Understanding the creative act as a spiritual practice is not new in the history of art. In traditional cultures the act of creating has been associated with ritual, bringing into form that which is formless, making order out of chaos, echoing the original cosmos, the original creation. Creativity was understood as a sacred journey into the unknown, an encounter with the greater spiritual ground. Created works were seen as divine inspirations, messages from the Gods, spiritual gifts. The created objects themselves were thought to contain sacred power. They were capable of healing the viewer as well as their world.
Art accepted a special mission in virtually every pre-industrial culture: to depict the
sacred … the realm of the larger truths surrounding and conditioning our lives or
dwelling within … the realm of the hidden, and therefore of revelation. (Lipsey, 1989:
Marie Louise Von Franz has written of the importance the indigenous people, the Fijians, place on the ritual retelling of their myth of creation.
Each time that life is threatened, and the cosmos, in their eyes, is exhausted and empty,
the Fijians feel a need for a return ‘in principio’ … they expect the regeneration of
cosmic life not from its restoration but from its recreation.” [Von Franz, 1972:16]
For these people, the original creation, the act of creating or retelling through ritual, and cultural renewal, are integrally connected. There is a vital bridge seen between art and life, a valuing of the spiritual sources of the creative and an understanding of art as an agent of healing and renewal.