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The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
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Empathy: Some Thoughts
Article ID: 13903
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Gentle Deer Lion Tamer [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: April 4th. 2010
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"Empathy... is not sympathy. Sympathy is a way of reacting to someone who is suffering. Empathy is feeling that suffering as if it were you own. In it's simplest form, it is flinching when someone slams his finger in a door. At it's most sophisticated, it is their pain in your heart."
The word "empathy" is derived from the Greek words "empatheia" meaning "passion" and "pathein" meaning "to experience, suffer". An empath experiences the feelings of others... not merely as a substitution of one's own feelings or a realization of how one would feel in a similar situation. An empath can feel another without even knowing the other's situation.
While many people have empathy, the ability to understand another person's feelings implicitly, they are not necessarily empathic. Additionally, the word empathy does not take into account the physiological, instinctual, and/or primal sharing that can occur with empaths. (For example, an empath may experience that pain of another or could have a psi-somatic reaction to another's illness.) For this reason, I draw the distinction between "empathy" and "empathic". Miriam-Webster's on-line dictionary defined "empathic" as "involving, eliciting, characterized by, or based on empathy".
Having drawn a distinction between the psychological term "empathy" and empathic abilities, I'd also like to draw a distinction between empathic abilities and psychic abilities. On the one hand, psychic abilities and empathic abilities are virtually the same, as I believe that they come from the same source and use many of the same systems.
On the other hand, psychic abilities again have the common interpretation of dealing with thought energies while empathic abilities are interpreted as dealing with emotional energies. There is a difference between thoughts and feelings. Additionally, I feel how our energies are channeled is the main difference between psychic and empathic abilities.
Psychics tend to channel their energies mainly thru the heart chakras and above, while empaths mainly channel their energies through the heart chakra and below. People able to channel through most of all of the chakras easily are both empathic and psychic. "Chakra" is the Sanskrit word for "wheel" and they are the energy vortexes or gates in our bodies.
There are seven major chakras and many "minor" ones, but all are important. We all channel some life energy thru all of the chakras, but some chakras are often more "open" than others.
Empaths tend to have their lower chakras open while psychics (channelers and clairvoyants) tend to have their upper chakras open.
Since we are on the topic of words, however, the ideal word to use to describe the abilities I am focusing on would have been "telepathy", which originally meant "far feeling." Unfortunately, the common interpretation of telepathy is thought communication and I feel that this interpretation would be a distraction for most people. I prefer the term "empath" to specifically describe telepaths who pick up emotional, physical and instinctual responses from others.
Psychics, empaths and vampires can all feel the emotions of others to an extent. Psychic and empathic abilities fall on the same spectrum and are not mutually exclusive. The more sensitive a psychic, empath or vampire is, the more often he or she tends to feel the emotions of other beings.
Psychics tend to be more attuned to the positive emotions that they describe as bliss, love, celestial guidance etc. and they tend to enjoy these feelings.
Empaths gravitate toward the most sensitive to negative emotions: anger, isolation, sadness and emotional pain. While they can also love to laugh and prefer happy moments, empaths are particularly prone to depression. They feel the pain around them and it can cause sadness within them. Sometimes these waves may be so intense, they may seem to be overwhelming... the empath may experience mood swings that have no overt physical or psychological cause.
Many empaths will describe a feeling of being overwhelmed by these emotions or even feeling smothered by them.
Those who feel positive emotions but cannot enjoy them or enjoy negative emotions may be exhibiting vampiric tendencies.
Empaths usually have a strong affinity towards all animals, perhaps slightly more so than psychics, but I don't know if there is significance to this yet. Indicating that one can't stand animals, however, is typically non-empathic.
Empaths operate on a lower level than psychics... a level approaching the level of energy that animals sense and appreciate.
Many animals are amazing generous with their energy and empaths often feel very happy and comfortable with animals and vice versa. There tends to be a cooperative link established. I often refer to this ability as the "Gift of St. Francis", as St. Francis of Assisi was an empath with amazing abilities to communicate with animals.
Psychic vampires, however, may experience a complete rejection by animals or feel that animals respond to their psychic commands.
