Creativity and the Underworld

“The Mother has but one law: ‘Create; make as I do… transform one substance into another… transmute blood into milk, clay into vessel, feeling into movement, wind into song, egg into child, fiber into cloth, stone into crystal, memory into image, body into worship.’”
                  Meinrad Craighead

For me it has always been creativity that has drawn me back from the precipice, back into life, in those moments when I have felt lost to myself. Whether it has been dance, song, painting, sculpting, it has always been the creative seed in my heart that has allowed the possibility to emerge of a new relationship to the sacred within myself, a deepening of my understanding of the world and my place within it. It is Creativity, as an act of love that re-immerses me in a meaningful dance with life.

It seems that often I have embarked upon journeys deep into the underworld of myself, prone to spells of relentless questioning as to the worth, purpose and meaning of my life. I have hoped for a revelation that might illuminate a clear, bold and courageous life path, one more socially sanctioned than this feminine, fluid, swimming in the within. Instead I often find the need to move through subterraneous layers of shame and rage and self-loathing. From within these spaces there often lies a deep and painful procrastination around my creativity, a veiling over but also a seeding of this devotional practice, sourced in the deep inbreath of the self,  an expression of my love, with which I create new possibilities for enriching my relationship with the sacred.

My impulse to create has always been a crucial part of my own salvation, as a sensitive one prone to these spells in the darkness it has been my hearts deepest longing to express what it is that I find there, that brings me back from the underworld. Like the little girl leading the blind Minotaur, as though my words and image making were the translators of the ineffable, making decipherable to my bemused intellect the turbulent waters of my emotions, bridging the languages of my body and my mind, and giving a face to the divine, which my fumbling and finite self so longs to behold, so longs to be held by. The compulsion to bridge the dark and the light, leading me home to a place where I can stand with a foot in both worlds.
                                          Blind minotaur led by a little girl at night                              Pablo Picasso   1934

When I create something it is like springtime after the long winter, this creative force within is my love for self and for life, flowing and furling itself outwards like a sprouting shoot. I fall in love with myself again, rejoicing in the way that falling in love has of dissolving your boundaries and brightening the eyes with which you see the world. It is a quickening and an entreaty to beauty and integration, to make bearable the times when I am lost and alone and at sea.

In “Women Who Run With The Wolves” Clarrissa Pinkola Estes writes, “The creative force flows over the terrain of the psyche looking for the natural hollows, the arroyos, the channels, that exist in us. We become its tributaries, its basins; we are its pools, ponds, streams and sanctuaries. The wild creative force flows into whatever beds we have, those we are born with as well as those we dig with our own hands. We don’t have to fill them, we only have to build them.” Through our creations we make sacred our story, we instill meaning and bare witness, honouring that which is unknown within. There are objects of my own making that I interact with on a daily basis, that remind me that within is an animals den of introspection and healing and that to enter that silence is as simple as sitting for a moment wrapped in that rich symbolic stillness of the body.

For me the question has become how much more of my life can be valued and integrated as an expression of wholeness and healing, through this conscious, embodied reclamation of myself as co-creator. What is it in our life that is asking to be lived more fully? What is it that we are afraid of giving voice to in our own natures? Are we in touch with our Wild One, our Dreamer, our Healer, our Truth Speaker, our Love Warrior, our Creatrix, our Magic Maker? Do we allow ourselves to deeply feel our own joy, desire, grief, sorrow, rage, passion, gentleness, stillness? When we become very still inside ourselves, who is asking to be given voice, movement, form? Central to all these questions is our capacity to be with the not knowing of our existence. Do we have the courage to surrender the expert within?

There are so many paths to soulful encounter, especially when we can disregard the modern paradigm of specialization and acknowledge that we are all artists, musicians, dancers, magicians and that there are no mistakes. What if our creative expression of our experience where as pertinent an aspect of our existence as the acts of nurture and survival that orbit our daily activity? For the truth is that these things need not be seen as separate. They are in fact mutually reciprocal in the act of imbuing the ordinary with the sacred, and embodying the sacred through the mundane, in such a way that we weave ourselves into the web of the universe, dissolving rigid boundaries of self and other, inner and outer, nature and culture.

One of the beauties of soulful expression, be it art, craft, dance, movement, storytelling, music making, song, is that it births a physicality into our transient and elusive thoughts and emotions. It gives us something tangible to gaze at, move around, encounter with our senses and our bodies in a way that speech and thought disallow. In this way we are invited to more deeply grasp our relationality to what it is that we think and feel. When I take a lump of clay and mold it into the expression of an emotion, I am inviting a deeper awareness of what that emotion looks like, where it dwells or is felt in the body, whether my relationship with this emotion is one of reverence or revulsion, attraction or aversion.

The deeply courageous act of appointing a face to a nameless emotion allows us to more deeply reflect upon its nature. This act need not define that emotion, it merely expresses a temporary relationship to it, another facet through which to enrich our understanding of that which is essentially unknowable within ourselves. The more we express and create from what is not known within us, the more rich and complex our sense of its dance within us. Because don’t we want life to move us beyond what is within our control, don’t we want to become more than who we think we really are, don’t we want to grow into aspects of ourselves that are beyond what we currently know, individually and collectively? Giving voice, movement, form to the unknown, faceless qualities within, gives us a language with which to navigate our way into as yet uncharted seas within ourselves. It creates a dialogue with the God within which is priceless and definitely risking our certain knowing for.

I have long been fascinated by the clay Goddesses dug up from the earth from ancient times throughout the world. I love to think of those women, real women, molding the clay of those sacred Terraphim, making sacred art in their own image. Imbuing the folds and curves of the fleshy forms with the hunger to know more deeply who they were and how they belonged to the earth upon which they where born, upon which they bleed and birthed and loved and worked and died. These clay figures seem to me to hold a deep sense of reverence and embodied divinity. Do we worship our own bodies with this same reverence? What would life feel like if we did? What if I saw the image of God to be the image of the life moving through this very same body from which I create? How much more conscious would my actions become, how much more reverent my footprints?

What does your reverence look like? What is the shape your body asks to make in its articulation of surrender, or confusion, or honesty? What is the song of your sorrow, the color of your joy? How does your love resonate in the silence and your wildness weave its web? How does your dream change when you give it a body of clay? How is your heart when you tell its tale to the darkness? Is your anger still there on the other side of its dancing? Has it become something else? How might life be different if we gave more space to our creativity, allowing and nurturing its expression, expanding our language and stronghold of images and symbols, deepening the riverbeds of our interior landscapes to allow for a fuller flow of creative energy?

Lucy Pierce © 2013


  1. we were discussing this yesterday in Creative Circle class, right after a writing exercise about facing the dark, saying the unsayable, speaking about the taboos. It was a difficult assignment, but I assured the women in my class that writing these dark spaces brings light and healing, and that all the expressive and creative arts bring that healing to their creators and to the world. Thank you for articulating this so well in your blog, I would love to link to it in my Musemother blog at

    1. Link away! Deepest gratitude for your support. What rich and juicy work you are doing. It feels like such a perpetual lesson for me to return to the body and listen into the darkness opening ever deeper into the edges of my own becoming. All the ways in which we hold our true being away even from ourselves. I feel like I am still learning to give full permission to trust what it is that lies within. As though my body has it's own time and way of opening and revealing and saying yes to being more of who I am. Such a joy to journey that creative riverbed to a deeper self knowing! Many blessings for your work of opening that space for other women.