Hidden fears, especially when they come from the dark side of religion, cripple the human personality. Medicine women, the powerful female healers in The Unholy, know how to help a person face these fears. Religion-induced fears come during waking and sleeping time. Nightmares of a religious nature often betray horrid pasts replete with church-bound guilt, fear, and anxieties. The Ecclesia Dei, in The Unholy, symbolizes the absolute worst of church culture, the dark side of religion.
Daily in my psychotherapy practice, I treat individuals who’ve suffered from the dark side of religion. Women, in particular, are open to facing the way they have been treated and often abused by clergy. Men can be so removed from their feelings and experiences that they’re quite often in denial. Bad memories can be stuck down deep, and denial keeps them there. When it comes to bad religion, denial is an especially gruesome culprit. In order to break through and see what’s true, denial needs to be dealt with and worked out of so that these individuals can see the abusiveness of religion and then heal up and set themselves free.
Bad memories can be so crippling that a person can’t love. Religion can break the heart and threaten the stability of the mind. Guilt and fear are injected so deep that they override the love capacity. People in churches then are riddled with anxiety and can’t really connect on a human basis. In The Unholy, it is the Ecclesia Dei, the Latin designation for the “church of God”, that essentially causes Claire, the protagonist of the story, to fear ever loving. A man loves her, and she loves him, but religious fear threatens to forever damage the potential for intimacy.
Claire is raised by medicine women. These are women in Aztlan who know that dreams, intuition, and herbs heal. Her mother was a medicine woman and it is she who made a fateful decision that not only ended her life but set in motion a terrible sequence of events that her daughter, Claire, then had to deal with. Trauma is transmitted generation to generation until one person finally decides to handle things with courage and truth.
As the young woman in conflict in The Unholy, Claire must decide to face her worst religious fears or forever be bound by the past. Nightmares haunt her with faces looming large in the dead of night. These night terrors afflict those who suffer at the hands of the dark side of religion. The Ecclesia Dei in The Unholy portray some of the worst happenings in the church—the terrorizing of women. For Claire to not face the ghosts of the past means certain unhappiness and untimely death; to embrace her fears and who she is–a medicine woman in the making–offers hope for the future and the potential for transformation.
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