Albert Einstein's famous equation "E=mc2" tells us that energy is matter and vice versa. I believe that almost everything is basically energy and power. Certain people, whether consciously or not, attempt to drain us of our energy and often they are successful. Psychics, psionic and empathic people are usually quite sensitive to these attempts and the more sensitive one is to the attempt the more often one will feel it occurring. Psychic and strongly psionic people seem to be the best at blocking these attempts, quite probably because people with vampiric tendencies were or are empathic themselves. There may be other reasons why psychics seem to be better able to handle psychic vampires, however, and I would be interested in hearing theories from psychics and even vampires as to why that may be.
People with vampiric tendencies tend to despise touch unless they are initiating it, yet they also feel they are extremely sensual people. This is not to say that all people who have difficulty with issues of touch are vampires. Many people who have experienced abuse in their lives also may express some difficulty with people touching them.
Psychics and some empaths tend to enjoy touch as much as or slightly more than the average person.
People with strong empathic abilities, however, tend to be extremely sensual people. They are often very sexual and/or erotic (root chakra is quite strong) and enjoy physical touch a great deal.
A feeling towards werewolves does not seem to have significance for either psychics or empaths. I tend to think that people with vampiric tendencies also do not relate with werewolves, but I'll withhold judgment until after the analysis.
Both empaths and psychics may find themselves fascinated with sprites or faeries, while they would probably repulse vampires.
Empaths are either strongly fascinated by vampires, repulsed by them or both. They usually repulse psychics and they usually fascinate vampires. This choice is a strong flag of abilities because the vampires represent very real vampiric experiences that psychics, empaths and vampires have felt in different ways.
Fascination with angels may be an indication of psychic (clairvoyant and channeling) abilities, while revulsion may be an indication of vampiric tendencies.
Fascination or revulsion of aliens may be a mild indication of psychic abilities.
Empaths tend to be very much in touch with animals, and will probably not fear them.
Empaths and psychics will probably not fear witches or pagan rituals.
Many empaths and psychics believe that they live prior lives including lives in which they were accused of witchcraft or heresy because of their beliefs and abilities, so they tend to have an affinity to witches, if anything. (Note: many are witches and followers of other Pagan based paths.)
Fear of vampires may be an indication of psychic and/or empathic abilities for reasons previously stated.
The fear of drowning or being smothered is a very strong indication of empathic abilities and possibly psychic abilities.
Some empaths may feel that they are being smothered by the negative emotions of others.
This feeling may represent itself in our psyche as a fear of drowning, being smothered or even claustrophobia. Additionally, there may be another reason: those empaths and psychic who feel that they lived previous lives as witches may fear drowning and being smothered because the preferred method of execution for those convicted was drowning, suffocation by hanging or suffocation by being crushed with stones. (While some witches were indeed "burned at the stake", most it seems dies by suffocation or drowning.
The fear of heights has no significance for psychics, empaths or vampires.
Empaths usually prefer the peacefulness of rural places away from the negative emotions that flood them in urban settings. It would seem, though, that if strong empaths prefer rural settings, then preferring an urban setting would be a sign of not being empathic. This is not the case, however, as empaths who are less sensitive may enjoy the flow of energy from crowds and may seek out urban settings to recharge. (These empaths, however, should be wary of recharging by taking energy from others without their explicit permission.)
This habit could lead into psychic vampirism.
Energy exchanges in urban areas can be extreme however; they can also sometimes become a violent maelstrom.
One of the reasons violence tends to occur in urban settings is because of the energy flow that occurs there.
Consider the way many people in urban areas live: small apartments with other apartments close on either side as well as above and below. Add to the equation the tremendous amounts of electromagnetic energy from numerous power sources, and unnatural lighting sources such as sodium vapor and florescent bulbs then subtract the natural energies blocked by tall buildings and the natural energies lost due to fewer plants and animals.
Most strong empaths and psychics experience difficulties with extended visits to the city, however, there are a select few who are able to channel those energy flows to their benefit. (These empaths and psychics are usually extremely adept at blocking, shielding and cleansing negativity.)
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