Ganon, the final boss of the game in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, versus our favorite green tunic wearing fairy boy, Link
Content warning: I discuss abuse in this piece, going into some detail about verbal / physical / emotional child abuse.
My Original Grimoire: The Legend of Zelda
When I was 12 days into my 6th year on this earth, I awoke on Christmas morning, buzzing with excitement to unwrap my presents.
I dove in, tearing apart the wrapping paper. A small box that read “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” looked back at me. A Nintendo 64 game. My heart sank, assuming Santa mixed up me and my 16 year old brother.
“Daddy, this isn’t mine. Santa gave me the wrong gift.”
“No Molly, that’s yours.”
Thus began my initiation into the wondrous world of spirituality.
Really. Seriously. Have you watched the opening story of Ocarina of Time? Have you played through the game? See the video above if not.
It’s spiritual as hell. It starts with a creation myth told to you through an ancient Tree. Three goddesses, each representative of an element, Fire (Power), Water (Wisdom), and Wind (Courage), created the world you play in, Hyrule. And the sacred Triforce. These Goddesses are worshiped by the people of Hyrule.
You play with time and music and fairies to save the world from evil. Through the Temple of Time, you venture into the Sacred Realm to learn wisdom from the Seven Sages. You play through the Hero’s journey while interacting with divine gods and sorcery.
In a family uninvolved with spirituality or religion, The Legend of Zelda became my sacred text.
As I deepen my relationship to witchery, I can’t help but notice how much of what I feel aligned with mirrors that of the magical story lines of the Legend of Zelda.
Even in my everyday life, I’m becoming aware of how much that game structured my reality. Whenever I or my partner runs into a bind and we need some type of antidote that we have yet to discover, I say, “Don’t worry, everything you need is in the world.” Literally video game logic.
And as I’ve been reflecting on this Scorpio season, with its deep lessons of ego death and transformation, I’ve found deep comfort in retreating to those Zelda roots.
I’ve been through the ringer of Scorpio’s excavation tactics, and now as we approach the season of Sagittarius and Temperance, I finally feel able to synthesize what I’ve learned.
All thanks to defeating the boss in the Temple of Ego.
Let’s dive in to how I did it.
The Temple of Ego
Before I venture into this, I want to give a Huge shout out to the wonder human Tess over at The City Witch who talked with me through an intense moment of tumult and gently encouraged me to reframe the situation as a process of Death. It was a eureka moment that has held me through the continued trials of this month, and allowed me to synthesize everything as I move forward into Temperance season.
This year has been fucking outrageous. It’s been full of rapid unexpected transformation. It’s been a year of immense inner challenge and change.
I started working with a life-changing therapist. I adopted Frankincense my cat. I had a huge falling out with two of my closest friends at the time, which resulted in a deep community rift. I moved out of the apartment I shared with them into a new town. My partner moved in soon after. I slowly began to come into my spirituality without being afraid I was “losing my mind.” I started my original Bitchy & Witchy blog, a process of reclamation of myself, my voice, and my journey. I traveled to Ireland with 25 of my family members and my partner, where I unearthed, re-experienced and healed familial wounds.
I quit my full-time job and committed to my internal spiritual work and my healing practice.
That’s what the Temple of Ego looks like. Death, rebirth, transformation, changes.
The tools you collect in this place are flexibility, resiliency, and insight.
The decision to move into full-time spiritual work led me to the rooms in the Temple of Ego just before the boss. These rooms usually contain some of the most challenging mini-monsters, but some of the best new tools.
Once I made that decision 5 months ago, my world once again flipped upside down. I almost immediately found a community online and offline after being socially isolated for well over 6 months. I wrote an article that connected me with people who share an anti-oppression orientation to spirituality. I’m entering into collaboration with people whose work has recently and long ago deeply influenced my understanding of being Witch.
But even with all of the good stuff, I continued to get stuck.
I kept feeling fear.
Kind of like the fear you get in-game when you start to see the themes of the Temple’s monsters, and begin to imagine how scary and hard the boss is going to be.
When I first started my witch Instagram, I talked to my dear friend about the intense anxiety I was having about the decision to intentionally build an online presence.
Mainly, I was experiencing visceral, physical panic over the idea of getting embroiled in public conflict (particularly of the smear campaign variety), with the result being ex-communication from my community. I couldn’t sleep because this fear was so heavy and present in my mind. I’ve been involved in the world of online social justice long enough to know that if you’re a person in the public eye who also integrates feminism into your work, you’re doubly at risk of getting caught up in some rabble-rousing. And, to be frank, my traumatized, mentally ill brain cannot take such a hit without unraveling into the pits of suicidal depression.
This fear kept me silent and afraid of stepping into writing for a really long time.
The fear of the fall out. The fear of social rejection, of criticism, of imperfection.
