Over the years I have been gratified by the critiques that I have had re The Soul Food Cafe but this is one that stands out quite simply because it acknowledges the contribution I have made in helping people build their inner architecture.
After an absence for five years I have returned, not to work Soul Food as I did, but to guide thirsty creatives to billabongs within the maze that is Soul Food.
Check for details about the Travels With A Donkey courses that I am currently operating.
Writers talk about this frequently. Fiction writers often say that a character wouldn’t do what they wanted, or that the characters took over the story. Of course our characters aren’t real; they can’t really take over a story, they can’t really take on a life of their own.
So where does the writing come from? And why do we have so little control?
Because no one has precisely pinned down where ideas come from writers, who love to speculate, have proposed endless theories. Stephen Johnson talks about networked inspiration and how the cafe culture provides a pot in which creativity may bubble and boil. There is little doubt that creativity flourished in the melting pot of the French Salons where copious amounts of coffee may or may not have been served.
At one time I was going around talking about the creation myths suggesting that like the universe and earth itself it all began within a swirling mass of nothing. I had students closing their eyes, looking at nothing; writing about what they saw when they saw nothing. As I recall we also speculated about whether the answer lay in the roots of trees. We considered the deep roots that we are able to tap into. Carl Jung named this the ‘collective unconscious’ and many incredibly popular self help books, written by people like Dorothea Brande and Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) have written extensively on the subject.
A personal favourite of mine is The Borderland: An exploration of theology in English literature, a book by Roger Bradshaigh Lloyd. My copy of this text quite literally leapt from the bookshelf into my hand in one of the second hand book shops that I frequent. Lloyd, an influential Anglican Priest talked about the Lord, or King of the Borderland being ‘Inspiration’. He names the Holy Ghost, of whom ‘no man has ever dared to give a human name’ as the sovereign of the Borderland in which the artist resides and suggests that answers to the unanswerable may be found in the Nicene Creed. Of course, at the time this affirmed my speculation that like God, in the book of Genesis, the artist makes something out of nothing. The artist is a creator, as compared to a manufacturer. One of the problems I see with self help books is that they encourage us to believe that we can manufacture things. Like Lloyd I do not believe that there is anything immoral in the “composition of pure pot-boilers since pots do need to boil if anything is to be written at all”. I do believe that we are truly creative when we are propelled by passion and find our way of tapping into the source.
With that in mind I welcome assorted story tellers, troubadours, hags, crazy people, trance tellers, bards, traveling poets, prophets, visionaries, charismatic preachers, spellbinders and holy people to join the caravan of donkeys heading towards the source. My hope is that this amazing collective will reveal quite unique ways of tapping into what artists perceive to be ‘the holy grail’.
All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible. Thereby it received its true consequence and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order.
Back in the day, when the Soul Food Cafe was fully operational, Enchanteur used to pass out dream seeds for participants to plant. The seeds were in the bag she gave people as they were setting out. The special bag was filled with talismans for the journey. The bag contained a packet of dream seeds, spectacles, a candlestick, a tiny anchor, a medallion with the imprint of the Unicorn and a set of wings.
When operating classes on terra firma participants have sometimes received a small pot with some seeds ready to plant.
This excerpt from Song Magic of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona by Ruth Underhill provides the perfect ‘practice’ to apply upon receiving the planter, planting and locating a home where the seeds will flourish.
The Papago….stand at the edge of the field…. Kneeling he makes his hole and speaks to the seed, in the Papago manner of explaining all acts of Nature lest there be a misunderstanding. “Now I place you in the ground. You will grow tall. Then, they shall eat, my children and my friends…” Night after night the planter walks around his field “singing up the corn….” Sometimes, all the men of the village meet together and sing all night, not only for the corn but also for the beans, the squash and the wild things. (Source: Growing Myself by Judith Handelsman)
If you communicate with your plants they will respond and teach you about the inner gardening that promotes creativity. The challenge here is to look after the plant, talk to it, allow it to teach you, keep a journal, preserve your experience and generally grow.
Growing Myself A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening Judith Handelsman
An Interview With Judith Handelsman
The Faithful Gardener Clarissa Pinkola Estes
A Gift From the Sea Ann Morrow Lindberg