Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places? February 24, 2015

Unknown-1Have you ever put yourself in a relationship or situation that filled a deep need and seemed totally harmless?  And then suddenly something happened that made you aware of an unsuspected dark side of what you were doing? And it got so out of hand that you couldn’t control it and were swamped with anxiety and dread?  

Most of us have experienced something like this at some point in our lives. So what do you do?  Ignore it?  Keep plugging away and hope for the best? Pray? Fantasize?  Wait for a prince to ride up on a white horse and rescue you? Lay the blame on someone else while denying your part in it?  Ask for help then get angry when it doesn’t come? Run away?  Carry your guilt, fear, hurt and anxiety in a secret compartment and refuse to visit it while telling yourself you’re just fine?  Only to put yourself in another situation somewhere down the road that’s just as bad as, or even worse than the first? Then go through the whole thing again?

These are the responses of an immature ego with limited self-awareness. When we see this happening to someone we know, it’s obvious that whatever they’re doing isn’t working.  Yet, like a hamster on a wheel, some people keep traveling the same old path without getting anywhere no matter how good their intentions or wise their counsel.  I’ve been there.  Maybe you have too.  Old habits and attitudes have strangleholds on our egos, regardless of how toxic the consequences. So how do we break free?

“To live fully, we have to…bring back to life the deepest levels of the psyche from which our present consciousness has evolved.” Carl Jung

images-2But how do we follow Jung’s advice?  Ask your unconscious for a dream. Dreams compensate for our conscious attitudes by showing us different ways of viewing our issues, especially problematic ones. The unconscious contains everything about ourselves of which we are unaware, including hidden potentials we haven’t yet discovered or alternative ways of being we’ve disowned. Situations like the above are invitations to bring them into our awareness so we can more forward.

This is not easy for an ego that’s oblivious to the inner life and thinks dreams and fantasies are “just our imagination.”  Plus, few of us welcome the effort it takes to reflect on them. Most difficult of all is giving up our illusion of being in control and trusting some unknown part of ourselves to help us out. We experience the power of these archetypal entities all the time in strong emotions, urges that seem to come from nowhere, and synchronicities, yet we rarely “waste” much time trying to understand them. But it’s the only way to go if we really want to grow. Consider this:

“The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with consciousness. That is the technique for stripping them of their power.  It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.”  Jung: Memories, Dreams and Reflections, pp. 185-188.

images-1If we’re dead serious about wanting out of our ruts—and it usually takes desperation to bring us to this point—asking the unconscious for a dream about our situation will trigger an immediate response.  Within a night or two we’ll get one or more dreams. We won’t understand their symbolic language or meaning right away, but, if we persist step by step the rewards will come. My certainty of this comes from 26 years of treating my dreams “as if” they have objective meaning. Once I chose this path, it wasn’t long before I realized they actually do!

Our highest purpose is to grow more conscious and accepting of the benevolent otherness within and without so that we might live in love instead of fear. We can’t will ourselves to manufacture love or consciousness with mental effort alone.  These and other rewards only come with personal experience and a regular practice like dreamwork. With time, our toxic fears, shadows, habits and attitudes lose their power and are replaced with trust, peace and overflowing gratitude and compassion.

If you’re looking for love, I promise:  you can find it in your dreams.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

The Lone Ranger of Writing Asks for Help February 10, 2015

images-2Last week’s visit from Elaine Mansfield was fun and productive. We talked, walked, ate, laughed, and wrote a proposal for a workshop on loss and grief. And an especially wonderful thing happened. I, the Lone Ranger of writing who has always written and revised every word of every manuscript with no help from anyone until entrusting it to an editor, experienced a significant breakthrough.

Knowing Elaine had recently sought advice from friends for her Tedx talk, I asked her to listen and comment on my first rehearsal of my upcoming keynote presentation for the IASD convention. This morning’s dream had something to say about my “bold” new approach.

Dream #4615:  

I’m in the lobby of a large library. Before I can find and study an article I need for my work I have to be interviewed by a person in charge. When it’s my turn she grants me a permit, but by then it’s so late I have to leave.  As I gather my belongings I realize I have too much baggage to carry alone. Just then, Fred arrives to help me.

I find myself alone on the side of a very steep stone mountain outside the library.  The path is extremely precarious and as narrow as one of my feet. The trail ahead disappears into the cliff wall. My only support is a very slight bulge in the wall to my right.  When I grasp it it flakes off like disintegrating slices of cardboard.

