One of the sections in my Wild Women Writing Workshop is “Light & Shadow.” In it, we investigate the magical, the mystical, “intimations of extraordinary realities,” as Deena Metzger names them in her book, Writing for Your Life. We also explore our shadow side, that darker aspect of ourselves that is often repressed and usually thought to be unacceptable. But this shadow self also has spontaneity, creativity, and imagination. Creativity often derives from what might appear as socially unacceptable ways of seeing and interpreting the world, maybe a little dangerous, certainly nonconforming. But there’s great energy in this uncontrolled, uncensored creativity and it’s exactly here we might find traces of our wild, authentic voice.
Following is a piece about Shadow I wrote in the 2012 Wild Women Writing Workshop, titled “Speak, Shadow.”
Her name is Loretta and she wants to dance by the light of the moon. She wants to wear silver-tipped boots and sage in her hair.
Ask her to write her name and she might use blood as ink.
Tell her she’s pretty and she’ll charge you a twenty.
Shadow doesn’t care about making a living. She said being a boho in Paris would be her style. She wants to go back in time, to smoke cigarettes because she likes it. She doesn’t want to know about health dangers and risks to the body.
She doesn’t believe in moderation.
Oh, Mama, what you didn’t think she knew. Try as you might to stop her, that Shadow Girl will sneak out the bedroom window and come back still drunk with stickers in her hair.
She lives in secrets whispered under the eaves, gone from sight and better forgotten.
But what if, at seven or eight or ten, nobody gave her the kind of look that said, don’t; a look that said, no, or not, or never. What if somebody said, Go ahead and dance, kiddo; you’ve got great form. Go ahead and climb those trees in your dress, turn cartwheels on the street and wear your underpants on the outside. Sing as loud as you want, cookie. Make that joyful noise and never mind about table manners. Lick your plate after you finish your pie and thank you will just come naturally out of your pretty, cherry-stained mouth.
A section titled “Light & Shadow” is included in my next book, Wild Women, Wild Voices, which will be published by New World Library next spring and I’m currently gathering other women’s experiences with their “Dark Angel.” I’d love to hear your comments. Do you have a name for your shadow? Does she speak to you? What does she say? What does she wear? Who does she look look like? Do you love her in spite of it all? Tell me.