The Artist’s Way Reflections – Preview Digression on Spirituality

Orkila winter 2This post is off-schedule, a day before launching the first post focusing on a chapter of The Artist’s Way. It wasn’t planned, but I went on such a digression about the Introduction part of AW that I decided to pull it out and make it its own post so it wouldn’t distract from the post about the week.

So, some thoughts on the introduction, and reflection on spirituality in my life:

And backing up a little bit, I struggle with the introduction, and maybe a bit with the premise of the book. I’m not a religious person (recovering catholic here). It’s totally cool if you are–I want this AW journey on here to be totally inclusive of anyone regardless of flavor or amount of faith and completely open to all–and just for me personally, I’m not. A lot of the god talk in the intro, even making it separate from the god concept I grew up with, makes me uncomfortable.

I used to think of myself as spiritual but not religious in my teenage days, and I think that evolved over time, especially when encountering a lot of toxic spirituality, or what I thought of as spiritual materialism (people treating spiritual this or that as the new way to keep up with, impress or one-up the Joneses, a topic for another day perhaps) to just not being anything. I got real turned off and closed off to anything spiritual in a way the younger me who first encountered this book wasn’t at all. But even then, the god stuff was a bit much. It’s just not for me (and again if it is for you or works for you, that’s cool, I’m really trying to write this in a way that’s sharing my own struggle while still welcoming and including anyone who sees things differently).

And like Julia Cameron (JC for short) says in the introduction, it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter what you call it, and it doesn’t matter if you believe in it, which thank god because I mostly don’t, but I want to try to dive into this book with an open mind anyway. Even, or especially, the spiritual type exercises and tasks that I resist. I’m going to say what the hell and try them anyway, regardless of what I believe.

I think part of me, maybe a part I’m not in chronic touch with, craves a reconnection with something spiritual. I started writing Morning Pages again last September, started doing an Artist’s Way based activity called Blasting Through Blocks around the same time, started re-reading Mists of Avalon at the beginning of the year (yeah, it hasn’t really delivered), found myself pulling out my tarot cards more often, exchanging more readings with my friend Tracy, got an in-depth reading from Karen Cornell (yes, she’s Chris Cornell’s mom, and she’s very good) in late February, the first in years and years, and restarted AW two days later.

Reading the introduction made me think about all these things, and how I used to be a more spiritual person, used to be open to even the idea of being a spiritual person, and it occurred to me that all my spiritual experiences, all my brushes with the numinous, were outside. Connection to nature–whether it’s trees, or the ocean, or the night sky without too much light pollution–is what makes me feel awe and believe in magic and feel spiritual things.

There’s less of that in my life now than there was growing up in the suburbs with a yard, or when I was in my early- to mid-twenties living on Orcas Island which was all trees and ocean and unpolluted night skies, or even throughout most of my time in Portland when I lived in a more tree-y area. The lack of outdoor access in my current apartment was driving me a little nuts even before quarantine and may, along with other circumstances, have fueled my re-seeking of the spiritual in subconscious ways. And led me back to AW.

So I’m going to try to give my skeptical heart a bit of a rest and just go with it this time around.



The Artist’s Way Reflections is a weekly column reflecting on the 1992 book on discovering, recovering and reconnecting with creativity, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Each week, I reflect on some aspect or tool or exercise or essay from the book.

Here are some previous posts from The Artist’s Way Reflections column:

Schedule for the Rest of 2020

  • August 27 – Week One: Recovering a Sense of Safety
  • September 3 – Time Travel – Creative Monsters and Champions
  • September 10 – Week Two: Recovering a Sense of Identity
  • September 17 – Week Three: Recovering a Sense of Power
  • September 24 – Synchronicity
  • October 1 – Week Four: Recovering a Sense of Integrity
  • October 8 – Week Five: Recovering a Sense of Possibility
  • October 15 – Week Six: Recovering a Sense of Abundance
  • October 22 – Week Seven: Recovering a Sense of Connection
  • October 29 – Week Eight: Recovering a Sense of Strength
  • November 5 – Goal Search
  • November 12 – Week Nine: Recovering a Sense of Compassion
  • November 19 – Blasting Through Blocks
  • November 26 (Thanksgiving) – Creative Goal Setting (for 2021)
  • December 3 – Week Ten: Recovering a Sense of Self-Protection
  • December 10 – Setting Bottom Lines
  • December 17 – Week Eleven: Recovering a Sense of Autonomy
  • December 24 (Christmas Eve) – Week Twelve: Recovering a Sense of Faith
  • December 31 (New Year’s Eve) – End of Book Wrap-Up

13 thoughts on “The Artist’s Way Reflections – Preview Digression on Spirituality

  1. That is a fascinating insight! Now that I think about it, I’ve felt more spiritually disconnected myself since moving to/working in NYC, probably for the same reason of having no patch of green to call my own. The closest I can get these days is a (crowded) park. But I’ll take it! Better than no park. And I love that word “numinous” — did you get it from Carl Sagan’s _Contact_?

    • I didn’t get it from Contact but I definitely noted that he used it!

      Yeah, it’s really hard to be this disconnected. I’d be happier even to have a little balcony or patio even in my current area, just to get a little outdoors air even in this non-nature area, or to have nature I didn’t have to (have someone) drive to. A crowded park sounds better than no park, although in these covid times, hmmm, it may depend on how many in the crowd are wearing masks!

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