Fear Itself

Learning to pay attention to my emotions and heal my emotional body. And a Buffy episode synopsis – spoilers!

I’m a big Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fan. Indeed, a big fan of any of Joss Whedon’s mid-90’s to mid-2000’s work, actually. In addition to the exceptional ear for language that permeates his work, there is a talent for metaphor that reaches into the depths of what common experiences feel like, regardless of the actuality of the situation.

GachnarTucked away in Season Four’s inconsistent story telling (which I feel works for a season about Freshmen year at college) are several episode gems, including the Halloween episode “Fear Itself.” Essentially, one of the frat houses has the “awesome” idea to use this occult symbol from some old book on the floor of the attic for their annual haunted house party and, in a coincidental plot mechanism, some blood is sprayed on the symbol during a speaker repair that begins to activate it, creating a semi-portal for the Irish fear demon Gachnar, the Dark Lord of Nightmares.

Gachnar wreaks havoc on the house quite subtly at first, but as each character’s internal and deepest unconscious fears are drawn out, it begins to affect their reality until they become separated and are each forced to deal with their fears on their own. This episode departs from the Season One fear episode in which the lesson is to face your fears. Rather than the simplicity of punching a clown in the face who scared you at your birthday party, the fears center around the much harder to face feelings of invisibility, inadequacy, isolation, and loss of control. The kinds of fears that, when you start punching the people who make you feel them, the fears become reality.

The episode resolves comically and simply – Gachnar is (accidentally) brought physically into the dimension and turns out to be quite tiny, easily squished by the Slayer’s Red Riding Foot. We could say that by acknowledging the fear, it is defeated, however, in my opinion, they may have slayed the demon, but they do not deal with their fears. They blame it on the singular situation and those themes come back throughout the rest of the season: Oz does lose control of his inner beast leading to a painful breakup and departure from Sunnydale, while Willow, Xander, and Buffy drift farther apart until it takes only a few words from a known antagonist to have them fighting and off on their own. They hash out some things for the finale, temporarily putting those fears into remission. But they come back in various forms throughout the series – Willow becomes addicted to magic in order to deal, to “fix” things; Xander leaves Anya at the alter and struggles to find his niche; Buffy gets into an abusive relationship and shoulders ever more responsibility.

These fears are universal. They are insidious. And we often ignore them. We medicate or we “fix the problem.” Feeling lonely? Go out with friends, have a drink. Not sure what to do with your life? Try harder, work harder, network more. Something didn’t go your way? Do your damage control and control for it next time.

And sometimes this helps. Maybe for the short term, maybe for longer. If often depends on how deeply rooted the feelings are and whether we’ve addressed them in depth. And they are never truly overcome. We will feel them again and again, in various situations and iterations and intensities.

The key to getting through all this is a more healthy and connected state, achieved through vulnerability. I know this logically. I know this! But it is so easy to wall up or disconnect.

My challenge this week is to really sit with these feelings, to acknowledge them, to know the situations when they come up and what is triggering them, and to accept these feelings as they are without judging them or judging myself for having them. Just like telling someone with depression that they have so much to be happy about or that things could be so much worse doesn’t help and actually harms, I’m not going to tell myself that I shouldn’t feel isolated because I have so many people around me or that it’s really my fault I feel that way in the first place. It doesn’t help. It’s not productive. It isn’t actually true because that’s not how isolation operates. Instead I want to dwell in the concept of being there for my feelings, to allow them to express, listen patiently, and remind them I love them. Because they are part of being human, part of existence, and, though they may not feel pleasant, experiencing them in their fullness allows for healing and the opportunity to connect with others.

This is the heart of shadow integration.

One blogger that I follow mentioned an actually scary Halloween idea: go to a cemetery alone at midnight with a candle and a stick of incense, thank the spirits of the land, and pay attention to your relationship to the dark. Based on the principle of “as above, so below,” our relationship with actual darkness mirrors our relationship with our own darkness, our subconscious, and that needs to be addressed to be whole. In order to be whole, to be empowered, we cannot simply dissociate from the things we don’t like about ourselves. So, that’s my Halloween plan – I going to spend some time in the dark and figure out what is there, love it, work with it, start to pull it back in. I’m going to try letting go of control and discipline for a bit. I’ll keep you posted.

