during mid-winter (around January 6th on today’s calendar), as well as his resurrection in the Spring. Ancient customs to celebrate the return of the sun were practiced by cultures as diverse as those in China and East Asia (Dong Zhi), by the Incans (Inti Raymi), and by North American indigenous cultures. A brief discussion of the various ways in which the return of the sun was, and is, celebrated can be found here:  http://www.religioustolerance.org/winter_solstice.htm

I don’t go all out in celebrating the time of the Winter Solstice, although I know that many people have some wonderful customs and some beautiful ceremonies.  I’m pretty much alone up here, especially in how I do things within a spiritual context.  So, instead, I use this time to quietly review the past year, and ask myself, “What behaviors do I need to rid myself of in order to grow?”;  “What do I need to do in order to grow?”   I use this time to symbolically plant the seeds of my dreams and goals, as a time to look within myself to find the crone-wisdom that will see me through the coming year, into the springtime, into the light, where those seeds can grow and flourish.  It is a time of quiet, a period of darkness and reflection with the promise of the sun to come.

 

Feeding the Beast   Leave a comment

The malls are full.  Internet deals are flying out the window (or so it seems).  WalMart is such a mess; I’m not even going to attempt to shop for anything, including toilet paper, there.  People, it seems, are spending.  Maybe not as much as in years past, but spending nonetheless.  Economists are hoping the spending trend will continue.  While this is great news for struggling business owners and employees, and certainly good news for the economy, I have some mixed feelings.

I know how capitalism works, and—as far as a system goes—it is probably the best way to encourage new inventions, entrepreneurism, and individualism.   Although it is the perfect embodiment of self-interest, it is, justifiably, generally considered to be the only economic system compatible with freedom–especially if one considers the meaning of freedom, where objective laws rule, not men.  The basic purpose of our Constitution is not to protect the government, but to protect the individual, and capitalism fits in nicely with that purpose.  All in all, most Americans are happy with the system.  And, many other countries envy (and hate) us FOR that system.  Of course, just like with other defined economic systems, or political systems, “pure” capitalism, like “pure” socialism, just does not exist today.  There is government intervention in our “capitalist” system, right alongside private enterprise—however, as was  frighteningly illustrated with this last recession, our form of capitalism–as does “pure” capitalism– tends to concentrate power in the hands of the wealthy, whose aim, basically, is to maximize profits.  But, by and large, although capitalism has its critics and does contribute to the gap between the haves and the have-nots,  the majority of people in this country both expect and desire the benefits of the capitalist system as it exists today, and would not trade it for any other.  Benefits such as being able to shop in a multitude of businesses for a multitude of items at competitive prices.  The benefits of choice, both of buying and selling.  The promise of wealth.  The dream of owning one’s own business.  The benefits and pleasures of the overindulgence of the senses.  Freedom to earn and to spend those earnings in any way desired.

In a sense, this “I want it, I want it now, I’m entitled to it” philosophy keeps our economy going.  It is unfortunate that banks have taken advantage of this idea by making lines of credit so that no one, unless they have so abused the line of credit that they are now a liability, has to wait for much of anything.  Want a new car?  Credit. Want a new house? Credit.  New clothes?  Credit.  Christmas?  Credit.  Don’t have the money?  Credit.  With the recent recession, many people got a taste of what our parents, or our grandparents,  experienced in the Great Depression.  Just a brief taste of fear that “it” might not always be there.  That one’s only true physical needs are BASIC  food, clothing, and shelter.  But, I think the idea of “gimme, gimme, gimme” is so ingrained in our society, at least since the Baby Boomer generation, that it is part of the system itself, which feeds upon the idea.  So, as soon as there is money to spend, it is spent.  And, if it is not spent, the system starts to fail.

