Western cultural conditioning would have us believe our lives are intrinsically empty, incomplete, inefficient—it tells us we must produce to be of value; we must consume to feel satisfied, full, worthy. And yet, the subjective experience of this cultural mythology is not one of emptiness at all, but rather unbearable fullness—we are full of shame, insecurity, anxiety, and self-loathing. The polarizing energy of these two stories fuel the narrative and keep it alive: we believe we are worthless and feel full of shame; we learn to produce and consume to try and earn the worth we desperately need, but it is never enough, so we resign to being worthless and become more deeply rooted in self-loathing. This story plays out deep inside us—if you don’t ever go into your depths, you may never see it. But seen or not, so many acts of violence and abuse source from this story acting itself out in complex interactions with each other, ourselves, and our environment. So much inspiration, justice, growth, genius, and pleasure is denied.
What would our lives be like if we rejected this mythology and co-authored a new one? What would we want each other know about what really dwells down in our depths?
About the spell:
To work with this spell, begin by thinking of yourself as a being that extends in both space and time. You have a past and a future, a beginning and an end. Spatially, you present an exterior self to the world that masks parts of your inner self, partially or completely. To start working with this spell means finding a way to look at what you’re not comfortable showing the world. To do so might be difficult at first, but will help you reconnect to your source of joy, laughter, creativity, and hope. Doing so helps you grow and cultivate resilience. Put simply, resilience is the capacity to withstand the uncertainties of life and accept the certainty of death.
A meditation on our beloved depths:
To begin this meditation on your depths, please first find a place to be still for as much time as your schedule could possibly allow. Try to be generous with yourself but understanding of your limits. When you go to sit, or lie down, or walk, or whatever, see if you can stay with yourself for a few more breaths when you notice your mind has wandered; see if you can stay still long enough that you risk getting lost—that you risk being carried—that, even for a split second, you relinquish control. If you’d like to focus on your sensations, let your attention take a seat at the very top of your diaphragm’s parachuting arch, right around the ring that circles around your spinal column—right at your depths. Rest yourself right here, right at the center of your body, and feel how you slide down on a gentle, expanding inhale and float up on the exhale. Take this ride as many times as you’d like, pretend you’re floating on the ocean, come back to your body and orient yourself to time and space, and then drift again. At times you may feel full and overflowing like a fountain; other times you may dissolve into a foundational emptiness. How does it feel for you in this moment? What memories or emotions do you find here? How big or small do you feel? What do you feel connected to through this experience?
Then, consider this perspective: zero and infinity—or emptiness and fullness—are different words for the same thing: on a two-dimensional graph with an x- and y-axis, zero can be found at the very center; when graphed in three dimensions, this center becomes the depth. But what we have learned to call “zero” is not a number, it has no measurable value—it is a placeholder for that-which-is-utterly-immeasurable. If we were to extend all the axes out into infinity we see that “infinity” is also just a placeholder for that-which-is-utterly-immeasurable. Our Beloved Depths refer to both outer and inner reaches: down in your depths, you are utterly immeasurable, you are as infinite an expanse as our unknowable universe; you are more real than our culture ever remembers you to be.
About the painting:
Corina: I'm kind of obsessed with drawing things-under-things, and with this theme of something in our depths opening up and inviting us in. I knew I wanted there to be some kind of cave and strata of earth in this one, but it’s always hard to know how much to show and how much to imply. We had some versions of this in which the cave was stuffed full of shiny amethysts and crystals, but it looked kind of cheesy. I’m always like: “More! Sparklier! Ooh, it’s shiny!”—but my sister rightly pointed out that the depths are dark and get to be more hidden. We don’t have to clearly see what’s down there—there’s no light! As a painter, she’s always more grounded in the reality of how and where light is falling.
Jocelyn: Like Corina was saying, at some point in our process she gave me permission to let go of all the tiny, detailed shiny things in the cave (that I was struggling to render tastefully in gouache) and I was free to go at the painting however I felt moved. It was so satisfying to swallow up all the gems that were once so exposed—to conceal them with paint and a night sky—to experience the "bothness" of those depths... It was so satisfying that I wound up looking at what I had done an hour later and the whole thing was done. This one definitely revealed itself to me as I painted and not the other way around.
This month's offerings:
Buy a print of Our Beloved Depths and get 15% off: We've got a sale going on this image for the whole month of January! Just use the coupon code DEPTHS.
This month, Corina is seeing clients again after a hiatus, and gearing up for two workshops she’s teaching in February at the Portland School of Astrology. Find out more by following her on Instagram, @corinadross
This month, Jocelyn is playing a bunch of music, unthawing her pipes, restoring her nervous system, and reading Adrienne Maree Brown's outstanding book Emergent Strategy. To stay on the up and up you can follow her on Instagram: @jocelyncorvus