Fellow Moon Books author Imelda Almqvist has suggested using #SacredArt over on Twitter to talk about just that thing. So, what makes art sacred? In the bard tradition, it’s not just visual art that has spiritual significance. For bards the word, spoken or sung is primarily where its at. Modern bards tend to embrace all forms of creativity as potential bardic expressions, but that doesn’t mean all creativity is necessarily bardic.
Here are some thoughts about what separates sacred bardic creativity from regular creativity.
- Where you get your inspiration from. If the work is inspired by spiritual experience then it’s fair to think of it as a spiritual activity.
- If you are doing the work as an invitation for something to work through you, to receive messages and insights or otherwise open yourself to magic and inspiration, then there is a sacredness to it.
- Who you create for – now, there may have to be a commercial aspect to this because everyone has to eat, but if your primary concern is with offering your creativity back to whatever you hold sacred, then there’s clearly a sacred art aspect to your work too. On the bard path, we also identify a spiritual aspect in using your creativity for the good of your land and tribe, so art for activism, inclusion and culture shift can also be seen as having a spiritual dimension.
- If you create to bring spiritual ideas and feelings to people regardless of how spiritually inclined they are – there’s a sacred art aspect to your work.
Any piece of work could be driven by one of these factors, or combinations of factors. It may be the essence of the whole piece or project, or just a part of it.
In terms of that fourth point, it’s often work that isn’t overtly spiritual that has the most chance of connecting with people who are not currently feeling inspired or magical. Work that gets in under the radar can have powerful, transformative effects. It can impact on people who would actively turn away if they thought you were going to offer them something with a religious aspect. Sometimes, it’s by having that sacred aspect be one thread amongst many that you have the best chance of engaging people whose hearts might otherwise be closed to you.
To be recognised as a bard means persuading other humans that what you do is bardic. However, when it comes to the question of whether your art is sacred or not, no one else has any right to try and define that for you. If it feels sacred to you, then it is sacred.