henever we light a candle or take a deep cleansing breath; whenever we witness growing things, listen to the rain, or walk in the woods; whenever we kiss our beloveds, or look at the stars, we are in a perfect position to remember something important about our lives, something essential about our souls. We may hardly notice it, but every day teems, spills over, with opportunities to reconnect and experience the mystery of what our deep memory holds for us now and teaches us about the future we are creating.
The cards of life can often seem stacked against us. But sometimes all it takes is a reminder that no matter how tightly the bonds of necessity and fatality are tied, there is still something we can do, there is a still circle within which we can move, and there are still choices where we thought there were none. There are more than several time-honored ways to remind us and show us these things about our life. They include:
- Right Relationship
- Ceremony and Ritual
- Lineage and Legacy
- Divination and Dreams
- Alchemy and Magic
- Purification and Cleansing
These are what I call the Sacred Arts.
Where it is needed in our life, the Sacred Arts can help us overturn, uproot, clear out, flush, cleanse, and bless the unwanted and unneeded. They serve as instruments or practices that heal, give hope, clarify, open, create new order, recollect, discern, enlighten, connect or re-connect, strengthen, inspire, plant and nurture. These arts, like those who practice them, have been hidden, burned out over the centuries. Relegated unjustly to the “occult”, or to the “new age” in latter years, the Sacred Arts have been practiced in one form or another by folks from all around the world in most times and places. They are in fact the “norm,” constituting deeply human practices, representing a common human experience that is the pillar of civilizations and sources of inspiration for religion and spiritual traditions around the world.
We know this in our bones. More and more people recognize that a life without prayer and blessing, a life without ritual, without storytelling and music and dance is really not much of a life at all. People from all walks of life and all corners of the globe are choosing more conscious ways of living, choosing to cultivate right relationship with all that is seen and unseen. We are choosing to return and restore the Sacred Arts to their rightful place in our individual lives and in our greater culture. And this is a choice that has deep love and clear wisdom guiding it. At the same time, as we watch the Sacred Arts become mainstream, we will see their best and worst iterations take center stage once again. In light of this, there are four points about these arts that a soulful seeker ought to keep in mind:
The idea that sacred arts are intended only for those who are wise, powerful, rich, weird or sensitive enough to “understand” them is hogwash. Sacred Arts were practiced over many generations by everyday, ordinary people. Keep this in mind, as you pursue an interest in Sacred Arts, and encounter teachers, programs, schools of thought, and organizations that have mystery shrouded in mystery and secrets wrapped in enigmas.
- The Sacred Arts are not intended to take us out of our lives, but, instead, actually encourage us to be fully in our lives, to be present to those closest to us, to be more fully engaged with our actual relationships, and to be more attuned to the work we do in the world.
It is exactly the practice of the Sacred Arts that help us step up to the increasing demands and challenges of everyday life. One of the greatest misconceptions about the Sacred is that it takes place in some exclusive far-away place. But the Sacred is in our lives. It’s with our life partners, our husbands, wives, our friends; it’s in how we treat our mothers, brothers and sisters. It is not the purpose of Sacred Arts to divorce us from all that is familiar.
- Nothing stands alone; including, and especially, the Sacred Arts.
As these practices become more and more mainstream they will be taught and presented piecemeal. We will have opportunities to learn about blessing here and divination there and creating ceremony in a third place. It makes sense that within the Sacred Arts, just as with their sister the Liberal Arts, we find those who specialize in a specific subject, who have an area of concentration. However, as all of us seek to learn and grow in our Sacred Arts practice we must remember that all of these arts are deeply related to one another. Where one ends the next begins, and the most complete understanding and practice calls upon and includes all of them.
- We are all remembering and creating together as a growing and living community.
It is easy to forget that once upon a time these arts were handed down, older to younger generation, grandparent to parent to child, with aunties and uncles and cousins thrown in too. Everyone one of us descends from people who knew and practiced the Sacred Arts. Look to your own families, cultures and tradition, and pick up the threads. This is where the Sacred Arts live. They have always been there for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. This remembering is good, vital, work, and we do not have to do it by ourselves.