Ever have those mornings when you wake up more tired than when you went to bed? Those odd mornings where you remember dreaming and dreaming and your body feels every ache from what you did in your dreams? I am having one of those mornings. I slept a good seven hours and I feel like it was minutes. I had crazy vivid dreams all night and don’t seem to have gotten any actual rest. It’s times like these that I wish I still drank caffeine (I’m an insomniac, caffeine = bad). While I’m sure my exhaustion is just a random quirk of metabolism or possibly the beginning of a cold (it’s been going ‘round the office), but I can’t help but think about energy vampires.
There are lots of things out in the world that can deplete a person’s energy, most of which are perfectly mundane. However, some of those things are not so mundane, and they’re more common than you think. The most common energy vampire is what I call a Taker.
Takers are people who, for various reasons, feed on energy from other people. Most people have run into a Taker at one time or another, though they may or may not have realized it at the time. If you’ve ever known someone who made you feel exhausted just be being around them—and we all have—chances are you’ve met a Taker.
Takers are not inherently evil. In fact, most of them don’t even know what they’re doing. These are people whose subconscious minds have learned how to tap into the energy of people around them. Because most of them are unaware of what they are doing, they have no control over whom they tap into or how much energy they take. They simply take from anyone who has the misfortune of being near them.
No one really knows why people become Takers. One theory is that the taking of energy begins when the new Taker goes through some type of trauma, either emotional, such as losing a loved one, or physical, such as becoming seriously ill. Extreme situations can drain new Takers of so much of their own energy that they need to take it from those around them, and they either consciously or unconsciously learn to do so. Usually, a person will stop taking energy from those around him or her once the trauma has passed. However, some people will continue taking energy, thus becoming Takers permanently.
Takers can usually be recognized by their outward behavior. They tend to be “drama queens” who engage in constant histrionics for whatever energy and attention they can get. They crave attention and sympathy and will generally get quite upset if you refuse to commiserate with them. These are the folks who constantly complain about being mistreated, but whenever you ask them what they’re actually doing to change things they accuse you of being insensitive and then tell all of your friends how mean you were to them. After being near them for too long you will feel tired and irritable – not even a saint could deal with these people for long without wanting to throttle them. Although some Takers are far more subtle, these people tend to be weak or sickly and desperately “need” your help. These people prey on our most charitable instincts and will take all of your time and energy that they can get you to give. Though they may seem childlike and vulnerable, they are not. They’ve found a convincing act that gets them the attention they need and they will milk it for all its worth (basically the magickal equivalent of Munchausen Syndrome). The hard part is separating these Takers from those in genuine need – the difference being that a Taker will keep taking long after any real need has passed. Takers aren’t usually all that dangerous as long as you can get away from them. They may drain some of your energy, but you will quickly recover once they go away.
Basic shielding will protect you from the short-term effects of just being in the vicinity of a Taker. However, shielding alone can be insufficient if the Taker turns his or her attentions toward you. If the Taker tries to get you involved with his or her never-ending crises, simply refuse to do so and walk away. By steadily refusing to give them the attention they want they will usually move on to a more willing audience.
The best way to deal with Takers is to simply not be around them. If you cannot physically get away from a Taker (if the Taker is a classmate or a coworker), the best thing to do is spend as little time talking to them as possible. This minimizes the Taker’s opportunities to monopolize your attentions and therefore energies.