HONOURING THE GOLDEN CHILD
When I first started observing the patterns of creativity in classroom and workshops, many years ago, I realised how many adults have a wounded place within them relating to ‘being creative’. This hurt is often only recognised when these same adults try to come out and play again; to sing, dance, use paint or clay.
The root of the hurt is often from childhood experiences involving the imaginative self, a very open and vulnerable place. it this has been ridiculed, unwitnessed, or feels rubbished, through a chance remark, a thoughtless comment - the effect goes deep, and can lead to a lifetime of avoiding creative expression. The creative ‘Golden Child’, source of our human spontaneity and flexibility, gets shut down with guilt, hurt, and undeserved shame. We can have depleted spontaneity and flexibility in all aspects of life.
So whenever we re-encounter a 'creative' situation, we re-experience the shame, unexpressed outrage, and embarrassment and retreat again into a kind of numb shell. It often takes quite a lot of encouragement to get the Golden Child to peek out of that shell. And the most persuasive way is to offer the opportunity of play again, in a safe, unchallenging and completely non-judgemental way.
The feeling in the room when this return to play takes place is often highly charged and full of real fear and often anger. It is a powerful barrier to cross. The trepidation of many adults when actually faced with 'making something' is very real indeed and often surprises them by its fierce power. In effect, part of their trapped or lost creative energy returns. So when we finally reconnect with our creative, imaginative power and creative play is in full swing, the amount of energy and joy released is truly magical. Golden!
This source of our vitality, our imaginative response to situations in the everyday, is our ‘fire’ of passion and purpose.
The Golden Child is distinct from the more recognised Inner (emotional) Child which may have been wounded its everyday history in the mundane, rather than the magical world. When the Inner Child becomes blocked the effect is a different kind of social hesitation, isolation and restriction which needs to be addressed by revisiting personal histpry.
The Golden Child is the source of our vitality, our imaginative response
to situations in the
everyday, our ‘fire’ of
passion and purpose.
A DIFFERENT WAY OF BEING
So why has the hurt been taken so much to heart - or rather, to spirit? Often the damaging event/s whether criticism or rejection. happens when our awareness, perhaps in a act of creating something, is in the Golden Child place, where we are very open and vulnerable at an energetic level, where we reveal that tender, undefended moment of creating a picture and ‘bare our soul’.
The ‘judge’, or the person who has put us down, is usually operating in the everyday place of the here-and-now, in the physical and concrete aspect of reality. Thus there has been a traumatic mis-match of awareness, energy space and communication. And so the hurt can go deep, without either party realising, and is often in a fleeting moment. So to protect our vulnerable creative aspect from further trauma, we may label ourselves - or be labelled - ‘not creative’ or ‘lacking imagination' or be scolded for 'daydreaming'. This cuts us off still further as we take refuge in the label.
A kind of self-imposed blankness can result, and in extreme cases, literally a dis-spirited state, with much suppressed frustration in the form of fiery anger locked inside. We may even deny the existence of the urge to create - and this is a very powerful driving force to attempt to deny. Keeping it suppressed takes up a lot of energy.
The magical, imaginative space of creativity can be widely recognised by its quality of time. When totally absorbed in day-dreaming, meditation, or perhaps listening to music - times when we are operating in our non-physical aspect - we enter the non-physical ‘no-time' zone.
We look at the clock when we remember physical reality and are surprised at how much, or how little time has passed - we have lost our everyday time bearings. Or perhaps the phone rings to interrupt our reverie, making us jump back into our physical awareness like awaking from a dream suddenly, and we find it very hard to get it together and remember where the phone is!
This can be an uncomfortable or alarming experience, and we may remain out of phase for a while. This may even be accompanied with feelings of being spaced out, of nausea, dizziness, or even extreme fatigue. A form of energy shock or disorientation.
During creative activity, in this no-time zone, we may drop certain psychic guards. This is why artists working in various fields often find a ritual that separates and protects them from everyday intrusion while they work, like an energy doorway. It can be an action or deliberate small ritual which is enacted when beginning and finishing the activity. This may simply be using a lucky pencil, wearing a thinking cap or favourite slippers, listening to a certain piece of music, and so on. It is an intuitive boundary marker.
When i help creatives develop their working processes this boundary-marking is one of the primary aids to effective work practices. And it is also why many artists are very circumspect about their studio spaces; they need to know they will be safe and uninterrupted.
SELECTION AND LABELS
Imagination is soon socialised. The nursery child will be patiently told that pigs are pink and have four legs; we persuade them to paint out a few of the lines (which may or may not be legs, ignore the fact that pink is not necessarily pig skin colour, and that we rarely see all four legs of a quadruped at once).
We allow musical instruments to be used in certain ordered ways that have more to do with producing musicians than exploring sound. And so the main culture trundles on, harnessing imaginations into measurable performance and production criteria. Educationally we select out those who can produce certain goods accurately, who 'can draw' or 'can sing in tune'. This further challenges our creative confidence and dampens down that golden fire.
But we cannot shut down any aspect of our core self, especially our essential fire. We may learn to hide it, to create a false ‘normal’ persona under which the fire smoulders. All too often we may live trying to suppress and deny imaginative and visionary activities, afraid we are different, and will at some level be alienated from a very materialistic culture.
For some of those for whom the pull creativity is very strong, there may be a need to balance this through grounding in some way. The golden fire can become overwhelming if it is not managed. This is not to deny it, but rather to give it a container so that it can be expressed effectively and not form a habit of 'blaze and burn-out', which is quite common. In any case, after any creative time it is good to practise a little grounding, such as eating, walking outside, gardening, doing the housework etc. Anything, in fact, which involves the physical body and outer - rather than inner - perceptions.
RECLAIMING FIRE, RESTORING SPIRIT
And so it is very important to reclaim this fire and maintain it in a healthy way. Our initial impulse, as we move back into creative play, may be to rage or weep, or to freeze. At this point it helps to ask whether we really want to play this particular creative game but are afraid, or whether it is simply a form of play that does not appeal to our Golden Child. Courageous curiosity is a good way to proceed!
Obviously, if there is a lot of emotion present, we probably have some healing work to do, re-writing our stories of the past in the light of adult experience, letting go of the cycles of blame and shame. This is best done with someone of experience and understanding to guide, and where one can gently challenge the old patterns. Humour is an essential ingredient in this process, as in any creative activity. Our Golden Child is a creature of anything-is-possible visions and dreams. And when the painter steps back out of the creative zone and realises his work falls far short of the vision, or the dancer imagines the pirouette but finds herself in a heap on the floor, the 'come-down' needs a healthy dose of laughter, realism and the acknoweldgement that we live in human bodies, and every day is a school day, however radiant the visions...
As a visual artist, journaling has helped me a lot over the last few years. Playing with marks and random doodles as I daydream, envision, recording thoughts with stick figures, symbols, patterns, colouring, collage – re-opening the creative muse channel in whatever way appeals at the time. No performance, no pressure. Just relishing the fun of being all by myself in the no-time zone
In my book ‘Gardens of the Soul’ I go into all this in much more depth and offer ‘suggestion boxes’ for exploring and re-discovering this golden space.
[See details for 'Gardens of the Soul' on the 'Books and Media' menu link]