Alchemy of Art

Posted on in Healthy Living by Mirabai Starr

The Vital Connection Between Creativity and Feminine Mysticism

By exploring the ways in which the Divine Feminine lives in all of us, we can reclaim our wild creativity. A miraculous event unfolds when we throw the lead of our personal story into the transformative flames of creativity. Our hardship is transmuted into something golden. With that gold we heal ourselves and redeem the world. As with any spiritual practice, this creative alchemy requires a leap of faith. When we show up to make art, we need to first get still enough to hear what wants to be expressed through us, and then we need to step out of the way and let it.

We must be willing to abide in a space of not knowing before we can settle into knowing. Such a space is sacred. It is liminal, and it’s numinous. It is frightening and enlivening. It demands no less than everything, and it gives back tenfold.

There is a vital connection between creativity and mysticism. To engage with the creative impulse is to agree to take a voyage into the heart of the Mystery. Creativity bypasses the discursive mind and delivers us to the source of our being. When we allow ourselves to be a conduit for creative energy, we experience direct apprehension of that energy. We become a channel for grace. To make art is to make love with the sacred. It is a naked encounter, authentic and risky, vulnerable and erotically charged.

The muse rarely behaves the way we would like her to, and yet every artist knows she cannot be controlled. Artistic self-expression necessitates periods of quietude in which it appears that nothing is happening. Like a tree in winter whose roots are doing important work deep inside the dark earth, the creative process needs fallow time. We have to incubate inspiration.

We need empty spaces for musing and preparing, experimenting and reflecting. Society does not value its artists, partly because of the apparent lack of productivity that comes with the creative life. This societal emphasis on goods and services is an artifact of the male drive to erect and protect, to engineer and execute, to produce and control. Art begins with receptivity.

Goddess Woman in Cosmic space. Cosmic Space background. eye contact. Fire effect
Goddess Woman in Cosmic space. Cosmic Space background. eye contact. Fire effect

Every artist, in a way, is feminine, just as every artist is a mystic. And a political creature. Making art can be a subversive act, an act of resistance against the deadening lure of consumption, an act of unbridled peacemaking disguised as a poem or a song or an abstract rendering of an aspen leaf swirling in a stream.

The part of our brains with which we navigate the challenges of the everyday world is uneasy in the unpredictable sphere of art making. We cannot squeeze ourselves through the eye of the needle to reach the land of wild creativity whilst saddled to the frontal cortex, whose job it is to evaluate external circumstances and regulate appropriate behavior.

Creativity has a habit of defying good sense. I am not arguing, however, that he intellect has no place in the creative enterprise. The most intelligent people I know are artists and musicians. Their finely tuned minds are always grappling with some creative conundrum, trying to find ways to translate the music they hear in the concert hall of their heads into some intelligible form that others can grasp and appreciate.

What a creative life demands is that we take risks. They may be calculated risks; they may yield entrepreneurial fruits, or they may simply enrich our own lives. Creative risk taking might not turn our life upside down but, rather, might right the drifting ship of our soul.

When we make ourselves available for the inflow of Shakti (feminine energy), we accept not only her generative power but also her ability to destroy whatever stands in the way of our full aliveness. You do not always have to suffer for art. You are not required to sacrifice everything for beauty. The creative life can be quietly gratifying. The thing is to allow ourselves to become a vessel for a work of art to come through and allow that work to guide our hands.

Once we do, we are assenting to a sacred adventure. We are saying yes to the transcendent and embodied presence of the holy.

Mirabai Starr writes creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught philosophy and world religions for 20 years at the University of New Mexico near where she lives. Known for her gift of making timeless wisdom accessible to contemporary seekers, she is the author of several books, including Caravan of No Despair and Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True).

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our once-monthly newsletter to get all the latest news & resources

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.