When I was little, I was scared of the moon.
My bedroom window had venetian blinds, and every night the moon was out I’d position myself in whatever corner of the bed that I had to to make sure the moon didn’t shine through the slits in the blinds. If I caught a glimpse of it, I’d jump with fear and throw the covers over my head. I was terrified of that moon.
Really, though, I was scared of everything as a kid. Obviously I was scared of the dark. But more than that, I was scared of being alone. If I had to get something from my room in the middle of the day, I’d ask my mom or my babysitter to come with me for fear that something would pop in at me from my window. Once I asked my mom to come stand in the doorway of the bathroom during the 90 seconds it took me to pee and wash my hands.
To this day I’m scared of looking through telescopes. I love stargazing and take my telescope out to the patio several nights a month, but in the moment when I lean down to put my eye to the eyepiece, I still feel that gut-wrenching dread. I think of the third corner of the Witch’s Pyramid—audare, to dare–and breathe in strength as I bend to look at Venus or Jupiter. But the terror is still there. I googled it and found out that I’m not the only person afraid of telescopes.
When I was little I saw a ghost in my room: a human-shaped shadow that squeezed my shoulder and faded as I turned to look. Was that the origin of my fear of being alone? It was shortly before I began sleeping in my mom’s bed every night.
In many ways, fear defined my childhood. In many ways, fear has defined my life.
* * *
According to Starhawk, we witches have a saying: where there’s fear, there’s power. (Starhawk is thus far the only witch I’ve actually heard say this, but I’m a solitary, and I don’t get out much.)
A few months ago, I worked with Isis for the first time. I’d begun having dreams about Isis, so I knew going into this spell that she was waiting to work with me. I knew shit was going to get real.
In the spell, I had a glass of wine to use as a libation. I didn’t realize, though, that the light from the candles was refracting through the glass and creating circles on the ceiling. I only looked up after I’d cast the circle and invoked Isis, when I had worked into a pretty good trance, and when I saw those circles on the ceiling, I jumped out of my skin.
Where there’s fear, there’s power. That irrational fear was my signal that Isis was there. Yes, Isis is lovely and motherly and nice. But she’s also a big power.
I’ve wondered where my fear of the uncanny stems from. A simple explanation is patriarchy–my moonly womanish sense of Goddess love was perverted by et cetera et cetera. But that explanation feels like an ill-fitting sweater. It does the job, but…it just doesn’t sit right.
This fear came from somewhere, but I doubt I’ll ever know where. Because where do you pick up a fear of telescopes? How exactly does that happen?
Where there’s fear, there’s power. To be honest, I think that’s the best explanation I’m ever going to get.
When I was giving birth and my daughter was crowning, I could feel myself on the verge of tearing and I kept holding back. “It hurts,” I finally cried. “Push through that,” the midwife said. I knew she was going to say that because that’s what they said in my childbirth class. I’d learned ahead of time that the only way to end the pain of labor was to push through it. (It’s the type of wisdom that seems really obvious until you have to use it.) So I pushed. And I tore. Tearing is no fun at all, but my daughter was born and labor was over. I would much rather have a daughter than be in labor forever.
So that’s what I tell myself when I feel that fear, when I know I have to Dare. Push through it. Push through it. Push through that fear and touch some of that power.