What Are You Afraid Of? It’s Only You

By M.W. Whitaker

Have you ever thought that that reason you don’t do something is that you are afraid? Sometimes our fear is valid. Fear can protect us. Not wanting to swim through a crocodile-infested river doesn’t make you a coward, nor does running with the bulls indicate bravery. Fear can protect us in some cases, and give us the fight or flight necessary for our survival. But what about our other fears? Where do they come from and how do they shape us in our daily lives?

We fear rejection. We fear being alone or of something bad happening in our lives. But worst of all, we are afraid of ourselves. This last fear is one that is instilled in us, whether by others, by diverse religious beliefs or because we learn it somewhere. We are taught to fear and suppress our darker sides. We’re taught that we are born evil and can only be redeemed through Christ, and that our whole life we must deny the darker part of our nature. And that’s the kicker. We’re denying part of who we are.

Dark and light are interconnected and interwoven throughout existence. Consider the Celtic knot, or the yin-yang symbol. Even the Gods have this duality. Amitābha is one of the many incarnations of Buddha and is kind and benevolent, however, he also has a wrathful side: Yamantaka. Shiva is a destroyer god, but his destruction brings renewal and regrowth, just as Sekhmet can for her devotees.  Need  further convincing of how darkness and light are interwoven?  Look at nature.

Great white sharks are terrifying creatures.  The are the size of a good size car or truck, have hard dagger teeth, and can swim far faster than a human being.  They attack from below and underneath  a person who would never see them coming.  However, sharks of all persuasions serve a vital ecological niche.  Look at coral reefs.  A large shark preys on fish like the giant grouper.   If there is no shark to eat the grouper, the grouper will eat the parrotfish which loves to eat algae off of coral reefs, and keep them healthy.  With no predator, biodiversity can collapse, and reefs can die.    Fishermen were killing Pacific sea otters because they were eating some of the salmon, however, while sea otters do like salmon, they also like to eat purple sea urchins which kill the kelp forests that baby salmon mature in.  Fishermen found that when they stopped killing sea otters, their catches improved.  A ladybug looks sweet, but it eats other bugs in a garden.  A sunflower sea star is beautiful, but is also an apex predator on the sea floor.

This plane of existence is the union of opposites.  You cannot have life without death, joy without sorrow, nor light without dark.  Why would you be any different?

Have you ever met your shadow self, or seen the darker side of you? If you haven’t, you might want to introduce yourself, and embrace that part of who you are. Should you let your dark side run everything? Of course not. Sometimes it is more appropriate to work with light. But sometimes, as a witch you have to stare into the abyss within yourself and know that you are being stared back at. Nature is an interwoven tapestry of darkness and light, and so are you. What are you afraid of? It’s only you.

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