Creativity as a Spiritual Path

Realm of the Snow Queen a pastel by Stephanie Thomas Berry featuring a snow covered forest with a path leading into it

In a world that is largely under the thumb of huge religious institutions, it might be easy to lose sight of the fact that for eons, since humanity’s very beginnings, our spiritual lives were not held communally in sacred buildings or recorded in sacred texts, but were the province of our collective creativity. One need only peruse museum files of ancient goddess figurines, or behold rock paintings from myriad cultures to recognize and be awed by this truth. Creativity as a spiritual path has been part of our psyche for a very, very long time.

Secularism grows by the day. Even two thousand year old traditions can run their course (consider, for instance the Eleusinian Mysteries of Ancient Greece, which were a cornerstone of Mediterranean spiritual practice for two thousand years). But we have a primal need for spiritual community. We long for the sense of connection found in shared worship and ritual. Certainly at the great transitions of our lives, whether filled with joy or grief, but also the smaller turnings, we want to connect with something that is greater than us. 

This spiritual need is intertwined with our need for the creative experience. In my definition, creativity is not a talent for the making of things, nor even the action of making them, but a state of being accessible to every human being, a foundational state that thrills us with its expansiveness, flow and connection to mystery.

This mystery—of being alive, aware, enthralled— calls us outward to our communities, both intimate and broad, and inward—deeper into ourselves, to explore our consciousness, our inner world. Creativity is the boat that takes us on that journey, and it is the same boat that enables us to bring something back, so that we can share our experience with our community.

This is my first principle, the value I hold dearest in my own creative work. It has come from many years of being deeply engaged with my inner world via my creativity. From these years of experience I have come to know in a visceral way that creativity is a spiritual path. By which I mean, through creativity we can dive deep into ourselves and find that there is vast, responsive fabric of consciousness that holds us. It is a mystery that responds to us. 

A curious transcendence illuminates our inner world when we trust implicitly the power of creative practice. It becomes a threshold we can cross over into a deeper experience of life.

Is it the muse that greets us in that feral dark? Is it an ancestor? A divine being? It’s hard to say—in that realm, as in dreams, logic is diaphanous. But something is there, somethingthat has touched humanity for eons, and its power is unmistakable. It is transformative, healing, life-affirming, and undeniable.

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