AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

“First one seeks to become an artist by training the hand. Then one finds it is the eye that needs improving. Later one learns it is the mind that wants developing, only to find that the ultimate quest of the artist is in the spirit.” Larry Brullo

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Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun

Are you creative in any way? Do you feel a need to express your creativity? How do you express it? How does this connect to your spirituality?

Creativity is not a simple subject. In this time when rationality is still valued in the dominant culture, the non-physical aspects of creativity and spirituality are not always considered important. In this country, arts programs are the first to be cut in the public schools despite numerous studies that indicate how artistic activity is significantly valuable to the development of young minds.

The Spiritual and Creative Are One

Despite that, the creative and the spiritual often intermingle, for they both come from an internal, non-physical connection. On the non-physical level, I cannot tell them apart for they both seem to come from an inner knowing. The idea for a poem appears any time of the day or night and is streamed to me from an inner source. It flows onto the paper. I do not think about it initially. I may edit it later, deciding what to keep, but I never interfere with the original flow.

As Julia Cameron says, “Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” We have to trust that inner part of ourselves. Not only does creating require faith, but it requires us to experiment, to play, and to explore the unknown. Even the most realistic painting is not just a pastoral scene, it is also the reflection of the artist’s vision and skill.

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Sean Hedges-Quinn

Recently, I attended the Marsha Powell Festival of Religion and the Arts at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. I spent three days immersed in lectures and activities including a wide range of artistic expression and theory on how art and spirituality are intertwined in various settings and in the artistic mind.

Understanding the Creative Mind

My husband Charles Davidson, a Van Gogh scholar, was on the first panel along with Cliff Edwards, another Van Gogh scholar, and Laura Kreiselmaier whose presentation was on the concept of transliminality in art. They provided a fascinating look at Van Gogh.

Anyone who has read about Van Gogh knows that he had a volatile temperament, so the concept of transliminality that Laura introduced was intriguing. Transliminality is the tendency for thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations, images, ideas and intuitions to move in and out of one’s consciousness. This happens more frequently with artistic people than with those who are not, and it certainly describes my experience with art.

Artists Awaken to Spiritual Creativity

Because I spent many years as a modern dancer and choreographer, it is virtually impossible for me to hear music without dance images coming into mind. A part of me always wants to move to music and so my mind does the choreography even when I’m sitting still. I also feel a sensual response to any music I find pleasurable.

Speaking about her art, Georgia O’Keefe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—the things I had no words for.” So what was the source of this knowing? How did she or any artist know what color or shape to use?

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Georgia O’Keefe – Cala Lillies with Red Anenome

Certainly training contributes to an artist’s expression, but there is a deeper, spiritual source that also guides what is created. Vincent Van Gogh was a deeply spiritual man. At one point he even wanted to be a minister. This intertwining of spirituality and art is deeply explored in Charles Davidson’s wonderful book Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent Van Gogh and the Self Before God.

The Spiritual Dimension Awakens Art

Van Gogh’s paintings are vibrant and alive with energy and light, especially the flowers and landscapes. The artist clearly sees more than what the average person sees. His pictures tell us about what he feels when he looks at the scene, person, or object. Because he is so intently connected to nature and sees beyond the surface of life, he offers us more than what we see, he pictures a spiritual dimension as well.

What was so wonderful about the conference I attended was that I saw many ways that artists are touched by their religious and spiritual awareness. One artist, Ernesto Pujol, creates silent performances in public places, recognizing that our endless chatter and doing distracts us from our spiritual and creative centers deep within. His work was inspired by Buddhist mindfulness.

Ernesto Pujol's Walking Ground

Ernesto Pujol’s Walking Ground

Fleming Jeffries’ sees drawing as a way to slow the mind and get in touch with the unconscious. Much of her art is about connecting deeply with nature or her environment. Currently living in Qatar, she must navigate with empathy the complexities of living and creating art as a non-Muslim woman in a Muslim society.

In a world that is still so attached to rational thinking, we need to develop our creativity, in whatever area suits us, in order to develop our whole selves. One does not have to be an artist to be creative. Business people, technicians, doctors, teachers and all people have opportunities that arise where they have to use creative thinking to solve a problem.

