Dreaming of Sin-Eaters
My recent dreams of a human with an odd gift have lent inspiration to begin this article. The dream begins on the outskirts of the woods. A woman lives in a small cabin and her face is kept hidden beneath a tattered cloth. She spends time with animals more than people who keep their eyes to the ground in fear of her. They came to her when they were troubled or a relative had recently passed away. As the observer in the dream, I thought I was looking at the witch archetype until she began to pull strange, living black clouds out of both the living and the dead.
Living black clouds were a dream image I’d been accustomed to since 2005. I didn’t have a logical reference for the symbol but found it noted in my journal through the year. The dream continued for three nights. I heard a voice call her a “sin eater”. The voice seemed to narrate the woman’s life before speaking to me directly. It said that the path of a sin-eater wasn’t one I had to follow. Those final words rang in my head as I sat up in my bed wide awake.
A sin-eater as history accounts it, is a person having the power to unburden people by devouring their sins through ritual acts. Most often, this was said to take the form of a literal meal eaten near or on the body of the person afflicted. “The sin-eater whispered over the meal and then consumed it in the presence of the family. Unburdened by their carnal transgressions, the dead could now enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (http://weekinweird.com/2012/06/29/dining-damnation-short-history-death-eaters/) I’d never heard of these individuals. Taking to my usual methods of attempting to understand something new, I entrenched myself in anything I could find.
Graves across various parts of Europe were known to be the resting places of these poor people. The BBC released a short article on a sin eater that included a picture of the grave. There are records in various places across European countries of people reputed to be sin eaters. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/objects/_eO3wrJmR9G8oNpMfVSv6g) They were also known in various places in the United States. Sandy Gorin of the Kentucky Historical and Genealogical society writes about them existing in the Appalachian regions until the 1940s. (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/KENTUCKY-LEGENDS/2013-06/1371649328 Grave houses and the Sin Eaters Ref.) The research on sin eaters combined with my own experiences of dream walking and empathy started to reveal what I needed to understand. I hypothesized that sin-eaters were incredibly sensitive individuals having the ability to deeply empathize and connect with people. I came to this idea due to many things that have happened over the years.
Though I never knew what dream walking was until 2007, I did have an understanding that dreams could breach the boundaries of the individual having the dream.
I first read Michelle Belanger’s book, Dreamwalking May of 2007. It was the first time I’d heard someone else vividly describe what I’d been experiencing since I was seven years old. Memories of odd coincidences surfaced very quickly. On one occasion, I sat around the fire with a group of sixth-grade friends at a boy’s and girl’s camp-out my mother loved to organize every year. There were ten of us all together. We’d been taking turns telling scary tales. It was my closest friend, Joni’s turn. Joni started her story by saying that it was a terrible dream. “In my dream I was staying the night and we left your room to get a drink of water and go to the bathroom. When we came back to your room it was dark and a horrible creature started to chase us down the hall!” I was drawn in and perplexed by her tale. It was a dream I’d had only two nights prior to the party. Of course, I knew more gruesome details and chimed in: “Oh yes, the monster was awful. It had slithery tentacles where legs should have been. Its skin was yellowed and rough, and it showed a terrible grin with a detachable, snake-like jaw. A terrifying feeling came as its one large eye peered at us through a hole in the bathroom door.” I was sure I scared my friend that night. She wanted to know how I knew the details.
Boundaries dissolved in the dream worlds. Often, I pulled people into my dreams and there were times I’d visit their dreams instead. Empathy had no apparent define lines much like my dreaming experiences. The thoughts, emotions, fears and even physical ailments of others leeched into my energy field as though I were a black hole Often people commented about how much better they felt around me, peaceful feelings, and even one person who said they felt intoxicated. It made me uneasy despite joking to friends about being a human vacuum cleaner.
The Empathy allowed me to connect to others and the dream walking just made this more pronounced. I devoured dense energy, but it had begun to take a toll when I could no longer cycle it out of my body. Grounding became increasingly difficult, my body literally echoed with sharp pains without logical or medical reasons.
I learned that the dream walking was my ‘back up.’ When I was sick, or my energy dropped too low I dream-walked to replenish those sources. It was my instinct kicking in. That instinct was a real vortex beast and at times, it left others depleted. I had serious illnesses I’d struggled with from a young age. With time and help, my dreams began to help me to heal; the dream about the Sin-Eaters was one such dream.
Perhaps, Sin-Eaters were very powerful Empaths with other spiritual talents. The extreme energy exchange and lack of recovery eventually left their physical and spiritual bodies riddled with the guilt, fear, sadness, shame and terror that others wanted to give away. Who is to say a Sin-Eater knows what they are so much as being aware of what it is they can do for others? I don’t know. The voice in the dream said that it didn’t have to be the way that I saw it, and that is a great comfort.
I hope to have less in common with the Sin-Eater as the black clouds dissipate from me and return to their origins. I’ve learned to take better care of my own needs. This means that I have to separate myself physically from others in order to reconnect, ground and keep my balance. I place myself in environments that are healthier and as a result I too am healthier. When my energy body is in good shape I find that I dream walk less, and I don’t make the mistake of absorbing dense energy that doesn’t belong to me.
Other Links on Sin Eaters: