The Creative Fire and the Abduction of Creativity (1)
Within the myth of Demeter and Persephone, there is the cycle of abduction of the creative or youthful principle and its restoration. The Creative Fire (from Clarissa Pinkola Estes work), of the title, refers to the warmth and vibrancy of our creative selves. Its abduction is how desolate we can feel when this is taken from us.
In essence the story goes that Persephone was playing in the meadow, it was spring and her mother Demeter was not around at that point. The ground cracked open and Hades who had made a deal with Zeus to have Persephone for his bride rushed out with his chariot and six black horses, muscles bursting and sweat dripping, from deep in the underworld.
Hades took Persephone by her slender waist and threw her into the carriage, then turned, galloped back down into the earth from whence he came. The earth closed up, leaving no trace of Persephone.
This is part one – the process of creativity going underground – the abduction.
What do I mean by abduction? There are many ways that creativity gets thwarted. Hundreds of ways. I look at a few of them in the last part of this post. You may well have your own list. Be fab to know what is on yours!
To take you on a journey to understand the nature of how creativity gets sidelined, reviewing the story of Persephone and Demeter, is a great way to see this. In the story, there are many archetypal strands, for example in this part of the story alone, you have:
- The maiden – Persephone – innocent, playing, unaware
- Spring-time – the first in the cycle of the Seasons and mirroring the maiden’s journey of new life and growth. Later in the story it also represents renewal.
- The ground cracking open – something unusual and of import happens that changes the scene irrevocably.
- Hades – the King of the Underworld forces his way up into the world of the living. Breaking through the barrier between this world and the other world.
- Demeter the mother isn’t around – up to that point, she didn’t have to worry about Persephone playing alone in the meadow.
- The act of abduction – grabbing Persephone and throwing her into the chariot. It’s a metaphor for taking what doesn’t rightly belong. It’s a forceful act and a wilful act, with no care of the consequences.
- The return to the underworld – crossing the boundary again between this world and the other world. It’s crossing back to the unknown, a place of mystery and darkness, somewhat frightening.
- The closing of the earth and no trace left of Persephone. You could say that the playful element of the psyche, the innocence, springtime has gone. She has disappeared from view, never to be seen again.
The importance of the abduction of creativity and how it happens is an ongoing story.
As you can see from the picture, taken from a Facebook post on my timeline this morning. The Sunday Times posted about the most important and necessary jobs deemed so by 1,000 people, in Singapore. Sadly, this is a reflection of what happens everywhere with the artistic function.
Society makes being an artist of secondary importance
Yet creativity happens all the time and artists range from painters, writers, directors, to scientists, teachers, parents, children. It’s impossible to get away from creativity because we are resoundingly resourceful beings. There is always an abundance of new ideas and ways to be.
As the post pointed out (I couldn’t find the link sadly to the actual article), what did everyone use in lockdown? Films, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, books (even), people took up paintbrushes and returned to a hobby. They took up crafts, wore funny clothes, went on Tik Tok, and so on.
People Create – they are born to do so
People in lockdown created situations, things, wrote, connected up, dug in the earth, planted seeds to grow veg, learned a new skill. In a word people became more creative. I know it wasn’t all sunny and wonderful for everyone. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about looking at how creativity gets sidelined and asks the question – Why?
Our culture puts creativity in the backroom
Instead of on an equal footing with science and business, its relegated like an unwanted guest. For example an undercurrent story is that playfulness is something we give up once adulthood beckons. That somehow, there is no room for playfulness in being an adult and boy, doesn’t it show in how we run society. This is one way to ‘damn’ creativity and abduct it.
Our schools highlight science as a better subject than an artistic one. It is considered of higher worth. Yet poetry, art, the spoken word (story), craftwork, learning to grow veg, all are aspects of creativity. Never mind inventions, new ideas, ways of parenting, and so on, and so on. The list is endless.
My question is – how and why do we relegate creative acts to the backbenches like naughty children?
The abduction of creativity
This happens not only when the overculture or society says so, but when we feel dry, and have run out of ideas or our ideas are put down, ignored, and referred to as not necessary. Harsh words are spoken, unthinking comments, not hearing or seeing the other person, bullying, harassment, abuse. It can be the loss of someone dear, a change of home, or sudden ending of work.
All these aspects reduce and cause creativity to dry up and disappear underground.
But there is a way back. Most times its about understanding the obstacles placed in front of us, or the situations we have to deal with, or the inner stories we tell ourselves, or the people who would put us down or silence us. It’s about not listening to the overculture when it conflicts with our innate truth of who we are.
It’s about understanding that it is time to go on a search, to recover what has been lost, even if you don’t know where to start, or how to look. You could call this the Artists search, or a persons’ search for meaning. A search for what has been lost. This is the metaphor that is part of the Story Cycle. The dark night of the Soul, the journey out to find something that will change us and bring us back to ourselves.
Here is a tip – the search is about change
It’s about taking what you knew from the past and throwing it up into the air. It’s about looking in new corners and trying new things or starting something you always wanted to do, but never had the time for it. It’s about restoring your lifeblood meaning your soul’s lifeblood and letting that become the guide for your life.
That brings back meaning, creativity, and renewal, though not as it once was because change has happened.
In time this change will be seen as necessary. Changing habits and patterns that no longer serve you, growing as a character, restoring what is of true worth. Recovering what is of value, finding heart, soul, and meaning. That’s like a cup of hot chocolate by a warm fire in the cold of winter with lovely friends around. It nurtures and heals and soothes as the first part of recovery.
It’s about not letting the ember of the creative fire die out. You actually can’t. It’s about finding it and reigniting it. Recovering what has been lost. Indeed the creative fire cannot ever be lost, even if it feels like it is and you will never get it back. It never dies out, ever. In part 2 of this series on the abduction of creativity, the reason why the fire doesn’t die out will be discussed. Tune in for more …