Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Unpacking My Library: The Artist's Way
Most self-help books have about three ideas in them which are padded out with a lot of white space and bullet points. But there are a few which are absolutely brilliant. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way has sold about a gazillion copies in the two decades not because it's fashionable, or because it tells us something we want to hear, but because it works.
Cameron's personal life has had it's ups and downs. She comes from a privileged background, was briefly married to legendary film director Martin Scorsese and spent a few years in a drug-and-alcohol fog. But when the fog lifted she started to teach "creative unblocking", and what is more, she sees it as a spiritual pathway.
For me, following this book day by day for weeks on end opened up my own creativity wonderfully. What's more it gave me a handful of intense experiences. I'll never forget watching dawn on the Thames by Hammersmith Bridge. The Artist's Way turns life into a game for a few weeks. If you've lost your sense of play, spontaneity, joy, this is the book for you. You don't need to be a budding poet to benefit.
Her whole chart shows a wonderful balance of all four elements. Look at that lovely mutual reception between Uranus and Mercury. She likes to talk to everyone – age, class, colour, culture; there are no barriers to communication.
Then she has Venus in fiery Aries - a pioneer in the arts. Mars and Saturn in playful Leo: life should be fun and hard work is fun. Jupiter is in its own sign Sagittarius - a very big view of thing, and again no barriers.
There's much more to look at here but just notice the North Node in Taurus. It's sandwiched between Venus and ground-breaking Uranus, and it's opposed by Chiron, the healer close to her South Node. For her healing is a default mode It comes so naturally, she doesn't have to think about it. But I bet she could only start healing others after she'd been through the ringer herself.
Her life has become a perfect expression of that North Node. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet of art, but Taurus is practical and real. She has made a practical book about art that heals.
One thing I would add though. I think this book works better for writers and people who work with words than visual artists. Someone needs to do the purely visual version.
Main pic: Andrew Holmes