Friday, September 19, 2014

Divinity, Creativity and Me by Ruth Calder Murphy

"Aria - Song of Everything" by Ruth Calder Murphy

I’m an artist, writer and musician. A questioner - an explorer. 

Over the years, I’ve allowed myself to open up and live this innate curiosity. I’ve begun to allow the questions to flow, even when they lead me into difficult places. Places where Divinity is more than I ever imagined and sometimes, even looks a little bit like me.

For a very long time, having been brought up as a Christian, I found it difficult to think in terms of the Divine Feminine. 

I didn’t - and don’t - have a problem with the Divine Father. I adore my own father and have been blessed with many positive examples of male-ness. This makes it relatively easy for me to relate to God as “Father”, I think.

It was only as an adult - in fact, as a wife and mother - that I began to realise that my view of God as male and only male was damaging my perception of my own role in the scheme of things, and my relationship with the Divine.

I began to wonder whether it was more spiritually and emotionally healthy, and also, even, more theologically intelligent - even from within the religious tradition in which I’d grown up and to which I still feel an affinity - to think of the Divine as, equally, neither male nor female, and, at the same time, both male and female. (I’d already become more open to other philosophies and traditions, over the years, and had felt a particular kinship with Celtic Paganism, where the Divine Feminine is very much recognised and celebrated.)

I began to look for examples of the Divine Feminine in Judeo-Christian Scriptures and traditions.

I came to realise that a lot of my preconceptions are the result of living in a patriarchal culture, and the consequence of being immersed in Scriptures and religious traditions that were born of a patriarchal culture. (Even though, ostensibly, the Jewish culture is matriarchal in terms of heredity, the dominant interpretations of what I was taught to call the Old Testament is very heavily patriarchal.) Once I acknowledged this, and allowed space for cultural bias in the writings and hermeneutics of the traditions, it became increasingly easy to see how Divinity not only could be both male and female - and also neither - but by definition, has to be.

This is an ongoing discovery for me. I see the Divine Feminine most strongly as she is made manifest in the Natural world, and through female, or feminine people (whether their bodies are woman-shaped or man-shaped) and deep within my own soul.

Practically, personally, as a feminist in a patriarchal tradition - and as a mother of children growing up in a male-dominated world - it’s important for me to own my ideas and perspectives - to respect my interpretations of things and not always look for validation in the approval of other people; specifically women or men who maintain (even in their unconscious actions) that the ultimate authority is male. This is an ongoing effort. I often pull myself up short, realising that I’m not giving my own hermeneutic, experience, intellect, ideas and expression the same respect as I give those of the patriarchal persuasion.

There’s a certain sort of person - and, as I said to begin with, I am one - who is, at core, an explorer, a questioner: A “Creative Sort”. This isn’t defined by whether someone is mathematically minded, or a scientist, or an artist, writer or musician. It’s something even more fundamental than that. It’s about not being satisfied with having one’s questions answered and then enjoying the comfort of those answers. It’s about allowing more questions, always, to grow - and to run with them and see where they lead. Creativity, is, I think, in its essence, this innate and persistent childlikeness - this curiosity, and the manifestation or expression of it in art, music, writing, scientific experimentation and so on.

It’s in creativity that I find the sweetest release and the most meaningful connections. As an artist, writer, musician and mother, the drive to create and be creative is like air, water and sunlight to me.

It’s here, in the creative flow, that I come closest to my own essence - and closest to Divinity as mother, sister and friend.

Discovering Divinity
You’re moon beams and meadows,
the grass beneath my feet.
you’re the whisper of the breeze
and profoundest oceans’ deep.
You’re the turning of the seasons,
the glow of Autumn leaves.
You’re the song of the stars,
the embrace of sleep -  
singing lullabies under ancient skies
as my spirit soars
and my body lies wrapped
in your lap…
You’re spirals and circles,
you’re lightning strikes and thunderclaps,
sparking brilliance to mainline my brain.
You’re music and laughter and
dancing in the rain.
You flow, in my tears
and breathe, in my sighs -
holding my hopes and fears,
releasing me to rise
to impossible heights on liberated wings,
where the air is thin and sky spins into space
- to find my voice, at last, and sing -
and know for sure,
- secure -
my place
in Everything.

By Ruth Calder Murphy - a selection from the upcoming Girl God Anthology, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak.

Celeste Gurevich, Whatever Works Contributor

Whatever Works is a unique collection of writing by feminists of diverse faiths from around the world. This anthology combines personal essays, poems and academic musings with the goal of sparking conversations among women of all faith backgrounds. Religion plays a key role in defining and maintaining value systems, and yet it is often disregarded within feminism itself. This book shares the stories of highly diverse women with the hope that we can find collective solutions to the global problems that plague women and girls living under patriarchy.
Available late March - pre-order here.

Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme) is a writer, artist, music teacher, wife and mother living in London, UK. Her life is wonderfully full of creativity and low-level chaos. She is the author of two published novels, “The Scream" and "The Everlasting Monday", several books of poetry and one or two as-yet unpublished novels. She is passionate about celebrating the uniqueness of people, questioning the unquestionable and discovering new perspectives on old wonders. She is learning to ride the waves that come along—peaks and troughs—and is waking up to just how wonderful life really is. You can visit Ruth and view more of her art on her website, or on her writer's page on Facebook. Her books are available on Amazon, here.

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