Blessed Be.

samhain integration


The Dark of the Soul

For the most part, I will keep this blog about me and my journey, but tonight I thought it relevant to bring up the journey of another beautiful, brave, and influential person in my life: My sister.

I feel it’s appropriate to bring her up into this for two reasons. 1) I’m moving into the 4th House, which is the House of Home and Family, the Soul, the Mother, ruled by Cancer, protective and intuitive, in ancient times called the “dark sign” because the constellation was partially obscured and the sign itself is ruled by the Moon, with her effects on the tides and people. My little sister, maybe even more than my son, brings out the mother in me in a very positive way (I’ll come back to this complicated bit in more detail in another post).

And 2) I am moving into this warm and dark House on what would have been the 1st anniversary of my sister and her soulmate’s wedding, and he was lost suddenly and too soon. I did not get to know him as well as I would have liked – I, like many, made the mistake of thinking I had more time – but I knew him enough to know that he ignited her passion, lifted her up, and made her feel safe at the same time. And I feel incredibly blessed to be one of the first people she shared her crazy and unexpected love story with.

I miss him. I miss knowing that, while they had their problems, she was the happiest and most secure she had ever been.

And, in a lot of ways, that is what this House is about. The safety and security that is found both in another person, whether it be your mother, caregiver, soulmate, or child, and also in yourself, when the soul is at rest.

There’s a reason we are so protective of it. Deep down, we know the flip side is loss. The moon is beautiful, but she waxes and wanes, whether we want her to or not. And sometimes we can’t see her at all. It’s easy in the darkest of times to feel abandoned.

I will never stop wishing there was a way to make those dark times easier. And not just easier, but easy. I wish that was something I could do, and, especially, for her.

I can’t.

So, tonight, I will have a Dziak-tail (a shot of Four Roses, a slap in the face, and a hug – a wonderful interpretation of my dear brother-in-law), remember him fondly, and toast to the knowledge that something beautiful and rare existed for my gorgeous and talented sister and that, of all the people I know, she is the most wise and well-equipped for dealing with the intense and complicated emotions that I can only guess at. And to the knowledge that, when she needs me, I’ll be there.

Blessed Be.



Daily Prompt: Lust

If Lust met Love…

As Vices go, Lust is more interactive, like Pride and Envy, but really most closely resembles Gluttony – just with a specific appetite. Both involve mouths, of course, and the pleasures of taste and touch – smell, sight, sound – all mingled, all savored or skated over, moment to moment. There is the intense and aching desire that requires fulfillment, a basic need that has to be satisfied. But Gluttony only requires that the act be possible, Lust requires that the act to be participated in. And where Gluttony expels the wastes of the act in a form far less pleasing than the original delight, Lust… Lust creates something new, something vibrant, something living.

Perhaps that was why she enjoys it so. It simply could not be indulged anywhere at anytime. Not like Gluttony. It drove the hunger to heights far loftier and created a space for satiation in the immediate aftermath. Pleasant, addictive, felt throughout the entire being, and gone shortly thereafter, replaced again with an even deeper hunger.

There is no other reason for her to be here. The Perk Up and Play is not her normal milieu – all cheap espresso and blaring arcade games – but the bars were just too depressing tonight. No fire anywhere, just milky, soppy sadness. A poor excuse for any meal and hers…. hers had been too long in the waiting. No, tonight she needs a more active desperation, a hunger intense and unbidden and, therefore, more potent. A club would have been perfect, but one is under renovation and the other shut down for violations.

Heavily caffeinated would have to do. She sighs as she gazes through the window into the café at the jittery yet focused lot. She considers calling it a night, perhaps one more night wouldn’t threaten her stability and she could get an early start tomorrow evening… when she spies him, less absorbed than the others, jittery in a way that speaks of discontent and longing. He’s the one she needs.

