The heart speaks many languages, but grief and love are two aspects of its primary tongue. Though these aspects are not identical to each other, they are inseparable. Opening to love is also an opening to the inevitability of grief. Similarly, withdrawal from the risk of grief is withdrawal from the protection of love.
We are a generation that is constantly aware of loss. The speed of communication means we hear about each tragedy as it happens, no matter how far we are from it, even as we face the slower crises and threats that affect our entire world. Keeping our hearts open and our minds focused can be difficult in this context. Doing so demands that we open, again and again, to pain and helplessness. Shutting down our awareness and our compassion can help us survive, but it can also block us from being fully present and alive—making us much less engaged in the creation of more beautiful worlds.
“Sing Out” is a spell to help us move out of stuckness and into openness again; it is a spell for letting truth flow through us and heal us. Our hearts hunger for truth. The throat rises up out of the heart; the inner structures of the ear root down toward it. The vibrations we make with our voices and the vibrations we hear in our surroundings carry truth in and out of our hearts, like oxygen through a different sort of respiratory system. When the truth is blocked, by us or others, our hearts’ growth is restricted, we trust each other less, and we’re left with narrow foundations for building relationships—which makes their growth precarious.
About the Spell
This month, we are singing out for the true sound and feeling of you. Our bones remember when there were songs for our grief, songs for our love, established ways to express our deep pains and joys. Our cells remember a time when others would listen and respond in kind. And now, there is grief to be sung for having forgotten the songs of our grief. This month, we offer a hearty encouragement: You do not need to know how to sing. You do not need to know the words. You can let your heart move sound out of your throat and let your ears open to hear it.
With a willingness to broaden the range of what we recognize as song, or as valuable expression, we are poised for growth. When we allow ourselves to sing both our love and our pain, we clear a channel for truth and for healing. We use truth to orient ourselves; without enough of it, we flounder. When we speak or hear something that feels true, it is like finding solid stone beneath our feet: panic settles, senses feel trustworthy, and the mind can focus. When truth is sung out and heard, trust develops and relationships find a wide foundation, which will be needed it we are to grow past the edges of modern social conditioning to form networks of relationships stable enough to move big grief.
Meditation on Singing Out*
To begin this meditation, have your eyes find something in your environment that they’d like to rest on, and then let them rest there. With this stillness in your gaze, let your focus widen and broaden so that become are aware of all the colors and shapes and structures in your surroundings, even as your gaze is fixed on a single place. Notice your breath—especially the entire length of the exhale, and the moment in between exhale and inhale. Ever so subtly, elongate the moment of emptiness between breaths. Continue to welcome the inhale as it comes. Let your breath weave you into time like this for as long as you'd like. And then, If you're curious, you can ask yourself: what needs to be spoken?
Perhaps you receive an immediate answer… perhaps you hear only the absence of an answer. Either way, you can relax yourself back into your gaze, back into your breathing and the beloved depth of your exhale. You can ask yourself again, gently, musically, playfully… singing these questions to yourself, in your own mind… What needs to be spoken? What needs to be heard? What do you know to be true? As these questions dance around inside you, let your eyes rest again, their focus soften, and your awareness sink into the rhythm of your breathing. Open your ears. Listen to the world inside and around you. Wake up to the world of sound and vibration. Relax the back of your tongue, relax the soft palette. With your eyes resting, your ears opening, and throat relaxing—speak what needs to be spoken and see if you can hear yourself say it—really listen for the truth in it. If you don’t know or don’t have an answer, speak aloud, “I don’t know what needs to be spoken” or “I don’t hear an answer right now.” Whatever you are speaking aloud, do so a number of times, until your throat starts to relax around the sentence and the sounds. Play with whispers, yells, lisps, and melodies. And then, to close, return to quiet and scan your body for sensations. What has changed?
*This month's meditation is highly informed by the voice and meditation instruction of Danny Ellis. Even if you aren't interested in voice lessons or meditation instruction, reading through his website is worth the time!
About the Painting
Corina: We had so many ridiculous psychedelic versions of this painting before we toned it down to this one. Imagining how each of these songs overlapped was pretty funny, and brought us to the core questions in our aesthetic practice: when we’re working with words and images, how do we illustrate the ideas without being too literal? What extra dimension does the painting convey that the words can’t? I like that colors we ended up with include that range of yellows and lavenders that shows up at both dawn and dusk—light growing and light fading.
Jocelyn: Oh, I love this painting. I am so glad that it completed itself before we tried to implement any of our tripper ideas about what would be represented in the song-streams. I am so glad for the lesson these titmice gave me in subtlety, softness, and fluffiness. I am impressed, as always, with Corina’s composition. And I am so glad this spell is moving out into the world. I know I need it.
This month's offerings:
This month Jo and Corina are finishing up next year’s calendar of small spells, and celebrating Jo’s graduation from grad school! Follow our progress @abacuscorvus on Instagram. And you can find out what each of us is up to by following @corinadross and @jocelyncorvus