In yesterday’s post on The Wild Hunt I talked about Awen and about my creative process. It wasn’t standard fare for that site, and not the most widely read and shared post that I’ve written, but it was a very natural thing for me to write about.
A song is little more than a conversation between the songwriter and the listener. The more honest the songwriter can be about her truth, the more deeply the words will connect with the listener. A song can be a testimonial, a sermon, a proclamation, a confession, or a plea, but a song is never a monologue. There is always the listener, and though the listener may not be able to communicate directly with the songwriter she is processing what she hears; translating it, transmuting it, absorbing it, becoming it or rejecting it. As the songwriter has undergone a personal transformation in the process of writing the song, so, too, will the listener undergo a similar process when she hears the final work. The more raw the former, the more impactful the latter.
I write songs. It’s my gig. For about 1/3 of every month I’m in Los Angeles writing, doing work in the ever-evolving Music Industry, and I really enjoy it.
When I started this blog I was of the mindset that there needed to be a separate space for me to do my spiritual work. I couldn’t allow overlap with the promotional work I was doing around the release of my album. That could get messy. Too many people were invested in the success of the project for me to put that in jeopardy by being transparent, I though. But what I’m coming to discover is that there is really is no way to avoid overlap.
You don’t have your “spiritual life” in a vacuum. You are all of the things that you are, pretty much all the time.
At least, that’s my experience.
For me, my creative process opens up spiritual understanding. And many times my spiritual explorations lead to creative inspiration. It’s interesting to me that I was so desperate to compartmentalize my life when I started this blog considering that many of my songs are directly influenced by different periods of my religious life. You can’t extract my spirituality from my music. Just ain’t gunna happen.
So why keep the music apart from my spiritual work?
That’s a question I’m asking myself as I think about the future of Bishop in the Grove.
Over the past few months my life has been reshaped in very interesting ways. I’m no longer affiliated with any particular tradition, although I am opening myself up to the Bardic Grade studies of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). I’m living in a new city, meeting new people, and finding that just around every corner of this luscious, green place there is some perfectly ordinary, yet totally pagan joy to be experienced. I mean, there is street-side composting here! People know where their food comes from (see Portlandia episode 1 for proof). It’s almost as though this entire town is kind of pagan in practice, even if it isn’t Pagan in identity.
So there’s all of this newness in my life, which includes a newfound sense of presence in my creative work. When I go to LA to write I feel like I am doing exactly what I should be doing with my life. My writing feels certain. Solid. I feel in total alignment as a person when I’m in that creative space, and I won’t accept that that sense of alignment isn’t also connected to my Druidry.
It was the emphasis on creativity that first led me to OBOD. They start you on the Druid path by encouraging you to invest more in your creativity; to find the Awen and come to better know how it can move though your life; to help you become a bard.
And if there was anything I think I was made for, it’s that. I mean, I am already a bard, in a modern sense. This is what I do. This is what I have always done. I’m curious if there’s a way to re-contextualize the songwriting work as “bardic expression”; to sort of reverse-engineer my perspective about the spiritual nature of creativity.
I think this is a good way to move forward. I think this is the direction the Awen is moving, if you will. It moves toward greater integration. It moves toward a deepening of practice by way of investing in the practices that encourage feelings of love and wholeness.
This will be the direction I walk, friends. I hope you will walk with me.