But I knew I couldn’t be authentically me in my writing or my spiritual work if I wasn’t open about my politics. So, I kept moving forward, this fear mostly falling out of my line of vision as I became consumed with balancing part-time work and cultivating a healing practice online and offline. It was a great success!
With so much excitement and new opportunity, this fear quickly fell away.
And then Scorpio season arrived.
Fighting the Mini-Boss: Fear of Death
It started with the resurgence of death anxiety, which I haven’t struggled with in a long while. I found myself at my doctor’s office, crying and shaking because I was convinced I had contracted rabies from a cat at the shelter who scratched me, which I didn’t report. Now, I convinced myself, the pain in my armpits was the first sign of rabies, and once humans are symptomatic they die.
Oh, but not before experiencing hallucinations! Lets not forget that little thing, feeding my long lost fear of psychosis that I developed alongside depersonalization disorder.
A double whammy. Psychosis followed by death. What could be worse? To this anxious brain, literally nothing.
Not since I was out traipsing about the South of Deutschland in Summer 2015 had I experienced such acute, intense health & death anxiety.
This rabies conundrum had me down and out for a week. It was wild. I would try to refocus my mind onto something else, and boom, there was the void. Staring me in the soul. Threatening my sanity. Threatening my life. Not pleasant.
Luckily, that faded away after I got in touch with the shelter and they took precautions to ensure the cat was rabies-free. I took the time away from work to overhaul my website, rename from Bitchy & Witchy to The Firebrand Witch, and get digging into the creation of my Soul Card Reflection Kits.
I think of that Rabies Ruckus as those levels in Zelda where you fight a mini-boss version of the game’s final final boss. Like in Wind Waker, you fight Phantom Ganon before you are tasked with defeating him in the flesh, ultimately winning the entire game.
The Fear of Death has certainly not been conquered, but I staved it off for a bit. So now I can keep journeying, and then at the end of the game (aka life) I will be tasked with defeating the FoD monster.
Acquiring the Boss Key & Unlocking the Door
…that Big Scary Thing that kept me away from engaging honestly and vulnerably in the world of online witchery and activism for years…
An Instagram astrologer accused me of engaging in misogyny for saying “Bitchy & Witchy” felt “too cis-lady” for me to use as my personal blog or business’s name/brand (I am a recently out non-binary person). I maintained that it was not misogynist to separate myself from this word (a reclamation of an insult historically wielded against women). I asserted that if me using the words “cis-lady” seemed misogynist to her, then perhaps she was being transphobic and policing the way I am expressing and understanding my non-binary identity.
Basically, as I am wont to do, I met fire with fire.
From my perspective, the disagreement seemed to cut to the heart of competing paradigms between cis-centered radical feminism and queer feminism.
I figured we’d both say our piece and move on.
Alas, it kept going.
It turned into a two-week long ordeal.
In this 2 week process, I was accused of: stalking her, stealing her work, obsessing over her, slandering her, hating women & femmes, “playing witch,” being manipulative, and possibly/probably some other things I’m forgetting.
Although I had not engaged with her or addressed the conflict in one week, she announced to her audience of 11,500 followers that 1) I am an Abuser and 2) anyone who had engaged in my initial response or was following my account would be blocked by her, along with 3) an ominous threat about her “powerful spirits” who will “do with [her followers] what they wish.”
All in all, some pretty fucking outrageous, soul-crushing shit to be on the receiving end of for 2 weeks straight.
Now, is this aggrieved astrologer the Temple’s boss? Nah. She was the treasure chest that contained the Boss Key which allowed me to unlock the temple doors.
The Temple of Ego’s boss is never external. It’s an internal monster.
This whole event merely flung the doors to the boss room wide open.
The threat of my tiny, newly grown roots in this community being torn out by a person on their own quest for ego-vengeance threw me face to face with the Temple’s boss.
The Temple Boss: Old Trauma Stories
This is what the temple boss looks like. Old Trauma Stories.
Beginning when I was 12 years old, I dealt with severe verbal, emotional, and some physical abuse from one adult family member in particular who was 24 years old. (Note: I use “she” here because I used those pronouns then.)
Primarily, I was told that I was “a selfish bitch,” that I was “manipulative,” that I was “ruining the family,” that I was a “loser.”
This usually only happened when we were home alone. I’d call my parents at their jobs, asking for help, only to have the abuser snatch the phone from my hands and tell them, “Molly is lying,” or “[Exaggerated claim or blatant lie about something I’d done, often that I stolen something from them]” or “She’s just an attention-seeking brat.”
When I resisted and disagreed with this abuser’s claims (“I’m a good person! You’re the one who is trying to make your 12 year old sister feel like shit! What’s wrong with you?”), they would say, “You’re a cruel person, Molly. I’m just telling you the truth. You just want to hurt me. You’ve isolated yourself from your entire family. You think you’re a victim, but in reality, you created this. Nobody wants to see you because you’re such a miserable little girl.”
