So, next up in the neverending storrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry of BJ’s SOLSL (Season of Late Summer Love – very late now, what with all the leaves on the ground…) is a very down to Earth author, who has been chatting to me kindly on Facebook. Who says Facebook is good for nothing? I read her book Staying on the Old Track, a while back, as I was (as usual) feeling that my own little brand of paganism and spirituality was failing me a bit (which is more about my personality I think, than my ‘path’). I found many helpful suggestions and new ways of looking at the issues in her book, and would recommend it to anyone who feels that they are getting stale in their practice or thinking. She’s a kind and calm person, and I’d recommend her other books too. I got her to give me a little intro to herself, so that I don’t give her the same silly idiosyncratic treatment I gave my friend Ryan and his poor beard, so here you are. Please be welcome, Tylluan, thankyou for the piece – and please, My 3 Loyal Lovely Readers, enjoy!BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE
Tylluan Penry is a solitary pagan witch who lives on the side of a mountain in the South Wales valleys with her love of many lifetimes, Mr Penry. Together they have many children and grandchildren, pets, plants, the Gentle People and a House Brownie. She has written six books dealing with various aspects of paganism, witchcraft and magic, all of which can be found at www.thewolfenhowlepress.com Her seventh book, Sacred Shadows is due out at the end of this year. She has also published three children’s e-books under the name of T.P.Penry. She will be one of the speakers at Witchfest International at Croydon in November.
Creativity and spirituality
At first sight there may not seem to be much connection between the two. Creativity has had a rather mixed reception over the years. To be called ‘creative’ has sometimes been a euphemism for lazy, because it implies drifting about in a dreamy, vacuous state rather than getting on with the hard business of life.
Actually, creativity can be very hard work. Great ideas might come to us on the breeze, but putting them into operation, actually creating that poem, sonata, work of art etc., can be very hard work. I often joke that I could earn considerably more from washing dishes nine to five than I ever could from writing. But the satisfaction I get from my work is priceless. And no amount of washing dishes could every provide me with that.
And it’s this rather nebulous sense of satisfaction and delight that links creativity with spirituality. Creativity has a numinous quality, a sense that we are somehow in the presence of something far greater than ourselves. It makes us reach within and without. It can push us to our limits, and we may never receive any recognition for what we’ve achieved.
Spirituality does very much the same things to us. We become aware of something greater than ourselves – though it doesn’t have to be a deity, some people might prefer to think of it as intellect or spirit instead – and it makes us reach deep within ourselves, and also outwards. It can certainly push us to our limits and unless we aspire towards being some sort of tele-evangelist or something, we’re unlikely ever to get any recognition for our efforts.
Spirituality and creativity are also linked in other ways. Creating something beautiful (and few people actually set out to create something completely foul) enriches us. It can enrich others, too. The other day I came across an old, boarded up building. Usually the boards become the target for the local graffiti crew, but this one was different – it had been carefully stenciled with real leaves fallen from the local trees, and then painted with an airbrush. It looked absolutely beautiful. And as I walked past, it lifted my spirits no end. Because someone had taken time there. They had made an effort to create something beautiful out of something very ordinary. And it had brightened that small corner of my town not just for me, but for anyone who saw it.
It’s the same with music. Playing a short tune or singing a verse or two of a favourite song may last just a minute, but who is to say that the song does not continue on the airwaves, lifting the spirits of those it passes? We know that radio waves for example, are all around us, and if only we switch on the radio we can hear them. So why not a song? Instead of radio equipment we have our ears, our souls of spirit. Who is to say that at some level, deep inside, we don’t hear that song? And if we do, then surely it could explain those odd moments where we feel inexplicably uplifted or even emotional?
Personally the reason I think creativity and spirituality are linked together is because both can take us to a different level of consciousness. This isn’t pretentious claptrap – most people reading this probably remember feeling the odd moment when they ‘drifted off’ forgetting the real world and entering something that seemed to take them far away. When I was young this was often dismissed as daydreaming – which is again another way of saying that I was being lazy by refusing to attend to the real, hardworking world. Yet I found these moments of reverie recharged my batteries, and I could work far better and more productively afterwards.
Both spirituality and creativity have much the same effect, but on a bigger scale. And even if you don’t feel you’re particularly creative, you can creative something. Patterns of leaves or shells or even beer mats. A snatch of song or whistling a tune. Planting seeds and experiencing joy when they start to grow, or when you pick their flowers or leaves months later. Write a verse of your own – just two lines if that’s all you can manage - in a greeting card instead of relying on a shop-bought one. Yes, it’s all creativity. And once you start to experience it for yourself, you’ll find it’s a bit like rolling a snowball down hill. It just gets bigger and faster.
Because creativity seems to shift the way we think and feel (which is basically what a shift in consciousness means) it also helps us become more spiritual. I don’t mean that it makes us religious – far from it. But it makes us think about spiritual things. It makes us aware of our own mortality for example, it helps us think about our place in society, the world, the universe. Unlike creativity, spirituality is slow and thoughtful. It has no physical outlet like song, dance, writing or art. It operates purely within, on the soul, mind and spirit. We cannot quantify, measure or evaluate what is happening. Others cannot see it either.
So... if you feel that you are stalling on your personal spiritual path, whatever that happens to be, then I often recommend a bit of old fashioned creativity. Start small and be realistic. Don’t make the mistake of judging your artwork, music or writing by what other people do. This is your path, your creativity. Be kind to yourself. It may be that the best you can manage is to dance a few steps in your kitchen, but so what? You have still produced something beautiful.
At this point some people may roll around the floor laughing. Me? Dancing? Beautiful? Well, yes. Anything you do with real love is going to be beautiful. True creativity requires love and even passion. A few steps clumsily performed with real love are far more beautiful to the universe than a perfect performance done by someone more concerned with appearances than anything else.
So what I would suggest for the coming twenty four hours, is to try doing as much as possible with love. Eat your breakfast with love. Feel love towards small things in your life, towards plants in pots, birds on your windowsill. It will only take a moment or two of your time, but the rewards will be quite startling. Twenty four hours may not sound like much, but to engage with self awareness for a whole day will be quite taxing. You cannot do it all day and every day because you would probably go mad if you tried. But for a few minutes every day, yes, that’s possible.
And then, after a week, begin your creativity. Do it with love. With passion. Think about the choices you make – which song to sing, what words to use in your poem or blog, what colour to use in your painting. Think about how beautiful these choices are, and be proud that you made them. You can always try out alternatives another day – nothing is written in stone.
As your creativity takes off, you will also find that your spirituality will change too. It’s as though by making room for the one, you make room for the other.
Don’t be afraid to be inspired...