A revolutionary creative process.
Imagine my delight when I opened the latest issue of The New Yorker to discover a full-length feature article devoted to my muse, Saint Hildegard von Bingen.
Alex Ross wrote a comprehensive piece, and it was wonderful to witness the legacy of the great creatrix seen through the eyes of an observant and erudite Thinker About Music.
He talks especially to the strands of Hildegard’s influence that reach into our current musical culture and taken up by various women creators, woven into historical performance and contemporary genres alike.
In every article, book, and blog post on Hildegard that I come across, there is a singular aspect of Hildegard’s legacy that, to me, is one of the most pronounced, amidst the almost outlandish wingspan of her oeuvre: innovation.
But not in the way we conceive of innovation as the byproduct of a thought leader, inventor, or CEO. The great paradox of Hildegard’s life is that she did not, in any way, shape, or form, declare herself an “innovator.” Quite the opposite. She was simply responding to the sacred flow that moved through her.
Indeed, Hildegard’s brand of innovation is reflected in the shining garments of her own muse, the Queen of the Virtues (as identified in her Ordo virtutum), the ultimate archetypal aspect of the Feminine: Humilitas.
Humilitas is the embodiment of humility, but not in the way that our modern, acculturated minds may conjure, as in the word “humble,” connoted with some source of shame, scarcity, or lowliness. Not in the least.
Rather, the essence of humility is that which is, in the mystical sense, completely surrendered to Love. And that this quality reigns supreme, as it were, over all other aspects of our being.
So how is creative innovation borne from Humilitas? How does the creative process have anything to do with surrender? And why does that seem so terribly awful to the rest of us non-saints?
I would argue that humility has everything to do with creativity. That is, in order to allow the flow of creative energy to move through us, we must make ourselves utterly available to its current.
Hildegard had quite the insider’s perspective on this point. Some even consider her the Patron Saint of Creativity! She was so overcome with Divine flow that it affected her physical being. And if she resisted, she suffered great pains.
The creative impulse was simply unavoidable. She could not hide, run away, or delay. At least, not without some kind of cost. She was a chosen vessel for a veritable tsunami of Love, and resistance is, well, futile.
So why is surrendering to the Flow, and following the natural currents of the creative process, so difficult sometimes?
I believe it’s because we crave control. Because not knowing the outcome is an unthinkable experience. Because we perceive any inner submission to a higher Source as some life-threatening, Borg-style invasion of our personal authority.
If only we realized that surrender is not a weakness. That Flow from Source is not a threat. That creating something new does not mean standing at the edge of an abyss.
If only we could awaken to the understanding that the Flow of sacred creativity is more like a gentle current, enlivening our senses as it laps against our ankles. It’s actually, in my limited experience of surrender, the most wonderful thing in the world.
The process of Humilitas, or surrender to the Divine, granted Hildegard the capacity to receive her gift of visio, and to share the fruits of her vision with those that needed to receive it.
Hildegard understood the nature of the Flow, that universal force described by many ancient cultures as the power of the Creator. She called it Divine Love, yet its invigorating emanation is viriditas: greenness. I call it “sacred aliveness,” but what it really describes is the process of creative consciousness.
It is the power of Divine creation that permeates all. That was bottled up and released in the Big Bang, that powered the quantum leap of every evolution and invention, that dwells in all living things, and that is presently flowing through every sacred breath we take (whether we are aware of it or not).
It is that force hovering patiently above our heads as we fret at our desks or in rehearsal, but which flows easy-peasy when we walk through the woods.
When we are surrendered (Humilitas), we make ourselves wildly available to the flow of creative consciousness (Viriditas), which chooses and uses us as the vehicle of creation.
But only when we have the courage to say, yes, ok, I surrender. I will.
This is the nature of Hildegard’s genius. She offered herself, and allowed the Flow to brim over, shared with the world in her astonishing and inimitable way, at a time when such things should have been, quite frankly, impossible.
So what keeps our creative genius at bay?
It is, in my opinion, the suppression of the Feminine in our culture.
We have, quite simply, been conditioned to ignore the voice of our heart in favor of the mind in the practice of everyday life.
We are now in a collective process of re-learning how to integrate the splintered pieces of our human soul. Because we must learn how to sustain ourselves, rather than struggle against–and thus destroy–ourselves.
And rather than continue to mindlessly build onto the crumbling structures of the toxic masculine, we are learning how to rebuild our dream of life upon the foundation of the Sacred Feminine.
This is a radical kind of sustainability. This means we change the way we create, the way we innovate, and the way we do business as usual in our very own lives.
We are learning how to allow the mind to respond to the heart, rather than the other way around.
Humilitas is the Way-Shower of harnessing the creative power of viriditas. We learn how to surrender to Love in order to allow the greatest creativity to become unleashed from our hearts, and then channeled through our minds.
This is the creative process that will change the way we do business as usual.
It’s quite natural when you think about it. But it’s quite another thing to allow this new authority to take hold. I believe that is the real work.
How can we allow ourselves to become vessels of creative consciousness? What is the nature of your creative genius when Love is in control? Are you willing to surrender to something larger than your own fear in order to realize your own dream of life?
The way to move into the Flow of Divine Love could not be simpler.
It is simply a recurring choice, over and over again, to return to Love taking the creative lead. It’s a surrender practice to meet your most wise and miraculous creative ally: your very own heart.