Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Beware of Art

It is only necessary to behold the least fact or phenomenon, however familiar, from a point a hair’s breadth aside from our habitual path or routine, to be overcome, enchanted by its beauty and significance…. To perceive freshly, with fresh senses is to be inspired. — Thoreau

(My thanks today to Waverly FitzGerald for this quote, in an entirely different, yet maybe not that much different, context).

As we work through the last chapter of The Artists Way, Julia Cameron offers a number of parting gifts for us. Today, she warns us about the dangers of Art. That is, Art with a capital A.

“We are an ambitious society,” she writes, “and it is often difficult for us to cultivate forms of creativity that do not directly serve us and our career goals. Recovery urges our reexamining definitions of creativity and expanding them to include what in the past we called hobbies. The experience of creative living argues that hobbies are in fact essential to the joyful life.”

Hobbies are activities that we keep separate from our commercial goals. They are, supposedly, an end unto themselves, pursued strictly for pleasure. Yet as artists, they are bound to trigger inspiration that we can apply to our creative enterprises.

Julia notes, “When I have screenwriting students stuck at the midpoint of act two, I ask them to please go do their household mending. They usually balk, offended by such a mundane task, but sewing has a nice way of mending up plots. Gardening is another hobby often assigned to creativity students. When someone is panicked halfway across the bridge into a new life, repotting plants into larger and better containers quite literally grounds that person and gives him or her a sense of expansion.”

One of the most powerful, transformative teachers and Priestesses I have ever met, Sage Goode, often insists that, as part of her magical training retreats and workshops, her students bring along handicrafts like knitting, bead work, sewing, or other projects. As our hands are busily, repetitively occupied, something deep within our spirits opens and more readily absorbs the multilayered experiences of our training.

“As we serve our hobby,” Julia notes, “we are freed from our ego’s demands and allowed the experience of merging with a greater source. This conscious contact frequently affords us the perspectives needed to solve vexing personal or creative conundrums.

“It is a paradox of creative recovery that we must get serious about taking ourselves lightly. We must work at learning to play.”

The pursuit of Art with a capital A is a scene-stealer and a joy-killer that will stop actual creativity cold.  In truth, it is a thinly veiled ego trip.  And our authentic, playful artist self always knows the difference.

More tomorrow.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • February 16, 2010, 10:33 am athene noctua

    Love this post. I learned to knit when about 5 yrs ago, and when I am knitting, I am in a zone-a calm, zen like state where my mind is free and almost detached from what is going on around me. I find it very stress relieving and I also knit during staff mtings, since I find I listen more and talk less, which means I get into less trouble. It’s relaxing, tactile, and I usually have a great finished product. I have had co-workers urge to sell the hats I knit, but I prefer to knit and give them to the people I care about. Knitting for strangers just doesn’t seem as fun.

    Several years ago, author Ann Hood wrote an article in Real Simple about how learning how to knit helped her grieve her young daughters death, and eventually get back into the grove of writing again.

    Never underestimate the poor of handiwork.

    Athene Noctua

  • February 16, 2010, 11:47 am judy

    “When someone is panicked halfway across the bridge into a new life, repotting plants into larger and better containers quite literally grounds that person and gives him or her a sense of expansion.”

    funny… I’ve been feeling moved to repot my plants, even though it’s the middle of winter
    AND… I’m an artist in the middle of that very bridge!
    Going out to buy some potting soil right now.. thank you Beth.

  • February 16, 2010, 7:52 pm star

    I love the picture for this post! Quite perfect.
    I, too, like to crochet and do tiny colorful pen/ink drawings at meetings and retreats to enhance my zen-like mindscape. These snowy times have given me much time to doodle with my beads and get to that same zone. The end result is 2 lovely complex necklaces with hundreds of individually made ‘charms’ (beads wired into tiny links). I feel so good when I look at these art pieces and realize they came from ME! If I had approached this task of making hundreds of tiny charms from a “let’s get on with business” perspective, the task would have seemed daunting and possibly un-doable! Instead it just happened!


  • February 17, 2010, 5:50 am Beth

    Yes! Yes! Yes!
    Love this, you all!