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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in fighting fear

 Replacement Sliding Patio Doors | Stanek Custom Patio Doors

In a moment of weakness a couple of months ago, I agreed to cantor for this ritual. Now that the time is here, quite frankly, I don't really want to do it.

But I agreed to it, so I do it anyway. That's what personal honor is all about.

At first, things go fine. I'm a good cantor not because I have a particularly nice voice—it's pleasant enough, but no great shakes—but because I've got a good memory for tunes. Of the ten possible tunes to which we could sing these particular words, I can access the one that we want, on the spot. This gift of instant recall is so deeply ingrained that it took me a long time to realize that it's not something that everyone can do. That's why I'm here: gifts are for the sharing.

About two-thirds of the way through the ritual, I start in with a tune that I've just learned. Two days ago, I didn't know it, though I'd heard it before; but I'm a quick study, and it's been running through my head pretty much continuously ever since. Life for the musical is lived to an internal soundtrack. I woke up this morning with the tune running through my head.

The song starts with a chorus. The tune is catchy, and everyone sings along enthusiastically.

Then comes the verse, and a crevasse opens up at my feet.

The tune is gone.

Every performer knows that sooner or later you're going to screw up bigtime in public. If you survive it, without drying, this invariably marks a turning point in your performance career. It's the performer's initiation, really, and not everyone manages to get through with confidence intact.

But if you do, it changes what comes after. Once you've already made a fool of yourself in public and survived anyway, you lose a lot of your fear of ever having it happen again.

I open my mouth and sing. What comes out of it isn't the tune; it's not even a good improvisation.

But I keep going anyway, if unbeautifully, and in no time we're back at the chorus and back on track. Hey, this is ritual: chances are, people aren't paying particularly close attention to the details. Besides, I've been here before, and managed to come out still alive on the other side.

This is one of the lessons of the priesthood (one which, sadly, many never learn): that your job as priest is to direct the focus, not to be the focus. Sometimes that means that you have to pull the kind of attitude that a cat pulls when it runs headfirst into the sliding glass door: you sit back, preen, and radiate: I meant to do that.

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Dis-Spelling All Fear: Full Moon Rite

For overcoming panic, anxiety or your innermost fears, you can turn to your banishing block touchstone. You probably already have a crystal you turn to, but if not, allow me to recommend the rose-red marvel known as Rhodochrosite. This striking stone is also invaluable for overcoming fear and paranoia (mental unease). Rhodochrosite abets a more positive worldview. One of the simplest and best aspects of this crystal is that it will help you to sleep more peacefully, shoving apprehension, worry, and woe out of your mind so you can heal body and soul. Your dreams will be positive, too. This is a remarkable stone for affirming the self, allowing for absolute self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. Rhodochrosite brings together the spiritual plane and the material place. This crystal is important because it permits the heart to feel hurt and pain deeply, and this processing of emotions nurtures growth.

Sit on the floor, legs crossed, and breathe deeply nine times. Take the touchstone into your hands and chant:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_praybeads1_sm.jpgWhat makes you feel safe? What makes you feel tense and anxious? Does anything make you fear for you life? Most of us can answer that question, but how much sense does the answer make?

My mother was emotionally wounded by her relationship with my father. He was an alcoholic and cheated on her. When the feminist movement rose, she was primed for it.  I was raised to distrust  - and fear – men, which did nothing positive for my future relationships. My father’s abuse of me primed for fear of rape, and the ensuing divorce primed me to fear abandonment. I spent years in a chronic state of anxiety. Going out into the world always required an act of will. Some days I just couldn’t. My animals – horse, cats, dog – were my saving grace. My horse was why I left the house. He needed to be provided for, and the barn was a haven.

