Fear of the Daemon: Art, Faith, and Resistance to Inspiration

As my religious priorities shift, I’ve tentatively become more open to New Age concepts and practices that I used to fear were “anti-Christian”. One of my artistic mentors is someone who rejected his homophobic church upbringing and found body-soul integration through Wiccan and pagan beliefs. I’m not drawn to this path at the moment, but I crave a similar release from the eros-repression and psychological splitting that seem inherent in Biblical tradition. The anxiety and hypervigilance of my PTSD have become so tedious, and my impaired connection to Spirit is such a source of grief, that I’m willing to try anything safe and legal. Hypnosis, past-life regression, spirit guides, medical trials of magic mushrooms?

Yes, Cartman, but I’ll take it.

So that’s how I found myself surfing paranormal psychologist Dr. Charles T. Tart’s website about psychic powers. I followed a link from Trauma Information Pages, a useful site collecting scientific papers about the biology of PTSD and effective interventions.

I was drawn to an article called “Psychics’ Fears of Psychic Powers” because, well, fear is my thing. It’s incredibly hard for me to open up to the divine, however I conceptualize it, due to years of engulfment by an abusive parent. I found this article enlightening and reassuring, because the people interviewed did not necessarily have a trauma history, but still contended with all the same sources of resistance. I saw great similarities, not only to my faith struggle, but to the artist’s fear of inspiration. In all these scenarios, we hesitate before opening to unknown and potentially disruptive energies, yet long for the deeper truth that can only be accessed through them.

Some of the fears mentioned in the study:

“Who knows what you might be opening up to? It’s a loss of ego.”

“Once I get out there, will I be able to return?”

“In doing a reading you’re giving someone a large amount of power to validate or invalidate you. That’s scary!”

“Fear that if you do get through to [the] other side you will be unalterably changed.”

“…When you start to get into other realities, to make more profound changes in yourself, then what validates your reality? You can’t even trust the support of the people you’re with, that you love, because what differentiates that from a cult? You’re far from the realities of your culture! What feedback can you believe?”

“You may get so ‘high’ from psychic spaces that when you go out into the ordinary world you aren’t discriminating, you’re too accepting, and that can get you into trouble.”

“A fear that you won’t be able to express your experience.”

“A fear that you will be able to express it, but it won’t make sense to anybody.”

Those last two quotes particularly sound like the script that runs in my head when I’m writing fiction. (Not poetry, for some reason; maybe I don’t write my poems for anyone but myself, so I don’t care if they’re understood?) Overall, this paper helped normalize “psi” and other spiritual explorations for me. They’re part of the same psychological and energetic reality as creating art, which is something I have no choice but to do. So I guess my decision has been made.

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