The ground is very far away.  A jump or fall will kill me.  I feel no fear and trust that whoever created this path provided a way out. I look over my left shoulder and see a wider, more gradual slope about 30 yards behind me. It has no stairs, but a metal railing offers man-made support down the middle of this rock road. I must have been on that path before branching off onto this one. I wonder why I left it.

My only option is to return to that place of relative safety. I inch slowly backwards, trusting in my balance and supporting myself with a gentle touch on the crumbling ledge with my right hand. After a few steps I look down and am surprised to see the ground a foot away. I’m safe.

Unknown-1As usual, I had no idea at first what this dream could mean, but when I started reflecting on my associations to the symbols I soon realized it was about my speech.

Looking for an article in a library: My mental work of acquiring knowledge and writing.

Baggage:  Too much knowledge and too many memories to sift through. Which mental “stuff” shall I use for my talk?  Which stories, ideas and pictures are the most relevant to my topic?

Fred arrives to help:  My sweet helpful husband and an image of my Animus, both of whom are always there for me without my having to ask.

Finding myself alone on a narrow, dangerous and disappearing path on a steep mountain: My independent way of traveling through life is becoming increasingly challenging and outmoded. Something needs to change.

Trusting and feeling no fear:  Many dreams in recent years have placed my dream ego in situations that would once have terrified me but no longer do.  This speaks to my growing trust in the benevolence and internal guidance of the Self.

Walking backwards: Relinquishing my need to control my way of living and working; returning to a place (attitude and way of living) of more receptivity to help and comfort from outside myself. Even the Lone Ranger had a mother once! And what about Silver and Tonto, for heaven’s sake?  “Lone” may not have realized it, but he was never really alone.

Gently touching the rock with my right hand:  Staying in touch with my instincts and the physical world  which are always there to support me.

This morning I sent a summary of this dream in an email to Elaine, who, by the way, has arrived home safely despite the hazardous travel conditions. Here’s part of her comment: “You descended from the mental realms and hit the earth. It’s a promise to work through the huge amount of material available to you and pull all the ideas down to earth. And you’re already so close. Love, love, love that gentle right hand inching down the precarious rocks and going down backwards.”

imagesI’m so grateful that 26 years of dreamwork have taught me to trust my inner resources, especially the Self, to help me through life.  And I’m so grateful for a husband and friends who want to help.  Despite my unduly proud and independent spirit, I never really was alone, was I?

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

A Story of Living and Dying February 2, 2015

51pPyvcRbyL._AA160_As you read this, I’m enjoying the company of my friend Elaine Mansfield. Many of you will recognize her name from comments she frequently makes here, or from my Facebook page.  She flew down from New York to spend a few days with me before she goes on to Tampa where she’ll be presenting a workshop for a small fraction of the half million women who lose spouses each year.  While she’s here, we’re planning a new workshop on grief.

We met about 16 years ago.  She was with her husband, Vic, a physics professor who had written a new book on synchronicity, when he came to speak at the Winter Park Jung Center where I was teaching.  Fred and I took them out to dinner afterwards and enjoyed them so much that Elaine and I began an email correspondence.  Nine years later Vic died of cancer.

Some of you have lost a spouse; some, even two.  Others have spouses with terminal illnesses that could take them within the next few years.  So I want you to know about Elaine’s new book called Leaning into Love:  A Spiritual Journey through Grief. 

One reviewer describes it as a “touching and courageous memoir about love, illness, death, and grief.” Another says, “This magnificent, profoundly moving book gives encouragement and solace to all.”  Alison Lurie, Pulitzer prize-winning novelist writes, “Elaine Mansfield knows far more than most people about love and loss, and she tells it with admirable honesty and clarity.”

A mutual friend of ours and sister lover of Jungian psychology, Candace Boyd, wrote to Elaine some weeks ago and copied me. Candace wrote,  “I read your book in two days. Your writing is so powerful, and so beautiful. I wish that I had had this book to refer to a year and one half ago.” That was when her husband was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Synchronistically, as I was writing the beginning of this very paragraph I received another e-mail from Candace saying, “Cancer seems to be endemic to our lives now.”  I think I’m supposed to be writing this post today!

