Hi! It’s Sweetie. Some of you may know me from Kate’s stories, or from comments on the blog — I’m Kate’s partner, Kat. 🙂
So, Kate and I started talking a couple of months ago about the possibility of me guest blogging on psychicintraining.com. Of course I was all like, “Yeah! That’s super-exciting!” ’cause I love her blog. But that idea sort of simmered on the back burner for a while. What would I write about?
Well, I’m an artist. What I really want to write about, and share with people, is the idea of divine inspiration. Of art as a spiritual practice. It’s a HUGE topic and one that’s really, really important to me.
A little bit about me: I’ve been an artist since before I knew what an artist was. I’ve just always made things, and engaged in observation. I’m also pretty sure that, had I not been an artist, I wouldn’t have a spiritual practice at all. I would simply have no point of reference for it. But now, if I’m listening to a guided meditation and they say, “Go to the place of no-mind”, I get that. “Oh! It’s just like drawing. I can do that”. I know what that’s supposed to feel like. On some level I’ve always known that art is sacred. I remember one time when I was a little kid I was drawing on my chalkboard and my parents came to collect me because it was time for us to go to church. I didn’t want to go. But I also felt like — although I didn’t have the words to wrap around this feeling — that there wasn’t any reason that I should go, because I was already doing something sacred.
But when I say I would have no point of reference for it, I mean that I did resist the sacred for a long, long time. I was a disaffected child of the 90’s — nothing was sacred to us. It was practically our tagline: Nothing is Sacred. Right? But I would go to the high school classes that I felt like showing up for — like Creative Writing, or Art Studio — and we’d do these exercises that get you really tapped into Divine Inspiration. Like automatic writing. Or blind contour drawing. Things that some of the other kids would find incredibly boring and I’d just do them, and I’d zone out. And write and write and write. And then later I’d read it and go, “…Where did that analogy come from?” Or I’d draw things, at the time feeling like, “This isn’t working”, and then I’d hand them in anyway. Then maybe later that week I’d see it up in the hall or on the classroom wall and think, “Wow that’s really great, who did that?” before I noticed my name on it because I didn’t actually remember doing it. But still I didn’t think of myself as “divinely inspired”, or “psychic” exactly, I would just kind of shrug to myself and think, “Yeah — art is weird, who knows where it comes from?”
Well — where does it come from? My Creative Writing teacher described it as The Collective Unconscious. She explained the Carl Jung had this idea about a pool of human understanding that transcends time and space that our subconscious minds are somehow able to tap into. At that time I thought, “Oh. That’s interesting”. But I didn’t take it literally — my worldview was firmly rooted in alienation; I really couldn’t buy into that interconnectedness stuff.
I had to finally come back around to accepting that there was some spiritual aspect to my art after working my way through Julia Cameron’s books. I was doing the exercises in Vein of Gold, and one of the exercises is a doll-making exercise (she calls them Creativity Dolls), and she basically says, “This is a really powerful exercise and a lot of you are going to feel like it’s really dumb. Do it anyway”
Dolls, man? Are you freakin’ kidding me?
Anyway, I did it. At that time, everything in my wardrobe was black. So I decided to make a little white doll. (Maybe I couldn’t do anything without irony). I made a plush doll; I’m pretty good with a needle and thread having learned when I was 7, so it wasn’t a problem. I cut out and stitched together this bleached white little doll, I made it a white lace dress, knotted on individual strands of white hair with crochet cotton, embroidered on some white facial features. I didn’t really have a plan, other than that I wanted to play with as much texture as I could. It was all really labour-intensive so I had a lot of time to think about this. I thought, “Well, she’s my Creativity Doll. If she’s all white, maybe this is about cleansing and catharsis, right?” I knew that “catharsis” meant “to purify the emotions through art”, but I think I pulled out my dictionary at that point anyway. Derived from “kathairein”, to purge or cleanse. I thought that looked better, and dutifully embroidered that on her back, under her dress. The doll was now complete; maybe a week or so went by before I looked at her again.
…Kathairein?? That’s my freakin’ name, man! Kathryn. From the Greek, meaning “pure”. How did I miss that?
