The arts in their diverse expressions offer an entrance into a deeper layer of existence.
They live in our worldly senses and yet they can invoke a feeling for a mystery beyond the senses. In this lies their potential to unite us with a larger whole beyond all that divides us.
But how? Could there be a spirit of art, some universal arts impulse? If so why do we have the motivation to create such a diversity of art forms that include music, visual arts, drama, dance, architecture and the creative word? And what is going on in our experience of them?
I have attempted to answer these important questions over many years based on the deep insights I have gained from my wide experience of the nature of artistic expression. Undertaking a personal journey of learning and discovery in our chosen field is where we do find answers to life's questions.
My aim has been to back up the proposition that there is an imaginative, inspirational and intuitive world, a metaphysical dimension within our human consciousness available to every artist in any medium.
And for each one of us as witnesses to artistic expression through our hearing, sight and touch, and through our subtle senses such as taste, smell and bodily responses we can be moved on a deep soul level.
Inherent in this is the understanding that the spiritual dimension, inaccessible to ordinary sense consciousness, is as real as anything physical.
The value of the arts is that they create a bridge between the two worlds, and give us a genuine feeling for things beyond everyday consciousness, things that could not be converyed in any other way than by symbols in images, sounds, shapes and movements.
Through the arts it is possible to enter this rich spiritual realm, which lives within us, through the wonderful diversity of artistic creativity.
Rudolf Steiner wrote: 'Art, always daughter of the divine, has become estranged from her parent.' In response I was inspired to write a book exploring how all the arts can be returned like prodigal daughters to their spiritual home through the work of dedicated creators.
My exploration of the arts on the Musings page is dedicated to the path towards deeper acknowledgement of their true value and is companion to my book Prodigal Daughters: a New Vision of Spirituality and the Inner Histories of the Arts.
Here's a taster of what's in the book.
I like to go back to beginnings and histories. Here I do this in an imaginative 'artistic' way to offer a glimpse into ...
The archetypal source of the arts
When writing about their own art form many practitioners will say that this (pictures, dance, drama, music, the word) was the earliest art form. I think they could be tapping into an archetypal arts impulse behind all the variety we experience here on earth. Then how do we come to that origin of ‘art’ as the foundation for the wonderful diversity of artistic expression?
With this question in mind, I’ve drawn on a number of sources to re-imagine Creation, a ‘Genesis’ placed in an artistic framework, which I hope will bring to light certain starting points to examine the source of our numerous arts. I’ll call it
The Macrocosmic Arts Creation Story.
Before the beginning we cannot describe what existed, except that it was power of a spiritual nature that held the cosmos as an idea within its being. This we may call the Ultimate, the Unmanifest Oneness.
Archetypal Wisdom was within the Oneness, as was the creative thought, the first spark of life. This is known as Logos or sometimes Word because it contains the potential of all sounds, words and languages. From the beingness and the motivation necessary for creation to begin there was movement and it was like the taking of a mighty in-breath.
On the out-breath Logos spoke and generated the beginning, which came forth as a dance. The pulsating energy from that dance set the cosmos in motion.
The great cycles of all the heavenly powers swept out and around, and as they danced their movement vibrated in the spiritual atmosphere and set up a sound. Each of these powers had their own sound, based on their distinct movement and these sounds made a ninefold harmony, like the ringing song of a wondrous choir, filling the universe. The sound as it flowed through the ether began to reveal itself, to become audible and then visible. It took the light as its form.
Colours appeared in this light, a different one for each of the tones. The colours wove themselves together, becoming more and more intense, some light, some darker so that spirit-forms began to emerge from the interweaving of darker and lighter colours.
The Word directed these proto-forms to the Great Mother, the World Soul, who gestated them in her body, the earth. One by one they began to take on myriad more solid forms. They became life on earth and as they evolved they were given names. And they were filled with Wisdom which flowed through them.
Thus matter is spirit made visible. And we humans became part of this created world, so the Divine lives in us in such a way that through us it becomes a conscious process. When we first experienced divine Wisdom, and discovered that it could be expressed in different ways, human creativity gave form to earthly art.
How these art forms take their distinctive shapes and expressions as they manifest and how they remain
a powerful influence on our lives continues to unfold in Prodigal Daughters ...
Helen Martineau offers us her vision of the arts as an antidote, a corrective force to the problems we face. She tells us that although we live in apocalyptic times, let us be aware that the Greek word apokalypsis also means unveiling or revelation. The arts have much to reveal. A genuine artwork unveils what otherwise remains hidden, opens our eyes and ears, minds and hearts.
~ Kenneth Killeen from a review of Prodigal Daughters