Now, I’m not a sociologist, an economist, or an expert on political systems.  That much, I am sure, is obvious.  And, I know it is not cut and dried, black and white, simple.  Yet, as with most people, I understand the basic equation:  business=produce=consumer=jobs=business ad infinitum.    And, I WANT the economy to improve.  Really I do.  But, it kind of bothers me to see those who, just a few short months ago, were beginning to realize that a new television, a new pair of shoes, a new home, a new $500.00 purse, new appliances, that wonderful pair of Uggs on sale for $149.99, et cetera could wait until the money was really there to purchase whatever the item is–or, better, that the money should be saved instead of spent or the credit cards paid off– become the masses at the malls that were desired this holiday season to boost a floundering economy.  Those same masses who will keep the economy going.  Who are “doing their part” for economic recovery.   Basically being “overwhelmed by the tribe” (Kipling) telling them it is OK now to spend, desired that they spend, patriotic to spend.   As an aside, of course, this doesn’t affect the already rich:  they have always have the money to spend (as long as they are wealthy), and many times, they have that money because they are not indiscriminate consumers.  What troubles me are the “middle-classes”: lower, middle and upper, who—when things were tough, learned, or at least practiced, wise spending—and are now packing the malls, both on and off-line,  and doing exactly as they were before all this latest recession mess came crumbling down upon our collective heads.  Cases where those who, just a few short months ago, were wondering how they were going to handle the next mortgage payment, or fix the car, or go to the doctor, who–now that things are improving, that their job is “secured”– have decided that a NEW car is absolutely needed RIGHT NOW.  Or, new jewelry.  Or an expensive vacation.  Or spending an entire paycheck on gifts, both for themselves and others.  These things are needed NOW.  Not just desired, not just wanted.  NEEDED.   Those who were struggling to even KEEP a house a year ago, are now looking forward, with hope, to shooting for a newer one that will impress the neighbors, the social group, or even strangers.  Or any of the multitude of products, large and small, that are available and will say to the world, “Look at me!  Look how successful I am, look at what I have, look what I can buy”.  Back to the same old habits that helped to get the country into this mess, a mess which will only be rectified IF the PEOPLE resume those habits.

Of course, there are still thousands of people who are out of work and are NOT doing these things.  They are concerned about where their children are going to get their next meal, or how they are going to retire with their savings wiped out. They are concerned about basic survival.  Even among the employed, there are thousands who have learned their lesson about indiscriminate spending.  Thousands who are paying off the credit cards, keeping the old car, keeping the old house, scaling down and cutting back,  doing without because the recession taught them that expendable income is not necessarily always going to be there.  But, there are millions who are now, once again, listening to the glitzy ads, to the society that says, “I want it, I want it now, I’m entitled to it” and going out to shop with a sigh of relief that spending is coming back in style.  And with the hope—in most cases,  foolish optimism—that it is just going to get better and things will get back to normal, that the incredible abundance is always going to be there for which to attain; their “piece of the pie” promised under a capitalistic system.  While I don’t feel sorry for them in their stupidity and greed, I pity those they affect—largely because the spending masses continue to contribute to the problem whereby the rich get richer and the poor, poorer.  And all of the mistakes of the past will again come to pass because the masses did not learn from these mistakes.  The system has become cannibalistic.

So, while I’m happy the economy is improving, I’m also wondering just what kinds of lessons were learned by the masses.   While I am satisfied with capitalism, even in its impure form, and how it works with the idea of individual freedom, I also see it as a greedy beast that must constantly feed upon itself in order to survive.

Change   Leave a comment

Since I am in the midst of preparing for a VERY new New Year, my posts will be sporadic, at best.  I love change.  I really don’t mind moving, impromptu travel, or anything that involves changing places and/or environments.  Yes, it’s hectic, and stressful.  But, every time I do it, I feel renewed.  Unopened boxes are old things becoming new again, being “surprises” (even though I mark every box carefully).  Sometimes, things disappear during one move, only to magically show up again in the next one.  Changes in living circumstances also provide new challenges.  Since I married almost 10 years ago, we have moved 6 times, so my attitude towards change is a good one.  And, I’m looking forward to moving again in the near future.  But, while this year won’t be the “moving” year, it will bring different circumstances into our household, a new energy.

