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6. Something the querent should know about relationships now.
Avoiding the Vampire Path
  544
t-shirt photographed at Burning Man, 2008
Card URL: http://www.zaporacle.com/card/avoiding-the-vampire-path/
Avoiding the vampire path is not as easy or as obvious as it might seem. For example, someone scanning personal ads looking for someone that will make him feel better could be said to be on a vampire path. Whenever our focus is on what we want, or feel we need from others, we have stepped onto the vampire path. We've all done it and had it done to us. It's a lonely and difficult world, so it's inevitable that at times we will look for someone to make us feel better, to fulfill our needs and/or wants, someone that will give us nourishment. After all, we're mammals, and the definition of a mammal is an embodied being that begins life drinking nourishment from the body of another mammal. Many times we find ourselves, through whatever means (food, drink, sex, emotions), trying to return to mother's breast, reaching for something or someone to make us feel better. The most classic motivation for people when going to a party, bar, dance, festival, etc. is to find someone that will make them feel better. A great many social events are sloppy vampire carnivals consisting of hungry mammals on the prowl, looking for someone from whom they can draw nourishment. In fact, the vampire path is so classic, so common that it is accepted, even embraced as the norm, and for most the only question is: How do I succeed on the vampire path? Do I have the right pick up lines? Are my clothes, cosmetics, cologne or perfume good enough for me to succeed on the vampire path? If I lost weight and worked out more, or perhaps had a complete makeover, wouldn't I do better at drawing nourishment from others? A great many glossy magazines are vampire manuals purporting to tell you what you need to know to succeed on the vampire path as the magazines, inanimate vampires themselves, seduce you into various purchases.

Some will ask: "But what's wrong with seeking another person to make yourself feel better?" It's a deceptively simple question because the answer is multi-layered and beyond the scope of this card. But briefly: Pleasure is not a sufficient basis for a high quality relationship. Inevitably there is pain in relationships and pleasure lights up elsewhere, so there is no real loyalty or trust in such relationships. If we look to find wholeness through another person we injure our relationship to our inner wholeness. Alternatively, if we don't want wholeness, but merely pleasure, resources and/or status by being with the other, we degrade both the other person and ourselves. When physical intimacy occurs without a heart connection, we may diminish our ability to connect physical intimacy with deep feeling. When we carelessly have sex with people we barely know, we forget that merging with another can be as energetically perilous as it can be hazardous on the microbiological plane.

"In real love you want the other person's good. In romantic love you want the other person."
� Margaret Anderson

As you travel the vampire path you encounter various stock characters, as most vampires are highly stereotyped. For example, there are the overt predator types. This type ranges from the murder/rapist to those who use every sort of manipulative tactic and deception just short of brute force to to obtain sexual gratification. Any attractive young woman walking down a busy street, for example, must endure continual vampiric/predator scanning. Even more classic is the neurotic vampire who feels the victim of other vampires while at the same time laments not being a more successful vampire himself. One of the most common sub-species of the neurotic vampire is the drama queen, a person who is forever pulling others into her vortex of self-pity so that she can feed off of their emotional energy. Many movies, songs and other cultural artifacts revolve around the vampire path. For example, romantic comedy movies are usually about the supposedly funny antics of well-groomed yuppies feverishly trying to succeed on the vampire path.

To many this critique may seem sanctimonious or even puritanical. To others it may seem that I am being a party pooper, trying to spoil all the fun in life. To avoid the vampire path we need to work through these classic objections. Let's start with sanctimonious. I claim no moral superiority through this or any of the cards because all of them were created as lessons for myself, signposts I've erected along my own journey that I hope have relevance for others. I'm writing this card because it's a struggle for me to avoid the vampire path. For example, in the card entitled "Grappling with the Dark Side of the Force," I wrote the following:

"Here's a very mundane example of the dark side of the force: There is someone I am intensely attracted to but that person is unavailable and/or does not return the attraction. I feel a force in me that wants that person to want me, wants that person not to be who they are, but what I want them to be. I feel a force that doesn't want that person to be free to choose what they want (unless it is also what I want), but that just wants this person. There is a rage inside the force because it is not getting everything it wants. The rage is not righteous indignation at some injustice; it is the rage of frustrated infantile omnipotence. The dark force inside of me assumes that the world is there to satisfy my wants, and everything I want should be there for my taking. The force wants what it wants when it wants it. How dare anyone else take what is mine, and it is all mine!

"The example above is just one of the myriad versions of the dark side of the force I can find within myself. Because I also have a will and a conscience and other forces within me, the dark force does not have to rule me, even though I do have to acknowledge and integrate its presence. If there aren't strong enough countervailing forces within me, then the dark thought-forms in the above example could turn me into a stalker, a predator, or some other sort of malignant narcissist. Indeed, this is exactly what the dark side of the force does to many who are out there on the street and in the corridors of power."

So I don't think I am being sanctimonious. I don't have a religious axe to grind, and there's no zaporacle.com monastery to join, no burqa or repressive measure I want anyone to adopt. Next objection: Am I being a party pooper? Wouldn't giving up the vampire path take all the fun out of life? The vampire path can be fun at times, but it also one of the greatest engines of suffering ever created. Romantic comedies only work because they end with the honeymoon or a giddy feeding frenzy of some sort. Actual relationships based on the same model go sour as quick as so many of the off-screen relationships of movie stars. The vampire path is its own party pooper. As someone once pointed out, few enterprises, besides diets, begin with such high hopes and typically end with such miserable results as most modern romances. Do I think the "sanctity of marriage" is the answer? Ten years after being married, 90% report being much less happy with their marriages than they were at the beginning.* Through whatever institution, ritual or rite, when you step on the path of seeking another to make yourself feel better (the most classic motivation for marriage and children) you are most likely to experience profound disappointment.

The opposite of the vampire path is the path of service. Service is often the healthiest and most fulfilling stance in many relationships. For example, it is better to raise children from the stance of service than from the vampiric stance of expecting the children to make you feel better. On the other hand, I'm not a big fan of identifying with polar absolutes. (see Dynamic Paradoxicalism — the Anti-Ism, Ism)

A man was once asked, "What's your purpose in life?"

"To help others," he replied.

"Then what are the other people here for?" asked the questioner.

The service stance is one of the healthiest and most fulfilling in many contexts, but if I come to absolutely identify with it, I've fallen for another fallacy. The nature of human incarnation is that we all need to serve and be served by others. Anyone reading this was served by adults when he or she was a helpless infant. As we go through the lifecycle there will likely be times of acute illness and/or old age when we need to be served by others. Symbiosis is what I aim at; I seek to both nourish others and to be nourished. If I focus mostly on my nourishment, I step onto the vampire path; if I focus exclusively on being a nourisher, I become the martyred caregiver type. Both of those paths are boring, stereotyped and unfulfilling.

Finally, in some of the cards on love I describe someone who found a powerful way to transcend the vampire path:

"Sometime in the Nineties an eighty-year-old woman, who was a Jungian analyst, gave a talk I attended in Boulder. At the end of her talk there were questions from the audience and the first one came from a young woman. 'Now that you are an elder,' asked the young woman, 'what can you tell me as a young woman about love?' The elder woman replied, 'When I was your age I was desperately trying to be loved. But now I know that it is better to simply be love."