Cultivating Creativity in Crazy Times…
By Kayse Budd, MD
With the new normal being “lots of time on our hands” and “nothing much to do”, I see an enormous opportunity!! Maybe it’s my Virgo Venus (likes to be creatively helpful, diligent, and efficient), but as soon as coronavirus hit, I was wondering what I could make or create! I started seeking the muse!
As you probably know, the muses are creation goddesses in the Greek pantheon. According to myth, they are the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. We all are familiar with Zeus, the sky and thunder god, who is considered the “king of the gods”. Mnemosyne is the daughter of Uranus (sky) and Gaia (earth). Mnemosyne’s area of influence is memory and words. She is credited with creating language and storytelling. Zeus and Mnemosyne’s muse daughters are responsible for all additional facets of creativity, each with her own specialty.
There are nine muses, one for most of the major art forms, history, education, and science. I am a bit obsessed, so I have taken time to learn about all the muses. But, there are several with whom I feel a special connection. The muse of astrology, astronomy, stars, and planets is Urania. I feel a bond with her since I love stars and am a professional astrologer (as well as an artist and holistic physician), but I also feel a resonance with Calliope, the muse of poetry, music, and writing. I’m always trying to get a bit closer to the muses, and it sometimes works! Being creative has been proven to enhance resilience and reduce stress, two benefits we could definitely use these days. So, I felt inspired to share a few of my secrets…
10 Tips to Enhance Creativity & Entice the MUSE
- Create an altar for the muse — maybe even to the specific muse that resonates most with your preferred art form. Add some of your own artistic/poetic creations and/or some other inspiring items. Sunstone and moonstone are two of my favorite “creativity stones”. So, I usually have both of those on altars in my creative spaces. A muse altar is like a 3-D “vision board” — great for sparking creativity, as well as improving focus. In my experience, muses especially love it if you honor them with a poem! Or an effigy (below). Or a song! I keep my wooden flute by my writing table and often play before I write. An altar represents intention. If you call sincerely from the heart, there’s a good chance a muse will respond….
2. Keep an idea journal. Writing is a pathway to the subconscious, and the subconscious is a great repository of ideas. If you can tap into your own subconscious space, you are tapping into a numinous world full of imagery, ideas, and inspiration. Some of it may be dark, disorganized, and nonsensical. Some of it may be lyrical, positive, and bright. The subconscious a strange place, but it is definitely worth a visit!! So, visit the subconscious with steam-of-consciousness (uncensored, rapid) writing, meditation, breathwork, or dance. Grab some images or phrases, percolate, and if you feel inspired>> make them real!!
3. Wake up slowly. The space between sleep and wakefulness is a mystical time. There’s a moment when we don’t even know who we are! This is creative gold!! Try to realize when you’re in that moment and float there as long as possible. See if any images or words come. Try to remember the last dream you were having. Allow interesting scenes come into your mind from the dreams. I get ideas for my clients’ health quests, as well as for future books, art projects, and even blog posts from my dreams. I don’t receive meaningful ideas or images every day, but when I do, I notice them and appreciate the visit from the MUSE.
4. Decorate your environment. Your home is an exterior expression of your personality. Contemplate whether the space around you accurately reflects your sense of creativity. Sometimes I exercise my imagination by thinking about how I could decorate a water bottle, a computer, a picture frame, blank notebook, or a jar to get in the practice of projecting my mood and energy onto my surroundings. Once you get the creative energies flowing, you become more receptive to the muse, and the ideas flow freely …
5. Play dress up!! Your wardrobe is a wonderful vehicle for creative expression!! Our clothing can reflect our mood and energy in a moment or in a certain phase of life. If you have strong Saturn or Capricorn influence in your astrology chart then your sense of style may stay quite classic and stable over time. If you have more Leo, Aquarius, or Gemini energy, your sense of style could change quite regularly. Scorpios, like myself, tend to hover around mysterious looks but definitely have a range. What I am suggesting is a purposeful emphasis on how you adorn your body. Make your choices conscious and endeavor to dive deeper sometimes. Be intentionally exaggerated now and then. Embody some aspect or “character” within your own being. Consciously try to channel your own personal muse!!
6. Honor the things you love. Thinking of ways to honor the people, places, animals, plants, and other things you love is an excellent way to boost your creativity. I have Cancer-rising, astrologically, and all Cancer types are super sentimental! So, many of my pieces of art are inspired by the desire to create a memento for a special time in my life. I made several pieces of sugar skull art to honor the six years I lived in Tucson. I made a bead mosaic of a dolphin to express my appreciation for the 2 years I spent as a mermaid in Hawaii. More recently my beloved feline companion of almost 19 years passed away. I knew it would make me feel better to create some art to honor her (Art therapy at its best!!). It took me a while to feel inspired about what I wanted to create. I was practicing my #4 above, and the OBJECT itself inspired me: a wooden ball. Perfect for a beaded cat’s head!!
7. Think of a fun or enchanting image and use that as a jumping off point. Like a writing prompt. But with an image. You only need one intriguing impulse to spark your imagination, coax in the MUSE, and ultimately give birth to a piece of art. Sometimes, for me, being creative is mixed with “being practical”. That’s my Venus in Virgo, again! I notice blank spaces on my walls, and I think, “What would I like to see right there?”. And then I create it! Images carry energy, so if we consciously consider what energy, symbols, and colors we want around ourselves we can live more intentionally and feel wonderfully supported within our space.
8. Use common materials in an uncommon way. This is my specialty!! I love adding 3-D objects to my paintings. I have paintings that include ribbons, feathers, beads, string, clay, and more! I also really love playing with patterns (like in the string art below). Has anyone read the children’s story The Dot by Peter Reynolds? It’s my favorite! It’s about a girl who thinks she isn’t creative. Her teacher says, “Just make a mark and see where that takes you”. So, the girl makes a dot. And then a different color dot. Different size dots. She creates designs around the dot. And she realizes that art is not just accurately drawing something. It is about cultivating unique expression. All you really need to be creative is an idea and the willingness to explore it!!
9. Once you get a design you like in one medium, expand it to another… This is a technique that all practicing artists know well. It’s a variation on a “series”. Painters do it, potters do it, poets do it, photographers do it. Every fashion runway show is built around the concept of a theme, fabric/print, or color-story that will link all the items in that particular “collection” together. You can do the same thing. It’s a fun way to expand your skill and do more with one great inspo. I have made several paintings that I expanded into beads and some bead pieces I expanded into paint.
10. Explore a variety of modes of self-expression. Dance, poetry, drawing, singing, photography, cooking, gardening, writing, music. You never know where your particular muse will be hiding. By exploring different types of creative expression we increase the likelihood that eventually we’ll drop into an imaginal realm and catch a glimpse of the muse. Exploring novel ways to unlock the deepest chambers of our inner temples, we develop the discipline and dedication of a true seeker. Inspiration really is a kind of enchantment. It elevates our vibration and aligns us with the magic underlying this world. Muse encounters leave me simultaneously blissed out yet completely centered. I am at home in my own mystery.