On Ritualizing Creativity

I’ve been talking about creativity and how to maximize our creative selves through the power of myth for several years now. I started using myth as a tool to enhance my own creative life, and it has helped me tremendously as I go about the task of getting past my own fear and blocks to work creatively every day.

In my lectures I always take a few minutes to talk about the differences between Chronos time and Kairos time. These are two Greek words for time, which I’ve talked about elsewhere on this blog. As artists we strive to find ways to bring ourselves to Kairos time, where the work flows easily and we lose track of how much time has passed. This is the place where we are connected to the energetic flow of the universe and it’s energies.

Last week I was meeting with a new friend, and she asked me what I do to try to find myself in that space every time I sit down to write. She was having some difficulty transitioning from her everyday, clock-time, Chronos space to the sacred space she needed to be in to do her creative work. I recommended that she try ritualizing both the space and the time in which she was working. Julia Cameron talks about this briefly in her seminal book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, as does Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. It can be creatively helpful to ritualistically enter into the creative space. Some ideas to consider: making an altar, saying a prayer before entering the time and place in which you plan to do your creative work, and setting aside a certain amount of time and space for the work. Timed writing exercises can be effective for this reason (ritualizing time), or setting an altar next to your desk or studio.

I’m working on a novel about the myths of the Arctic right now, so my creativity altar contains images of the Norse and Inuit mythic characters I’m working with. I’m also working with ideas about ice and being locked or frozen emotionally, so rather than lighting a candle at the beginning of each writing session, I bring a cup of ice to the altar, to honor that energy. Try creating an altar that honors the energy of your particular work.

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