We had hit That Moment. You know the place...it’s when you wonder why you are doing what you are doing, the moment when you think it’s all s**t, or you’re just punch drunk with exhaustion and never want to see your creative project again. All the shine has gone from the initial great vision you had. Or maybe it’s ‘what vision?’. You have forgotten what it was that made you want to do this thing, and now you’re over it and could easily walk off into the sunset never to return.
All creative projects inevitably have to travel through this dangerous phase if they are to become anything of substance. It’s the great initiatory moment of ourselves and our work. It’s as though Creativity is testing you to see if you are up for it. It’s all very well having a great vision but do you have the muscle, the metal for what it means to manifest and steer that vision? Sjanie and I were indeed being tested. It was touch and go.
In the creative map there are four distinct territories that we must travel through to bring an idea to fulfillment - initiate, manifest, discern, potentise. Within each phase there are powers and pitfalls, and some key tasks or activities one must do that allow you to move into the next phase (and avoid those pitfalls). This map is literally built into our bodies - each ‘season’ of the menstrual cycle an embodiment of a particular creative phase:
Initiate - preovulation
Manifest - ovulation
Discern - premenstruum
Potentise - menstruation
And our relationship with each of our menstrual phases can both reveal our strengths and vulnerabilities within the whole creative process and support us in the actual fulfillment of our vision.
Sjanie and I had moved from that glorious first phase of innocence that is the initiate stage. Full of excitement and bravado (oh, the innocence of the Fool that has one saying ‘yes’ to wild impossible ideas) we had set off, manifested much through hard work researching, designing the actual website as well as writing a new course, and finding ourselves a wonderful tech company within our budget to make it a reality. And now we had landed in the discerning phase. Yes, we had achieved much but did it work? Now we were finding what wasn’t working, that there was also much more work than we had first imagined (that’s a given with any creative endeavour, I don’t know how we had forgotten it), and more money we had to spend. And on top of that we were physically and emotionally exhausted. We had landed on the great reality check spot of the creative cycle and it wasn’t looking pretty.
Fortunately Sjanie and I had already gone a few rounds with the creative process before in our lives - both of us have created websites and written books including Wild Power, and come out smiling. Not only that we had been well tutored by the menstrual cycle herself, and so we knew about that reality check time and more importantly that feeling of wanting to abandon ones ‘baby’. This is the time of darkness when the way has been lost and all looks lost. Like the Void in the menstrual cycle process - that day or two just before bleeding - it is Death, the great surrender moment, and in the creative round one does simply need to give up and walk away...temporarily. But here’s the catch. The risk is you might not come back, abandoning your project forever. In the Void (in both the creative and menstrual cycle) death always feels like death, not ‘oh this is death which means rebirth is just around the corner, how exciting I shall be reinvigorated with fresh ideas and energy’. No such luck, initially you have to tough it out not knowing if new life will return. There is no guarantee.
Sjanie and I had no juice left, and walking away was looking very attractive. It was bleak. Fortunately, we had planned to meet up for a week which we did. Because we understood the inevitability of this stage (although you always hope you might be clever enough to outwit it), we were able to observe and name what was happening. The inspiration still hadn’t returned but in the act of getting together, talking and riffing on our favourite subject, menstruality, something started to happen. Sjanie walked into the kitchen on the second morning charged with a new energy “it’s all about initiation she said, we are being initiated”. And somehow in that speaking something woke up. The previous day it had felt like we were ploughing through deep mud, but somehow we kept faith with the tedious miniscule steps we were taking. I was fervently praying the fairies would turn up in the middle of the night, wave their magic wands and all would be well again. But they didn’t. Well, not in quite the way I had imagined. But I think they ‘spoke’ to Sjanie.
There is a kind of magic if you can ‘walk away’ for a little while, let you and the project ‘sleep’ but not abandon or destroy it (and this can literally happen). We were able to get back in the saddle and have been powering away since with fresh passion and insight, all garnered from having looked Death in the face, held our nerve and held the tension until the Work spoke to us again. We still have a lot to do and it doesn’t help that we come up with new ideas that we want to add.
We are both intensely grateful for the magic of the creative process, that is holding us. We have learnt that that void moment is the great test to see if we are really up for what it takes to create something meaningful and worthwhile. Are we willing to be broken open, to hang out in the unknown waiting for something bigger than us to speak? Are we ready for the responsibility of what we want to put out there. The creative process is initiatory, it is growing us even as we are developing the project. We are chastened and wiser, and re-invigorated to go back out there again.
As I was writing this I got an email from one of the Red School Apprentices who is involved in the big creative endeavour of writing a book. “Hurrah,” she said, “clarity has returned and while it feels like I am practically re-writing the book, at least I feel love for it again”. That is the sound of a person who has just survived a round with The Void.
We women are very lucky to embody the creative process in such a precise and intimate way. Each menstrual month you are being tutored in your own unique creative power cycle. If you can bring awareness to this process, deepening into each aspect, you build a core psychological muscle to go out there and fulfil your high holy dreams and ambitions.
Join Sjanie and I in London on 22nd and 23rd June to learn about your creative power and how it is held within, you’ll