First things first: tone it down. She is dressed for a night on the town, a look she risked in the dank bars as the overkill had seemed necessary and was less noticeable, but it isn’t a look that could get by here. Oh, sure, she would be noticed, but disbelieved and never approached. She needs something…. cuter. She feels the change begin before she even finishes the thought. Her high heels flatten into sneakers, her red dress becomes jeans and a cute t-shirt, just small enough to show her midriff if she lifts her arms, a Newsboy cap, and an oversize flannel shirt. She evaluates her reflection in the glass. Still too much, she thinks, as her face softens becoming rounder, sweeter, younger, heart-shaped. Even her eyes get treatment, rounder, wider, and (she smiles at this) just a touch bruised, like she had spent too many nights up gaming. Or maybe pining.

She purses her now slightly thinner, paler lips. It would have to do. She could already feel the effects these transformations were having on her energy stores, the deep hunger intensifying, aching in her loins. She would only tweak if it was truly needed to speed the process. In her experience, they never noticed such adjustments. She hopes with every fiber of her being that he isn’t gay. She doesn’t have enough energy for that change.

She just barely remembers to hunch her shoulders a little and walk quickly rather than walking fully upright and sashaying to the bar. She is out of practice with such scene changes. She grabs herself an overpriced and slightly burnt latte, doing her best to ignore her rumbling stomach and only allowing her eyes the briefest of glances at the pastries. What would it be like to be able to indulge at any time? To fill and then continue to fill? She shakes herself. Gluttony has no satiation and that was the point of it. She hurries away from the counter and does her best to casually wander up to her mark, her attention artificially on the game he is playing.

He glances up so briefly she thinks he missed her entirely, but then his eyes return. She can feel them, almost see them in the screen and already she can feel her power stirring deep inside, heady, thrilling. She has to control her smile as his avatar dies, momentarily diverting his attention, the color of embarrassment (so much like desire) crawls up his neck to his ears. Just a nibble… No, discipline! This is how you end up eating everything in sight.

“Oh, that sucks, man. You were so close.” She looks down at him, leaning forward, her small, young breast brushing his shoulder as she points to the screen. It pleases them both, she can tell, as his back tenses just enough to be aware but not overly uncomfortable, and the tingle of it rushes through her. Relief rushes through her, too. The attraction is there – she just needs to build on it. “You gonna hit continue?”

He nods and finally finds his voice. “Unless you want to play?” His voice is richly, deliciously masculine. She plops herself down on the chair next to him, unable to keep her knees from shaking as yearning pools in her center. Yes, Lust is definitely the best Vice. She pulls her knees up to her chest, wrapping her thin arms around them, and drinks in the way his eyes linger on her.

“I enjoy watching,” she says softly. His eyes shutter for a second, her heart skips a beat. “But…” What does he want?! “But I’ll play if you promise not to laugh. I haven’t played this one before.”

The smile he flashes is wide, warm, and genuine, full of pleasure. It heats her to her core. A playmate, that’s what he wants. Someone fun, sweet, ready to try new things. She can almost feel his excited pulse as he hands her the controller. This will be worth it. This might lead to several meals. His whole energy has changed, vibrant, thrilling, abundant. Her gaze gently caresses the curve of his spine, the quiver in his knees, the radiant light about him – yes, he is exactly what she needs.

The game is interesting. A PC puzzle game, together they solve the mystery of a friend’s disappearance, involving occult imagery and mysticism. The mood is dark and the mythology is off, but she picks up on the thread quickly as they cruise through levels familiar to him. The controller feels almost alive in her hands when she navigates them through a difficult puzzle of vessels and weights. He sits back, seemingly impressed.

“How did you figure that out so quick?” His lips quirk up on one side and a fetching splash of hair falls over his forehead. She stares at him for a moment, enjoying the sight and the heady feeling of his interest.

“The game is loosely based on Kabbalah practices from the Middle Ages. It’s off, but the general structure is there.” She points to a few of the symbols on the screen. “See how the symbols resemble Hebrew letters?” He nods, intrigued, and she smiles, drawing lines between them with her fingers. “The structure of the puzzle here is based on the Sephirot, or vessels. If you pour the compounds into each vessel in the right order to form the connections, the combinations and weight system opens the portal to the Divine Feminine, which in this case is Lilith, because… you know, horror game, I guess.”

