The Nature of Vampirism
Written by: Michelle Belanger
Are you one of those psychic vampires who seems to get sick every time you travel? Take a new page from an old myth and explore the concept of Native Soil. I promise you, it's not as cheesy as you might think!
In one of my Shadowdance podcasts, I mention the concept of native soil. The topic comes up in connection with traveling, and it's especially relevant to specific technique I would use years ago when traveling to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed by the energy of a new and unfamiliar place. Quite obviously, I stole the concept of native soil directly from the vampire myths. In certain stories, a vampire can only sleep in its native soil, and this notion is expressed in the coffins filled with Transylvanian earth discovered by Van Helsing and gang when they finally tracked Dracula down to Carfax Abbey. The myth is also crucial to the Count Saint Germain in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's long-ranging series. Both of these works are fiction, however, so I imagine that you're wondering how on earth native soil is relevant to real live psychic vampires.
In my early twenties, I noticed that travel had a pretty negative effect on my energy. If I went out of state for a convention, I noticed that I was significantly weaker, less grounded, and more prone to the variety of illnesses that happen to me if my energy gets out of balance or too low. This was effect was pretty devastating in the years before I got a real handle on my energy. I'd travel out to a convention where I was supposed to present, and I'd have about one day where I could function normally, albeit with effort. The rest of the con, I was usually leveled, and even if I fought my way through all the discomfort, dizziness, and general yuck, once I got home I was usually sick for weeks with what typically appeared to be a mono relapse. In a word, it sucked, and I was strongly motivated to try to come up with methods to fix the problem. I tried more sleep and better food, but it became clear pretty quickly that the problem was less physical and more metaphysical, so I started looking to that side for possible fixes.
Since I was so weakened when I traveled too far away from home, one of my friends made the inevitable joke that I should have brought my native soil along with me. At this point, I was so desperate to be functional at the events I was working, that I figured, "What the hell?" So I tried it. I went to a local cemetery where I'd done a lot of personal meditation and magickal work. This was a place close to my childhood home where I had literally lain down energetic roots. Since there was a fresh grave, I got a bagful of dirt. And, as bizarre at it seemed, when I took this along with me to the next convention and stashed it under the hotel bed (much to the confusion of the housekeeper), I felt moderately better.
Of course, the skeptic in me was incredulous about this. Native soil? I mean, come on -- it's a vampire myth, for the love of all the gods! I might be a psychic vampire, but I was not Dracula! I figured it had to be the placebo effect, but to be honest, there was a part of me that didn't care too much so long as it worked. But the skeptical part of my brain kept picking at it until I got a handle on what was really going on. It wasn't the dirt that was helping so much as it was helpful to have a tangible tie to my place of power. The problems I was experiencing were connected to my natural energetic sensitivity and my very strong tendency to set down roots in a place.
Living in an area, you get used to its energy, and you also establish this sort of arrangement where you're more connected, more "jacked in" to its power sources. That type of energy might not sustain me as a vampire, but it can help stabilize and ground me. But I'm so sensitive to energy, pick me up out of my familiar environment and plunk me down in a new city and I can get easily overwhelmed. I'm reacting to all these new and sometimes intense flows of energy, and eventually, it's just too much. So, to help ground and maintain my connections to an energetic base that I was familiar with, I eventually learned (after the native soil experiment) to take along items from my room, home, or altar, all of which resonated strongly with that familiar "home" energy. This was my figurative native soil.
The technique helped a lot, and later I found that quite a lot of sensitive psychics and magickal workers find it hard to travel. Hotels rooms, especially, can be hard on sensitives, because their energy is never properly cleansed. Most psychics and magickal practitioners have to develop different methods of dealing with all the random, lingering energy and that ungrounded and thin-skinned feeling that comes from the upset of travel. These methods generally come down to shielding and grounding. Some will sage or otherwise cleanse their hotel rooms before their night's stay. Others, like me, intentionally bring items from home that carry positive and familiar energy to help ground and balance them.
I still bring a little bit of home with me wherever I go, although admittedly, as I've learned to better manage my energy across the board, travel has become easier and easier as the years go by. Which, considering the direction my career has taken lately, is a very good thing.