But it is perhaps art—dance, visual, theater, or music—that touches our hearts most deeply and is a place where we can all experience the Divine and our own spiritual creativity.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Transliminality,  Awakening to Wildness: One With Nature, The Relationship Between Spirituality and Artistic Expression: Cultivating the Capacity for Imagining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE SPRING OF LIFE

“We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or stop them from being other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” Gary Zukav

Iris at Beaver Lake

What does spring mean to you? How do you change your life in the spring? How do you enliven your life or your community at this time of year?

Spring is about new life. Each year it awakens in many ways, distracting us from the winter blahs with flowers we haven’t seen for a year springing to life. Yesterday as I walked through the botanical gardens with a friend, trillium, buttercups, trout lily and a dozen colorful flowers peeked through the brown leaves that had blanketed the ground all winter. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO THE FEMININE

“The world will be saved by the western woman.” Dalai Lama

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When did you learn to love yourself? love others?  Do you feel accepted for who you truly are?  If not, how can you change that?

This week I attended a reading by Massimilla Harris and Bud Harris of their latest book Into the Heart of the Feminine: An Archetypal Journey to Renew Strength, Love, and Creativity. They are both Jungian analysts, and although the book is about the feminine, it was written for men and women, for we all have both feminine and masculine aspects to our psyche.

The book explores the harm that is done to us when we have not had a loving nurturing mother and the deficiencies that exist in our society as a result of not honoring the feminine. The authors explore these negative situations but also describe how we can heal them. I was deeply moved by their stories and insights.

Women’s Lives Have Changed Dramatically

Having lived for seventy years now, I have seen many changes in our society. When I was born, women had been allowed to vote for only 24 years. My mother was born in 1919, a year before women in the US voted for the first time. Although woman in other countries have served in the government at the highest level, we have yet to elect a woman as president in this country.

Recently, when a young man read my memoir, he was shocked by some of my experiences. When I was divorced in 1977, I had a master’s degree while my husband had not completed undergraduate school; however, as a high school teacher I made $7,000 less than he made as a policeman. Because of my higher degree, his lawyer was able to keep him from having to pay alimony. Although we had both worked all those years, our credit was his. I could not get a credit card until I established my separate credit and that wasn’t easy.

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One of the reasons that so many older women who have always worked have such dire needs when they retire is that they have so much less Social Security than most men because they have earned lower wages for so many years. The lack of equity isn’t over when the laws change. It lives on in the consequences of former discrimination.

Awakening to the Feminine Will Take Us Deeper

The lack of respect for the feminine also affects men and women in much deeper ways. The most obvious is the effect it has had on our mothers and the effect they have had on us. It is in that relationship that we are first nurtured and loved or first experience the lack of love, and those experiences have a profound effect on our emotional development. This topic is explored extensively in Into the Heart of the Feminine.

Mary Cassett

What were you taught by your mother and father about who you should be and how you should behave? How much of that was based on society’s expectations of your sex?

Feminine Values Can Heal Patriarchal Extremes

The patriarchal values of power, achievement, and competition have dominated our society and helped create the value of separation that exists in its extreme with our uncompromising current Congress. In contrast, the feminine values community, respect, love, and cooperation. If we have not learned these in the homes where we grew up, we are unlikely to learn them in the business world that is now too often focused on money at the expense of the welfare of their employees, especially women.

Awakening to the Feminine Teaches Us To Love

The truth is that every child needs to grow up with parents who love themselves so that they can love their children. Loving ourselves means we accept and respect all aspects of ourselves, do the best we can each day, and don’t belittle ourselves when we fail. We need to be able to test, explore, and experiment with who we are in our quest to find our deepest, truest selves.

To do that requires the belief that we are all right, that who we are is good. As Masimilla and Bud Harris remind us, life is a journey in which we can choose to grow and heal ourselves so we can be our best selves. If we can change ourselves, we can change our society to embrace the best of masculine and feminine qualities. If we can do that, we will have a society that meets the needs of all its people.

