What Is A Spiritual Creative?

Most of us who are in the arts define ourselves as creative.  Many of us who also are committed to a spiritual life may have heard this term “a Spiritual Creative” and used it to identify ourselves. What does it mean? Why is it an important term as a motivator for our creative lives?

A Spiritual Creative is someone who feels called, or led, or guided to do their artistic work by a Higher Power. They serve this Higher Power by trying to get out of their own way.  This interference is often referred to as ego. Many Spiritual Creatives feel that ego can muffle the Voice of the Spirit.

Personal gain or passion is not the key motivating force. It isn’t just a matter of enjoying the creative work, or finding that their work is the best way to get affirmed by others, or finding that they can make money doing something that is fun and enjoyable. Spiritual Creatives feel their work is important in more than just political, or social, or individual ways. They may phrase this in a number of ways. Some say that they add Meaning and Value to life through their artistic expression. Some say they work to “build up the Kingdom of God.” They see themselves as Givers, here to make the earth a better place to live for others.

A Spiritual Creative usually feels that they are led and nurtured in their creative life by The Spirit, which can be defined in a number of ways. Some say the Holy Spirit works through them. Others say that they feel moved and guided by The Creator. The Source. The Divine. Or that they’re in touch with The Sacred. This Spirit puts them in the flow. These Spiritual Creatives come from all walks of faith, even some who may be non-believers in a God, per se, but feel a positive connection with all humankind.

The goal of the Spiritual Creative usually falls within several different arenas. For many, there is a desire and a sense of responsibility to tell the truth through their art. The Truth tells us something about the human condition, about how things work, about what’s important in life. The ideas they express are not meant to be haphazard or arbitrary, and creativity is not meant to just be for fun, but the artist feels the work is sacred, perhaps even defined as a Sacred Trust. Finding the truth, exploring the truth, and finding a way to express the Truth becomes part of the work.  And if the truth is told, but not accepted, many Spiritual Creatives would still judge their work by whether they stayed true to what they perceive as their calling.

Often an artist is not recognized until after their death, because they truth they were expressing was too hard for society to embrace; but nonetheless, this contribution moves society in a new and better direction.

For some, the goal is also to create Joy. Not just to make things fun or to create work that makes others laugh and is entertaining, but to encourage the Spirit of Joy. Actress and Acting Teacher Nina Foch says it’s almost impossible to work creatively in a condition of discord. She says no matter the situation, even if it’s playing a dark scene or writing a dark story, the creator says “I’m going to create joy today.”  Spiritual Creatives share a deep sense of Joy that comes from illuminating life and feeling they’re fulfilling their mission.

For Spiritual Creatives, success is not defined by numbers – not by the amount of money made or the number of people who know their name.  Success is more apt to be defined by whether the artist did the work well, whether the artist told the truth, whether the work touched the audience or even changed and transformed the reader, viewer or audience.

For many, the work is about change and transformation toward becoming better, more fulfilled people and for the ways that art can do this. They aim to inspire, encourage, enlighten and uplift. For the writer and actor and dancer, transforming the character may lead to transformation within individual audience members.  For the painter or photographer, the work might change the attitude, or the ideas, or sometimes even the behavior of the viewer. In the process of exploring the subject matter, the artist might also be changed. For the Spiritual Creative, the goal is often to be open to their own changes, as well as to hope to change the others in some important way, whether large or small. The Creative knows that change is not always easy, but frames the work with a sense of destiny being guided by a divine hand working in their lives. The author and holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “What is to give light, must endure burning.” The Spiritual Creative is willing to go through the fire.

Screenwriter William Kelley who won an Academy Award for the film, Witness, says, “Writing is holy. We are keepers of the flame. We sit down at our dulcimer and try to steal a little fire from heaven. We are keepers of the word – we must know the word, the proper words. We must know what words mean, and we must know if there’s a better word. And we are keepers of the gate, we see darkness and we try to light a candle. We try to be proper citizens of what we occupy.”

Our work is a trust, a responsibility, a calling and a blessing. We know, deeply, how important the arts are, and we try to illuminate life, truth, and the human condition through what we do, and through that, add some bit of light to the world.

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Dr. Linda Seger has been exploring the integration of creativity and spirituality for over 30 years. She’s an international speaker, writing consultant, and the author of 12 books, including Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success: gaining the goal without losing your soul and Making a Good Writer Great.  She has M.A. degrees in drama and religion and the arts and a ThD in Drama and Theology. Her websites are www.lindaseger.com and www.spiritual-steps.com.

  • Beautiful. As an artist I am constantly working to befriend the ego/fears that would keep me ‘safe’ by not creating, and move past them to share my art/truth/beauty/joy with the world… What a crazy game!

  • Talia

    YES! I am a performing artist- this is EXACTLY how I feel! You described it perfectly! What a lovely affirmation! Thank you!

  • Linda this is a fantastic article. So may things resonate. Thank you for this.

  • Wendy

    Truly amazing, inspiring, and on-point. Encouraging and relatable words for those of us who consider ourselves to be spiritual creatives. Thank you.

  • I love this post because it describes exactly how I feel about my writing and my Yoga teaching practice. I feel that I am nothing but a messenger. I download what is to be told from the Divine and I tell it, even if I end up telling it to only one person. Thank you so much for this!

  • Hello, Linda – and thanks for this thoughtful post, suggested by a Facebook ‘friend.’

    “The creative process shrivels in the absence of continual dialogue with the soul. And creativity is what makes life worth living.” That is a quote by Jungian analyst and author Marion Woodman, on a topic also addressed by Julia Cameron in her classic book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. From my post Spirituality and Creative Expression
    http://vsb.li/S0zdG7

  • Shaun

    Beautiful article. Thank you for reaffirming our paths.

  • Thank you for this validation and inspiration!

    I get so deeply frustrated and believe that I’m not an artist because I struggle to find others to share my art with. I’m unable to make a modest living at it. And since I can’t make a living doing art, my day career steals art time and energy.
    All the above makes me doubt my talent!
    Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful letter to Artists that comforts me.
    https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_23041999_artists.html

    I am fascinated that artists can develop paradigms (prototypes, a model, pattern, and archetype) that can influence the future and I want to try…

    I’m just going to announce it. I’m seeking to be a Mystic!!! The closest I feel to Spirit is when I’m being creative.
    Thank goodness many mystics have left readings and
    art to learn from.

    The article is exquisitely summarized in the last paragrah:
    “Our work is a trust, a responsibility, a calling and a blessing. We know, deeply, how important the arts are and we try to illuminate Life, TRUTH and the human condition through what we do, and through that, add some bit of light to the world.”