I know it’s super dramatic (feel free to laugh at the absurdity, because I’m laughing too), but I’m not making this shit up, kiddos. I’ve got a recording & a transcript of this shit because people didn’t believe me back then. And any rate, you don’t forget words like this.
Sadly, other family members doubted me and did not show up to protect me from this experience, so it persisted for years. Even now, this person has never addressed it with me. Nor has anyone else.
Despite my attempts to stay strong in my self-knowing, these words (and other similarly harmful ones from other family members) made a deep, ugly home in my brain. They insidiously formed the basis of my self-concept for a decade. They convinced me that I am inherently irredeemable, that I am a manipulative, attention-seeking, piece of shit abuser. That I inevitably isolate myself from my community. That sticking up for myself is cruel. That I should feel guilty for doing such a thing.
When all that Instagram Inanity went down last month, this childhood wound was ripped the fuck back open. A person with more social power than me, with more than a decade on me, dragging me through the mud for 2 weeks using the same language that my childhood abuser used, trying to force a wedge between me and my community–well, it all hit just a wee bit too close to home.
My brain and body went into the Ultimate Triggered State. I stopped eating, I stopped sleeping, I stopped going to work. I dissociated into the 5th dimension.
These old trauma stories came back to play big time.
That I am inherently evil, manipulative, abusive, and cruel. That I can’t trust my community to have my back, so I had to leave my community because it hurt too much. That I was about to be ex-communicated from my community because someone more powerful than me would convince them I was worthy of exile.
But hey, I’m not just a victim.
I’m a survivor!
So what else came back? My survival instincts.
Defend myself. Stake my claim in my community before someone tries to take it away from me. Meet aggression with aggression, but stay looking completely unaffected in the aftermath so as to not give anyone the satisfaction of seeing me break down. Look resilient. Look unstoppable.
Channel the fuck out of my Capricorn rising.
And also–my whole fear of being publicly debased for my politics? That’s a fear of reputation damage. Ego. The urge to defend myself in light of false accusations? That’s a desire to restore my reputation. Ego. Bye bye. Gotta let that go if I want to level up.
How to Defeat Old Trauma Stories
Here’s what this year has taught me. Here’s what Scorpio season forced me into integrating into my self.
My survival instincts, though they saved me from abuse back in the day, do more harm than good.
They’re rooted in protection of my ego.
They’re behaviors that are rooted in fear of other rather than love of self.
They force me into seeing a situation in black-and-white terms.
They keep me bound to drama triangles, stuck in victimization.
They keep me stuck in surviving rather than thriving.
I’m not 12 years old being abused by my 24 year old family member anymore. I’m not being abandoned by adults who should have protected me from harm.
How did I stop myself from acting out those old stories?
For one, I surrendered to the feelings and the process.
Two, I actively utilized all of my resources.
The key to defeating the temple boss is that you must always use the tools that you’ve obtained in the temple in order to defeat it.
Sometimes this means slinging a deku nut at the eyeball of Moldarach.
Sometimes this means relying on the internal resiliency skills you’ve harnessed over a year’s worth of intensive therapy; on the community you’ve intentionally built for yourself; on the realization that your abuser is not here anymore.
It means looking face to face with the fear that someone else, even a stranger, knows you better than you do and deciding: Actually, no. Actually, I’m not the Evil you’re saying I am. Actually, this sounds like a you problem. Actually, I don’t deserve this.
It means choosing to be vulnerable rather than putting on a performance of Strong, Thick-skinned Warrior. Even when someone tries to intimidate me out of being honest and open about my process.
It means getting real with how you are projecting past shit onto current conflict, and holding yourself back from doing that. Even when it feels like retaliating will somehow bring you a sense of justice you’ve long thirsted for.
It means letting your reputation take a hit, even when it hurts, and surrendering to the reality that some things are simply outside of your control. And trusting that those who matter will see the truth, either now, or eventually.
Of course, I didn’t immediately or perfectly do these things. Even our Hyrulian hero Link misuses his newly acquired tools before he successfully defeats the boss. Even he sustains some damage in battle. I made some mis-steps, but that’s part of the process.
If this happened last year, I would have probably ended up in a deep, dark depression that I couldn’t escape for months.
But I’m not there anymore.
I am learning that these old trauma stories keep me trapped. They keep me stuck in victimhood. My reputation fears keep me inauthentic and disconnected from the people who I could form deep, mutually healing relationships with.
I have surrendered to the death of these old stories.
I have surrendered to the reality that people are going to loathe, attack, and try to harm me.
I am growing. I am healing. I am learning to act out of love for my self rather than fear of pain and harm.
Now, I am relishing in the post-battle calm of the arena, enjoying my new heart container, and gently letting the light of the portal guide me into Sagittarius season.
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