Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?

I was fucking terrified.

Every night as a child, I could tell it was just outside my window, staring in with malevolent intent. The only thing protecting me from it, from its teeth and claws and eyes, was a fragile pane of glass. I wanted to peek through the curtain to see if what I sensed was “actually there”. And I was too terrified to look or even move too close in case it was. The wolf in my window was my greatest childhood terror. I instinctively understood that it was there and not there and that I couldn’t talk to anyone about it.

Along with the wolf came the screaming. Unearthly high pitched wails that drifted out of the night, sometimes far off, sometimes far too close. They had a mournful, desperate quality, as though some lonely creature was wandering through the darkness, crying. There was never a physical threat component to these screams, but they terrified me as much as the wolf.

My response was to curl up with the blankets over my head, no matter how hot it was, because I knew that if the bad things couldn’t see me, they couldn’t get me. My doona was a shield against the horrors in the darkness.

The thought occurred to me—what if the wolf one day smashed its way through the window.

No.

Nothing bad was allowed into my house. And yes, that did include the screaming creature roaming the night. And no, preventing that one specifically from coming it did not somehow allow other non-specified bad things in. And no, it didn’t matter if they tried to force their way in through a window or a door. And yes, that did include doors or windows that my parents had left open. No, bad humans were also not allowed in. No. Yes, it did work for that. No. No. Yes. No…

Before I realised what I was doing, I had a nightly shielding ritual prayer designed to protect my house and family. It started out as a series of no’s and yes’s and qualifications as I imagined all the possibilities and tried to cover off on them all. Eventually, it evolved into a more typical prayer to deity, with the same focus and a lot of repetition until I felt comfortable enough to go to sleep.

This was my introduction to magical practice. I performed this prayer ritual every single night of my life, mostly from fear of what might happen if I missed a night. Taking on that kind of bullshit responsibility for all the world’s unfortunate chances wasn’t healthy and it’s taken me a long time to let go of it (still working on it). But it was what I needed to deal with the terrifying things that I was facing as a child and I did the best I could with the information and experience I had. So go me!

I’m just now realising the benefits of this slightly messed up practice.

My magical shielding is stellar. As soon as I extended my sphere of influence in my nightly prayers to the edge of our yard, the wolf at the window vanished. He came back once or twice, but a quick recitation was enough to banish him again. The horrifically screaming thing in the night turned out to be a bush stone curlew. My dad bought a bird book to show me what it looked like and my fear instantly vanished. Interestingly, no curlews ever ventured onto our property.

And the protection has continued. I’ve done it nightly for all the places I’ve lived as well as my childhood home where my parents still live. That house has to be one of the most well-protected places in the world by now after 10,000+ nightly prayers.

I’ve managed to turn a fear-based unhealthy habit into a powerful regular magical practice and I’m actually kind of proud of that.

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