You return from that trip to an exotic place – or perhaps to the wilds of nature. There to greet you on the front porch steps is your life again, waiting for you. Then what?
You discover something unsettling.
It’s like you’ve never left in the first place. For awhile you feel fresh again, but then all the bills are there, the push and pull and tensions of everyday living are. still. there.
Ugh! What’s happening? We try to get away and refresh, and maybe it works for a little while, but then the same problems crop up – and repeat themselves.
Since the days of Rousseau (and actually much earlier), all too often we’ve accepted the view that the natural wild is a realm “over there” away from where we live, from our lives.
To begin our journey then, our really soulful work, we believe we must somehow make a big leap, if it were even possible, over into that realm and start from there.
In truth, not only is no such leap is necessary, but the leap itself can actually makes things worse. For the wild – the true wild – is a property of the heart and the real inferiority found in us and in nature, within relationship; and it is found in those encounters where we least expect it. That can happen to us wherever we are – in the car, in the doctor’s office, at the bank, on the street, in the city, the country, the mountains.
Now many important lessons can be learned by stepping outside the human realm and into nature, or outside the familiar to a realm that is foreign and different. Don’t get me wrong.
For the Sacred Artist, it is simply a matter of where you begin. As the old stories teach, the exotic realm is not the wild at all, and not a starting place, but a kind of abstraction. Where the true movement begins is right where we are.
The story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnelle – the guiding story of Module IV of Spinning Gold – speaks directly to this, and how it plays a role in a life that manifests real enchantment.
It begins with the scene of a deep betrayal, and as a consequence the land of the kingdom in the story dries up, crops wither away, and there is no longer water, moisture, or vitality of any kind. People are not able to have children, all of the food crops and animals are destroyed, the living land turns into one perilously close to death. Spiritually, psychologically and pragmatically, we lose the power to manifest our dreams, desires and intentions.
A betrayal occurs or is experienced: someone tells us “not to quit our day jobs” or that our “sister is really the talented one” or that our art making, prayer making, sanctuary building, word crafting, is a “nice hobby”.
Sometimes the betrayal happens within: every time we tell ourselves that there isn’t anything worthwhile or relevant or meaningful in the creative work we are called to do, anytime we stop ourselves before we even start by getting busy cleaning or talking to a friend or doing five errands all before noon, then we too feel that icy wind blowing across our soul soil and snuffing out our creative spark. Creatively we feel “stuck”, “frozen”, “bored”, “dried up”, “numb” and “dead”.
And so, in order to right this wrong and bring life back to the land, Sir Gawain, bravest and truest knight of the Round Table, is given a specific task: he must learn the answer to a singular and shining question.
And so must we, in our own context, learn the answer to the question.
Failure to do so results not only in the loss of life for the land, but also in the loss of Gawain’s own life. (So you know, no pressure).
Gawain goes into the wild, and it takes him the traditional initiatory time, a year and a day, to discover the answer to his question, an answer that comes at a wild and wondrous price as those familiar with the tale know. Without spoiling the ending of the tale, I can assure you that both life and true wildness return to the kingdom.
The quest, the traveling into parts unknown, and wondering through the deep wild wood, are all necessary steps along the way to retrieving the fuel that can keep the creative spark burning and it is this way for us as well.
Like Gawain, we must brave the icy wilds, go on a quest and find the needed answers that will provide fuel for our brilliant and bright spark to burn once more.
But the wilds need not literally be wilds – like literally wilderness area. For it is only when he returns, that the real magic begins to move: he has an encounter that changes everything and restores wholeness.
Gawain’s story and teachings focus specifically on the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony and concrete practices you can try out.
The story, like all the fairy stories we encounter, speak in particular ways as helps in breaking down the idea that there is this world of here and now and another world of dream and magic that we can yearn for but never fully participate in.
The practices we learn in the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony, as well as others, help us weave the worlds back together through stories and the Sacred Arts.
Those soulful seekers who practice the Sacred Arts can attest to not only more creative vision and ideas, but more creative vision and ideas that become concretely manifested so that they may be shared with the world. We should expect this result. For if we can learn to see gold in straw, then we can certainly remember the ways to care for a practical intention or a project from start to finish, so that it is able to emerge fully whole and intact.
And it is those concrete manifestations of your creative brilliance that turn anywhere you are, and everywhere you are, into terrain that is wild and overflowing with wonder.
The next Spinning Gold guest teacher I would like to introduce, Ryan Edward, is all about the intersection between the Sacred Arts and creativity. With several Tarot and Lenormand decks to his name, Ryan’s work has been published by US Games and is beloved within the Sacred Arts community, and for good reason: his work is quite gorgeous and his skill is matched only by his kindness. In fact, as a professional designer, he sees the the creative work of design as a form of the Sacred Art of Divination. Intrigued? Give it a listen!