Straw Into Gold: The Alchemy of Releasing Fear and Embracing Love
Updated: Jul 26
I felt a twinge of fear today.
For the last several months, I have had every need taken care of as I’ve chased my dream of creating a nature-based spirituality monastery and retreat center. I’ve been able to feed myself, pay some bills, and make real progress on big projects here on the Land. I’ve frequently forgotten what day of the week it is. It’s like being retired, except I’m working my butt off doing what I love.
But now I’m coming to the end of my funds.
I’ve noticed that almost 100% of fear comes from worry about the future. What else am I going to worry about, the past? The present? No, the future serves up worry like McDonalds serves fast food: “Billions and Billions Served.” Of course, it’s not the future that does this. The future is as spotless as the present, and the present is only a reflection of what we bring to it. The difference is that it’s easy to feel that we can control the future. Our culture is based on control. We’ve been taught to plan, budget, and save; to get an education, to eat our vitamins, to practice this, and pray for that.
Usually the main benefit that’s pitched is that the activity will give us some amount of control over our future.
These things are not bad practices - the budgeting, the praying, an education, etc. These can all be healthy. Where they become a problem is when we become obsessed or identified with the outcome, with what they “should” bring.
For example, an education is a fine thing to have. In fact, some types of education are necessary to our advancement as a species. How to grow food, how to communicate effectively, how to think critically, how to find water – these are all useful things to know, and practice. But when we say, “my education should bring me security,” that’s when we start to begin to get in trouble.
It’s not that education shouldn’t give a person increased security, especially in a Capitalistic culture like ours. But if that’s perceived as The Foundational Benefit for getting one, not only are we more willing to take shortcuts to get a diploma, we’re placing our hopes directly in the hands of others. After all, we don’t control the economy or a rogue virus, or culture’s reaction to it. The upshot is that there are all kinds of highly educated people out of work. Hence, fear and stress are rampant. The education – let alone the government - didn’t do what it was “supposed” to do, and that’s freaking a lot of people out.
Getting that bachelors degree didn’t really solve that particular problem, the problem of The Future. Hence, the fear and stress we see, and in particular, feel all around us. We played the game. We bought in. “A college degree will give me security,” we were told. “America is the land of Opportunity. We are a free nation.” All these juicy, attractive little catch-phrases looked to be certain.
But back to education, security not what education was supposed to bring. Education is supposed to educate, period. The benefit might be security, but it might not be. If security is all we’re after, then higher education is not much more than a six-digit gamble made by teenagers. Yet that’s why many people get an education. It’s not for love of a subject that most people attend a University, right? It’s for the expected result: a diploma, and marketability in the job force.
The perception of what an education “should” bring then, is a problem. The expectation was flawed, and fear is the result.
So, what do we do when we’ve prepared, gone out on a limb, made the investment into the relationship, the career, the relocation… and things get scary?
Well, if we’re unconscious, we go to fear. We react. We “try to fix this.” If we do this from a place of fear rather than love, the results will be fear-based. Which means that they are temporary because the only thing that really lasts is love. And, when fear fails, and it always will eventually because Creator is made of the opposite which is Love, the problem will come back that much stronger because of the resistance we put towards it.
This is where we are today. The world is a mess because our assumptions were wrong, the reactions were fear-based, and the only thing we know how to do is fight.
In both cultural and personal crisis’, the crisis moment is not the ideal one in which to capitulate to low-energy fear. Rather, we have a choice. Or could have. I, in my situation here on this fairly remote mountain, have a choice. I can give in to fear and go back to my old ways and get a sales job. And that will work for a while. Or I can release fear and give my heart to love. It’s my choice.
Sounds great, Marley, but love don’t pay the bills.
