Do you view writing as a spiritual practice?

Carl Jung’s art, in The Red Book

In part, I do. Jung called depth psychology “psycho-spiritual” because he took into consideration the soul and spirit as involved with the psyche. When I was working on a Ph.D., I started doing free writes to limber up for dissertation writing, which I found daunting. This led to a daily journaling practice that I’ve never stopped. I also read a lot about what might block one from writing at one’s finest level (in this case, writing up research findings). I realized there’s a tremendous amount written about writing and psychology, including titles like Opening Up. Jung wrote that no matter what we write, some of our deep self is coming up through it from the unconscious.

So there’s that. There’s also the topic I wrote about in my most recent post, about writing oneself or people one knows into our characters. Particularly in writing fantasy and sci fi, I believe there’s a lot of opportunity for the avatar effect: projecting oneself onto a character in order to live that possibility. I write a lot about mind powers. Some of my earliest “spiritual” values emerged with Tolkien’s Elves. You’d need to read Lord of the Rings, not just watch the films, to take that in fully, and I honestly think it’s harder to get the sense of the Elven realms and philosophies if you’ve seen Peter Jackson’s creations before reading. I almost lost my sense of Aragorn and the Tuatha de Danaan or Bright ones after seeing the films.

Later sci fi such as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series, and Jo Clayton’s Diadem series ignited further imaginings for me about mind powers, especially for healing. I’ve embellished those ideas with further spirit travel and mind-speak in all my novels.

To tell the truth, my favorite aspect of vampire stories, such as those by Anne Rice, is telepathy. This is such an important part of my love of fantasy and sci fi that I started a yahoo group, in the early 2000s called FantasySciFiMindSpirit.

You might find it funny that I connect a profound part of my spiritual life to Elves but in fact, in Northern Mysteries, the Dutch author maps the Nordic nine worlds—including Lightalfheim, where the elves dwelt also the natural world of plants and animals—onto depth psychology. (Being psycho-spiritual, the ontology is that the deep self is the godself and seeks wholeness throughout one’s life, through inner growth, dreams, etc…)

I’m always seeking the fun in these ideas—noticing synchronicities and so on. The sacred crosses over with the magical, the mystical, the beautiful. So my writing does, even in its very playful aspects, touch on spirituality.

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