As a child I was never afraid of the dark, in fact I don’t recall being afraid of anything! Yet as a Witch I seem to fear the very prospect of spending an evening alone in the dark woods more than anything. Anyone reading this will no doubt see the apparent contradiction in the above statement “A so called practitioner of the craft being afraid of the dark…WTF?!?” Well it’s true!
It all started one night when the moon was invisible in the night sky and only the stars and my rapidly failing wind-up torch was all I had to illuminate my way. To honour the Dark Moon I travelled to a place I thought especially fitting, a small lonely cross roads, a place where three mud tracks converge under a great Ash tree. The moment I stepped out of my car into the great cloak of night my heart already began to race and the most primal of animal instincts kicked in…a fear of the dark, when all but the bravest of nocturnal creatures dared wander away from the comfort of hearth and home here I was travelling down a pitch black path to the crossroads, the site targeted for the evening’s work.
After walking for what felt like a small eternity I arrived. The feeling of fear at this point being unpleasant yet manageable, and the slightest sound of a rustle in the undergrowth or a creaking branch sent shivers through me, yet with adrenaline levels seemingly starting to peak I knelt in the small triangle created by the converging paths and gathered the tools appropriate for the working and before I could even begin a sudden sense of freezing terror descended…like a sharp spiky blanket of terror. Eyes, watching me from every direction, sounds, voices in the wind…I was (in my head anyway) playing lead role in my very own scary movie with a great dark presence beginning to make itself more and more apparent with every breath I took. Pan-ic had arrived!
I made my offerings as reverently as could be made in the state I was in and left not looking back, I had been at the crossroads for all of 10 minutes before I scurried away like a field mouse fleeing from the combine!
I got in my car, sighed an almightily sigh of relief and then the disappointment hit me. Why disappointed? Because I had failed…as a rational adult and more importantly as a Witch. I put the key in the ignition and with interior light on I sat and put my scientific and logical mind to work, there was nothing there that could harm me. I am a witch, and I know that in darkness hides the light of truth…darkness…”the Cloak that covers the Stone” and I forgot that within me I had enough in my personal armoury to help me overcome that fear “The Taper that lights the way” is after all always with me, always ready to illuminate the darkness, banish the fear and open those silver gates which ultimately lead to the “castle that Jack built” in which lies the great truth of all things.
It was months before I returned, when I did attempt again recently I couldn’t make it down the tree lined path…the memory of that night has set the bar on my personal fear tolerance and will always stay with me..
After the second and more recent attempt I have come to realise that firstly I need to stop being so hard on myself. After all fear of the dark is a natural, genetic instinct developed over millennia of evolution to protect us, keep us safe and encourage us into the warmth of our beds, yet the path of the Witch is not one of comfort, of safety or of convention. We all have our trials, leading up to initiation and even during some Covine’s actual initiation ceremonies, are we faced with trials to prove our worth of receiving the keys to the mysteries. Overcoming my fear of the lonesome dark is my trial, one I must and will overcome in time…how I do that I don’t yet know. Until then I continue to feel the overwhelming call of the night sky, making baby steps towards Her and the time when I can fully reconcile my fear, embrace the darkness and catch but a glimpse of what lies beneath. But for now the door stays ajar and a night light continually burns and when I ready I too will face “the reflection of ones self seen in a mirror most dark”
I hope this highly individual and personal account will let all those on the path know that there is no shame in admitting one’s limitations, the goal is to recognise those limitations, acknowledge one’s flaws (dare I say even embrace them?!) and then endeavour to transform them…There are many ego’s out there who insist on their own perfection when in reality perfection can only be boasted by One and she is greater than Man and Gods combined!
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”
(Franklin D Roosevelt, 4th March 1933)