So, sometimes Divine Inspiration responds to your inquiries with gentle humour and some amazing things can happen when you open yourself up to it. I’ll talk more in the future about specific ways that you can do that, but for now I’ll just say that the best way I can describe it is that it’s like meditating with art supplies.
I recommend the doll making exercise to everyone; there is no instruction other than, “make a doll”, and “try not to over-think it”. It doesn’t have to be made out anything specific. You could make a paper doll. You could modify an existing doll. Try to override the part of you that might want to know the “point” of the exercise, or that might assume that you already know how the exercise will play out before you begin. The point is not to override your inner critic, but to proceed in spite of it. And, have fun with it!
15 thoughts on “Divine Inspiration”
Thank you for sharing – I much anjoyed reading you.
Thank you Annica 🙂
This was in interesting read. I recall in high school when I first started pursuing creative writing, and I found I had a knack and ease with the “flow of consciousness” approach. As I became more engrossed with the freeing process of letting the words flow from me, I found that my best writing came out of this practice. Like working a muscle, the more I tapped into it, the easier it got. Then I started using words I didn’t know, and I’d have to look them up to make sure I’d used them right. And I found that the best poems and stories “wrote themselves,” or so it seemed to me. Looking back now at all the spiritual progressions that have happened this year, I imagine I was more connected than I thought. Never tried making a doll, though. Visual arts have never been my forte. I’m not familiar with Julia Cameron, but maybe I’ll look her up now. Thanks for the recommendation!
I’m happy you’re writing in the blog, sweetie 🙂
That’s awesome Trixie . Especially how in writing you pulled in some words that were not in your everyday vocabulary — that sounds like channelling for sure!
And I agree, the best things I’ve written have written themselves as well. I really tried in the past to heed that classic writers advice that writing is really all about editing, and that you need to revise and rewrite. It has tended not to work for me — generally it was right the first time and edits make it worse, not better. Now I just reread and check for grammar, spelling, and general cohesiveness. I’m thinking of Coleridge right now, how he wrote Kubla Khan from a dream he had. Kate and I talked to him a while ago — I can’t remember if she wrote about it or not.
You might enjoy Julia Cameron’s Vein of Gold, which is a creativity book for writers specifically.
Oh, comments don’t seem to thread right if I post them on the phone. 😦 Oh well. Next time I’ll do them on the laptop — noted!
Nice to hear from you, Sweetie. 🙂
I love Julia Cameron’s books, but I hadn’t tried the doll exercise until I was working with a counsellor a few years back. I’d been taking in my art journals to share with her, and that let me on to looking for some other projects, and I had an old soft-bodied china doll I’d found somewhere. She ended up in a rainbow-colored, beaded dress, with golden-red yarn hair and a third eye painted in the middle of her forehead. I gave her the name of Sparky – there’s a song, ‘Sparky’s Dream’ by Teenage Fanclub, which I remember from when it was in the charts but had never really listened to the lyrics of till more recently, and when I did I thought ‘Hey, that’s about me!’ Because (to me, anyway) it’s about a girl who’s a bit ‘out there’, a bit weird, something I’d always been accused of, but by this time I was thinking – well, ‘normal’ never worked too well for me, so why not embrace the weirdness!
I’ve also had poems and bits of lyrics come to me and I’ve looked at them afterwards and thought ‘Did I write that?’ Weird feeling, but cool.
Thanks! It’s great to see so many creative people here. 🙂
Your doll sounds really cool, I’d love to see it. I kinda wish I could post mine but it’s on the other side of the country in my parents’ basement. I love that you’ve done this exercise. I’m starting to toy with the idea of making one again just to see what happens.
Embracing our weirdness is so healing and so important. And it’s an ongoing process, for me anyway. Sometimes I find myself caught in this “grown up” trap and go, “Okay — I’ve got to try to be more serious and less weird”, like in work or business. Or even socially. I worry that if I’m too weird then no one will want to work with me.
But then I remember that my weirdness is innately tied together with the value I have to offer. And if I’m not expressing my weirdness, then who am I being, anyway?
Fantastic line: “But then I remember that my weirdness is innately tied together with the value I have to offer. And if I’m not expressing my weirdness, then who am I being, anyway?” Well said! I love letting my “freak flag fly!” It brings me great joy. And I’m currently running a successful small business and my clients seem to like me. As long as you are respectful, professional, and get the job done, I think people really enjoy watching someone be true to themselves. In fact, you can inspire someone into letting go of their constraints.
