A Direct Line to the Gods: Inspiration in Artists
To the ancients, there was nothing that was more sacred to the people than artists. They were believed to be divinely inspired by the gods. Artists and poets were tolerated to be a bit unusual and the reason for this was that they were divinely inspired. It was thought that they spoke with the Gods on a regular basis in order to be endowed with the gifts that they possessed.
When a poet would begin to write a new manuscript or a new verse, his first thing would be to reach out to the goddess and ask for inspiration and summon the muse that he wanted to reach. What that meant was that the first 20 to 30 lines when you look at the ancient texts always represent that invocation as a way to call upon the divine.
Now we see witches and warlocks and priests and priestesses of the old faiths who call upon the gods to be present and spirits to speak to them. There are New Age gurus who tell us that the line to creativity and inspiration is the hotline to the collective unconscious.
It seems there is this nebulous void that lives somewhere in the mind that we are all trying to tap into, some sort of location we as writers, creators, or mystics of any kind are trying to tap into. The idea that the universe is a continuous motion and that it was set in motion by the push of one force that is greater than all of us and that the force was so great is not one that is new. These are not the ramblings of modern scientists, but the thoughts and the treatises crafted by Aristotle 500 years before the birth of Christ and the beginning of the Common Era.
What is this thing that we call inspiration?
What is it exactly that the artist is trying to reach when inspiration and the creative process happens?
When it does hit us, how do we know where it is coming from, and how do we duplicate it?
Many of the ancients were known to use opium to obtain levels of inspiration. We hear from Socrates as well as Plato about the right amount of water and wine to blend for the optimum level of creativity when entertaining dinner guests and debating philosophy. The key was to be completely in touch with your reason and yet be uninhibited enough to know that you were in touch with the right level of the mind and spirit connection.
The Greeks and the Romans were both very religious as well as spiritual people. They believed that everything had to be done at the right time and in the right way in order to appease the gods that were constantly in a state of seeking to trouble mankind. To the ancient Greek, human existence was a struggle and a pain and the best reward was sought in the underworld where Elysium or the fields of the Blessed were waiting. It was not impossible to speak to a loved one from the other side or to summon them to speak to you through scrying or many other methods.
The poet, or the musician, however, was the highest regarded member of society, they were believed like a priest or priestess to be able to summon the inspiration and the words from the other side. Those words could come from Apollo or Daphne, or they could come from a tortured shade who had passed into the next world who wanted their story to be told. Whatever the case might be, much like Chyron, the poets and artists operated with one foot in the next realm and one in this realm.
The Experiments of Victorian Authors
After the fall of the Classical Empires and the many ages that proceeded afterwards, many of the societies that looked back on the writings of the Greeks thought them to be barbaric, ridiculous, and outlandish. When there were new scientific advances, and when Romanticism brought about the awakening of the sexual as well as a new interest in the classics aside from Stoicism, there was a renewed interest in the interest of inspiration and where it came from. Many authors such as Shelley, and Byron began to experience with Opium to see if they were in fact,able to take themselves into the levels of divine inspiration that had been seen by the Greeks. One thing that the Classical poets believed emphatically was that the works that they took down were in fact not of their construct. The works belonged to the ages and they were merely the mouthpiece of the work who put pen to paper and made it come about.
The Modern Obsession With Art and Rock Stars
When we look at our authors, poets, painters, and rock stars today, it is very clear that they hold a different place from most other people in the general sphere. Most are a little quirky, a little strange, and border on extreme eccentricity. However, are we still looking at them in the way that the Greeks and the Romans were? Do we think that they are the mouthpieces of inspiration that is coming to us from the other realm? Or do we think that they are creating these works on their own and sharing them? Whatever we may think, inspiration remains a hard thing to find and a difficult process to nail down for all who are working to try and