“I’m moved by another intention: to warn. And warning, too, belongs to the negredo, for it speaks with the voice of the raven, foretelling dire happenings that may result from the seduction of black.”
Phobia is described by most dictionaries as any kind of fear or dread, sometimes irrational, but as mostly implying strong aversion and morbid hatred. Its a dark idea, as far as ordinary human emotion goes, but if we have it, then we need it.
A cursory glance into the etymology of the word – and I can’t claim to understand any concept without knowing its origins and essence – reveals its roots, or rather wings, in phobos – flight.
This, to my mind, points towards a mythical and therefore primordial style of fear – something that defies simple rationality and goes further and higher into the realm of the Gods. Its not just ‘being afraid of spiders’ its a deep-seated primal and polar position against the very ‘spiderness’ of life itself.
In a pantheistic world view Phobia is an archetype and part of the larger story we’re all subject to in our mortal human lives. More than that, the particular form or manifestation that phobia takes brings definition and becomes a pre-condition for action, behaviour and event. Phobia is an identity or role to be played out.
Suffice to say that if Phobia is true to its own shape, then to say that someone has a phobia is allopathic and untidy – its truer to say phobia has that someone. One is phobic.
So, this archetype, this force, Phobia – a character in its own right – is lived into experience in epic journeys and returns and battles in varied ways. Perhaps as a ‘shadow’ persona or villain that must be violently overcome; an anti-hero who’s pain has entered, like all things divine, via a wound or trauma; a beautiful but divided soul to be healed and integrated; a healer; an outcast, lone-wolf or hermit. Or as the unclaimed parts of heroes, saviors, kings and queens. Encounters with giant insects, reptilian devouring creatures, vile odors, dark green creeping decay. Episodes of falling into dangerous hidden places, being buried and confined or abandoned to the dangers of nature.
Its ancestry in flight also places phobia in the realm of air – pneuma – and comes cawing and circling from above; birds of prey; carrion scavengers; open exposure to vast empty spaces; searing light and blindness. Its pneumatic nature calls attention to its language and ability to create out of its images; warlocks and witches and their winged messengers appear; uncanny abilities of mind-reading and control; repetitive destructive thoughts and voices calling and singing for death.
Just as phobia serves the narrative, phobia is served by the narrative – the story of phobia keeps the archetype in power. A strange irony (poetry?)- while phobia is defined and contained, it breaks free, provokes adrenaline-surged slow motion corridor running and lung-burning screams, and no escape. It will always fly faster.