Artwork by Timur Akhriev

So much of the creative process is about uncertainty. Like a fog we must pass through, there’s a length of confusion that precedes originality. I think of this fog as initiatory in nature, turning back those who can’t withstand the uneasiness of not being able to see the horizon. But anyone who has passed through bewilderment enough times knows that the fog is really a sacred shroud, giving us refuge from the outside world so we can finally turn towards ourselves.

Shifting our allegiances from the outer to the inner life begins with a kind of clearing work. In order to discern our own voice from the collective (or what I like to call Other People’s Information), we need to have a clear container. Like draining a pool and discovering sediment and debris, our psyches can get cluttered with outer influences, and it takes patience and dedication to render it ready for new ideas. So much of the creative process is clearing this pool so we can discern what values, ideas, and instincts are native to our own experience.

We are so used to swimming in the collective pool of groupthink that we don’t even realise how much of the psychic debris we are labouring with belongs to others. It can simply present as brain fog, fatigue, apathy, or numbness. But rather than waiting for clarity to magically appear, we can rehabilitate the psyche just as we would an atrophied muscle, by practicing “active receptivity.”

This is the true meaning of prayer. To clear an emptiness in our lives where the holy can enter. To prepare a place in our home, in our lives, in our hearts, where magic can feel welcome. And while nothing happens for an uncomfortable amount of time, we can adorn that emptiness with the humble images of our own longing. The carving of a wild wolf that ate from my hand in a dream; the painted stone that houses an elder’s prayer for my well-being; the snakeskin shed at a time of essential loss. These few sacred items ring like a bell from a timeless place where spirit showed itself to you, and act as a summoning that it may do so again. And day by day, hour by hour, the debris of outer influences evaporate like a fog from your bright, new horizon.