In my quest to determine for myself where the bridges between religion, spirituality, disbelief and despair cross over troubled water, I have determined this: that your creative centre is a sure path to finding what approximates the inner voice of deity. However you consider that deity to take shape. It has been established that man is a religious animal. I would submit that his religiosity is the domain of his creativity, that the two share an integral connection.
When I was younger and enrolled in Theological studies at my Alma Mater, a very selective panel of neurological studies were presented. One of which followed brain scans of a gaggle of Holy Rollers. The study purported that a portion of brain previously unused became active when these people began speaking in tongues. There were other studies, but the Holy Rolling stuck in my head for years.
When you walk backwards through history, it is commonly noted that the first instances of Art as we know them served a dual function as a religious signifier as well as means of entertainment. Now, it could well be that it is modern bias to apply religious significance to ancient art because it fits a foggy narrative we have of the ancients. Perhaps. I think, in this instance, the diagnosis is valid.
It is yet another thing among the modern man that seems lost to the ether. We live in a sense of profound disconnect. This much is true. It has also become fashionable for modern man to deny those parts of himself that might otherwise connect him to his ancestors in a way that is tangible. The circle, as it goes, is indeed quite broken – to answer an age old gospel song’s question.
In our Mythologies and Religious circles there is an ancient notion that Creation itself is an unspoken Art of the Gods. The universe, a chaotic canvas of presentient bits and baubles, pigments and sounds. The Gods took those pieces and arranged them. The Hellenic race spoke of KHAOS whilst my Teutonic forebears called this GINUNGAGAP. The primordial void was discussed in the Bible, as well, which is supposed to have been taken from early Mesopotamian epics. There was an idea that from stillness, from dread and silence, there *must* come something. And something has to be made, for nothing made had no purpose.
Virtually every hermeneutic of understanding life from the Classical and mythic world is possessed by an artist’s mind. And for aeons, an artist’s mind ruled the roost. Artistic interpretations painted the pictures that poets would make into pretty songs that children would hear, and upon growing up, rekindle those rhymes into epics that shook the foundations of the creative mind. Our society owed its life, to a massive degree, to the artist among them. In the Beginning, there was nothing, but the artistic spark ignited.
The Gods were overcome with ecstasy, and in their furious image they rewrote the cosmos. Odin and his brothers Wili and We, they laid the fell giant Ymir to waste. They saw that the reign of cruel, dim and witless disorder must end. They sacrificed Ymir, you see, the first sacrifice. With his corpse they painted a pretty picture that became the Nine Worlds of our ancestral cosmogony. From his skull they shaped the vast dome of the heavens, taking the curdled remains of his brains they seeded the first clouds with presumably large thoughts, his hairs became grass, his shattered bones became stones. The Gods shaped man from the base elements of Middle Earth and the rest would become history. The Greeks, they tell a similar story, how Zeus and his brothers marched against the primal giant Khronos. Khaos, the void, was filled. The first LOGOS, perhaps? Would that the Guido Von List’s were here yet to answer these and other questions, for their mad faith would bring much comfort in these otherwise boring times.
As for me? I have remained trapped in a cycle of cynicism but for my own recalcitrance in believing I could shape the modernist wiles to suit my inner being. The whole of my innermost self tells my outer layers that this world is wrong, that something heavy is missing. So much has been lost in the scant few years our fingers grew weak from carrying the lodestone of humanity. So much has been lost that it seems monumental to the modern mind that it could ever be recovered. It takes an artist’s mind to see the solutions. Where the dry, the mechanistic has failed, the soul of man must be allowed to return.
I have watched the march of years go by. My own sense of wonder remained strong until college. There I experienced what the Catholics called the “Dark Night of the Soul.” And for me, the night was long, for I had lost my religion and there was no god to find at the end of that colourless rainbow. In my many years of argumentation with the sceptics, I have been accused of living in a fantasy, but I claim the opposite is true. The dry sciences have been co-opted, their aim is to wreak havoc on the mind, sew dissent and instil dread. Dread keeps a man enmeshed in the system. It makes him reliant. For the same reason the health/wealthcare system has been co-opted to create the opioid epidemic, so too has science and religion been co-opted also.
Yet let us look at my Brothers, with whom I deal? So many are so quick to say, with little variation between them: “oh, I could never do that.” They deny their creative push. For fear of looking silly, they don’t even try. They refuse to expand, to grow, to be. This is just one more door that has been closed. I don’t know how many of Valhalla’s 540 doors remain ajar, but hubris have closed so many of the doors to the Halls of Glory that one wonders how it is society even stands today.