For me, this will be a personal year 8.  Year 7 has been a rough one, physically, financially, and emotionally.  7 years tend to be very introspective, and this one certainly was that.   Illness kept me housebound much of the time, depression was problematic.  I had to re-define myself in terms of who I was and what I wanted from my life.  And, as the year comes to a close, I look back and see that I followed the 7 pattern.  I’m glad it is over.  But, I’m looking forward to this 8 year, as it is a year of personal expansion.

In 2011, we will have my oldest son with us for awhile as he researches his dissertation.  Where we live is close to several of his alma maters, with the research centers associated with them.  We have quite a bit of unused space, so part of that space will become a temporary apartment for him.  Both my husband and myself are looking forward to having him with us.

This upcoming year will be the year my husband finishes his graduate degree.  His comprehensive exams will be about half-way through the year.  For him, the upcoming year is a 2 year, a time for taking care of details, a year requiring patience, which coincides with what he will be experiencing this coming year, since the most difficult classes are during the final non-comp semester.

These two changes, plus the many more that are on our plates this upcoming year, will make it interesting and challenging.

There is a lot more to numerology than just the personal year number.  I think it is interesting, sometimes true—but only so much as one puts energy into change and development.  I think some years, I am stronger than other years.  Just like some days, I am stronger than other days, which seem to have little to do with what is going on around me.   A lot of people consider it to be a bunch of baloney, but, to me, there is some merit in mystical systems, such as numerology and astrology—not the simplistic and generic everyday sort one reads in books, online, or the newspaper,  but the personalized sort.  Do I think my life is determined solely by numbers and the stars?  No…but, neither do I discount vibrational tendencies in the universe.

So, I’m looking forward to this coming year, not only for the challenges involved, but the hope.  Every day is like a gift ready to be opened.  Sometimes, the gift doesn’t fit.  Sometimes, the gift is ugly.  Sometimes, I think “what in the heck is this for”.  But, most of the time, it is a perfect fit, and I welcome it with anticipation and open arms.

Elizabeth Edwards 1949-2010   Leave a comment

Elizabeth Edwards has passed away from cancer at the age of 61.  She was a courageous woman in the face of adversity.  Here is the NY Times obituary:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/us/08edwards.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Do Unto Others…   Leave a comment

I recently joined, and also recently un-joined, a group on FB calling itself Freedom from Religion.  The website which explains what and who they are can be found here:   http://www.ffrf.org/
I found, within a few comments and fewer days that they were no better than the fundamentalist evangelical, rah-rah believers in how they speak about, to, and with others.  Including a harsh and offensive anti-Semitic “joke”, which I challenged and for which I was rebuked.

I didn’t join this Facebook group because I am an atheist; nor am I an agnostic.  As well, I was not “trolling”.  I do not believe in God as “he” is portrayed in the Abrahamic religions.  I am not a Buddhist, nor am I Hindu.  I am not Wiccan, although I dabbled in it for a few years in the 1990’s (too formal for me).  I am, officially, Catholic, having converted in 2001; however, I am more liberal now than a true Catholic should be.  I hold beliefs, ideals, and certain concepts which are directly contrary to their teachings.  I do not anthropomorphize a deity; rather, I believe aspects of a Supreme Deity are in all creation, not just in humans.  I believe the deity, or deities, can manifest as male or female. While I do believe in a Supreme Deity, I believe, also, in lesser deities, and I have an alter dedicated to my personal goddess in a special place, which I care for with due respect.  I believe that Jesus may have been an incarnation of a son of a god.  I also believe, if he was, indeed, a real incarnation, he was not the first, nor will he be the last.  If the story of Jesus is part of the enduring and diverse mythological story of Mother/Child/Savior, I respect and honor that myth. I believe in “angels”.  I believe that there are forces of darkness, largely because, where there is good, there must also be evil to define the good.   But I do not believe the myth of Satan.  I believe in a Supreme Being as well as evolution; however, I do not endorse the concept of Intelligent Design.  I believe strictly in natural selection; but, also that, at one point, certain “laws” were put into effect or evolved which would allow for nature—not just the earth, but the infinity of the universe and all its life forms– to unfold and evolve.   I could go on, but it would take a long time to articulate just what I do and do not believe, just as it has taken almost 55 years for those beliefs to becomes words I could put on paper (or a screen).

