My parents used to have this book: Eating People Is Wrong. I never read it, but nowadays I’m wondering if I should. People talk about vampiric magic, but you don’t have to be the victim of a red-in-tooth-‘n-claw Dracula to get your power sucked dry – and either it’s getting worse or maybe I’m just noticing it more, just like smokers suddenly stink after you’ve given up cigarettes.
Just because blood-sucking vampires appear in myths and movies, it doesn’t mean that they are solely mythological or fictional creatures. Hollywood vampires suck on human blood in order to survive. Blood has long been synonymous with life force, going back tens of thousands of years and represented by hematite or red ochre in shamanic rituals. The archetypal vampire, Dracula, originated from Southeast Europe, but his was not the first vampire story. The ancient Mesopotamians, Hebrews and Romans had tales of demons and spirits that would drink blood and feast on flesh. So even they knew that eating people was wrong.
I know many magicians — some real and others, well … I don’t want to be unkind but it’s as if they’ve swallowed Harry Potter whole. These Hogwarts wannabees don’t have any real power at all. The spirits don’t communicate with them and so they don’t get any information or guidance about what to do. So they’re reduced to stealing power from others. However, they are only doing consciously what all of us have been taught to do unconsciously from the cradle. We imbibed these vampiric power plays with our mother’s milk, and as we grew, we unconconsciously adopted behavioural techniques — mainly in our interactions with our siblings but also with our parents as role models — which amounted to nothing more or less than stealing each others’ power.
The shaman in training has to first confront this Hammer horror — the realisation that they’ve been born into Planet Vampire and brought up and encouraged to throw out energetic streamers and suckers to feed on others, and that everyone they know is some kind of succubus, even their own mother — and then they have to work out how to transcend the vampiric realm in order to be able to own and stand in their own power.
Metaphors for overcoming this particular daemon and the subsequent attendant rebirth of the spiritual adept are found in all mythologies, and usually end with the hero tackling the dragon/serpent and then bruising its head with his heel.
You won’t get any shamanic or real magical power until you overcome this dragon. This is because, it is my experience that the spirits are not going to give anyone any power if it’s just going to drain out of them, like water out of colander. You have to build a container to hold it and this requires, not least, living in truth and honouring others’ boundaries. They also want you to start working with some real, clean, unadulterated rocket fuel and not some dirty old lawnmower petrol you siphoned off from someone else. Or crisp, newly-minted notes is another good analogy. Because just like any paper currency, the more power is traded and passed around, the more worn and filthy and dog-eared it becomes, until eventually it disintegrates altogether and goes back to the Earth.
Learning to stand protected and whole in your own power is more than about guarding yourself with all the million-and-one methods of psychic protection available to the modern-day magical practitioner — from the Lesser Banishing ritual and the four pillars, to the blue translucent egg and the fiery pentagram to mention just a few. That’s because it’s no good using your intention to magically construct one of these energetic devices before setting off down the road if the first thing you’re then going to do is hand over your decision-making ability to the next person you meet at the bus stop just because they’ve got a bigger hat.
Even if they’re your boss, you have to learn to manage your power around them, and you will eventually get quite skillful in these sorts of situations.
But it’s best to start off small, at first. Don’t go straight for the might of the military-industrial juggernaut. Parity begins at home. Begin with your partner and your immediate friends and then watch as your whole life starts to transform. As you change the microcosm, the macrocosm will very often follow suit.
Of course, not allowing others to steal your power may make you quite unpopular at times. There are all sorts of unwritten contracts between vampires, and refusing to offer up the jugular often finds you in breach of one of them. Even not taking someone’s power when it’s being offered you willingly can cause the offerer to feel hurt or confused by your behaviour, although they don’t know why. They only know that this coping mechanism has always worked for them in the past, and so they don’t understand why it’s not working on you now. However, they don’t realise that the issue between you is about power — they just know that they feel uncomfortable around you — and so they decide they don’t like you for some other spurious reason, like your nose is too big.
There are various techniques and exercises which you can use to replenish your own power reserves without having to resort to plundering the power of others. One of these entails drawing energy up from our mother the Earth, who is more than happy to supply us with power and also to take away our empties. There is one called The Rising Light Below. Another is called Diving Through the Moon Pool and uses the Moon card of the Tarot.
The matter of power — who owns it, who keeps it, who’s giving it away — is key to the shamanic practitioner, who knows that the source of most dis-ease is lack of power. And in teaching my clients how to reclaim their power, they become re-empowered and well again very quickly and then they are on their way. I have very few repeat appointments with people because they don’t need them. I can solve their problem in just one or two sessions. Spiritual healers who have you coming back every six weeks for “top-ups” are just creating a dependency on you so that they can continue to steal your power, in the form of your time and money. And by the way, watch out for all those big gorilla hugs – sometimes the vampire … er sorry, healer offering the huge hug needs it more than you do. And once they’ve wrapped their energy body around yours, they will suck till you’re dry.
Sure, they may not realise they’re stealing your power. But that doesn’t help you, does it, when you’re left feeling like a limp used condom on the morning after the night before?
I’ve just looked up Eating People is Wrong on Amazon. It turns out to be Malcolm Bradbury’s first novel, about university life, and here’s a telling quote from it.
“Moreover, all his life, Treece had been doing things that he did not exactly want to do, journeying off on holidays he had no intention of taking, watching plays he did not wish to see, playing sports he detested, simply because someone had gone to the trouble to persuade him, simply because he felt they cared, simply…well, simply because he could not say no. He always thought what a hard time of it he would have had if he had been a woman; he would have been pregnant all the time.”
I can’t think of a better description of someone who’s given away all their power.
If you think this sounds a little like you, or how you’ve been feeling lately, don’t worry. A shaman can help you get your power back. It’s one of the things we do.