I’ve been musing a lot on the creative process, having come out of a rather wild and woolly creative marathon in the conceptualizing, building, opening and directing of Flowers and Fire, now a beautiful and bustling yoga retreat center on the paradise island Gili Air. It was such a surreal and surprising journey that expanded me way beyond the limits of what my self-concept and beliefs said was possible.
I had no personal precedent for what I was doing with zero experience in construction, business, attracting funding, let alone doing this all in a foreign country. I also didn’t have the capital for the entire venture or experience or knowledge about how to get it. With no credit rating or even a credit card, no bank was going to back this with a loan. Yikes!
Processes inspired by the Divine Feminine
I wasn’t particularly inspired by the density of business as I understood it conventionally, so I made a radical decision quite early on that if I was going to commit to creating this, I would do it in a heartfelt way, true to my values and processes in all aspects: financially, conceptually, materially, and in terms of management and operations. These methods of creating and bringing idea seeds into phenomena were informed by Divine Feminine principles of creativity, taught to me by many teachers, most specifically through the approaches of my mother, Chardi Christian. The common thread was that rather than force and direct outcomes, ‘making things happen’ there needs to be a sense of surrendering to, and trusting a process of mystery unraveling.
There was so much I didn’t know when I started, but as the process urged, tugged, dragged, and carried me along, I learned A LOT. What amazed me was that these seemingly mystical processes were incredibly effective in yielding tangible, effective, unbelievable outcomes. So I would like to share some of my musings on these approaches.
These processes, in my experience, are not always easy and serene. I sometimes compare my experience to seeing a very demure and tame little pony in a little field and hopping on its back for a little stroll about. Suddenly the horse bolts and I’m hanging on for dear life, responsively figuring out, moment to moment, what I need to do to stay on its back. And then suddenly the horse arrives and stops. I am let off in a new field. It is expansive, enchanted and magical beyond anything I could dream of! I have been taken home.
According to Tantric philosophies, Shakti, the feminine aspect of God, is conceived to be the dynamic force that energizes the emergence of all phenomena in the existential world. Shakti delights in creativity and the play of form. She whirls out of the absolute, enduring, timeless field of consciousness, Shiva (the masculine aspect of god), dancing it in and out of different structures and temporary creations; atoms, stars, planets, life, us.
In Shaiva Tantra, a non-dual Tantric tradition, Shakti is associated with Spanda, the energetic blueprint that makes up reality. Spanda is a quivering pulse of energy that moves out then returns, radiating from the center then back again like the beating of a heart, or a vibrating wave, in and out, up and down. This energetic pattern, this pulse, this vibration, is seen to be at the heart of all phenomena. It is the mechanism of Shakti gathering up the fabric of reality to create manifest form at different densities.
This concept is very similar to modern scientific paradigms that attribute the formation of all phenomena in the universe, including dense structures like matter, to energy waves vibrating at various frequencies. E= MC squared, basically says that all matter is just pulsing energy, which was locked into dense structures a few seconds after the big bang. “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration.” Nikola Tesla.
Ancient sages from the lineage of Shaiva Tantra, say that the emotional flavor of these vibrating frequencies of conscious energy is bliss and so the Universe is inherently ecstatic. If we can unravel the temporal form of stuff, the fiber at the heart of it, is a pulse of love. ‘Spanda is the pulsation of the ecstasy of Divine Consciousness’ Abhinavagupta
The recognition that Shakti is at the heart of all, that we are just blissfully pulsing packets of Spanda, allows for a more inclusive attitude to our minds, to ourselves, to creating and to living in this life. Nothing is non-sacred at some level and everything is created through consciousness. Everything can be used as a path back to the arms of the Divine. Every arising in your field of awareness, in your life, can ultimately be unwound back to this pulse of bliss. ‘Satchitananada’ is a Sanskrit term that states this-Sat ultimate reality/truth of Chit consciousness is Ananda Bliss.
When we work with Divine Feminine processes, we learn to recognize and honor the different aspects of Shakti energy so we can alchemize them into fuel for our creativity. When there is rage we learn how to lean in-maybe Kali, the Shakti of destruction, revolution and devouring time, is in the house, providing the wild courage of anger to clear situations obstructing us from the truth. When there is the grief we learn to drink deeply until we can taste the flavor note of sweet tenderness, returning us home to our quivering, loving hearts. When there is material anxiety we humble ourselves to the ever-shifting fates and surrender this groundlessness to Lakshmi, the Shakti of beauty, abundance and manifest fertility.
We beseech her to fertilize our inner and outer fields with abundant new blooming. All of the different emotional and experiential flavors, the ones we habitually preference and the ones that we like to discard, are useful paths and wonderful creative fuel, but it’s important to learn how to imbibe them, taste them, and then to use them.
We will be exploring these processes of working with different aspects of the Divine Feminine for inspiration and creative manifestation in an upcoming ‘Retrieving the Divine Feminine’ retreat. We will play with ways we can bring idea seeds and dreams into reality, which requires us to let go of the reigns a little and surrender to a more receptive stance. These approaches apply principles of magnetism and emergence, rather than active principles where we impose the will of our minds to drive a situation into the form we desire.
While we may have a pretty clear idea of what it is we most want to magnetize into our life, how many times have you gotten what you most desire only to feel empty soon after? Or are already desiring the next thing, relationship, or circumstance?
Seeking the help of the Divine
If you choose to accept the Tantric worldview that sees us as a microcosmic drop emerging out of the ocean of consciousness that is all reality, then ultimately our heart pulses with the heart of the divine. Our conscious mind, which forms our separate sense of ‘I’ however, only offers up a limited perspective on our true nature. It is like a thin film membrane wrapped around this small drop, separating us from the vast sea of who we really are.
Our deep desire to align with this state of loving bliss, to return to our true nature, is therefore filtered through the very limited lens of this aspect of mind. And our mind has some very odd ideas about what will make us happy.
I have found that outsourcing the job of deciding exactly want I need to the Divine Intelligence which pulses through me, is often is a smarter way to go. Though my mind is a form of this intelligence, it is a limited form, flavored by my social conditioning creating patterns of desire. Even if I intention and manifest what these desires tell me I want, I’m not always brought closer to my heart’s desire, which to be honest can be a mystery. By surrendering the grip of the mind level desires and allowing another kind of intelligence to come through, you can open to a greater wisdom and power that is more aligned to the essence of who you are.
When I applied these principles to create Flowers and Fire, what ultimately emerged was so much more magnificent than anything I could have let myself believe was possible. My mind and its densities and my limited self-concept was more representative of collective social constructs forming conditioned capacities and beliefs.
Undercutting my mind, therefore, guaranteed a much more satisfying result and surprising alignment with my heart’s desires! While my rational mind still cannot quite comprehend how anything will work out of I don’t drive it forward through the mechanism of pre-planning and knowing all, I know experientially that ‘mystery unraveling’ is a much more effective vehicle for manifestation.
My inspirational mum, Chardi Christian, an artist, storyteller, and teacher, has been running women’s creativity groups, teaching these processes of working with Divine Feminine energy since the late 1980s. Chardi works more within European cultural traditions, articulating these ideas through Western Mythic frameworks and Jungian concepts of archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. While I like to explore these teachings through a Tantric lens, essentially both traditions honor the process of creativity being one of mystery unraveling.