What I am, if one must put a label on what I believe, is a Neo-Pagan–which I haven’t yet posted on my social networking site because there are a few people with whom I am friends who would have a cow. Probably a few who, if they read this post, will “un-friend” me.   Unlike some with whom I have had some rather unpleasant conversations, I do not wish to antagonize, I have no wish to convert, nor do I enjoy offending others, although I have started standing up for myself when I feel my rights as a non-believer are being trodden upon, judged, or deemed “unworthy” because I do not follow the path of Christianity.  Or,  if I get the sense that someone is attempting to “convert” me.  Which has always been those of the Christian faith, as I’ve never been approached by a Muslim to convert; nor have I been accosted by Jews of any sect, and told that, if I do not “see”, I will burn in hell forever, or suffer, die, and be punished at some mythological  “last judgment”.  I feel strongly that everyone has an inalienable right to believe as their heart tells them to believe in peace, not through coercion or outright force, but through choice. And that I have that same right.   I joined the Facebook “Freedom from Religion” site because, 1) I knew about this group long before Facebook existed and I support their cause (they’ve been around since 1978), just as I support the causes of the ACLU, and 2), I was interested in what they had to say in discussions about the political aspects of the Foundation.   I found very little about the political causes, but I did find a lot of bad-mouthing of others because those others happen to hold beliefs in a God—specifically , an Abrahamic God.  And, I was told—rather impolitely, I might add—that it was justifiable to do so because (paraphrased) “they (the Christians) do it to us”.  “The Christians”.  But, the “joke” was about Jews.  And it was nasty.

One of the problems non-Christians have with many Christians is their annoying, offensive, self-righteous and impolite proclivity to “witness” to non-believers.   Some Christians feel is their God-ordained duty to push onto those who do not believe as they, the Christians, believe, their own version of “the truth”.  Not all Christians, not all religions, do this.  I’ve yet to be accosted by a proselytizing Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or member of any other major world religion. I have asked them about their beliefs, and—in every case—they politely and never condescendingly answered my questions.  At least, that has been the case thus far.  I have never been “witnessed” to by Catholics unless it was by my own choice—although their history of cruelty in the promotion of Catholicism is well documented.    Protestants also have their missions where they attempt to convert those they consider to be “unsaved”.  Throughout the centuries, they, too, have used cruelty and coercion in the attempt to “Christianize” the entire world.   I think it is wrong, that it is cultural imperialism every bit as disgusting as any other form of imperialism.  But, there are also those who do good in helping the poor, helping the ill, and offering comfort.  Such as Mother Theresa.  And others who have good intentions and selflessly sacrifice their own comfort for others.

Those Christians who are the worst offenders, outside of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, and –in some cases—the Seventh Day Adventists—are the fundamentalist evangelicals.  They want the entire world to believe as they do.  They want to “convert” the Muslim, the Jews, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Pagans, the WORLD.   I do not want to be like them.  I would have hoped a group, who I would think would be sickened by the actions of these religious “soldiers for Jesus” types, and their anti-Semitic,  anti-“other” rhetoric would rise above the nastiness and have discussions based upon moving forward, upon reason and logic.   I was disappointed when I found they, overall,  do not;  that many of the posters  justify their own actions and reciprocate  in kind, taking it a step further and attacking groups that, basically, leave atheists and agnostics, as well as other non-major religions, alone.   As for me, I will not stoop to that level.  I will be firm in resisting where I need to resist.  And, I will have no part of any label that lumps me in with those who “do unto others because they do unto us”, or “do unto others before they do unto us”.  Especially when those comments are not particularly anti-religion, but anti-culture.  In particular, this “joke” was blatently anti-Semitic.  And people “LIKED” it!  Unfortunately this is what the very group atheists target most often, the fundamentalists, do with the beliefs and cultures of Muslims and Jews.  Or anyone who is not Christian.  So, do they mean that everyone should “convert” to atheism?  That everyone should be an agnostic?  Then they are no more open-minded than the very groups they claim to be against:  those who want to combine Christianity and State. 

