I have been listening to a whole lot a people who are suffering right now because of a gift that they have, empathy. The gift of empathy is nominally a very important one for those who serve their community, but right at the moment, it comes with a huge drawback.
We have a perfect storm of negative emotions right now. Covid 19 pandemic brings with it risk of death, loved ones in danger, loved ones lost. It brings with it loss of social outlet, loss of community, loss of connection. It brings with it HUGE political division, and the threat of persecution no matter what course of action you take, someone is going to see this as an attack on their way of life, freedom, and even faith. We have the simmering racial tensions that have been accumulating since the election of a President who endorses open racism in a way not seen since the howling mobs of McCarthy era pre Civil Rights movement North America now boiling over with the Black Lives Matter protests proving the old acceptance will no longer be swallowed. We have economic hardship and uncertainty not seen since the great depression and a breakdown of our traditional alliance system that kept us safe since the end of WWII.
If you are an empath, the whispers you pick up from people, that let you know they are angry, or hurting, or scared are what give you the chance to see where help is needed. It is not a whisper right now, it is a scream. It has been a scream that has been growing in volume since Yule and will continue to grow for a long time before it even begins to back off.
We have wise goddesses, and clever gods, but sometimes the lessons we need most come not from the brightest gods, the most magical goddesses, but from the most mundane, the most straightforward and frequently fumbling god; Thor.
Thor is the working folk’s god, the common persons god. He makes mistakes, he learns, adapts and finishes the job. Right now I hear my empathic friends drowning, and I understand what they need, but it is Thor that gave us the tale and lesson.
Long ages ago when the gods travelled in Jottunheim, tests were given to them by Uttgard-Loki. Thor was given the test to drain a drinking horn. His task seemed simple for one as great at the table as Thor, for his appetite was matchless in the nine worlds. He took up that horn, as only one with great and matchless strength could, and he threw back his head and drank as no man or god before or since has been able to do.
He had not picked up a giant horn of mead, but a horn that connected to the sea itself, and he was struggling to drink down all the worlds oceans. Not even Thor is vast enough to contain all the waters of the nine worlds and the endless fountain of the mother of waters. He failed. He put the horn down and backed away, admitting this task was beyond him.
Those who are empaths and have undertaken the task of serving their community grow in strength and endurance as they deal with the pain of others, taking it in to themselves, that in the sharing of the pain, they can share their own skills and teachings to process the pain and work through it.
This begins with tiny sips, and over time and when you have the physical and emotional resources to do the work, can proceed to glasses of pain, or even large horns of suffering.
Thor could not drink the sea, you cannot swallow the burning of the world and the screams of a people who are busy losing their mind under the strain of the perfect storm know as 2020.
Stop trying to be Thor, even he failed at this test. We are not Christians, we don’t admire martyrs, we shake our head at wasted lives, and unnecessary loss.
Wine tasters do not sit at the table and down barrel after barrel of wine, they take a mouthful, swirl it around to understand it, to learn it, and then they spit it out. They understand they CANNOT drink an ocean of wine and don’t try. They take in a taste, learn what they can, and get rid of it.
A whole long time ago we all learned grounding, centering, and shielding to process energy from ritual. These are the basic 101 skills any practitioner picks up. A lot of years ago when I was a young soldier I learned the coping mechanism of compartmentalizing serious incidents to be dealt with when I had the time and processing power to deal with it.
These are both self defense mechanisms, coping strategies to address Thor’s little drinking problem, the sea is vast, and we are not. We can drown in what we take in, we can be overwhelmed if we don’t take measures to limit what we take in, or at least balance it so we let go as much as we take in so that we do not drown in the ocean we are drinking.
What are you doing to LET GO what you are taking in?
I know many of you are playing “Suck it up buttercup” and internalizing your communities screaming so you don’t spill it out on others and hurt them. That is Thor swallowing as fast as he could, he was a god, and FAILED. You are not a god, you are drowning right now, and need to stop.
Some of you are working really hard on your shielding to block it out, and that is a good coping strategy.
The problem is this, you ARE an empath, you can’t help but taste the wine, to understand the source of the pain that spawned the scream, no matter how much you know you have to block it out. We who have the gift took it up to serve, not to be safe.
Being safe is a learned behaviour, 2020 is a bitch of a teaching moment.
You are picking up a whole bunch of heavy right now. Lets do something with it.
First, taste it, or listen to it, however you process it, but do not swallow it. You will drown, you will lose yourself and save no one. Take in enough to learn the pain of others, to share their struggle, and to see what you can do with it in terms of processing. Learn, don’t drown.
Spit it out, let it go. If its pouring into you, let it flow through you and out again. This is the time to practice your centering. Look inside yourself and find all the bits that are you, claim them. Find the bits that are not you, and gently let them go. Some of the pain and fear will be yours, those you can keep and deal with, the rest its not yours, so let it go. Center in yourself, be the rock that stands in the middle of the river, don’t let yourself get carried away by it and smashed at the next cataract.
Now all the pain, fear, rage, despair; the thousand colours of nasty that are actually yours have to be dealt with.
We have already gone over the fact that we are all cut off from most of our social outlets, most of our support structure, so in a lot of ways you are dealing with the biggest load of your life, with the lowest supports you have ever had.
That’s OK, really it is.
Letting the emotions go, the pain, all that stuff that you have finally pushed outside yourself has left you with a whole lot of your own pain, fear, rage, despair, hopelessness, and of course exhaustion.
So, what are you going to do with it.
Rage is useful, you can feed hopelessness, despair, fear, self hatred, feelings of inadequacy, into the mouth of the rage that comes from that storm of emotions of all the terrible, unfair, unjust, and just plain wrong that has been our year so far. Feed it to your rage and take it back as power.
Now take that power and do something with the rage.
Do you want to pour it into art, song, verse, political rants? Do you want to shape it into a magical working and wield it like the hammer of Thor to smite Covid-19, White Supremacy, corruption or any of the other serious wrong that needs smiting. Do you want to channel it into your fists and work it out pounding the heavy or speed bag, do you want to pound it into the pavement as you run, or build the winter wood pile looking at each wood billet as your least favourite politician and let the sweet fall of the axe bring a bit of relief.
You can’t just take it in, you need to actively work it out.
Thor could not drink down the sea, neither can you. I will not ever ask you to stop being empathic, to give up your gifts, for you are the ones cursed or blessed with the ability to heal the rifts in the community, the wounds in our souls. Don’t drown. Thor put the horn down when he could drink no more and stepped back.
Be smart as Thor, and put it down before your drown. Step back and survive for the next challenge.