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!