As for myself, I know the answer is not in thinking, but in being. Logic has failed us, to a degree, in an attempt to reclaim identity and save our collective soul. It is a logical answer; an identity lost creates chaos in the true sense, and thus to reclaim it will bring order. But we must expel the poison in our SOUL in order to feel again as nature has intended. I have had glimpses of *right* feeling. They are so powerful that they have threatened to drive me mad. And these feelings are tied to my creative nexus.
It comes from what our Theosophists have called the UrSelf. This is no snippet of micro-brained web speak. Ur means ancient. Each man possesses a shred of self that has carried through the ages. Call it genetic memory, genetic destiny, genetic inheritance, I don’t care. They call it pseudo-science, but it doesn’t matter what they say. You shall know a tree by the fruits.
When I make, it all seems too obvious to me, how it could have come about that Gods are real and the world has a Destiny beyond the Natural Order of Birth, Becoming, Fading and Rebirth. When I feel my soul moving with the grain of the wood, my mind splits into forks, and forks into webs- I can feel myself moving in the grain, as my hands drag across the plane, as my mind plans the shape and destiny of a plank. In this moment, I am myself, but more than me. The past, the present and the premonition of the wood are one moment that blend.
When I sit with the blank canvas of paper or cloth and my hand moves with the microscopic fibre of the medium, I feel it there too. Ideas born in the spastic electric universe contained between my ears and existing somewhere inside my skull, they become manifest – to a degree, and through a mirror darkly.
When I shape the clay in my hand, I understand there is a language no tongue can comprehend. There is the language of creation, the language of religion, the language of devotion. Man is a creative animal, and man is a religious animal. Creation and religion are parasympathetic and cannot exist in a void. A man is devoted to his craft; there is no greater meditation than meditations upon a craft. This is a magic that one would be a fool to call paltry, for it is the mother of all witchcraft – this sense of being you can tap into as you make and create… it is unparalleled. It is the beginning of what follows, an inestimable sense of place that the sad modernite is allowed to experience in mere shadows.
In German, the word Kraft can mean power. This is a true statement. One of the reasons we so admire our foregone ancestors was because they have facets we lack. The entire network of life, that Web of Wyrd, possessed and compelled a man to embrace his creative side. He knew life depended on it. A man had skills he exploited. He had arts that he made.
Now we live in a glut of consumerist dullardry. Why would you paint pictures to adorn your halls when your computer can do so much better? Why would you take the time to shape your own trim and moulding when you can buy a beautiful piece of monotony from Home Depot? Why would you carve an idol to your chosen God when a Chinamen from across the seas can sell you a cheap but pretty imitation for a fraction of the cost of your first whittling knife?
The answer is because you want to find your soul. The old Bavarians have a saying, I learned this from a confidant, “I need to make my soul.” There was the subtle notion that a soul is not had, but made, from life. You make your soul in that old country by absorbing your chosen religious texts, you read rich words of thinkers and poets, you attempt to create. It all ties into legacy. What you make, your children can inherit. Cattle die, kinsmen die, but I know a thing that never dies…
What value is there in inheriting a disembodied mass of garbage bought from China? What sense is there in passing down to your children, surely the most precious gift life can give, something that anyone could have? Your creative self allows you a gift that can never be cheapened by repetition. It shapes the future destiny of your bairn in ways science refuses to tell. What they see, they understand with a language words can only betray.
The artist’s language is spoiled by speaking. I have wasted well over a decade of my life trying to find the words to articulate the sense of Being that came with an epiphany I had many years ago. And I won’t spoil that epiphany here. If you have had one, my friend, you know my mind, and you understand the abysmal failure that comes with wasted words and trust in a system that has rotted you and turned your guts into bile that seeps between each tooth whenever you speak.
You can experience it vicariously, but my friend, I assure you, it is a sense which you must own for yourself. You can be lost in the sound of music, you can feel your soul taken away to realms of being just outside our reach. You can see the dreams of ancients laid bare on Victorian canvas. You can see the dream deferred every time you turn on a television. But you must own it, until then, what you seek will always be beyond you.
When the ancient idol makers of Scandinavia carved Runes into their Godheads, do you think they burnt them on the altar because they had the sense that in the future some niggling little twit would say the Greeks could do it better? Do you think the Greek sages would be deterred that their own logic might someday destroy the ecstasy of their religion? No. They had the feeling, they understood that creation is worship. That the mere act of creating connects you to the Godhead in a way that endless speaking never can.
The Hunt is in the chase and the DEVIL is in the details. We cannot avoid the chase as we have done for fear of what we find. Society has ground its heels, evolution has stopped, because on a subconscious level we know we have walked a path to emotional doom. The answer becomes clear when we examine what is lost, we lie, trick ourselves that the answer must be complex. Go, make, feel, be. The hunt is in the chase, the devil is in the details.