One of the more remarkable aspects of Leaning into Love is how honest and personal it is. Elaine doesn’t shy away from sharing occasions when she and Vic were irritable with each other. You don’t always see this kind of candor from loved ones who’ve been through the grueling day-to-day stress and strain of caregiving.  And when you do, it’s often accompanied by terrible guilt.

What’s so beautiful about this is that Elaine seems to have found a way to forgive herself for being human.  Maybe that’s because of the remarkable tenderness, understanding and love that infused their relationship.  Maybe she could forgive herself because she knew Vic forgave her for her flaws, just as she forgave him for his.  And for dying and leaving her all alone.

A big factor that undoubtedly influenced the patience and kindness these two consistently showed each other through their ordeal was their mutual desire for psychological and spiritual growth.   In the early years of their marriage they studied together with Anthony Damiani, a brilliant teacher who introduced them to Jungian psychology, meditation, and the philosopher Paul Brunton.  Later he guided them through Greek philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many Western philosophers. What they learned from him influenced them and their marriage in the best possible way.

Nobody is free from suffering, not even Anthony, who died of cancer at an early age.  And we don’t usually get to choose what causes our suffering.  But we can, like Vic and Elaine, choose to respond to it with courage, mindfulness, and kindness.  Of all the beautiful messages I received from this book, this is the one that made the deepest impression on me.  They practiced kindness.  What a beautiful thing to share in this dangerous, chaotic world.

Kindness. That’s what Elaine shares in her book. And, knowing her, I think it’s also one of the reasons she wrote it.

You can check out Elaine’s author page on Facebook here and buy her book here. 

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

The 52nd Week December 29, 2014

Izzie and Bear
Izzie and Bear

I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It has always stood out from the other 51 weeks in a year like a peaceful Zen garden, a special oasis where I attend to soul needs that require annual closure.

During the 80’s when I was juggling parenting with college teaching, I often spent this week assembling and basting together sandwiched layers of fabric backing, cotton batting, and the quilt tops I’d been working on all year. It took another year of hand-quilting everything together before I presented them to my children the next Christmas. After they each had a quilt of their own I used the last week of the year to start more quilts for our new mountain cabin. When these were finished we took them with us for our annual years’-end visit.

On the outside the 80’s were for me a time of perfecting and preserving my persona and the collective values of the times in which I was raised. But on the inside I felt I’d been shipwrecked and was living on my own private, isolated island. There I spent most of my time fishing in the watery depths of my psyche for psychological sustenance that could help me understand myself and resolve my inner conflicts.

Then, in the fall of 1989 I found what I was looking for:  I joined a Centerpoint group based on Jungian psychology, and suddenly the lights came on! I don’t remember what I did during the 52nd week that year but I’m pretty sure I would have spent most of it reading, studying and underlining one of the 20 or so books by Jungian analysts I had immediately ordered from Inner City Publishers.  Intense study was the first of the practices I undertook that made the year of 1990 a threshold into the most life-changing, soul-satisfying and creative period of my life.

My other main practice was recording and studying my dreams. Throughout the nineties I did dreamwork every morning and wrote every afternoon. I also meditated and practiced yoga. But I always devoted the 52nd week of each year to rereading my dream journals, summarizing important themes and trends, noting new developments, and highlighting valuable insights. Remembering and integrating my soul’s processes at the end of every year was an extremely valuable ritual for me in those days. Essentially I was building a new foundation for my psyche and I could feel it growing stronger with each passing year. This was my decade of finding, connecting with, and honoring the unconscious and the Self.

The new millennium brought new insights and year’s-end rituals.  Feeling an unprecedented need to get in touch with my body and nature, I usually spent the 52nd week hiking and climbing the mountains near our cabin.  As my grandchildren began arriving, they and their parents would join us;  we’d also play games and enjoy lots of physical, outdoor, non-cerebral fun like sledding, making snow angels, and building snowmen!

Once again it’s my favorite week of the year. This year Fred and I brought Izzie—our grand-dog who’s a female version of her predecessor, Bear—with us to the cabin. One of my favorite things so far has been to take a long daily hike around the property with her.  Another was to prepare a welcome meal of chili, salad, homemade biscuits, and key lime pie for my son’s family who joined us a few nights ago.

