F is for Fear.
This time of year is a celebration of the liminal times, as the seasons shift once more, and the dark beckons.
It’s a time of not knowing who we are becoming. The not knowing, or mystery, as we start the descent into the underworld. To follow Persephone and Inanna through the womb of winter’s gifts. To snuggle close in the arms of our ancestors, feeling the wisdom in their bones palpable and true.
Yet, as with all things that end, before rebirth, we are called and invited to sit in the limbo lands, to lean into the discomfort that uncertainty brings, and to draw upon something ancient and wise to guide us through the coming darkness.
When we do not know, we find fear becomes the one who pays a visit. It arrives when loss and death are what we face, when we are activated by some old trauma or trigger, or when we feel the safety of the shore becoming less visible as we sail through our days.
For me fear has been visiting again recently, a combination of life’s lunatic surprises, and the ending of a relationship all within the same month! Fear. Hello, old pal. What gifts and wisdom do you bring to me this time?
Can fear be sacred?
Scared and sacred are composed of the same letters. It’s just that they are spelled differently. Words are the ultimate spell casters, we create our lives as we think, speak, and then act from the foundation of what we are telling ourselves. What are you telling yourself?
Fear is telling ourselves a lot of silhouetted stories. Projected onto the screen of our minds like shadow puppets. Akin to those old fashioned black and white horror movies. Making us jump and sit on the edge of our seats. These images are not real yet are tainted by a veil that obscures the truth. That of life. That of who we are. That of love.
Do we fear “fear” itself?
It’s like sticky flypaper: fear flypaper. Like a dream catcher, yet instead of capturing dreams, it captures the fear before it coats us and weighs us down.
Fear has no flow. It’s stuckness. And thus, we are unable to respond from one moment to the next. There is no space available. Just a feeling of compression, a tightness, a suffocating squash. Rolling around like a headless fly in an eddy of our own universal making, a microscopic myopic world that is as small as a pinprick. That becomes our world. A cesspit of fear and flies. No juice. No fun. Play cannot exist here. Nor can life itself. Fear can paralyze us. Control us. It’s the outcome of perfection. It grips us.
I know this place well. It has been familiar to me over the years of my life—its Velcro hooks stroking my heart and mind.
Do I believe it? Do I know that I have a choice? To have discernment, and the power of mindful awareness. Of pausing to check if it’s real or a delusion, an illusion of improper use of the mind. And a forgetting of my soul. This helps. Helps to know that I have a choice before it corners me with doubt, its cohort. Doubt colors everything with destruction and self-sabotage.
What are you afraid of? What am I afraid of?
Of going mad. Of ending up alone. Of wasting my time and gifts. Of not living as deeply as I can. Of not loving as deeply as I can. Of missing it all. Of not going all in and following what turns me on, what brings me joy, and where I feel to tread. Of failing and of succeeding too. Of hitting my upper limit and crashing. Of allowing fear to rob me of a life of bravery, rawness, and wildness.
What are you most fearful of?
What we are most scared of is what we most want. Because freedom is on the opposite side of fear.
Unfortunately, when we turn away from fear, we turn away from excitement too. We miss excitement running its breathless tracks through our veins. We treat what we have labelled as fear as something to feel threatened by rather than something full of possibilities.
Have we listened to fear? Held its hand? Seen what needs are nestled behind its shadows?
Fear is a survival strategy but as we change and grow, we shed our skins. To live raw and wild requires us to live with our skin exposed. Even more so if you are an artist, or a sensitive, or have been called for a life of soul this time around. The artist is continually hiding and exposing themselves. I loved reading once that Georgia O’Keeffe professed to feeling terrified every day of her life, and yet she didn’t let it stop her from doing what she wanted to do.
I do. Or I have done so far in my life.
I’ve done things that many people might view as brave. Such as travelling alone for long periods of time. Travelled deep within and willingly stared my ego in the face as I lay down deeper with my soul. I’ve created things. I’ve loved. I’ve kept my heart open despite the many times it has experienced loss or grief or hurt or disappointment. I show up on this page and share what often feels most vulnerable to do so. Sure.
But I have been left questioning recently, what does it mean to be brave? To feel the fear and do it anyways? To know that everything that I want is on the opposite side of fear. And that often, facing fear means letting be what I am resisting, letting this turn into an acceptance, a letting go, that creates the space for life to respond with its infinite miracles and bizarre moments of sheer breathtaking magic and wonder.
There is a great power inside fear.
We can tap into this as a fuel. Raw material to create. To express. To offer to life as art and ritual and part of the holy moly sacredness that is in everything, even when we forget.
Here lies the gifts of fear. How much it tenderizes us. How much it reveals a care. How much our heart feels alive. The raw beat of excitement. A pulsing energy needing a place to go, to be directed outwards, a quivering and flaming arrow shot into the dark, lighting the way.
What if we never get rid of fear? Can we claim it and integrate it? Learn how to move with it? For within fear is fire. Is life. Is passion. Is truth. Is vulnerability. Is voice. Is love itself.
It isn’t the point to get rid of it but to climb upon its back, take hold of its reigns, and ride it bareback.
What if we stopped hiding the fear? Can we turn toward rather than run away? Can we lean in instead, even as our voice shakes, and our palms sweat, and our heart beats? Bring back shaking. Not judging. For love is inside of fear, and love can hold fear too. Love can hold anything. To choose love and bravery and risk requires going into the mystery. Letting go of control. Not knowing. Being willing to be surprised. Being willing to get lost. To be in the limbo lands. To be untethered for a while.
Yes, it makes our bones rattle and our blood curdle and our teeth chatter and turns us to ice in its deathly wake. For it is a death rattle. Of some untruth. Of some moment where we have to face an edge, go over it, jump, trust.
Trust dissolves fear into a pool of tender tears and soft, openhearted living. Facing fear makes us stronger, more resilient, and wiser. It teaches us that all of these difficult places hold medicine within their vials, within their veins. Its ancient and primal and born from the first separation, birth. It gives us a clear voice and seeing eyes. More solidity. Deep empathy and compassion. A humility like no other. It teaches us about true courage, which is faith. A hand holding ours as we shake into oblivion and into dissolution as we shed our outgrown skin.
It gifts us wild abundance and deep generosity.
It’s a part of our wildness. It’s a part of where we have lost connection to the wild landscape that civilized culture paints over with pretty murals and stucco walls, paved steppingstones of neat paths, and safety. We have to untangle from its grip. Like being caught in the thorny branches of a wild blackberry bush. And then eat the sweet purple staining fruit. Our reward.
May we have a new relationship to and with fear. To turn this to one of connection, to trust and faith and spirit. Of true alignment. We must have a sense of self, and we grow and muscle this with practice. We stop believing the doubts and fear thoughts and become empty. Like the fool. We become innocence. A wild innocence that freedom frolics with.
Fear is a part of life. Of living. It’s death, and we will meet it over and over again.
At this underworld time, let your bones shake and rattle, and let yourself dance with fear. It’s one of the greatest of sacred meetings that we could choose.
Just remember that you are love, my love.