I do not care if one is Christian, atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, or fall under any of the umbrella terms society uses for the articulation and organization of religious beliefs. I respect  the rights of everyone to believe as they choose, and I will leave them alone to find their own path.  I expect others to afford me the same right.  Granted, that is an ideal situation, one which will probably not come to fruition.  But, I still have some hope.  And, I will continue to stand up for what I believe in and the rights of ALL to stand up for what they believe in, as well.   I will let those who try to run over me with their own beliefs know what I think about what they do.  And, I might not always be kind.  But, I will not tolerate the kind of nasty cultural jokes that I found offensive on the Freedom From Relgion Facebook wall.   The “Golden Rule” is not only a “Christian” concept.  It is a concept that has defined good people since the dawn of civilization.

Emotional Vampires   Leave a comment

I think most people are familiar with the relatively recent term “emotional vampire”, which is used to describe people who “feed upon the emotions of others to bolster their self-esteem and to gain attention. “ (www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=emotional+vampire). Albert Bernstein considers them to be “people with various personality disorders (defined by the WHO) that are often considered to drain emotional energy from others.  (Bernstein, Albert J.   Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, 2001).  There are other terms for an “emotional vampire”, such as “energy vampire”, “psychic vampire”, and “emotional leech”.   These terms, and a few others, I will use interchangeably.

When dealing with emotional vampires, a person tends to feel depressed and drained.  Perhaps not immediately, but—if not—then, over a period of time.  These vampires are, basically, social parasites, who tend to feed off those who are in precarious emotional, physical, and/or spiritual situations and, therefore, vulnerable.  I am not talking about people who are just annoying here, nor am I referring to people who need a shoulder to cry on, or help in other ways, but people who, in the guise of friendship, or even love, literally drain off the life forces of others.  They, quite literally,  feed off the emotions, kindness, and personalities of their victims to allow their own warped psyches to flourish.

An emotional vampire, or psychic vampire, often appears at first glance to be very attractive and charming.  They do not usually appear to be “mean”, or “bad”, but—like the fictional vampires in literature and the movies who avoid actual mirrors—are devoid of the ability to self-reflect.  Everything, to them, is someone else’s fault.  They deny responsibility for their own actions; more importantly, they do not, in any way, recognize that these actions are reflective of their need to live off the emotions or energy of others.  They often initiate themselves into a victim’s life by first becoming a friend.  Or, even a lover.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a stranger who insinuates him/herself  into a potential victim’s  life in this manner.  The are the ultimate narcissists.

As a brief aside, I also believe that PLACES can be vampiric.  There are buildings, villages, cities, towns, businesses, and homes so full of darkness that they “pull” on the soul.  They suck out energy as effectively as a human vampire.  Perhaps because they have negative imprints:  they are built on places where they should not be built, that are the scenes of tragedy and horror have been inhabited by evil people, and so forth.  The popularity of the idea of a “haunted” house, I feel, supports my theory.  Usually, a place that is reputed to be  “haunted” just feels different.  This is borne out by  testimonies of even those who claim not to believe in the supernatural.  Many people, even those not in tune with psychic awareness, feel uncomfortable, somehow drained, after living or visiting certain places.  I think the same awareness can be used in the recognition of the human version.

Most vampires are highly insulted and exhibit self-righteous denial when confronted with what they are.  Some people, such as myself, have a tendency to be drawn to these life-suckers, and some of us, myself included, are drawn more than others.  I believe many potential victims, especially during critical “stress” times, are confronted with, or even drawn to, emotional vampires because we do not recognize our own vulnerability on spiritual, physical, or emotional levels, so we put out “vibes” that draw other forms of negative energy.  We are like a well in a desert to those who live off the emotions of others. And,  I believe , as a result of this, we can be,  to an extent, blindsided—and often drawn in too deeply– before we can recoup our strength to avoid long term, and potentially permanent, damage.

