A fox leaps above its shadow, perfectly prepared to plunge into it. Anticipation, playfulness, and a powerful hush fill the air. In the shadow, under the shadow, we can’t see what’s waiting. Shadows are where we go blind, where we encounter uncertainty, where we can be surprised. The stories we tell ourselves about what’s real often ignore these hidden parts we don’t fully understand.
In psychology, the shadow is the part of our psyche we’re invested in not showing to the world, or to ourselves. It holds the unwanted, unacceptable, and unknown aspects of the self. If we dive into this dark terrain, we often meet a boundary guarded by anxiety, confusion, and tension. But as we retreat from that discomfort, the unclaimed shadow follows us closely, distorting our sense of reality, projecting onto others what we cannot see about ourselves. Scratch the surface of any irrational dislike you feel for someone in your life, and you’ll find a part of yourself you don’t want to claim.
This month, let’s discern between the tension that surrounds the shadow and the shadow itself. Turning towards shadow work means claiming, seeking to understand, and learning to love and be playful with the parts of ourselves we’ve been taught are intolerable—even monstrous. But working with the shadow doesn’t give us license to behave monstrously—just the opposite. By recognizing that we have claws and teeth and divinity, we’re more able to choose how and when we employ them. Doing this work means quieting judgment, quieting anxiety, and quieting all the voices that distract us from seeing our wholeness more clearly. It is on the edge of the shadow where we learn to shine and to persevere.
About the spell
Just as some trees approach the dark of winter through a brilliant display of letting go, we have the choice to face the darkness of our unconscious with heightened awareness. Think of the hush in the woods as the leaves have fallen, as the wind moves silently between the bare branches. Think of all that lies beneath that thick blanket of dead leaves, that deep layer of fresh snow—think of the changes that get to happen there, in the dark.
“Shhh…” is a spell for giving deep attention to what is most quiet. Working with quietness means learning to keep some for yourself at all times - bringing it with you into chaos just as you would a lantern into the dark. Calling in this spell means turning off distracting devices, turning off electric lights, and standing outside at dusk to watch the outlines of the world blur into blue, blur into you.
Meditation on Shhh...
For this meditation, please try to find a quiet place. It’s okay if your mind is noisy, so long as you can hear your breath moving in and out of your body. For at least a few rounds of breath, settle into your seat, into your disposition, and into the rhythm and flow of your breathing. Eventually, let your attention gather at the spaces between your inhales and exhales—that mysterious terrain where your breath quietly turns, inverts, makes magic—that place where the needle crosses over to the other side of the cloth. See if you can keep some of the quiet mystery of those in-between spaces even as the reliable movement and sound of your breathing continues. If your eyes are closed, dissolve your mind into the dark. If your eyes are open, dissolve your focus into the periphery. Allow this quiet place to be the extent of your mediation. If anything tries to pull you into something different than this stillness, feed it breath. Watch, as everything turns to breath…
About the painting:
Corina: Hands down one of my favorite paintings we’ve made together. I’ve been wanting to do a fox in snow for a long time, and I’m glad it worked with this year’s energy. Whenever we sell our work at fairs we get requests for certain animals. I always write them down and convene with Jo when we’re planning out the next calendar. “All kinds of people want giraffes!” I might say, and as business owners we’ll decide, “Great, let’s give the people giraffes!” But when we actually sit down to make art, we’re in touch with the animals and imagery that make themselves available to us. That’s part of the magic of our process—we collaborate with the unseen. If a giraffe doesn’t come to us in that process, whatever giraffe we try to draw won’t turn out properly, won’t have a sense of life. We’ve learned not to force it, to trust the collaboration. So I’m grateful this little fox showed up for us!
Jocelyn: Without saying it outright, this image shows us what resilience looks like. Also, painting this image really brought to mind Bill Watterson’s amazing watercolors in Calvin and Hobbes—I got to paint snow the way he paints snow! This painting is definitely one of the ones that has taught me better how to paint. I love everything about this one!
This month's offerings:
Jo is vrrrrry excited to be at the 10th annual Marshall Handmade Market November 17+18. Please come and say hi!!! There will calendars, greeting cards, and new prints!!
We’re also still hawking 2019 Calendars on the internet this month - you can order your calendar here!! And, as always, you can follow our shenanigans at @abacuscorvus on Instagram. And you can find out what each of us is up to by following @corinadross and @jocelyncorvus