I was afraid of being catcalled, raped, having things come at me that I didn’t expect, loosing work (I had a housecleaning business) being audited, not being able to pay the bills, my boyfriend of the moment leaving me. Some of those things were under my control: ie the likelihood of my loosing work was reduced if I did a good job, the likelihood of being raped went down if I didn’t expose myself to certain situations (the reality of one never deserving to be raped is completely different from the statistical data about when and where it occurs), and I could spend less than I made. (generally I spent more. I had a HORSE.) Some things were not under my control: being catcalled, begin audited, and having unexpected things come at me (by definition).

But why fear some things but not others? I didn’t fear driving, and my likelihood of  being injured in a car accident was far higher than the likelihood that I would be audited, or raped (Are there statistics on catcalling in the 90s?) or even killed by fists or bunt object. I was not afraid of being shot - depsite the crime rate being higher back then than it is now. But then, we didn’t have the internet back then, and I didn’t own a TV.

Current brain science confirms that we are biased toward information that is negative. It is so basic to our biology that we don’t think about it. there are perfectly practical reasons for this. Nature is dangerous. It’s better for a clawless, furless primate to think that that rustle in the bushes is a leopard than to relax and ignore it, and  this trait work just as well when we are our own predators. But this trait is rotten for evaluating current actual threats. From the standpoint of human existence, we are barely off the savannah, but modern humans still have most of those instincts. This is generally a good thing. After all, when we get that feeling that something is wrong, we are well served to listen.

But it’s a bad thing when we use our fear to dictate what others should or should not do. Do as thou wilt, but harm none means that my rights end at your nose, and vice versa. There is no such thing as a right that forces others to do things for me, or that prevents others from doing as they please as long as they stay off my property and away from my person. Being afraid that my neighbor will do X (leaving aside for a moment the whole “attracting what you fear” thing) does not mean that I am morally justified in advocating for a law against X. First and foremost, I may be fearing a leopard, when its really a porcupine in the bushes, who would much rather be left alone.

Some things make us more afraid than we need to be based on how often the feared thing actually happens. I spent a lot of time ruminating on the things I feared. My brain made trenches with those thoughts that got deeper and deeper. Climbing out was hard. It became easier when I had a reason to climb out (my animals) and the comfort and reassurance of connection to deity. It also became easier when I learned to defend myself (ie a concrete action). External things can feed those fears. Media is an obvious example, but there are also likely to be people around us that wallow in such fears. My BIL is into prepping.* he talks often about society collapsing. As it happens, that was another thing I feared when I was in my teens (I read On The Beach and grew up during the cold war) and I had to get past that in order to function in the here and now. I can’t spend too much time chatting with him or he will draw me back into that fear.

Our biology biases us toward fear, but giving in to it is not a way to have a good life. I believe that the gods want better for us.

What do you fear? And how do you ease those fears? 

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If I could write for an empty room, a totally empty audience, I would be incredibly prolific. 


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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    Okay, so he knows, but doesn't accept. Is he one of "the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ" types, or will he accept t
  • Carla
    Carla says #
    Yup, the "salvation is only through Christ" kind. He does accept that other people have other paths but is of the opinion they're
  • Carla
    Carla says #
    Thanks Lee and Rick for your very insightful observations. My beliefs are not a problem in my workplace or for my family, although
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    Instead of a pentagram, maybe you could find something that identifies you to others like us - if you want. You could wear a moon
  • Rick
    Rick says #
    1. Be politically incorrect. It is fun. Just being a witch is politically incorrect. 2. How will you know you are wrong if you don

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Keeping Calm v. Carrying On

The other day I was gifted with the opportunity to practice what I preach.

I received a shock that left me hurt, angry, and more than a bit anxious.  My tummy churned, my breathing became shallow, and I slipped into negative thinking – angry thoughts towards myself and others, fearful thoughts about finances, dark humor.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you, Alianna! My main goal with my blog is to give practical examples and suggestions to make it easier for my readers to s
  • Alay'nya
    Alay'nya says #
    Dear Ashley - Really, REALLY, REALLY GOOD. We all need continued encouragement and practical examples of how to shift when we'

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