So far, the only theme I see emerging during this decade is to listen and follow the guidance of my instincts and energy.  I don’t feel much need for closure any more—annual or otherwise—and the days of making special preparations for the 52nd week are long gone. In fact, I rarely do much of that any other time of the year either.  Mostly I just like staying present with myself, my family, and the moment and its opportunities.

Above all, I’ve been spending a lot of time savoring the many blessings of my life.  Believe me, I’ve had more than my share and I’ve never felt more grateful for them. Right now, that’s enough for me. Whatever the new year may bring, I welcome it with open arms.

May the new year bring you renewed awareness and gratitude for the special times of your one, precious life.

If you’re interested in hearing more about my introduction to Jungian psychology, you might enjoy this radio interview I did for the Centerpoint Foundation.

Ebook versions of Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

What’s the Point of the Three Kings? December 22, 2014

Hans_Baldung_-_Three_Kings_Altarpiece_(open)_-_WGA01199[1]Those of us raised as Christians know this holiday is about a lot more than rushing about, partying, shopping, eating, decorating, and giving gifts, and many of us enjoy warm memories and nostalgic feelings this time of year. But why does it sometimes feel that our gifts are not enough, both the ones we give and those received? Why do we sometimes feel we’ve missed the point of Christmas? What is the point, and how can we celebrate it?

To understand what’s missing we need to discover the true meaning of Christmas for ourselves, and to do that we need to look at the Christ story and our own lives through the symbolic language of mythos. This is not the left-brained language of fact and logic, but the language of myth and symbol, the language of the Soul.

The Christmas story takes place in a stable filled with animals at the Winter Solstice, the darkest time of year. Throughout the world, common associations for the symbol of darkness include the unconsciousness of our instinctual animal nature and all the ignorance, chaos, death, and moral irresponsibility that goes with it. Psychologically, this setting is a reference to unconsciousness, the state in which we all begin our lives and often end them as well.

The plot centers around a virgin who gives birth to a baby boy. Virgins and babies symbolize innocence and the abundance of undeveloped possibilities, like the pure state of a soul ready to receive Spirit. Birth represents new life with its potential for growth into greater maturity and wisdom.

And is there significance in the fact that the baby is a boy? Yes. Mary, like the Hindu goddess Durga, symbolizes the feminine source of all energy, and Jesus represents an extraordinarily hopeful new masculine form of ego-life that has manifested from the maternal matrix. From our soul’s perspective, the significance of Jesus is that 2,000 years ago he introduced into the Middle-Eastern world an unprecedented (for that place and time) new capacity for an inner birth of a deeply personal, intimate experience of Spirit. This experience is characterized not just by believing in the ideal of love or having a strong desire to love others, but by actually feeling and living with love.

At the end of the story three (the number of forward movement that overcomes the conflicts of duality) kings (the masculine principle, sovereignty, and worldly power) arrive after a long and arduous trek from the Far East with rare and precious gifts for the tiny baby. The kings symbolize the wisdom and individuated, religious outlook of a mature and unified consciousness that is born through self-reflection and self-acceptance. Having endured the hard work of this inner journey and assumed our own sovereignty, we are finally able to see the sacredness in everything and revere every form of life down to the smallest and seemingly least important.  Knowing the preciousness of this gift of new life, we want to give it to others.

And finally, the kings are guided by a star.  Stars are attributes of all Queens of Heaven.  They represent spiritual inspiration, the highest attainment, and the presence of divinity, hope and light in our lives. A star is also a symbol of creative imagination, our uniquely human capacity for combining outer facts with the soul’s meaningful inner truths and expressing them with life-changing symbols and images.

Like the myths of every religion, this story combines historical events with psychological truths. Christ mass celebrates a momentous evolutionary leap forward in ego consciousness from a primitive, ignorant, and self-serving survival mentality into an advanced self-awareness capable of bringing wisdom, love, and authentic being and living.

The point of Christmas is that you and I can take this leap into Christ-awareness and experience for ourselves the life-enhancing, soul-satisfying love, hope and wonder that come with it.  Giving material gifts is certainly one way to show and share our love during the holiday season, but giving the gift of our growing psychological and spiritual maturity to our loved ones is far more rewarding and lasting.

May a more mature psychological consciousness and spiritual enlightenment be quickened worldwide during this holiday season, and may the love in our hearts be abundant and overflowing.  Thank you for stopping by in this most blessed season.