Ah, but “paying the bills” is not why I give my heart to love. That’s a possible benefit, but not one to which I’m tied. I’ve worked hard to release that. I’ve laid that foundation. I want to pay my bills, definitely. But I don’t “have to” anymore. Why? Because my self-worth is not reflected in my credit score. Good thing because I'm still digging out. I have to eat, yes. And, it helps me to serve if I have a vehicle that works, and gas money and all that. But that’s not entirely up to me any more than the economy is. (We could talk about why, but that's another topic.)
What is up to me? "Do I choose love or do I choose fear within this moment," and that’s all. So, how do we love rather than fear when things look so scary?
If we know how to be present, then we know how to shed identification with our emotions - including fear. Once shed, from the present moment, we can access love.
The Present is like the tunnel to the underworld that we experience during shamanic journeys. And from that underworld, we can rearrange things that will have an effect in the middle world, the solid one in which we leave. That’s alchemy; the changing of a leaden situation into one of gold. Not by anvil and hammer (the way of force), but by working energy that’s ethereal and light, the way of cooperation.
Remember that cooperation is exactly that. When we do this, we operate in conjunction with another force; we "co-operate." The Force can be love, or it can be fear. Not both.
Therefore, in my personal situation, I meditate. I use visualization to feel deeply what it is that I am creating while simultaneously releasing identification with it. I play in this way, in this world of mine. I do use shamanic journeying. I work with gratitude, the metaphorical straw that Rumplestiltskin transmuted in the dungeon for the miller’s daughter. I use the breath, which is the door to my tunnel that leads to the underworld. I rattle. I dust off with my mesa. I work with my Bands or my breath. I smoke my chanupa (Native American pipe). Whatever tool raises its hand and uses a still, small voice to get my attention, gets used. My visualizations have become so real that I feel emotions arise in my body – those that I want in my 3-D world.
Joy. Peace. Bliss. Contentment. Specific abundance. All from love.
Now, love is not automatic, either. Just like it’s taken time for me to disassociate self-worth with credit scores, for instance, it’s taken time to remove my personal barriers to the personal love I need so I can create. That looks like doing my work, the work of dying to the past. I don’t identify with my “failures” anymore. They don’t get to tell me, “it never works out.” I no longer believe that story, so I don’t listen to that narrative. When I did, it dragged me straight into fear and reaction – and we’ve already identified where that leads. Now, I have the personal power to, if not jump into love, at least not slide down into fear.
In other words, now I have a choice. A real choice, not just what fear tells me I can have.
So, what I have yet to do today is to access the Path of Love. I’ll do that by using the tools I have, those I spoke about above, and others. Foundationally, it’s meditation. From there, it’s working with the energy in my field, clearing out the heavy so the light can come in. As it does, my Guides and Tools appear. We talk about what's going on, and work together. My Jaguar will eat my heaviness; chase it like a little rodent that dropped out of my mind. She’ll catch it, eat it, and process it. And when she poops the waste of fear onto the fertile ground of my life, it’ll grow something beautiful.
None of these are “normal” teachings, I admit. This is not the way most of us have been taught at all. But good news: it IS the way people were taught when we lived in Connection with the Earth. A flavor of this happens when we participate in the ancient Sun Dance, which is full of sacred geometry. It’s what our Pagan and true Wiccan sisters and brothers are working with when they practice “magick.” It’s what the Biblical John was referring to when he said, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was made God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” Even smoking my chanupa is a metaphor that I use to birth something new. It’s why we say in the Pipe-Filling Song:
“My friend do it like this
My friend do it like this
When you do it this way
The Grandfathers will come down to see you
In this one Sacred Circle sit down
Remember as you fill your pipe
When you do it this way
What you want will happen.”
Today, I walk the path of peace. Today, I deal with new challenges using old methods. Today, I release fear (so my Jag has something to eat). And today, I shed my fears and give in to the Creator’s power of Love.
From this place, I am free.
Eric "Aspen" Marley is a principal at The Mountain: School for a New Way of Being." a (soon-to-be) non-profit organization that seeks to contribute to the evolution of humanity by accessing ancient spiritual concepts and neo-eco-spiritualty.
(art by Daniel Kotomanov)