This is the story of how the poem ‘Night Foxes’ got written. It’s all about how creative acts can bubble to the surface.
Not sure why I’m sharing this. It’s sort of mundane, personal… but why not open up an exploration of the ways in which creativity emerges and see what other experiences anyone has to share? I would love to hear.
It was during a visit from my father. Dad had been with us for a week already. On good form but intense. Always so caught up in his own head; the incessant talking. My own latent anger. It was the end of a nice, but emotional, day where his family had come over for lunch. My aunt had cried while talking to me and her daughter about the time our grandmother, her mother, had died. My Aunt told me later by e mail that she always felt guilty about how differently her and her brother’s life had turned out. Her’s marked by material success and good health as she aged; his by big losses and struggles with mental and physical health. I was getting a little lost in the big feelings that were coming up.
That’s the general background.
Before going to bed that night, attempting to settle, I drew a Medicine card. It was the Fox.
This is a summary of Fox’s message:
The ability to meld into one’s surroundings and be unnoticed is a powerful gift when one is observing the activities of others. Fox’s ability to be unseen allows it to be the protector of the family unit. If danger arises, Fox is johnny-on-the- spot. Nanih Waiya, Great Spirit in the Choctaw tongue, honors Fox with the duty of keeping the family together and safe. This is accomplished through Fox’s ability to observe undetected, without making others self-conscious. Fox is always concerned with the safety of family members and is an excellent talisman for those traveling far afield.
If Fox has chosen to share its medicine with you, it is a sign that you are to become like the wind, which is unseen yet is able to weave into and through any location or situation. You would be wise to observe the acts of others rather that their words at this time. Use your cunning nature in a positive way; keep silent about who and what and why you are observing. In learning the art of camouflage, you need to test your ability to pull this off. One test of exercise that may be helpful to you is deciding to be invisible. In doing this exercise, you might try to visualize your body as part of your surroundings, full of the colours of the location you are in. See yourself in your mind’s eye, moving with stealth and grace, unheeded by others. If you do it right, it works! You can leave a party unnoticed or become as unobtrusive as a piece of furniture, watching the developing
drama of the subjects you are studying.
With Fox medicine, you are being asked to see
all types of uses for Oneness.
I reflected on the aptness of this card after a day of being so immersed in the memories and dynamics of the preceding generation. My father and Aunt don’t see each other very often. Their meetings are years apart, and can be hard work. As a daughter and niece, I had hosted this lunch because it was a means to create a space where we could be together. Though not always easy, there is something important about witnessing the dynamic of the family; accepting it; opening to it. The lunch was not about ‘me’, but about witnessing the older generation, however imperfectly. It was my attempt to acknowledge the ‘oneness’ of my story with theirs. And I suppose it had required me to become less visible, to listen more (I struggle with listening). Fox is also a significant animal for my younger sister, who is away right now travelling in North America. Drawing it, I felt connected to her, able to draw on the support and insight she gives to what can be a heavy family dynamic.
I then went to sleep, but was woken a couple of hours later by shrieking sounds outside on the street. I got up and looked. There were two foxes on the road outside! They appeared to be having a fight, eventually going their separate ways. I watched the last fox make its way out of sight, then wrote this down:
The dead of night
Foxes wake, sounding warnings
I went back to bed and had this dream:
I had through a process of becoming, infiltration, luck and knowing, become part of a tour of Brazilian musicians, who were world famous, and also deeply rooted in a spiritual tradition. The most well known of the musicians, an older, slightly porky man, showed me evidence of sacred places where he had been instructed not to play music by ghosts who had communicated through till receipts (yes, the kind you get from Tesco. There is no accounting for the sub-concious!) He showed me where they had marked the receipts with ‘zero’ to communicate the silence. This was not a message not to play music -far from it- it was a message about which places on earth are places of sacred silence. A different thing altogether. It was powerful. I put on a big show of being freaked out. Inside I was amazed and glad to have been included in this inner circle. I had gained access to it at the Stage Door. When stopped by the bouncers, I had talked my way in by partly bluffing and partly remembering that I was a Fado singer, who had grown up immersed in the world of Fado through my family. As I spoke to him I was engaging in a process of piecing together, and creating, the story of my life, partly fact, partly fiction. Anyway. It was enough to get me through the door.
There it is. In the waking world, I have grown with the world of Fado as a marker of identity, albeit distantly. My father and Aunt are of Portuguese descent, and their grandmother, a seamstress and a poet, had once made a dress for the famous Fado singer Amalia Rodrigues. This was a story I had heard a lot as child. There is more to excavate in this dream, but for me the main thing right now is this sense of making a life story of one’s own that is intimately connected to all the life stories of all the others who are around you, came before you, will come after you.
Since then I have been practising the technique of ‘disappearing’. This is not so much about magic as it is about lessening one’s sense of being separate. Doing it, I was reminded of something I had read once by Alice Walker in which she spoke of imagining yourself as gone from the earth, having left not a trace. In a world obsessed with legacy, fame, being noticed and remembered, this is a powerfully challenging exercise to do. In terms of my Wheel of Initiation practice, it has provoked an examination of the ways in which I engage with the process of writing my life story in the West. What version am I telling? How do I inhibit growth by attempting to tell a perfect version? What other pain stories, apart from my own, are revealed in hearing what I am writing told through other people’s perspectives? What do I carry? What does it mean to release these burdens? Disappear? Cultivate spaces of silence? Not as an escape, but as a form of practice that lessens the attachment of ego to the idea of separation as a primary identifier of Self.
These are tentative reflections on the ways that creativity, in all kinds of forms, bubbles to the surface out of the soup of everyday life, dreams, coincidence and the opening of practice.