P.S. I hope you won’t mind a little shameless self-promotional hint:  If you or someone you love is on the inner journey, one of my books might be a good holiday gift. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

Art Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

Three Kings Altarpiece (open)

1507 Linden panel, 121 x 70 cm (central), 121 x 28 cm (each wing) Staatliche Museen, Berlin

 

Five Links to Creativity December 2, 2014

ChiefOsceolaandRenegadeLast time in “The Psychology of Creativity” I discussed how creativity originates in the body’s physical instincts.  But, you might wonder,  what does this mean for me in practical terms?  How do I gain access to my creativity? Where do I direct my energy and attention? What, exactly, is the link that connects my body’s natural instincts with my ego’s potential to produce something truly original?

Actually, more than one link needs to be forged between our conscious and unconscious selves before we can fully activate and manifest our creativity.  Here are five I consider to be of primary importance.

1.  Libido:  Libido is psychological energy, the zest for life which enables us to get out of bed every day and act on our instinctual urges, including the instinct for creativity.  We all have the urge to grow and learn, but life presents many obstacles that can sap it. Chief among these is the ego’s lethargy.  Our child-like desire to regress into unconscious dependence is extremely powerful;  nobody finds it easy to rouse themselves from the cozy maternal matrix we inhabited during our early years. Other drains come from early trauma, lack of nurturance,  self-destructive habits, poverty, debilitating accidents and illnesses, toxic relationships, grief, and anything else that stifles our instincts and brings hopelessness and despair.  It’s not impossible for an individual with insufficient libido to find a creative outlet, and that in itself will provide an increase of libido, but we can’t develop our fullest creativity without a good dose of it.

2.  Balance:  Psychological one-sidedness can imprison our instincts, thus inhibiting our creativity. Some examples:  the person whose obsession with logic and reason causes scorn for spontaneity, intuition and emotion.  The one whose extreme emotions eliminate the possibility of rational decision-making. The person full of inspired, creative ideas who can’t handle the daily show-up and follow-through.  The religious fanatic who idealizes disembodied Spirit and fears and hates his bodily temptations. Balance is a bridge that allows opposites to interact, and the resulting fertilization creates something new.

 3. Self-Awareness:  You can’t mend your psychological imbalance if you don’t see it. Most of us spend the first half of our lives on auto-pilot. As long as we’re driven to do what we need to do without questioning or taking over the controls, our creative offerings are minimal. This may be fine for one who doesn’t feel the creative urge, but for those who do, self-awareness is indispensable.  Noticing the different ways you feel in different situations, then figuring out where you feel best and spending more time there, frees up repressed libido.  The more you watch your actions, listen to yourself talk, or notice the direction your life is taking, the more aware you are of alternatives. The more alternatives you have, the more original your choices can be.

4. Feeling:   At your psyche’s core you are a unique individual with important values, ideas and images that contribute to your creativity and give shape to your life’s purpose. But from the moment you first saw a frown on Mother’s face or heard the impatient edge in Daddy’s voice you started covering up your true Self until you lost touch with your essence. Reconnecting with the Self requires trust in what feels meaningful and important regardless of what others think.

I was reminded of this while watching the Florida State vs. Florida football game Thanksgiving weekend.  Back when FSU’s football program was young and unknown, Fred was one of two freshmen to earn a walk-on scholarship.  Naturally, we’ve rooted for the Seminoles ever since.  In those days I’d watch Chief Osceola stir up the crowd during a game and think, “That Indian needs a horse!”  I wasn’t aware of Horse’s symbolic meaning.  I just knew a horse could bring pride, unity and strength to our struggling athletic program. I had no idea it could do the same for my psyche!  Nine years after we left, FSU got a horse mascot.  Today Chief Osceola and Renegade are national icons and Horse has a profound influence on my writing.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything new about a Native American on a horse, or that there’s a cause and effect relationship here, or that winning and fame should be our ultimate goals!  My point is that recurring feelings and images signal creative developments emerging from the spirit of the depths, and taking them seriously can enhance our creativity.