I’m an easy target. Or, I used to be an easy target.  Sometimes, because I like to please people, I hate to be rude, I have a very low sense of self-worth (which I’m working on), and I am, by nature, empathetic,   I go against my better judgment and allow people to get closer than I should.  For some reason, many times,  people will just unload on me, which can be pretty uncomfortable.  My husband calls this my “Dear Abby” syndrome.  But, generally, I like people.  I am, however, very, very cautious nowadays to avoid letting new people into my life, simply because there have been so many times when I was emotionally exhausted, physically ill, desperately lonely, and spiritually confused (which isn’t so at the present time, but has been the case often in the past) and I let someone start talking to me and unburdening their woes in order to be polite.   Some of these people ended up emotionally sucking me dry, psychically draining me; making demands of my time, and my energy, while they go away feeling better about themselves.  These experiences which make me even more vulnerable.   Emotional vampires, who seem to possess a type of radar for vulnerability, sense that in me;  they are as drawn to me as I must be to them—because I do think the draw goes both ways, just as it does in vampire myth:   vulnerable (and oftentimes self-negative) energy draws negative energy.  In the Dracula story, the Count feeds off Mina, but also feeds her, which binds her to him.  Lucy fades away and, ultimately, dies.  She has no more life force inside her.  Likewise, it is with emotional vampires.  Those too weak to resist will suffer horrible  damage, which may, in turn, attract other negative relationships, other emotional vampires;  those needed for the long term will be fed enough to keep them on the leash.  One needs, not only strength to resist, but strength to see and break away.

Nowadays, I am sometimes able to spot potential feeders  fairly early in a social relationship.  Some people see auras.  I sometimes do, but more often, I either sense or smell them.  But, that is something I have only recently, within the past decade or so, allowed to develop.  It wasn’t always so.  In fact, when I started to take notice of this “talent”, I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I literally could not tolerate the odors surrounding the vampires who were feeding off me.  It was odd, because they all were clean people, and had no poor personal grooming issues.  But, because this odor made me physically ill, I began to pull further and further away.   The farther away I pulled, the less they could feed, and the less control they had.  And, the stronger I became.

Finally, I gained enough strength so I was able to completely escape from these toxic relationships (one in which I was being emotionally fed off; another, in which I was being reciprocally fed enough to, like Mina to Dracula, bind me).  It was afterward that I began to realize what the smell was, and I began to use that sense for protection.   However, this sense only works well on those vampire types who are, intrinsically, bad people.  Or, maybe bad is not the correct word–maybe incredibly self-centered is a better description.   Not all energy vampires are like that, however.   Some are only emotionally needy.   And, it is portrayed thus in literature:  there are the Count Dracula types who eagerly seek out victims,  and enjoy feeding, and there are others who have been somehow infected who are, by and large, good people, and only feed off others to save their own lives.  These people are more difficult to detect before they grow hungry enough to seek out a food source.

It is easy to handle these energy drainers when they are just acquaintances or casual friends.  The best way, for me, is to eliminate or otherwise adjust the contact, keeping my distance as much as possible.  It becomes much more difficult when the vampire is someone with whom avoiding contact is almost impossible.    I’ve been in those situations, and, though right now, the contact with those particular people is limited, the draining of my psyche still occurs once in awhile.  Usually, when I am in a vulnerable state.  Then, the question is how to remain protected, shielded, and let the attempted emotional feeding bounce off when contact is unavoidable.  Sometimes, imaging a large glass barrier—sort of like a bubble—where I can see, hear, and even commiserate with the needy person, without having my energy resources drained,  works.  My therapist recommends developing a “safe space”, of which this blog is one, my husband another.  I find energy and solace in books, as well.  These are all safe spaces.    But, I’m trying to find that spot within myself that can handle being around energy suckers without being drained when my safe space is not available—and that is difficult.

