Several years ago, before I became a country dweller I spent brief vacations in upstate New York. My silent companion on such excursions were often the fears city dwellers experience in rural settings.
However delightful the peace and quiet of an evening when all I heard was the sound of leaves falling, such silence seemed abnormal. Likewise, the absence of people living above and below and on either side, shouting in the street or having complete nervous breakdowns on my stoop, while refreshing, also created a not-altogether-welcome feeling of aloneness.
My most persistent fear, however, had to do with humans' alleged best friend, the dog. This fear did not apply to city dogs, well-leashed and well-behaved, nor to visitors to my store in Greenwich Village, all of whom seemed to have graduated summa cum laude from obedience school. The dogs I feared were country dogs, the huge, possibly rabid creatures whose barks were so terrifying that I wouldn't ever care to experience their bites.
Prior to one visit I'd asked the friend whose house I was using about the presence of vicious dogs. She had cheerfully assured me that there were none, and I went forth on my first walk in a spirit of innocent trust.
I walked along safely enough for half a mile until I heard the first chilling barks. I was ready to turn back at once, but forced myself to continue down the road and face a gigantic dog, who though chained, looked fully capable of breaking the flimsy links which prevented him from doing mortal damage.
I walked more miles and passed more dogs, some, like the first, chained; others free to wreak havoc, but perhaps enjoying a rest from their usual vicious activities. Many of these savage beasts were wagging their tails, but this ploy didn't fool me.
One interpretation of the energy of this animal in its blocked form is that it is the Fear Caller, shouting out its fear of the predators who rank it high on their dining list so loudly that it attracts them, and thus the realization of the fear. Those who express rabbit energy in this form live in a future which is not anyone's idea of a good time, populated as it is with the stuff of nightmares.
Bitter though it seems, if we look at it with deeper understanding we see how well Rabbit teaches us that we create our lives with our thoughts and feelings. Rabbit experiences fear, projects it outward as a kind of psychic calling, and creates in the external world conditions which mirror its inner terrors.
The man who constantly fears that his wife will leave him may drive her away by interrogating her about her daily activities. The employee who fears being fired may cause this to happen by lack of self-confidence.
We may be afraid to tell someone that they've hurt us, thus ensuring that they will continue to do so. If we fear making request of people we may also live in the fear that we will never have what we want and deserve because no one wants to help us.
Even if we rationally understand the creative power of fear, such understanding isn't usually enough to dissolve it. What is needed is an emotion more powerful than fear. This emotion is represented by another animal often found in the country: Deer.
The key word for Deer is Gentleness; one might also describe the qualities attributed to this creature as those of unconditional love. While hatred is traditionally posed as the opposite of love I don't believe that hatred can exist without fear as its basis.
If, for example, Jane is afraid that Henry, her boss, will fire her, her thinking/feeling may go like this. "I'm so afraid he's going to fire me. I feel nervous; I feel sick; I'm so upset. I hate him for making me feel this way. Only a mean, terrible person would want to fire me."
Sometimes when we feel threatened by another person we seize the initiative by making ourselves feel threatening to them. A frightened cat may hiss at a potential attacker, and we humans often fight our own fear by making others afraid (and perhaps hating us).
Perfect, or unconditional, love casts out fear. When we love ourselves enough to believe that we deserve love, the employment we want, when we're confident that we have the right to tell others when their behavior hurts us, and to make requests for the assistance we deserve, we can cast out our own fear.
In order for me to have pleasant, non-traumatic walks I had to learn to love the dogs. It took considerable quantities of Rescue Remedy and much concentration on breathing deeply and naturally, indeed of continuing to place one foot before the next. I also had to remind myself not to shrivel up into a little fear ball at the first sound of a deep-throated growl. Instead, I decided to talk to the dogs, praising them for being such good creatures, such brave creatures, such loyal animals to protect their people's properties.
The dogs seemed to genuinely appreciate it. Some wagged their tails even more furiously than before; others forgot to bark. A few, coming to recognize me, regarded my passage with indifference.
I don't claim to have achieved a final victory over my fear, but I now claim a number of big, barking dogs as friends. Still, the path of unconditional love is relatively new to my cautious feet. When I've learned to walk it with confidence and trust I'll discover that on this path there is no room for fear.
Charoite, a richly-hued purple stone from the Chara River area in Siberia, is, in my experience, the foremost crystal for dealing with fear. It helps us to handle and dissolve both known and lunknown fears, and assists in dissolving the limiting beliefs in which fear thrives. ("All dogs are killers at heart.") If you are finding that fear inhibits your ability to love fully I recommend working with charoite in conjunction with the stones described below.
Just the decision to open our hearts may make us feel vulnerable and anxious. Rhodochrosite is the stone for anxiety. If you're meditating with it it is generally most effective when placed on the solar plexus (the area between the breastbone and the navel). You can also hold it there if you find yourself in an anxiety-producing situation or simply hold it in your hand.
One's judgments about one's fears can be almost as crippling as fear itself. Like impatient parents, we may say to ourselves, "How ridiculous to be afraid of a little thing like that. What an idiot you are." Such self-chastising, far from dissolving fear, only makes its need to be acknowledged more insistent, and adds shame as an additional burden.
Rose quartz, the stone of unconditionxself-love, allows us to look at what we consider our faults with a compassionate and loving eye. It helps us to accept our fears without judgment. Once our fears no longer have to shout in order to get our attention they often shrink to a manageable size.
We may not dissolve our fears overnight, and rhodonite helps us to be patient with ourselves as we develop the talent of fearlessness. It also helps us to be patient with the fears of others, and to reassure them in a loving way.
Mimulus, Aspen, and Rock Rose are three Bach Flower Remedies which treat different kinds of fear. Mimulus is for known fears and phobias: fears of illness, poverty, dogs(!), any fear which can be identified.
We don't always know what frightens us, and even when we think we know we're not always right; thus Aspen is sometimes the first Remedy to reach for. It helps to handle unknown fears, including fears of the supernatural or metaphysical worlds.
To further distinguish betweeen the two remedies, in a Mimulus state one might think, "I know that dog is going to bite me." In an Aspen state not knowing is a large component of fear. One might look at a tranquil country fear and feel a sudden, but unidentifiable fear.
When fear escalates to terror reach for Rock Rose. This Remedy, now one of the components of Rescue Remedy, was the original Rescue Remedy.
Many of the FES flower essences deal with fear. Two seem most related to the general subject of this newsletter. Poison Oak is for those who fear intimate contact with and being vulnerable to others, and who often cover these feelings with anger and/or hostility. Angelica helps us to overcome fear by invoking angelic protection.
Two very appropriate essences from the Wild Earth Animal Essence repertoire are Rabbit and Deer.