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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Honor Your Creativity with a Creative Altar

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.

17 comments:

Gail Storey said...

Page, I thought a lot about your suggestion of an altar for deepening creative space. I wondered what that was for me, and realized that just as the woods and mountains are creative space for my soul, the views out the two windows above my desk bring the natural world within, to my writing space. One window at eye level reveals trees and birds, and the other higher up, simply sky.

Page said...

Gail, I love the idea of the view outside your window bringing nature into your writing space, and I'll bet there is something ceremonial in the way you greet that special view each day before you sit down to work, even if you haven't consciously recognized the ceremonial aspect before. I think we all have small ceremonies that we're unaware of -- daily rituals which honor our present endeavors. Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello!

Pat Blair said...

I love your thoughts, Page. I have to confess, 30-plus years of writing for newspapers taught me to write in the midst of clutter - background noise (tv on), interruptions (phone calls at the paper, dogs barking for attention now) ... that sort of stuff. So maybe that has become my personal ritual ... I find it's easier for me to write when there is activity around me.

Pat Blair

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Pat, it sounds like all that activity is what gets your writing juices flowing - whatever works to trigger that mind/body/spirit connection! I've posted your comment to the blog so that others who also need that activity can share their thoughts. Thank you!

Susan J. Tweit said...

Gratitude as always for your inspiring suggestions on nurturing creativity in our everyday life and surroundings. I'm tickled to realize that we're thinking on similar lines here. You might enjoy the photos in my "Altars and Intentions" post from earlier this fall... (http://susanjtweit.typepad.com/walkingnaturehome/2010/10/altars-and-intentions.html)

Susan J. Tweit said...

Gratitude as always for your inspiring suggestions on nurturing creativity in our everyday life and surroundings. I'm tickled to realize that we're thinking on similar lines here. You might enjoy the photos in my "Altars and Intentions" post from earlier this fall... (http://susanjtweit.typepad.com/walkingnaturehome/2010/10/altars-and-intentions.html)

Connecting People with Nature, and Writers with Words said...

Hi Susan. Yes, always fun to tap into the same energetic stream! I've been including "Creative Altar" talks on my river trips and during other presentation for several years now. River sarongs are great for using off the river to re-create that inner connection. I'll check out your altars and intentions post right now!

Guy Edwards said...

A Facebook Comment:

Where would you go or what would you do to honor creation? Of course, you'd first have to decided who created things. When you decide that, I guess that's who you'd honor.

Guy Edwards

Pat Blair said...

A Facebook Comment:

Pat Blair I don't think you have to go anywhere in particular to honor Creation - as opposed to personal creativity. Creation, with a capital C, is all around us ... in the people we see on the streets, our own families, dogs and cats ... the sun at high noon, the stars at night. Grass, trees ... The Greater Power, whatever or whoever,that we believe gave us minds to envision towering buildings and automobiles ... All creativity stems from the same original Creative Force.

Page Lambert said...

Guy, your questions are good ones because they make me go back and reread my post to make sure I was clearly conveying my ideas.

Rather than "creation" which is a term that denotes The Great Creator and all of Creation, I'm referring to the individual creative act, the act and process of creating art--whether its music, or literature, or sculpting, or painting.

The idea of a creative altar is about preparing oneself for one's work (art), much as setting the table prepares us to sit down and eat.

Page said...

Hi Pat. Yes, Creation with a Capital C. There are cultures, like the Indigenous Australians, who believe that the universe is in a constant state of Creation, and that our art and songs and music and stories are part of that ongoing creation.

Kathy Kaiser said...

I love your suggestions for creating space for being creative. I meditate each morning before writing, and I do believe that helps me focus and find the inner heart.

Page Lambert said...

Kathy, I admire your meditation ritual and, yes, the focus and redirection of energy toward that inner being surely helps the writing. Thank you.

Bill said...

Wonderful blog, my first visit and I really like what you are trying to do.

I have a special place, deep in the forest, where I go to think. Perhaps not a ritual by most standards, but it is the place where I feel at peace. I meditate there, I think there, I grieve there, I am joyous there.

Very nice concept. Thank you.

Page Lambert said...

Bill, your comment about your place deep in the forest is very poignant. I sensed an underlying yearning in your words which subtly expresses what I think so many of us feel. Thank you.

Laurel Kallenbach said...

I have all kinds of inspiring items on and around my desk--almost like an altar--but you know, I've become so oblivious to them, that I don't notice their infusions of creative ju-ju. Perhaps it's time for me to re-enchant them.

Page said...

Laurel, I love the idea of re-infusing your creative "ju-ju"- kind of life refreshing your screen! Yes, perhaps a ceremony where you remove everything, clean it, smudge it, remember why you have it, and then re-design everything's place in your creative room. Great idea!