One of the previous jobs I did was acting as a historical guide, and I gave pretty kick-ass WWII battle-site tours that gave me a fetish for map rooms and good acoustics. But these tours did have stories of suffering and trauma; and I started becoming aware of what energies were evoked in my listeners and environments as I relayed them. Stories told in remembrance and tribute (the hero stories) seemed to have a small cleansing effect on places; stories of injustice invoked unease; salacious stories that bordered on irreverent, well… strange things happened. But tour schedules were tight and could suffer no delays. I learned to be more careful, and that certain spiritual preparations prevented weird stuff happening to my groups.
That job made me aware that wherever great pain, suffering and shock has occurred, place holds memory and energy that is palpable to the sensitive. It made me angry and conscious that many atrocities were committed by people who were likely numb or psychopathic, in a traumatised state themselves, and unable or unwilling resist further wrongdoing. And, not all damage is physical, but even so, it’s held in physicality by places and bodies that store trauma. Emotional and psychological pain (the dealing of which is pushed under the clean/clinical term of “mental health”) is often perpetuated by those who learned and believe, in a nutshell, that feelings don’t matter.
When this becomes “truth”, however, the believer still doesn’t stop having feelings. They just stop hearing and acknowledging them–in others, in themselves, or in both. Doing so, they believe themselves “rational” while others “hysterical”, “emotional” or just less than human, and feelings of lesser beings definitely don’t matter. (Bear with me and the psych stuff, I’m still going to come back to ghost stories.)
Those who believe feelings don’t matter:
- Won’t learn to identify, label, and articulate them
- Don’t learn that you have a right to yours, and others to theirs
- Don’t learn that feelings and emotions need validation, sometimes understanding and action
- Don’t learn that the sharing and mutual understanding of feelings is what strengthens relationships and brings intimacy
- Learn to live through an inauthentic mask, fearing feelings and “negative” emotions because their sole “management” technique is avoidance, denial and suppression
- Refuse responsibility for their own feelings and project them onto others because of THEIR lack of coping tools, shame, or both
- Can become a tyrant over others (controlling or making decisions for others “for their own good”) and/or over themselves. They may keep doing the “logical thing” over their own wants and become resentful, and/or take responsibilities that aren’t theirs, exacerbating the resentment and judgment of others
- Can tolerate (or even cause) the exploitation and suffering of self or others
- Grapple with how to manage and channel strong emotions, and may spend a lot of effort trying to avoid them
- Wonder why they’ve done everything “right” and still feel (heh) like crap
(The other, inadvertent thing I got to study in my life and my historical interests was basically how bullies were created.)
Anyway, my childhood obsession with ESP and the supernatural returned in my adult jobs that gave me direct experience of the weird and metaphysical. In astrology, the taboo and psychological have always been shoved into the same house and sign: Scorpio and the 8th house. The house of sex, intimacy, psychology, taboos, and the occult. I suppose what all these have in common is that most people would rather keep these topics in the dark.
The sign and house is also known as the “house of secrets”–and why not? Sex, the supernatural, and the vulnerability around our unconscious drives and desires (including our hidden fears) can receive plenty of derision from people uncomfortable with these subjects. Intense emotions can include fear, shame, and unworthiness, and again we may actually be dealing with a lack of tools or loss of control when we find ourselves grappling with these. It almost doesn’t matter if these strong negative emotions are being elicited by media or real life, the living or the dead.
In the end, all stories, be they ghost stories, war stories, hero stories, or tragedies, want faithful telling from the victims and not the victors alone. In fact, victor’s stories, with their cover-ups, oversimplifications, erroneous attributions of success, and claims to superiority, sometimes aren’t more than propaganda and rationalisations for the status quo. And in retelling these triumphant stories in black-and-white, good-and-evil terms, we can lose opportunities to understand the other side and the shades in between.
Maybe for all these stories (I’m also looking at you, Bad Art Friend), it’s less important to choose a side as it is to acknowledge pain and suffering is… awful no matter which side you’re on. Yet some groups and individuals try to bear suffering without creating or perpetuating it onto others, and they succeed in various degrees. This needs to be lauded. Others may not be capable of the self-reflection or just do not have the resources to do differently than to turn around and carry on abusive patterns.
It’s noteworthy to me that good historians, journalists and counsellors essentially have common purpose–to seek and to hear the untold stories. These stories ask for understanding and witnessing. And some ask for accountability and pattern breaking. This cannot be done by keeping the uncomfortable things hidden.
The “low” side of Scorpio and 8th house energy is secretiveness and unowned hypersensitivity. The integrated side recognises that not everyone handles intensity, authenticity and “negativity” well, but that should not deter the native finding their own treasure, value, and purpose in the dark places, be they ghost stories, hidden histories, taboos, or the understanding of trauma.
It’s in the dark that light is most needed.
(First posted to Instagram on Halloween 2021)
Cover photo: https://www.pexels.com/@delia