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Awakening to the Feminine Can Save the World

When the Dalai Lama stated that the world will be saved by the western woman, I was surprised, but compared to the restrictions on women in the rest of the world, we may be the very ones with the power to do that. We just have to heal ourselves and know that is our destiny, for it is the feminine spirit whose time has come. If we don’t do it, who will?

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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AWAKENING TO UNDERSTAND

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

When you fear something, do you try to understand it? If you understand it, are you able to release the fear?

I’m not sure I agree with Marie Curie that there is “nothing in life to be feared,” but I often find that my fear goes away when I am able to understand a person or situation. Feeling fearful is often our first response when something new confronts us, especially if it appears to be negative.

Years ago when I first discovered I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I had many tests run to determine exactly what the problem was. It was a tense moment when I picked up the phone and heard my doctor’s voice. What was he going to tell me? Was this curable?

Understanding May Guide Us To New Solutions

“Well, Georganne, the bad news is that you have nine things wrong with you, but the good news is that we can cure them all.” I was surprised and relieved at the same time. There were chemical imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and absorption problems, but this doctor knew how to heal it all naturally.

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By lavender3457

As I learned more about what I needed to do, I understood it was within my ability to get well. My fear diminished, and the process of healing taught me how I needed to live in order to stay healthy when I was healed. It was a wonderful gift in disguise.

Awakening to Understand

Understanding may be the solution to releasing our fear, but how do we find that understanding? When we have a conflict with another person, we can resolve it only if we are willing to consider the other’s point of view and treat it with respect. We don’t have to agree with it or decide to do things another way, but sometimes we can release the fear in the conflict simply by knowing the other side of the issue. Usually, the unknown is what we fear most, but as long as we are afraid of an honest conversation, we will never discover the truth.

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Fear Blocks Understanding

The reality is that the natural fear that protects us from physical harm is the only kind of fear that is positive and helps us. The psychological fears that underlie so much of our behavior often need to be released before we can understand. When we release our fear first, before trying to understand a different point of view, we release the block that impairs our vision of the other’s way of looking at the situation. To learn more about the technique I teach to release fear, see this link.

At the moment, I’m very concerned about the state of Congress because I know that the amount of anger that seems to control decisions there is fear-based. All anger is. I often wonder if any time is spent in bi-partisan groups trying to understand what all the options and consequences are when a decision needs to be made. They seem so caught up in trying to prove they are right that they forget to focus on want is most needed by the people they serve.

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Awakening To Understand Leads To Solutions

When we find ourselves feeling fearful, it is perhaps wise to ask, “What don’t I understand here? What is the whole picture?” Going beyond our feelings and perceptions and trying to imagine what the other related ideas are may help us expand our understanding and adjust our own point of view when necessary, offering us new and better solutions.

Each time we have a new understanding, we widen our ability to perceive. We increase our experiences so that the next time a similar situation arises, we are better able to cope with it. That’s how we grow in life. If we are unwilling to do this, our ability to understand others will simply shrink and diminish our relationships. Growth is always preferable.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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Wayne Dyer – the Ego Illusion

AWAKENING TO THE SILENCE OF SNOW

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky-unbidden-and seems like a thing of wonder.” Susan Orlean

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Back in the days when I taught full-time, a snow day was truly a gift from the Divine. To have the day off, I didn’t have to get permission, find a substitute, or prepare another lesson in advance, nor did I have to leave the house. It was a free vacation day, and I always felt that I could do anything I wanted that day, even when I had papers to grade.

Love the Silence of the Snow

Now, what I love is the silence. The way the snow wraps around the earth, the trees, and buildings. Bare brown branches become beautifully outlined in snow and silhouetted against a blue sky. The snow becomes a blanket of diamonds as it reflects the sun’s light.

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Snow Days Are For Snuggling

It is a snuggly morning, and now I have a snuggly partner, my husband. We linger under the warm covers until hunger hits and then we eat pancakes with eggs and oatmeal. The dog who is let out to “do her business” finds a lot more business to do than usual, sticking her nose into the snow up to her eyes, trying to find a scent that tells her this is her usual place.

Snow Is For Playing

The teenager across the street is trying to learn to ski on the small slope from the street to his house, but soon his friends arrive with an array of winter equipment, none of which they actually use. Before long, it becomes party-time and they disappear into the house.