He leans forward, his hand brushing hers and she feels the thrill of connection with him. “That’s fascinating. Where did you learn all this stuff?”

She pauses. She doesn’t have a lie prepared for this kind of stuff, hardly the kind of thing she usually talks about in order to garner desire. He pulls back, suddenly uncomfortable and she feels her face fall.

“I’m sorry. That was kind of a personal question. You don’t have to answer, if I made you uncomfortable.”

She reaches out and takes his hand. “No, it’s okay. I just… don’t usually talk about my past. No one’s ever asked…” His fingers squeeze hers and she squeezes his back. “I… was home schooled.” Kind of true. “My parents were super religious.” In a manner of speaking. “So, I guess, this seemed more important and interesting than calculus.”

“Definitely.” His smile is dazzling. She breathes a sigh of relief, relaxing into his presence. “So, professor…” he drops her hand and turns back to the game with an impish smile on his face, “What do we do now that Lilith is here? Any Kabbalah-esque playbook for this kind of thing?”

She shrugs, returning her attention to the even more busty than usual interpretation of Lilith. “I think they adapted pretty freely here, so your guess is as good as mine.”

He laughs deeply, delightedly. A new kind of warmth and anticipation spreads through her. Still a sense of hunger and desire, but more…. real, somehow? Less driving and impatient. A feeling with substance. She sits back to enjoy the game.

She is actually disappointed when they hit the save point. As he rises from his chair, a shot of panic courses through her. She hasn’t been focusing on feeding his need for her, she hasn’t been coquettishly touching him, he hasn’t asked her back to his place or even asked if she lives around here. She jumps up, practically bowling him over. His arms wrap around her as he steadies them both. Unthinking, she buries her face in his chest, inhaling his scent, embarrassed, yes, but mostly needy. She relaxes only when he does, his hand coming up to stroke her hair. His embrace is genuine, not the sham of a hug designed to get body parts close enough to brush, but an actual expression of acceptance and comfort. She sinks in knowing she will never get enough of this feeling, but, for once, knowing that it didn’t matter right now and feeling it at all was enough.

“Will you be here tomorrow?” she asks, unwilling to give him up just yet.

His fingers move on her scalp, softly massaging her, blissfully comfortable. “I can be. I work until 6. Is that okay?” She nods. “Good, it’s a date then.” She smiles into his shirt.

He pulls back and she turns her face up to his. The weight of the moment hangs between them. Magnetic. Gentle. His eyes are soft, full, hazy as they settle on her lips. She parts them, inviting, waiting, wondering if his lips will yield her the same sense of comfort and acceptance that his arms do. He leans minutely closer and she lowers her lashes.

“What’s your name?” he whispers.

“Cambion.” He blinks, his eyebrows shoot up. She replays the last few moments in her head. Had she just given him her real name? Or… well, her designation rather? Not like she had a real name actually. She usually just went with whatever she thought they would like. She feels the panic bubble up again. “Religious parents, you know?”

He smiles warmly. “Yeah, I get that. Mine is Amadeus, so it’s not like I have room to judge.” She feels her mouth twitch, first one side moves up, then the other until her smile is as wide as his. His eyes shine back at her. “Doesn’t seem to fit you though. Can I call you Cami?”

She pauses, tastes the name in her mind, rolls it around on her tongue. “Yes…. Cami. I like that.” She steps back, stands straight, and extends her hand to him. “Hi, I’m Cami.”

His chuckle reverberates through her. “AJ,” he says, as their palms meet. The handshake is slow, comfortable, and intimate. “Well, until tomorrow, Cami.” He lifts her hand to his lips and gently kisses her knuckle.

“Tomorrow, yes,” she whispers softly as their fingers part and he moves toward the door. She drifts along in his wake, seats herself by the window to watch him walk down the street. He glances back once, his eyes meeting hers with a grin and a wave. She answers with her own. And then he is gone.

She stares at her face in the glass, memorizing it, surprised to find freckles on her nose and cheeks. It doesn’t matter now – it’s part of her. She makes her way home, content, not even noticing that, somewhere along the way, she forgot to be hungry.

via Daily Prompt: Lust