In today’s world of mass production, it is quite difficult to be creative in the sense of making one’s own clothes, building houses, etc. In Greek times art was synonymous with technique. Even household utensils were ‘works of art’ not only because there was a sense of creating something from nothing, but the sense and feeling that creativity was close to divinity. In many respects, we have lost this feeling. Eating today is basically a way of stilling hunger and not a way of partaking in the Fruits of the Gods. The way we present our food has little to do with our sense of thanks or that we are able to enjoy it and share in the creative power of the Gods.
This consumer attitude is not only evident as far as our eating habits, of course. Unfortunately, it seems to be a general attitude. We may, however, be able to discover other ways in which our sense of creativity is akin to perceiving the Divine since this aspect is one of the pillars of all religions. For the Christian, God is the Creator, whilst in Hinduism, there is the triple godhead of Brahma (creation), Vishnu (preservation) and Shiva (destruction), which seems to underline the closeness of creation (and destruction) and divinity.
In the Craft, we find our inspiration in the God and the Goddess. We sometimes liken the Goddess to the ever-giving source of life (creation), whilst the God embodies the two aspects of life and death simultaneously. The God tends to limit the ‘continuum’ of the Goddess. In a sense, the unbridled growth of the Goddess is tamed by the God. God energy tends to choose the ultimate destination. For example, in the autumn, the Goddess provides untold wealth in the form of seed and fruits. Some fruits will be eaten as food, other will go on to become new plants. Others will wither and rot and be reabsorbed into the earth. The God energy dealing with, in Hindu terminology, the preservation and destructive forces tends to determine how the fruits of the Goddess will be used.
Today I don’t think it is possible to be creative without considering these effects of ‘preservation and destruction’. Being creative today inevitably means being a conservationist, using what we already have in a new way. We may be tired of hearing words like ‘re-cycling’ and yet gradually we are going to have to come to terms with the absolute necessity of such methods.
No doubt the biggest problem we face is the fact that we still feel ‘separate’ from the rest of nature. We don’t adapt ourselves to nature; we adapt it to our needs. Is it cold? Well, just switch on the central heating. Hungry, thirsty? I’ll pop to the supermarket. No problem.
Of course, our separateness from our fellow animals has enabled us to accomplish many things, but where has that left us with the quality of life? Are we truly any better than our ancestors? Intellectually we may know more, but do we really know more?
Creativity to me means seeing something beyond the physical result or manifestation. It is linking many different forces to create a new phenomenon. Many years ago we suggested that the Craft should be concerned with Eco-spirituality, i.e. not just with our own individual spirituality but also the spirituality of the earth as a living entity. Whatever we do has a definite consequence for the earth even on a thought level.
This is, of course, an occult law and anyone who regularly works magically know the efficacy of this law. Even reminding ourselves every day that we are of the earth, and all living creatures, can help us to find the humility to concede that we are not the all-important creatures we thought we were.
Creativity is recognising what we call the Life Force and tuning into it; knowing when certain things will happen and determining the natural course of things. Concretely speaking we are following the Goddess energy and expressing it in a personal way. This self-expression is the artist working at the potter’s wheel, or painting a landscape. Inevitably the artist is seeking to create a new insight, perhaps looking at ‘normal things’ but with a completely new vision.
To me, this is exploring our creativity, a first-hand experience of the divine. Of course, other people may have come up with the same vision. After several millennia, it would be very difficult to keep coming up with ‘original thoughts’. However, the fact that we try to discover new insights and succeed is a step in the right direction. That an artist or a poet expressed the same insight two or three centuries ago should not be a reason to become disenchanted.
In fact, we should see it as a confirmation of our own creative thoughts, talents and ability. Of course, we can look things up in book beforehand, but how gratifying to learn that other human beings have come up with the same ideas. And how even more wonderful the feeling is if we really are on to something new!
If we look at so-called works of art, and they really do work for us, what do we experience? We become aware of the artist’s ability to capture a moment of infinite beauty or an intense emotion; the artist’s attempt at preserving that ultimate moment which we, the spectator, can also relate to. In his creation, there is the element of preservation. A poet too captures a moment when emotions vibrate through to our very soul. The artist is in effect awakening our soul to the very experience he has encountered. Sometimes it can be intensely happy, sometimes we can react violently, but in every case, we are made AWARE.
Creativity then is not just a process of making things, it is much more a process of awakening, of realisation, a way of becoming conscious of divine forces. In human consciousness, it can also enter the world of ethics, which inevitably means that other factors have to be taken into consideration. For example, unbridled growth can be disastrous. In fact, in creating a conducive situation we may first have to destroy, or at least clean away various obstacles. In magical terms, we do in fact speak of a cleansing or dispelling negative forces.
Slowly we become more and more aware that creativity is not a single process but an integrated part of a larger cycle. Like many natural processes it is not a single independent process but is dependent on other factors; if we look to nature, and in particular the seasonal cycle we will quickly recognise the forces at work.
Life does not begin with the seed; the seed is the first step in a new cycle of growth. The seed is a product of a former growth cycle and contains the essence of the last cycle. Already we feel intuitively that creation is a part of a cyclic process. An idea/seed germinates, it grows, comes into fruition and later decays.
In that process, however, new seeds are formed to form a new cycle. Creation – preservation – destruction. If we observe this natural law in all the things we do, no doubt we shall begin to recognise the Creative Power at work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always seem to be the ‘proper’ way to do things. Our fellow human beings seem to believe that we need to demonstrate our creativity in no uncertain terms, even at the expense of nature. But as we have seen, creating something need not always be positive, and conversely, destruction need not seen to be negative.
Becoming aware of that is truly necessary and is the beginning of the creative process.
Too often we are pressurised into thinking that we need to achieve to be successful. That we always have to grow. Even spiritual leaders talk of growing. Self-awareness is also when one knows contentment, peace and serenity.
Surely the person who has the insight to truly take part in ‘weaving the web of life’ and combining God and Goddess forces to create unity, is a far more successful person?
On the subject of creativity I am often reminded of William Blake’s poem:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. (Fragment from "Auguries of Innocence")
De kunst van creatief-zijn
Natuurlijk hoef je niet origineel te zijn: na diverse millennia van hoogstaande culture zou het verbazingwekkend zijn als alles telkens origineel was. Maar de poging om nieuwe inzichten op the doen is belangrijk. Kunst kan iets in ons wakker maken – een resonantie van de gevoelens en gedachten van de scheppingskracht in het universum. Creativiteit wordt tot een proces van ontwaken, meer nog dan een proces van maken: een cyclisch proces dat de natuurwetten van ontspruiten, groei, bloei en verwelken volgt. Vernietiging is daarvan een onderdeel: dat wat heeft afgedaan moet worden omgewerkt tot het zaad van een nieuwe ontdekking. Creativiteit is een proces zonder ‘einde’, zonder ‘productiequota’ en zonder ‘doelstelling’: het is een manier om je met de natuurkrachten te verbinden en deze te leren begrijpen.
(Originally published in Wiccan Rede Summer 1993, revised April 2016 )
Reference: potter’s wheel.