The daily parade of dog walkers has begun thanks to the city that was well-prepared and cleared the street rather early this morning. The little dog that is of a strange mix and usually wears a sweater has on red shoes today. Our dog, which is out in the yard and usually barks loudly at this one, just sits and stares. I suspect the little dog’s outfit doesn’t fit with her fashion sense, but she’s too polite to express her dismay.

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The Silence Of Snow Connects Us With Spirit

It is strange how something as cold and wet as snow can create the feeling of warmth, but then I am reminded that when I meditate, I often reach a point where I feel warm and protected, aware of that peace of being in touch with something greater than myself, that loving energy of Spirit.

It is not a day for deep mental meandering. It is a day just to be.

How do you like to spend a snow day? Please comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO WINTER’S DELIGHT

“Give me the splendid, silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling.” Walt Whitman

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Do you enjoy winter and its snowy days? Do you like the glint of the sun on ice? Or do you love to curl up near a fire and disappear into a book or write poems about a lost love?

Quiet Winter Days May Be Creative

I have to admit I am rather excited by snowy days when I don’t have to go out and can use the weather as an excuse to just read and nap while the winds whip around the house and spill branches into the yard. And yes, I build a fire in the fireplace and sometimes poems rise to the surface as I sit, not needing to do anything.

I lived in Nebraska for two years when I taught dance in the university and winter lasted most of the year. The first thirty days I was there in December and January the temperature was below zero. It wasn’t unusual to walk around in snow up to my knees.

On one of those days I wrote this poem. No doubt many of you can relate to this picture today.

NEBRASKA WINTER

 Ice bends the trees of this arid land

So that woods appear like shrub forests,

Locked in a white crystal blanket.

The sun sparkles, shatters, plays

Off the hills like a melody of mirrors

Playing songs through the air.

The land flies by as we drive,

Like silver plates skipped on a stream.

Gray deer dart across our path,

Flying shapes connected to the land

By color and vibrance,

Alive in this frozen world

Where ice has stopped the flow of human life.

Only what is close to the land

Survives, vibrantly, through the ice.

Unlike most days in Nebraska, the sun has come out today and melted the icy streets in this North Carolina mountain town, but it has been a lovely contemplative day. I’ve been sifting through my poetry, deciding it is time to publish some and trying to decide where.

Winter, A Time To Turn Within

Winter is the perfect time to turn within and contemplate our lives and evaluate what is working and what is not. When spring arrives, we will be too distracted by the beauty it showers upon us to stay inside ourselves to do this work. But when the cold frosts the windows and makes the stairs treacherous, it feels safe to go inside, to do winter’s version of spring cleaning and decide how we want to change our lives during this year. So, I guess the decision I’ve made is to get busy sharing my poetry, make a book, get it published, and publish some poems on the internet.

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Poetry Is A Very Personal Form

Poetry is so personal, and I feel nervous about putting it out there. Silly, isn’t it, when I’ve already published a memoir that is very personal. So today, I’ll share another poem which really is a silly poem I wrote as I imagined being a tree. We poets do things like that. Of course, maybe I was a Druid in another life.

WINTER CONVERSATIONS

Mountains hold up the snow,

While cedars talk of rumors

In the wind,

Shaking their heads as if to say:

“Mother Earth better watch out

For those wily hunters of fortune.”

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 Wishing all my readers a lovely warm day!

How do you like to spend a cold winter day? Is it a good time for you to turn inward? Please share and comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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Sanity: A Dialogue with Echkhart Tolle

AWAKENING TO OUR WILD CREATIVITY

“Without wildness we have no creativity. No species does.” Matthew Fox

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Is your wildness alive in you? How does it express itself? Is it part of your creativity?

Recently, when I watched the film Marion Woodman: Dancing in the Flames, I was moved by her comments about integrating her perfectionist and wild aspects. I definitely related to her comments and challenges because, as I explained in last week’s blog Awakening to Release Our Perfectionism, these aspects are parts of my personality.

