Fear is our physiological response to danger—a critical inheritance from millions of years of life evolving on this planet. Fear is brilliant and it is tricksy—it saves us from imminent danger, prepares us for unavoidable suffering, but it also fills our minds with terrible fantasies. These days, there is added complexity because our stress response evolved in relationship with relatively brief crises and many now face constant, underlying threats. Poverty, racism, rape culture, hate-crimes, intergenerational abuse and trauma, isolation, fascism, war, global warming, habitat degradation—the list goes on and on. Worse, these threats seem so omnipresent and pervasive that many are on constant high alert without a meaningful sense of action that would restore a sense of mutual wellbeing.
Our physiological response to threat is intended to be a temporary state, not the default. When it gets locked in the “on” position, all the systems in our bodies get taxed. Here, instincts override presence and reason—we become stuck in variations of fight, flight, and freeze: we lose trust and sensitivity; we lose a our sense of subtlety; we forget how to take meaningful, informed, collaborative action; we escape into the media, busy-ness, perfectionism, altered states; we go numb and lose our lustre. As maddening as these conditions can be, they are understandable responses to our current times.
But fear is not always to be trusted. Fear guards the threshold of every transformation, every initiation. It will say to you, so believably: “No!!! Don’t you dare come through this opening—you’ll never survive!!” When, in fact, going through that opening is precisely what your growth and maturity depend on. Fear will try to keep us from authentically expressing ourselves and accepting one another. This spell is to help us discern between the fear that guards against true danger and the fear that keeps us separate from ourselves and each other—for one ought to be heeded but the other overcome.
About the spell:
This month’s spell is a call to remember that vibrancy persists within and around us. We invite you to use this spell as a way of soothing your individual nervous system and participating in the collective dreaming necessary for healing. We offer this spell to help us muster the courage, ingenuity, resourcefulness, vision, and belonging needed to restore complexity, possibility, and magic to our lives.
There are an infinite number of ways to break the spell of fear. Speaking truth, honoring boundaries, being playful and creative, and using our agency. Finding safety and drinking in comfort. Movement, vocalization, and rhythm. Sometimes ferocity must be present. Sometimes humor is the only thing that will work. There is no “one way” to move through this life together and so we offer up this spell to help us all grow in creativity as we face our fears.
Magic means having a working relationship with your will. We can will ourselves to become bigger than fear. We can will ourselves to turn a light on in the darkness. We can choose to welcome a larger sense of what is possible to inform our whole beings, even under times of continuous stress.
A Meditation on Magic Over Fear:
To begin this meditation, please find a relatively comfortable place free from distraction so you can settle into your sensations and take stock of how you’re feeling. What was stirred up in your being as you read about fear and magic? Take a moment to simply witness yourself, here and now. Gradually, let your exhales settle into your bones and your bones fill with gravity. As your inhale lifts into your lungs, your diaphragm descends into your depths. As your exhale brings your energy down, your diaphragm lifts in towards your core. Your inhale expands your torso out in all directions as your center grows long and tall; your exhale draws all the outside energy in and gives your skin permission to soften. With every breath you are being woven into the present moment from every discernible direction. You are so utterly here in this body, in this world. You are a walking inheritance of humans before you. If you feel good and feeling this kind of good is what you need right now, no need to continue on. Enjoy yourself and your breath for however long you have to enjoy it.
If you want to practice engaging your fear from a place of calm, first imagine that you are surrounded by the brightest lights—the most wise and loving of our human ancestors—the ones who faced so much fear and kept their hearts awake and alive to life and to magic. With their guidance and protection surrounding you, take a moment to scan your body and see if you find any fear—if yes, notice where it is. If you’re unsure, take a bit more time. You could also conjure up a thought that reliably freaks you out a little (but just a little). However it happens, take a moment to acclimate to the feeling of fear—where is it? What is it? Tightness or burning… pressure or flutters… in your heart, your belly, your throat, perhaps it is a feeling on the move… Simply track it, notice it, and keep breathing deep but gentle breaths around it. The calmer you get, the more the sensations may shift… it’s hard to say just how. The fear may grow as you allow it to exist, it may start spreading into more places in your body. See yourself protected and watched over and then see if it can be okay to feel afraid. Practice growing your awareness around the growing sensations… for this is practicing magic: meeting a growing sense of fear with a growing sense of presence, love, wonder, and calm.
To end this meditation, try to be as honest as possible with yourself about what you are feeling. If you feel powerful, bow to your fear and thank it, humbly, for teaching you so well. Turn to the wise and loving ancestors and thank them for giving you strength and protection. If you feel scared or small, imagine all the light that has ever been absorbed by this planet soaking into your cells and with it begin focusing on warmth, stand secure in that tenderness as you smile on your fears. If you feel scattered or confused, pick a place to settle your gaze and as you stare at that spot, let your vision expand to include everything in your periphery, cleanse your system out with this soft, fuzzy, gaze. Find a meaningful way to close this meditation, releasing all the energies you conjured for your support. And, no matter how this meditation went for you, we bow to your efforts and courage.
About the painting:
Corina: I have to admit, I’m in love with how over-the-top and Lisa Frank-inspired this painting is.The astral stag is an image I work with a lot, that’s already showed up in a slightly different way in the Caribou image from our very first calendar. For me, the stag is a personal reminder of how strength and vulnerability can harmonize in one being. As prey animals, deer are constantly on the alert for danger—but not constantly anxious, not in active states of fear. This stag leaping straight into the stars represents an impulse I often feel and don’t always know how to honor—a highly embodied trust in the future and the unknown, an orientation toward the best that could happen when you are in tune with the larger mystery.
Jocelyn: I remember when Corina first sketched this one for me and I asked her the same question many have asked me since: what's happening here? She responded with the most magical face expression - big eyes, lots of teeth, waggly eyebrows. And with that, she helped convey the deeper message of what we hoped to imbue this painting with. I love the children's book quality to this image... my sister and I both have a thing for night skies, for stars and mystery. This one has become a beloved addition to our collection of weirdo paintings.
This month's offerings:
We've got a sale going on this image for the whole month of January! Buy a print of Magic Over Fear and get 15% off, using the coupon code MAGIC.
This month, Corina is presenting at the 5th annual Queer Astrology Conference in Portland, OR, and we are both in art retreat together, through the magic of video chats and sister telepathy. Keep up with Corina by following her on Instagram, @corinadross
This month, Jocelyn is in her final semester of graduate school, with internship behind her, and life is on a precipice of great change. She's deep in the art-making process for next year's calendar with Corina, and art making is central to her school work this semester. To see some of the fruits of her creative labor, you can follow her at: @jocelyncorvus and you can follow Abacus Corvus at @abacuscorvus