Coincidentally, (or perhaps not), I recently re-read one of Margaret Atwood’s books, The Robber Bride. The book is a feminist take on the theme of the old Grimm Brothers’ tale about the Robber Bridegroom, sometimes referred to as Bluebeard.  A brief review of the book can be found here:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17650.The_Robber_Bride .  I’ve really attempted to “listen” to my senses nowadays when, serendipitously, what I read coincides with a current dream cycle, or something with which I am attempting to deal.   Reading this book brought up a lot of old memories that I had stashed away in a small, locked closet in my mind—almost like the locked room in the Grimm Brothers’ tale.  Clarissa Pinkola Estés also has a segment on Bluebeard in Women Who Run With the Wolves.  Although one book deals with an external vampire type, and the other deals with developing the senses with which to recognize archetypal predators, they both illustrate the vampire pattern, as well as its commonality.  That the Bluebeard segment is at the beginning of the book is illustrative, I believe, of how common emotional vampirism is in society, of how easily we can fall prey to them.  While Estés’ book deals with the problem in the feminine psyche, it exists for men, as well.    Zenia, the soulless vampire type in The Robber Bride , feeds off men AND women—and SYSTEMS.   Her “type” is also addressed in Estés., who writes:

“Bluebeard continues his destructive plan by instructing his wife to compromise herself psychically; ‘Do whatever you like,’ he says.  He prompts the woman to feel a false sense of freedom.  He implies she is free to nourish herself and to revel in bucolic landscapes, at least within the confines of his territory.  But, in reality, she is not free, for she is constrained from registering the sinister knowledge about the predator, even though deep in the psyche she already truly comprehends the issue.” (Estés, 51).

This passage, as well as Zenia’s, activity and the method with which she insinuates herself and her problems  (which include several elaborate, but believable, stories about illness, her past, and so forth), as well as the non-awareness and helplessness of her “victims” as they grow increasingly more vulnerable and drained, is an articulation of just how difficult it is to recognize and extricate oneself—while growing weaker– from these types. And, how ingenious these “soul predators” are in drawing in victims.  That the victims may often find themselves willingly and trustingly drawn into the orbit of the vampire is evidence of the ease with which one person can prey on the kind, the polite, the acquiescent, and the vulnerable.  We start out wishing to help.  That the vampire doesn’t recognize her/himself as a feeder does not negate the damage done to the victim. Or the importance of recognizing a vampire before it is too late.

The first step is, of course, recognition; difficult, if one is, through adversity, illness, unhappiness, exhaustion, youth, naivete, or merely a low sense of self-worth, vulnerable. There are several good books, written by clinical psychiatrists, that demonstrate how one can recognize an emotional vampire (because they do not recognize themselves, of course), and deal with them.  One of these books is the previously mentioned Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry, written by Albert J. Bernstein.   On page 132, Bernstein asserts:   “The most important thing to remember is that Narcissistic vampires are not thinking of you at all. “(p.132).   I think this is very important, especially since we become, in certain instances,  most vulnerable when we offer ourselves up as solace, when we expose ourselves as a potential emotional food source.  Because, while most of us realize the importance of the “Golden Rule”, and apply it in our relationships with others, emotional vampires do not.   According to Bernstein, they are wired to be completely narcissistic, a trait which, after awhile, becomes evident.   A brief overview of the book can be found here: http://www.albernstein.com/id55.htm

Why am I blogging about this?  Going back to my post on “Dreams”, I am convinced that my subconscious is trying to tell me that what is hidden in the dark closets of my mind needs to be exposed to the light.  As long as my experiences with emotional vampires, with psychic vampires,  huddle frightened and shivering in the deep recesses of my mind, I’m going to have some very disturbing and even traumatizing dreams.  I am going to be afraid of new friendships, of every new person I meet, even though I do listen to my senses–because that sense doesn’t work with every vampire type.    I won’t have the energy to comfort, nourish, and help my friends and family when they are in need.  I won’t be able to completely heal and enjoy my incredible husband, my wonderful new life.  Although, idealistically, I never want to be vulnerable again, that is a fairly unrealistic hope, as we all experience many periods of vulnerability throughout our lives.  My dreams indicate that at least a part of me IS still vulnerable, so exposing my fears to light—since vampires die in the light—will, hopefully, allow me to live the life I have now without fear, with anticipation and enjoyment.   And, I hope that perhaps, in some small way, I have encouraged others to be able to recognize the vampires in their own lives, so that they, too, can protect themselves and  heal.