|Coors Baseball Stadium, Denver, Colorado|
We create ceremony and ritual around all other parts of our lives—baptism, bar mitzvah, feast days, confirmation, graduation, death, we even create ceremony around sports (think of Monday Night Football or the all-American baseball game), yet our culture does not have very many examples of rituals which honor the creative part of our nature. Let me clarify, not rituals (like last night's Kennedy Center Honors) that recognize the artists of our culture, but rituals that honor the process of creating art--the act itself--rituals that set the stage for us, that prepare us as we begin our work.
Rituals and ceremonies around our writing and art and song create safe atmospheres for our creative spirits, much like churches, or mountain tops, or secluded paths in the woods, create sanctuaries for our faith. The spirit knows when we enter a temple or a kiva or a sweat lodge or a mosque that these are safe places for the prayerful spirit.
|Door in Santa Fe, New Mexico|
Our creative spirits need an atmosphere that tells us that it is safe to come out, to think without boundaries, to let the heart lead the dialogue our inner-selves want to have with the outer world. Creative altars carve an opening into the inner-self, that dark mysterious place where creativity happens. Much like a door welcomes us into a new place, the altar can be a portal into the imagination. In the quiet spaces of my mind a thought lies still, writes poet Tom Barritt in his poem "What's In A Temple," ....it begs me to open the door, so it can walk about.
Start a ritual around your creative practice—a special candle you only burn when writing, a special tea you only drink when penning poems, special music you only listen to when sculpting, special fetishes or mementos that are kept safely stored away until the paints come out, a special tapestry that drapes your writing table.
|Sandstone in Cathedral Wash|
Our bodies love ritual, and our cells respond accordingly, awakening our inner-selves and telling us the time has finally come to dive deeply into the nether world where our creative selves dwell. What can sometimes seem devoid of inspiration is actually an open container, waiting to be filled by our innermost thoughts.
Suggestion: Start creating your altar by selecting a stone that has special meaning, perhaps one that has called out to you during a hike. Think of the ancient life energy still moving within that stone and have faith in the quiet movement of your own creative energy.