Friday, October 4, 2013

The God of Creativity

Alright -- enough of this happy music nonsense. Let's go deep, here.

After having read a cool post about Lundy Island, in which the writer alludes to the Celtic belief that the island was one of the "Isles of the Dead", I journeyed, in my own head, back to the years in which I was fascinated by ancient myth and legend and a familiar question popped up:

How did these people, with no empirical proof, no apologetics, no theological logic -- not even a written account of, say, a god having visited Earth, as in the New Testament -- remain committed to their beliefs? How did they perform rituals and commune with their gods with any degree of certainty? -- not even a gigantic, overarching church telling them that there are deep historical roots, as with, say Catholicism?

I mean, it's cool to say: "The sun sustains us. It gives us light. It seems to affect the growth of wheat. Therefore, it is a god. We will call it Lugh and we will worship it." That, I get.

But, then, one day, a priest of Lugh is out in a coracle and he sees a mysterious little island and says: "Ah, that's where we go when we die!" What makes him think this is true? (The very first guy to think it, I mean -- because, after that, all bets are off. People tend to believe what someone tells them.)

Wrong mythology, but you get the point. 
There are two possibilities: 1) He doesn't think it is true but thinks it would be fun to fool everyone and start his own religion or, 2) he thinks the idea is a divine revelation.

I have to think it is number two. Could it be that, back in the ancient days, before there were philosophies or conjectures about creativity as an act (or as a concept), that those with creative minds extrapolated that their ideas were sent to them from a power beyond?

Think about it. Take away from yourself the years of psychological scholarship that identified the creative mind; that determined that some are just more "creative" than others -- pretend you had no idea of that, as a concept, much like our Celtic ancients. With this in mind, imagine that, one day, you are sitting in a forest and looking at the trees and your eyes trail down the trunk to the roots and you see that the roots disappear into the ground and -- poof -- an image appears in your head: that under the surface of the earth, there is a woman and this woman is massive and her hair sprouts off in all directions and breaks through the ground, causing trees and plants to grow from its ends. She is the giver of life. She is the goddess of all existence.

Now, I come up with that and I say: "Big deal. I have written better stories in on a train ride." my sleep.

Ah! There, indeed, is the rub. Sure, I can say that I came up with that because I am a creative type. But, the ancient creative thinker, who doesn't know what "creativity" is, might think that this idea was delivered to him by the Earth Mother, herself. He has seen Truth and, therefore, is a chosen, special one. A priest of the Earth Goddess. It is the same as if it had actually been a dream, when there is no explanation for the "message" he received.. How many cultures held dreams as vessels of spiritual revelation? They had no idea dreams were just a taking out of the mental garbage or a manifestation of their own fears and preoccupations. The only explanation? The gods.

(Let's face it -- as a modern man, I really feel that creativity is a kind of magic. I don't really have a good explanation -- at least not one that satisfies -- why I can stand in front of a class, ask them for a character, an object and a setting and spin off a story without planning it. [Even more strange: as a young Catholic boy, the very first time I finished writing a piece of music, I instinctually did the sign of the cross...])

I wonder just how many ancient religions were born out of ignorance to the concept of creativity, just as they might have been born out of ignorance to the concept of dreams...


  1. Or possibly his idea was delivered by the Earth Mother herself and, diverse as they are, every revelation is just an acknowledgment of the profound strangeness of the universe?