We Can Express Our Wildness Through Creativity

I remember only too well playing in the mud, climbing trees and hiking in the forest where I had so much freedom, but like Marion, on Sunday I had to dress up in a dress and patent-leather shoes and move in a very lady-like fashion. It didn’t help that I was often ill as a child and confined to my bed.

Instead of experiencing my wildness by running around the yard, I spent many hours in bed designing paper doll clothes, reading, or sewing. It was then that my mind learned to run wild even when my body couldn’t. There was no teacher there to critique my artistic work and my mother never criticized it. In fact, she always encouraged my creative expression.

Perhaps I didn’t need to run wild so much because we lived close to nature with chickens and rabbits in the back yard pen and a garden that produced corn, potatoes, green beans, and lettuce. The chinaberry tree in the back yard produced leaves, flowers, and berries that we used to spice up our mud pies. When the family did something together it was usually outdoors in a park or by a stream where my brother and I swam and our parents fished for bass or catfish.

Wildness Is A Natural Aspect Of Nature

Living so close to nature, its cycles seemed natural just as it seemed natural, although not pleasant, that during tornado season when the sirens sang, we hid in the safest part of the house. We knew the chaos of nature as well as its serenity. We accepted it as part of life.

When we create a work of art or any creative thing, it appears first within us. It may be only a glimmer of an idea, swimming around in our mental fog, and we may not be quite clear what it wants to be: a project, a poem, a song, or a new way to cook chicken.

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Creativity Comes From Chaos

Matthew Fox says, “Creativity happens at the border between chaos and order. Chaos is a prelude to creativity. We need to learn, as every artist needs to learn, to live with chaos and, indeed, to dance with it as we listen to it and attempt some ordering.” This learning to create order from chaos may well be one of the most useful aspects of being creative, regardless of what activity we embrace.

We Discover Who We Are Through Creativity

It is in these creative moments, trying to create form from chaos, that we use our minds in ways that benefit us mentally and emotionally. Through this process we also express who we are, allowing our wildness to take us into unknown territory and express and create in the way that only we can. What we create may surprise us as well as those around us.

In the ninth grade, I drew a charcoal picture one day in art class that totally mystified my teacher. “Different,” she said to my parents who visited the class on parents’ night. In the foreground was a phoenix and in the background were dark clouds and fallen Greek columns from the front of what was probably a Greek temple.

Neither the teacher, nor I, nor my parents had any idea of the symbolism contained in the picture. It was only years later when I studied mythology and symbolism that I understood. In Greek mythology, the phoenix is a bird that dies and is reborn, a symbol of immortality. I don’t know what the storm was in my life at the time, but clearly, I survived it for, in some sense, I was the phoenix. There was life in the midst of destruction.

Nature Teaches Us About Natural Wildness

Because my life has been so enriched by my closeness to nature and the seasons and I see the cycles as opportunities to explore various aspects of myself, I have found peace with my wildness. I understand that the best way to tame it is through loving it and expressing it through creative activity, just as the earth cycles through its version of death and rebirth.

2014 012On her website, Jennifer Currie interprets the meaning of the Tarot cards and she speaks about wildness as it is expressed by the Strength card where a woman usually embraces a lion. “You don’t tame the beast by beating it down—you tame it through love and acceptance.” And I would add—by using it to create.

Being Close To Nature Reduces Stress and Violence

Too often when we are children, our wildness is squelched without a creative alternative being offered that allows us to tame our own wildness with love. Perhaps one of the reasons inner city youth become violent is that they do not have a place where they can “run wild” without causing harm or being harmed. Instead of encouraging them to express that wildness creatively, the environment models being “lawless.”

I am thankful that there are now many programs that take youth out into the wilderness and introduce them to authentic wildness. Scientific studies are beginning to show that the time we spend in the forest or on the mountain have a calming effect on the brain and help to release stress. Therefore, it is very beneficial for adults and children to find time when we can just be with the natural world.

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Creativity Connects Us With All That Is

While we need to be able to live with the wildness that comes as a normal part of life, we also need to learn how to find peace with it and allow it to feed our creativity in ways that will bring new awareness and expression into our lives. It is in our creative moments that we often connect with Spirit and become One with all that is.

Are you in touch with your wildness?  How do you express it in your life?  Please share and comment. 

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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