5. Self-Love:  The final and most important link to be forged between our egos and instincts is Love.  If we can’t love our bodies and their instincts, we can’t love our flawed humanness, and without a measure of self-love we are in grave danger of living libido-deprived, unbalanced, unaware, unfeeling and uncreative lives. Living with love and creativity is our greatest joy and reason for being. We bring forth these life-giving qualities through conscious dialogues with our instincts.  This is holy work.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 Image: Mark Wallcheiser, Chief Osceola on Renegade, Wikipedia

 

The Psychology of Creativity November 25, 2014

1024px-Macarons_Marcolini_04“From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse.” (Carl Gustav Jung)

I’m feeling inspired to write poetry these days, and this has me thinking about creativity.  Jung says creativity originates in our instincts.  In other words, our body, with its physical needs and functions, is the matter (L. Mater), or mother, of our urge to create.  And the psyche governs our responses to our instinctual urges.

Jung said we have five basic instincts:

“Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.” (Brian W. Aldiss)

Nurturance: Our bodies need fuel, and we get hungry, irritable and desperate when we don’t get it. They also need protection from the dangerous and uncontrollable forces of nature.  Some human caring and creature comfort don’t hurt either. So if we, our loved ones and our tribe are to survive and prosper, our basic needs for nurturing and being nurtured must be met.  Thus, creativity originally arose in the marshalling of conscious thought and focused behavior to create the necessary tools, weapons, strategies, rules and codes of conduct that would satisfy this instinct.

1280px-Paul_Gauguin_104“The essential ingredient for creativity is wasting time.” (Anonymous)

“I have always regarded manual labour as creative and looked with respect – and, yes, wonder – at people who work with their hands. It seems to me that their creativity is no less than that of a violinist or painter.” (Pablo Casals)

Activity:  Food and water don’t just automatically show up in edible and potable form when we need it, so we have to get off the couch and do something to procure them!  And once we have thoroughly stuffed ourselves it feels good to celebrate with other creative activities such as walking dinner off, participating in games and athletic competitions, and cleaning and fixing up the cave.

“The emotional mind creates, and the rational mind explains it. Another way of saying this is, your ‘heart’ perceives it and your ‘head’ translates it.” (Alvaro Castagnet)

Reflection:  If, after all this eating and fooling around we have a spare moment or two, and if we still feel comfortable and secure, our thoughts move into new areas. For example, we might reflect on how beautiful the sunset is;  figure out how not to starve or freeze to death next winter; wonder why the kids are so cranky!  So we ask questions and try to solve problems. We devise strategies and make plans. We create religious rituals to thank the earth, the animals, the plants and the gods for meeting our needs and to make sure the sun will rise in the morning, spring will return, and a saber toothed-tiger won’t have us for dinner.

Hermann-Paul_-_Les_Danseuses“The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.” (Francis Bacon)

Sex:  Every living creature is born with the instinct to preserve the species. Plus, humans and other complex animal forms have an instinctive need for love and intimacy with others. And it feels good! So we use our creativity to attract partners and be appealing to them.

“I believed that I wanted to be a poet,
but deep down I just wanted to be a poem.” ~ Jaime Gil de Biedma

Creativity:  So the instincts activate our creativity and creativity is itself an instinct, an urge that satisfies our souls and enriches our lives in numerous ways and forms.  Stories told around the fire.  Figurines of animals and gods.  Vessels for food and flowers, gathering and gifting.  Music:  songs, dances symphonies and the instruments to play them.  Painted images from myths and dreams.  Delicious foods.  Ornaments for our bodies, fabrics to wear and beautify our homes, poems to enlighten and inspire us, to make works of art of our very lives.

NPG 1899,Elizabeth Barrett Browning,by Michele GordigianiAnd in the process, to make life worth living.

“Creative activity is more than a mere cultural frill, it is a crucial factor of human experience, the means of self-revelation, the basis of empathy with others; it inspires both individualism and responsibility, the giving and the sharing of experience.” (Tom Hudson)

“If I didn’t have my films as an outlet for all the different sides of me, I would probably be locked up.” (Angelina Jolie)

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.  Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” (Pearl S. Buck)

“When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” (Coco Chanel)

I’m with you, Coco.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

All quotes except the one from Jaime Gil de Biedma are from the website Art Quotes.  That one comes from my friend Jenna Farr Ludwig’s Facebook page.

Images: Macarons, Marcolini, Wikimedia Commons.  Paul Gauguin, Wikimedia Commons.  Hermann Paul, Les Danseuses, Wikimedia Commons. Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Michele Gordigiani, 1858, Wikimedia Commons.

 

 
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