When she was just a young girl, my mother was the first to get to her dead father who had died of a heart attack in the outside loo, and had fallen against the door. Mum was the only one small enough to be able to crawl under the door and then, with her little arms, pull the dead weight of his body back so that the others could get to him. Shortly after that, she and her elder brother were outside chopping wood for the fire, and he accidentally managed to slice off the top of her index finger.
Insult was added to these traumatic injuries by the fact that her mother, my grandmother, was the sort who favoured and promoted the interests of her male offspring over her one daughter, who she would continually put down.
So Mum got ‘stuck’ in her development. Then this girl-woman went on to meet the man who eventually became my father just weeks after he had returned to Britain from five years captivity in a German prisoner-of-war camp.
I was the first born into this unholy marriage of arrested development, on the one hand, and untreated PTSD on the other, at a time when some of the food was still on ration, making the perfect metaphor for the love which was in equally short supply. In other words, it was a fight for survival from the first screaming lungful of air into what I’ve since learned was a classic breeding ground for developing Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
You will hear a lot on the internet about NPD, but most of it is from bitterly pained empaths who narcissists have damaged, and so their words are often laced with claims of victimhood and a desire for revenge. However, to me it looks like empaths and narcissists are part of the same NPD syndrome and so the hate, resentment and need for vengeance just keeps them locked up as much captive as my father was in World War 2.
Some psychologists believe that a traumatic lack of love in the early years causes what’s known as the narcissistic wound in the subconscious mind of the child, and then which ever cognitive and disassociative coping mechanism they use to deal with that wound dictates whether they develop into an empath or a narcissist. Either way, they get split down the middle, and this is why empaths attract narcissists and narcissists attract empaths. They are looking for their other halves with whom to enter into what is literally a dance to the death.
When the trauma – whether overt cruelty or passive neglect – is being afflicted on the newborn child, he or she automatically disassociates and a part of them fragments off into a false dream world to become the empath, or starts frantically searching for their subconscious weapons system to become the narcissist.
This division is symbolised in the art of the initiates by the chalice and the sword.
At the stage of being an empath, we are all chalice and no sword, whereas the narcissist is all sword and no chalice. This is why full self-realisation is often illustrated as the sword entering the chalice; the two are brought back together in the subconscious and holistically integrated back into harmony.
This has been the story of my life.
Growing up, I became a co-dependent empath – a dreamer of castles in the skies. My father would often break in song when he saw me: “Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me. Starlight and dewdrops are awaiting thee”. Thus, as I grew into my teens, my cup was overflowing with love, empathy and compassion, meaning that I would attract narcissistic partners, and others, who used their weapons systems to drain me empty of that “love fuel”, which they desperately needed.
However, in my mid-40s, I discovered shamanism. I began training first, on a Greek Island, with a female shaman called Raven who taught me Huna Kane, which is Polynesian shamanism. A few years later, when I was living in Sai Baba’s ashram in southern India, I met some Mexican shamans who had been trained by the same nagual, Don Juan, who had taught Carlos Castenada. They performed some shamanic healing on me, and taught me more about this ancient path. Finally, in the early 2000s, and now back in this country, I was lucky enough to be taught in how to pass on the shamanic teachings by Simon Buxton, who I consider to be the best teacher of shamanism in the whole of the Blessed Isles. And it was over that two-year course, on his land near Weymouth, that I learned how to do a) power management and b) soul retrieval which, in my opinion, are both axiomatic in bringing back together the chalice and the sword.
The Super Empath
Lately I’ve been realising that there is a personality type that psychologists describe as the Super Empath. According to them, a Super Empath is someone who defaults to being an empath, but who ‘dims the lights of empathy’ when required, to bring out the previously hidden sword of the narcissist. I recognised myself, as I have become in recent years, and so I wondered if I fell into this category. But then I realised that it doesn’t really need a label other than just being a real whole human being with compassion and weapons system intact and integrated. And I’ve found that, mostly, once the sword is integrated back into the empath’s personality, you rarely have to use it because predators can see it glinting there and pass on by down the road, along the path of least resistance.
The problem is, many of our religions and spiritual movements, which are mainly run by unreconstructed narcissists, have taught us that being an empath equates to Godliness, and so we keep turning the other cheek and rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s in blind, trusting obedience, and praying for peace when we really mean appeasement because we know that we have no weapons systems to hand. However, Jesus is recorded in Matthew saying: “Think not that I am come to send peace on Earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” If by “peace” he meant “appeasement”, then it makes absolute sense to me that he is talking about the integration of the chalice and sword, the goal of the initiate.
This is the world in which many of us find ourselves, in my view. It provides a challenge that can seem as daunting as any faced by the mythological hero, but it is the one which was laid out in the stars at the times of our births, and so it is a worthy course to follow. This is the path of the wounded healer, because in learning to face and heal our own wounds, we can blaze a path for others to find and follow.
If you’re reading this post and it’s ringing bells with you, and you think you could benefit from some help … I have started doing shamanic training again now. So if you would like be taught how to manage your power, or to receive a soul retrieval, and you can come to Glastonbury in Somerset, England, then please do contact me and we’ll arrange a date. Also, if you have read my book Stories in the Stars, you are entitled you to one day’s free training with me.