Saturday, March 19, 2005

Creativity as sacred intention

In her book, The Earth Path, Starhawk asks us to meditate on the question, What is sacred to you? The answer to that question is your sacred intention, a touchstone for making your way in the world. My answer is the freedom and creative energy of women.

Freedom is sacred because the psyche needs to be free to create. The great South African anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko said that "the greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." Imagination born of psychic freedom is crucial for changing the world. Also, we must be free in a physical sense. Creativity relies on nourishing external circumstances. Thus my conception of freedom isn't just negative - e.g. keep your laws off my body - it's also robustly positive: give me the things I need to create. Support women's creative lives. Our salvation lies in our creativity - the free run of our creativity, unhindered by fear, lusciously supported. Thus my sacred intention is to foster and defend the freedom and creative energy of women. Is that too abstract? I see that intention in much that I do: creating my own life as a work of art, teaching, financially supporting women artists and collecting their art, encouraging and inspiring others, defending women's reproductive (creative) freedom.

What would the world be like if our social, political, and economic systems all cherished what is most sacred to you?

There would be programs in the schools to foster girls' creativity. There would be all kinds of social supports for people so they could follow a creative path. Information would be easy to obtain. Women's art would be valued. There would be money for art and other creative endeavors. There would be other standards for value. Women's reproductive needs would be met. We would see women as the powerful, wise, creative, and sacred people that we are. There would be gorgeous, well-funded, free lending libraries for books, but also for other materials used to make art. Skills would be openly shared. There would be ample time to dream. There would be vital connection with nature, community, and one another. We would all pursue work we love and the world we want; yet all our needs would be provided for, and there would be some luxuries, too. Women would be changing the world all the time, and there would be plenty of funding.

Children would be cherished. Life would begin, not end, at birth. (For right wingers, life begins at conception and ends at birth.) Work would be shared. Emotions would be valued, and we would be educated in emotions. For example, we would learn when our emotions are true guides for us and when they lead us astray. We would learn to be grounded in our bodies and our communities, because creativity requires self-knowledge and context. We would encourage each other in all kinds of creative expression. No one would learn perfectionism. Everyone would dress however they liked, to express themselves or not, as they chose. Vitality would be encouraged, in our bodies - food and exercise and rest, plus good health care; in our minds - activated or quiet (we would learn both); in our work. Health would never be sacrificed to other ends - well, except sometimes pleasure. We would value rest. We would value dreams. We would love and comfort one another. Women's sexual pleasure would be honored and protected as sacred. We wouldn't have to work for mere subsistence; we would have enough. We would applaud and encourage new ways of thinking, rather than fearing them. We would not live in fear. We would recognize our moral duty to care for the least among us and not to kill one another. Prisons, too, could foster creativity and groundedness. No one would have a child unless she wanted one, and she would never be left to raise her children alone. Girls wouldn't become pregnant unless they really wanted to be, unless they conceived of that pregnancy and child as an integral part of their lives.

Does any part of the world already value these things? There are pockets of resistance. There are people like Heather Corinna and Margaret Cho creating this world. There are creative anarchists. There are political movements. There are women defending the front lines and women dreaming new dreams.

1. There are librarians fighting for our rights to knowledge, information, art, and privacy.
2. There are women writing (including bloggers).
3. There are women practicing magic.
4. There are women leading political movements, like RAWA and Code Pink and Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement.
5. There are anarchist health collectives, like the Ithaca Health Alliance.
6. There is the women's sexuality movement.
7. There are women publishing magazines and on-line journals.
8. There are women seeking the Goddess.
9. There are women organizing in their own communities.
10. There are women making art and music on their own terms, industries be damned.
11. Women are developing new, democratic ways of gaining access to creativity: Deena Metzger, Natalie Goldberg, and Julia Cameron.