I’ve also been dreaming up songs lately. Music that I’ve never heard. Sometimes, it’s George, his voice, his song, often a new one or a rendition of one that’t different. But sometimes I dream up Beatles songs that don’t exist (that I’m aware of), all different genres of songs. I’ve seen entire concerts of bands that I’ve never heard of. Unfortunately, even though I play guitar and have some natural music ability, capturing those songs when I wake as proven a challenge. They never sound as good wen I try to replicate what I’ve heard. Your “Kubla Khan” reference reminded me of that.
Thanks 🙂 And, it is encouraging to see other people running successful business while being true to themselves. In my last business I always felt like I had to fulfill other people’s expectations of what I should be like as a business owner. Which is crazy when I think about it because I was the boss and I was supposed to be making the rules! But it was a totally fear-based thing, feeling like I needed to be perfect or the money wouldn’t come in. I am *so* over that now.
With the music that’s happened to me too. It happens when I’m falling asleep or waking up because that’s when I’m most clairaudient. Sometimes it’s voices but occasionally it’s music. I’ll realize there’s a song in my head and just think, “Oh, it’s acoustic Nirvana”, and then realize, “…No wait, I’ve never heard this song before”. But the harder I try to listen the more it fades away. It’s nice to know they’re still writing. 🙂
(Aside: I just heard a scoff and a “Why wouldn’t we be??” Lol — I don’t know!)
Oh, gosh, I’ve had that too! I write songs myself, and ‘my’ songs come into my head at odd times of the day, and I can usually remember them for long enough to write something down (I don’t exactly read music but I have my own way of jotting down the notes and chords) for when I can get to a guitar. But I’ve sometimes woken up, and this only ever happens first thing in the morning, ‘hearing’ songs which are recognizably Kurt’s style (and sometimes actually his voice). Those fade away almost as soon as I’ve heard them, and I kind of don’t feel it would be right for me to try and capture them anyway. Yes, they’re still at it! 🙂
Emma, I’ve heard this story (maybe you’ve heard it too) about how Paul McCartney says he didn’t really “write” Yesterday so much as write it down. Like he woke up with it in his head one morning and then went around asking people, “Whose song is this?”, but no one had heard it before. I wonder how many people have written songs that way. It’s an impressive skill to be able to hear, remember and translate. I can play by ear but I really need to hear something multiple times.
I used to play bass, and it’s funny… Kate and I talked to Sid Vicious a handful of times and the first time he showed up Kate said, “He’s showing me you playing bass. He’s asking why you don’t play anymore… did you used to play??”. (She didn’t know me then, so she didn’t know). We talked to Jim Morrison one time and he asked the same thing. (Well, I stopped because I moved in with “real” musicians and felt weird about playing — which is not a good reason). Anyway now that I’m back in touch with my psychic/intuitive abilities I do feel motivated to start playing again.
Have you tried going about it the other way? Like, asking for help with a song and then sitting down to write? I bet Kurt would help you write a song — I think they’re all motivated to help bring in art. 🙂
Sorry if this ends up reading out of order, I couldn’t see where else to reply….
I haven’t exactly done it the way you suggest, but when I get time to myself to work on a song, I’m pretty much always aware of Kurt ‘sitting in’, and sometimes making suggestions. And there are some of my songs (and I’ve been told this by a couple of other people who’ve heard them) which do sound rather Nirvana-esque, but I couldn’t say whether that’s the effect of him having helped out or of me being influenced by his work in the ‘normal’ way… (And it still freaks me out that I’m even saying this to anyone…)
No worries about the comment order, I found the same thing — it looks like they only thread 3 deep.
Thank you for sharing with us and being so candid! Kate and I talk about this stuff all the time so it’s had kind of a normalizing effect on me over the last 2 years or so. But yeah! It’s kind of out there, I totally get it. I was just drafting next Friday’s entry and recalling how I first started talking to John. I just refused to talk about it to anyone. It was kind of isolating; there was no internet. Man that was a long-ass time ago, most of our spirit friends were still alive. Well, I’m just so glad to have community now. Some days, I’m *so* grateful for the internet. 😀