Birthing spirit: animism and the creative process

Some advice about starting a creative process, captured right at the source:

This is the salmon of wisdom speaking.

The story goes that I am the most ancient animal there is. That to find me is to find wisdom itself. I cannot confirm whether that is true, but I can help you on your quest for inspiration. I am, after all, rather at home within the pool of hazelnuts.

You must think of a creative process as a process of birthing a child. That means that the story really begins long before you even get the urge to create, and also, that it is a journey, and one that would be impossible to make without being aware of the kind of father that will fertilize you. This process cannot be embarked upon alone. It needs a trinity if you want to succeed.

Let us begin with the spark of inspiration. Your first inkling that something wants to be birthed by you. That moment of lightning, when suddenly you see it all before you in your head: what the final result could be like and some idea on how you could embark on that journey.

This spark is rarely something that only started existing the moment you perceived it. Rather, it was a seed of a little project that already exists in spirit form on the other side of reality, that is now trying to find a bit of fertile ground to grow in. It seeks a home. And so when it found an opening in your life, it offered itself to you.

What will you do with it? Think carefully. This is not so different from considering whether or not you really want to get pregnant. For once you engage with an idea, you agree to be its mother, and you become responsible for birthing it. Is that a responsibility you can take right now? Or, if you want to but see yourself thwarted by your current life circumstances, you may want to ask yourself whether you would be willing to make some adjustments or sacrifices in order to make space for this in your life. Think carefully, especially with projects that require a long-term commitment from you. It is important to think of the rights of the child just as much as of your own rights. Be generous. If you cannot hope to offer a good and welcoming home, then maybe you shouldn’t. 

On the other hand, do not dismiss the power of love and the potential positive impact of what might be your true calling in life. For maybe this is meant to be your child, and what that is telling you is that it is your life that will need to change in order for you to be able to accommodate it? 

Do not take this process lightly. This is important, and often when people look back at the end of their life, they realize that it is precisely moments like this that were pivotal. So do not sleepwalk through them. They are here as little markers from your guides. Do not ignore or reject such gifts. Even if you cannot always invite them immediately, remember that a light on the far horizon may sometimes be precisely the thing you need to get your life back on track. Do not spoil these moments. They are precious.

That brings me go a different aspect, and one that may have surprised some of you. Why did I mention a father? What else is needed but a seed and some fertile ground to plant it in? 

The answer is you. You are needed. You need to have the strength to see this through till the end. And that means self-care. That means being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and if possible having others to fall back on in times of struggle. That support may take many forms. It may be financial support needed to get started, it may be someone to hug you in the evening or someone that will listen to you when you feel the need to vent your frustration. This may be someone who is wise enough to force you to take a time-out sometimes, and not a person who derides you and tells you you are weak when you have a moment of despair, but instead someone who is willing to sit with you for as long as it takes so that you can bounce ideas of them. 

All these people can be the fathers of your child. And there may well be more than one, but do yourself a favour and do not make your child grow up without a father.

This is the main idea. This is how birth and fertilization will work. After that, continue walking the path, and remember that your creative child is an entity and a spirit that is independent of your own. That means that you have to give it space to grow, rather than smother it with preconceived idealized notions of what it should look like. Make it part of the process to take a time out regularly to speak to it and to ask if for its input. You will be surprised just how much richer your ideas and inspiration suddenly will become when you open your mind to spirit.

Are you overwhelmed? Convinced that as nice as all of this sounds in theory, it would never work for you, because you do not have that kind of creativity within you? Think again. You are but the vessel and the receiver of inspiration. It will come. The only requirement is for you to be open to receiving it.

So, I would invite you to try this little practice, when you feel the need for some creativity but have no idea where to start:

  • Make a little shrine. This need not be more than a shelf of your bookcase, and you can make it as inconspicuous as you want, as long as its meaning is clear to you. 
  • Start simple. Light a candle and say a prayer. Ask for something to fill you. Clarify what your wishes and your (perceived) limitations are. Spend a few minutes in silence. If possible, meditate and pay attention to any thoughts or images that might come up. 
  • Do not despair if nothing happens. Remember that incubation may need time. Focus on practicing awareness. Make space for that spark to reach you. Things you could do would be to spend a minute or so every evening simply sitting, listening at the thoughts that come in. Write down anything that comes up, silly as it may seem at the time. Allow the picture to fill. Put anything that comes your way on your altar: a little feather, a quote that you found especially touching, whatever. Give the child time to find its way to you and begin to settle within your heart.
  • And then, one day, you will know it is time for birth! For this, similar advice applies as with a real child: have you thought about preparing for its needs? In this case that might mean acquiring artists materials, thinking about how to make time, taking a course … prepare in whichever way you can.
  • When the child is born, remember to welcome it! Maybe you might want to do a little ritual? 
  • Then … enjoy the ride, and remember to have fun!

Beith is a druid who likes to wander through the forest, inviting the trees to be her teachers in life. She also runs a personal blog about her druid journey, that can be found at wandering-the-woods.com. In real life she’s a mathematician, trying to walk the boundary between the rational and the irrational.

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