Since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, there has been the inevitable “but it’s eeeevil and will make your kids into witches and Satanists!” nonsense from conservative Christians. In one such bit of scaremongering, I ran across this little gem: “My greatest concern is that godly fear that protects mankind from dabbling in the spirit world is being taken away…” Wait, let me get that right – you think that fear is the way your god keeps you safe? By making you too afraid to do something?
Fear is a useful thing sometimes, I admit. It’s especially useful when it’s your subconscious’ way of telling you that something is just not right. Before you have time to process that that tree just moved like a giant cat is getting ready to jump down on you and eat you, you start moving away. But fear isn’t in and of itself a good thing. And it’s not a good way to prevent people from doing something. It might be useful for, say, animals to be slightly afraid of fire so they don’t burn themselves, or small children to be slightly afraid of the deep end of the pool so they don’t drown. But those boundaries get pushed, especially when we grow up.
I refuse to remain an unreasoning animal or a small child, to be threatened and frightened and controlled by those bigger and meaner than I am. I refuse to worship a deity who behaves like a bigger version of an abusive parent. I choose to grow up, to listen to both my emotion and my reason, and to cultivate holy love, holy joy, and, yes, holy awe, instead of a “godly fear.” I refuse to live in fear.
One of the things I value about Wicca is the way my relationship with the God and Goddess is one of love and respect, not one of fear and fear-based worship. The deities can be frickin’ scary sometimes, I will freely admit – anybody who looks at Gaia as just love and care hasn’t seen much of the real world, as in carnivores feeding themselves. The Morrigan is not someone to mess around with. One of the reasons I don’t do more with Northern traditions is that I have a hard time relating to Thor without getting overwhelmed with fear. And that’s not the way Wiccans worship. I worship because I love the divine, and I am sure that, even with the ravages of all the scary, difficult, painful, things we have to deal with in life, the divine loves me.
In fact, my relationship with the divine is what frees me from fear; God and Goddess are with me always, going through what I go through, and helping me have what I need to deal with it. The Morrigan is there when I need to draw on somebody with a lot more warrior in her, and understanding that, not just being afraid of it, is part of me taking responsibility for my own life and relationships with others, including deity. But mostly, my worship is about cultivating the love that underlies all of that, even the Morrigan’s warriorship. The love that brought the world into being, that makes it keep going, the love that enfolds all of us now and when we die.
I will not live in fear, because living in fear is not fully living. I will live in love, and face even my fears with love.