Review of Esoteric Empathy: A Magickal & Metaphysical Guide to Emotional Sensitivity by Raven Digitalis
Mr Digitalis’ Esoteric Empathy outlines his personal journey of development as empath. He cites numerous scholarly sources and uses checklists to enable readers to use his text like a workbook. There is much practical information contained therein, including strategies to avoid being overwhelmed at memorials and shrines, as well as grounding, centering and shielding. Mr Digitalis finishes with tips for dealing with clients. Throughout there are tips for empaths who might occasionally feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to turn to. Mr Digitalis casts his net out wide and encompasses numerous spiritual modalities, clearly demonstrating the universality of empathy. He covers a lot of ground, and readers will find themselves drawn to things relating to their own paths. In my case, it was the references to Greek philosophy and ceremonial magick that were most interesting to me, but there is so much more for readers with other interests.
Mr Digitalis provides us with a working definition of empathy:
“Empathy is an emotional experience. It can be described as the ability to feel what another person is feeling. Empathy is everywhere, taking place on numerous levels simultaneously. … For Witches, Pagans, magicians, and other spiritual seekers who have dedicated themselves to aligning with the tides of nature and the self, empathetic awareness can help in navigating life’s trials and tribulations. Empathy is an invaluable asset in both spiritual and magickal progression. Having the capability of stepping into someone else’s emotional worldview opens a door of unlimited spiritual potential. We all find ourselves navigating this crazy place called reality, constantly influencing each other’s lives through emotion-based interactions. Thoughts and emotions work hand in hand to influence our consciousness and behavior, which in turn influences everyone around us. By understanding the necessity for emotional awareness, emotional connection, and emotional control, we enter a realm of empowerment as the influential, magickal souls we’re meant to be.”
Mr Digitalis points out that:
“Though the experience of empathy is as old as consciousness itself, the actual word empathy is less than a hundred years old. … The word empathy itself comes from the German Einfühlung, meaning ‘feeling into.’ This term is connected to the Greek empatheia, which consists of em- (‘in’) and pathos (‘feeling’).”
Elsewhere, he adds:
“I find it fascinating that the early Greeks had no word to express the modern English word emotion. Instead, pathos referred to affective emotion—a person’s reaction to an occurrence or incident—as a response rather than an independent sensation. Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates included some amount of emotional analysis in their philosophical discourses, but most of their explorations into emotion were concerned with aversive versus attractive stimuli pertaining to a person’s mind (cognition). People desire good food, company, shelter, and pleasures of the flesh, all of which can be seen as occurring on different levels of the mind and are the opposite of fear or aversion. Primary points of focus were the contrasting relationships between pleasure versus pain, confidence versus fear, and immediate versus lasting feelings, and how the mind interacts with the physical body. Different philosophies were, of course, explored differently in each school of thought. In general, emotions were recognized but were only rationally expounded upon in early Greek philosophy.”
Regarding the practice of ceremonial magick, Mr Digitalis states:
“Esoteric groups build empathy in the form of social support coupled with ritual drama. After all, to invoke a deity or spirit is to empathically connect with its vital essence. To enact metaphorical and mythology-based drama during ceremony is to empathically invoke those mythic pantheons into the observers and participants. Empathy is a force in Witchcraft used to align with Spirit and to help manifest wishes, prayers, and spells for oneself and one’s community.
One would be hard-pressed to find an overt emphasis on empathy within Western magickal paths—but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Instead, we are more prone to find an emphasis on the power of love, both human and cosmic. While these forces may not be specifically termed ‘empathy,’ the idea of love as a force of spiritual goodness can be found in all varieties of religions and mystical systems in the Western world. The extent to which one embraces and lives by ‘love’ as an esoteric force is entirely up to the interpretation of the practitioner.”
Mr Digitalis goes on to discuss the role of love in the teachings of Doreen Valiente and Aleister Crowley, and then ties it all in with empathy:
“One of the most relevant ways that this love can be expressed in the world is through the consistent utilization of empathy. We can more easily learn life’s lessons and grow in spiritual consciousness when we exercise our esoteric empathy throughout daily life.”
So, why is this important?
“What’s even better is that empathy actively advances love, which in many ways can be considered the highest and most spiritually significant force in reality. If spiritual views of karma, reincarnation, and individual dharma are to be believed (ideals that spring primarily from Hinduism and Vedic philosophies of ancient India), then everyone (both human and animal alike) comes into our lives for a reason.
We interact with each other on the earth plane to propel each other’s spiritual progression, often in order to heal old imprints of trauma buried deep in lifetimes forgotten. Experienced mystics believe that empathy and love serve to resolve these trauma-based imprints, unhinging our spirits from soul-level depths of sorrow and violence and emphatically pushing us to our highest human potential and more deeply toward interconnectivity. Empathy is the key to love, and love is the key to enlightenment.”
Thus, if spiritual development is dependent on cultivating love, then empathy becomes the key to that progress.
Mr Digitalis points out that:
“Grounding, centering, and shielding are some of the most common terms used when discussing energy work and personal healing. When we feel off-kilter, our experience of reality also becomes imbalanced. Our world is what we make of it, to a large degree. Ensuring personal safety, both physically and metaphysically, is of the utmost importance as we confidently strive to be the most balanced empaths we can be.”
Energetic shielding, however, is difficult for strong empaths:
“ … empaths face more difficulty in shielding, because even the slightest emotional experience has the potential to instantly burst that bubble of protective energy if the mind is not controlled. Energy, prayer, and magick are largely conducted through intention, both mentally and emotionally, and if an experience in life discombobulates the empath, the untamed mind can latch on to the experience and cause one’s prebuilt walls to come crashing down in an instant.”
Mr Digitalis goes on to tackle this issue, providing energetic shielding techniques.
Very little seems to escape Mr Digitalis’ attention when he tackles the issue of empaths being about to blend into the mundane world:
“… empaths tend to perceive the emotional realm before perceiving other aspects of communication. This makes it necessary to learn about society and about ourselves in order to interact more comfortably with our fellow humans. Emotionally sensitive people and deep thinkers notoriously take substantial periods of time to digest public interactions and social situations. Understanding society’s intricacies is a lifelong process, not least because social norms and customs vary from culture to culture—and they’re constantly changing!”
Mr Digitalis points out that empathy is a two-way street and lends itself readily to the practice of magick:
“In part because empaths approach spellcraft and magick from an emotional perspective, controlling our own lives and the energies around us is how we gain more stable footing to influence our surroundings. Projective empathy can be utilized when working prayer or magick on others, while internal emotional awareness can hone the spellcraft performed for ourselves. When intentional prayers are performed on or for another person, the practitioner must empathetically access that person’s emotional state. Emotion and cognition go hand in hand, so understanding someone’s emotions can lead to an understanding of the mind.”
All in all, Esoteric Emapthy, is a very information dense book covering a wealth of material. For readers who are serious about their spiritual paths, the more empathic they are, the more they will need to read this book.