In my last post about fan fiction I got to wondering about how great works of art can trigger our own process of inspiration. Any material that stirs something deep within us can catalyse our own creative juices in a manner that leads us to express our own creativity into the world of manifestation. The nature of what moves us can be as diverse as the new series of the X-files or the Tao Te Ching.
We also considered the way in which the Gnostics of the early church could be seen as generating their own fan fiction is response to the life of Jesus and his followers. In contrast to orthodox attempts to delineate “truth” within a recognised canon of scripture, the Gnostics often viewed the boundaries as far more permeable. If the incoming of gnosis was available to Jesus and his apostles why limit such inspiration? He keeps speaking to us and through producing new Gospels us as we encounter new challenges and evolve deepened understanding.
In this exercise I’d like you to consider an existing source of personal inspiration that can help you generate your own fan fictional gospel or “Good News”. For this fan fiction to be truly good news it must open up for you a greater possibility of freedom and liberation from something that you feel is limiting to you; in gnostic terms we might define these as being archonic. For our art to have gospel force, it must offer us a potential key to a greater sense of “peace, freedom and happiness” (as we say in the Nath tradition).
In my view the best fan fiction tends to be generated by those who are deeply moved by the original source material and have spent time soaking in the canon of that work. From an overtly spiritual perspective, the practice of Lectio Divina (divine reading) offers a number of interesting methods for deepening our engagement with material that we experience as being sacred. Lectio Divina identifies a number of stages that the aspirant or fan might go through in order to further internalise something so as to transform themselves.
In this exercise I’m proposing that we utilise each of these steps in engaging with material of your choice e.g. Principia Discordia, Bhagavad Gita, the script from True Detective (series one!) and then to take this one step further so as to create your own liberating art work.
Stage 1: Lectio (Reading): Here we read or engage with our primary material in a deliberate, conscious manner. You may want to break it down into small chunks like a couple of verses or a specific scene within a film. I often find reading a text aloud can give it a different voice and provide new insight. If nothing else the reading of something aloud vibrates it through our bodies.
Stage2: Meditatio (Meditation): During this stage we are reflecting upon or pondering what we have engaged with. In some senses we are seeking a Zen-like “beginner’s mind” where we try to let go of our assumptions and perhaps the previous meanings we have attached to it. There is perhaps also a sense of slow simmering or percolation as we let the text speak to the varying aspects of our being.
Stage 3: Oratio (Prayer): This might be a spontaneous prayer response directed towards a deity or we might view it as the bubbling up of our inspired response to our meditations. As we simmer in contemplation so the deeper aspects of ourselves vibrate in response. Such responses should be neither censored nor scripted; rather they reveal something real and unguarded about how something impacts upon us.
Stage 4: Contemplatio (Contemplation): Here we rest and reflect on the impact of our inspired response. Rather than a fevered response at the height of ecstasy, now we sit with our own process of transformation so as to allow a further maturation of any gnosis gained.
Okay, so far so good! Hopefully you can appreciate how this approach might profoundly enrich and personalise your experience of your chosen form of inspiration. What I’d like to propose for the purposes of this exercise is that we move this method on one stage further in engaging in a further act of creation…
Stage 5: Creatio (Creation): Having read, meditated and been inspired we are now able to channel this response into our own creative activity. In seeking to work with those archonic forces within our lives we can allow our triggered inspiration to explore those potential routes to greater freedom. For some people this may inspire a freedom-text in the style of the original, but we shouldn’t be too tied to producing a replica:
“And lo, on the third day Steve decided that he must flee his pressured job and head to the beach more…”
When inspiration takes hold it may be that your approach will be less linear! Your acts of creation may be in making collage, cooking a great meal for friends or having a proper dance around your kitchen. So much of the stuckness that we experience comes from our need to get it right, but like many things in life most of us do better when we are allowed to relax a bit, to be curious and the explore things playfully.
I hope you have fun playing with this approach and allow yourself the space to explore how the things you love can inspire the creation of your own art. Peace, love and freedom to those willing to respond to their inner Muse!