Spirituality and Creative Expression
“The creative process shrivels in the absence of continual dialogue with the soul. And creativity is what makes life worth living.”
That is a quote by Jungian analyst and author Marion Woodman, on a topic also addressed by Julia Cameron in her classic book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
“The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union… Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the creator but seldom see ‘creator’ as the literal term for ‘artist.’
“I am suggesting,” Cameron continues, “you take the term creator quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist to artist, with the Great Creator.”
For the title of her book “Riding the Windhorse,” Professor Kathleen Noble chose a favorite term of hers referring to this kind of non-religious concept of Creator and Ultimate Reality, a term which “derives from the work of Buddhist philosopher Chogyam Trungpa who depicted spirituality as the Windhorse, or the energy of basic goodness that comes from nowhere but is always there.”
One of the personal stories about spiritual growth she includes in the book is that of Megan (not her real name) whose son was killed in an automobile accident, in which she also had a near-death experience.
Finding that talking with friends and family, and participating in support groups was not enough, she felt the need for a creative outlet through which to express her feelings.
Dr. Noble notes that Megan “had never thought of herself as an artist, nor was she aware that she had any artistic ability.
“One day she found a boulder on her property and decided to make it a memorial to her son.”
A local stonemason Megan sought for help told her he would show her how to use the needed tools, but could not tell her how or what to carve, that it “had to come from within.”
“I don’t think there’s anything that anyone has ever said to me that’s been more significant in terms of what I needed to hear,” Megan said. “I didn’t know what that meant so I sat by the stone trying to listen to myself. Nothing happened.”
“Then one day I went out and started hammering away on it. Gradually a little creature started coming out… At one point I stopped thinking and just hammered and chiseled in a fury. When I stopped I saw a pattern of little heart-shaped leaves where the body was supposed to be. It’s hard to describe what I felt then.
“It was such a powerful moment. I had an enormous sense that my intuition was real and that I could approach a stone with a feeling of trust instead of deliberateness. I knew then that something would always come.”
Noble writes that since then, Megan has “become an accomplished stone sculptor whose work has brought comfort to many people. She carves unique symbols on her stones, messages that speak to particular individuals.”
In addition to accepting and acknowledging her intuition, Megan credits her son for her creations: “I still feel quite close to his spirit. In fact, his spirit is what’s driving my stonework. His death and my stonework have taught me that there truly is a greater power. I feel connected to it, and that gives me a better sense of place and reason and of responsibility for being here.”
Dr. Noble comments that a spiritual shock, such as Megan experienced with the death of her son, “may be the catalyst that jumpstarts most people’s psychological growth, but it does not lead to spiritual intelligence without a decision to participate more fully in the ‘joyous travail of the universe.'”
It is often in response to spiritual turmoil and spiritual awakening that we begin meaningful journeys as creators.
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Riding the Windhorse : Spiritual Intelligence and the Growth of the Self, by Kathleen D. Noble.
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron.
Photo from book Images of God: Sixty Reflections of Spiritual Beliefs, by Adam Gaynor.
Eby, D. (2011). Spirituality and Creative Expression. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 3, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/creative-mind/2011/02/spirituality-and-creative-expression/