Wildness, Creativity, and the Gift of the Shaman

With spontaneity comes wildness–both emanate from deep within creatures. 

Berry comments:

The third eye, the portal of creativity and intuition. Photo by Mr TT on Unsplash.

Wildness we might consider as the root of the authentic spontaneities of any being.  It is that wellspring of creativity whence comes the instinctive activities that enable all living beings to obtain their food, to find shelter, to bring forth their young: to sing and dance and fly through the air and swim through the depths of the sea.  This is the same inner tendency that evokes the insight of the poet, the skill of the artist and the power of the shaman.

There we have it—the power of the shaman. 

Painting of St. Francis and birds originally posted HERE Artist unknown.

Berry believes that a necessary tension lies between wildness and discipline and that we can see that tension playing out in nature. Among the planets we know, an excess of discipline suppressed the wildness of Mars and resulted in very little life there; the excess of wildness suppressed the discipline of Jupiter, so very little was birthed there. 

He says, “only Earth held a creative balance between the turbulence and the discipline that are necessary for creativity.”    We need to learn to live with both wildness and discipline, turning our back on neither energy if we are to give birth.

This may be one reason that so many of the mystics we named while discussing rupture in the DM were so full of creativity and insight.  Hildegard was unstoppable once she had her awakening about the age of forty-two—her wild spontaneity poured forth in songs and an opera (for which she wrote the libretto), poetry and writing, science and healing, painting and architecture, theology and letter writing, preaching and standing up to powers that be.

Francis of Assisi was no slacker either, founding as he did a whole new kind of religious order living out his commitment to a simple life style while he  communed with animals, birds, trees, caves, humans.  And writing groundbreaking poetry that helped launch the Italian language as we know it.  (Dante, another creation mystic, whose principal teacher studied with Thomas Aquinas, also helped launch the Italian language.)

Short reflection from previous DM on Aquinas and Spiritual Leadership. Originally posted to YouTube by the DM Team.

Thomas Aquinas’s ruptures turned to raptures (“ecstasy” was his favorite word for the divine breakthrough in humans) and birthed a revolution in science and religion and an immense treasure of books before he died at just 49 years of age.  Meister Eckhart stirred hearts and minds and social movements in his day and beyond right up to our own time with his creativity and insight and discipline (though it turned out to be too much for church authorities to appreciate in his time).  And Julian of Norwich offers in our day (as well as in her own, but it was ignored) a healing to Patriarchy, Dualism, colonialism and empire-building and a celebration of the divine feminine for all who have hearts and ears enough to listen. 

Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, pp. 41f. 

And Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, pp. 1-10, 81-96.

Banner Image: The creative experience unfolding. Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash.


How about us?  Are we standing on the shoulders of these shamans and drawing on the wildness that presents itself to us to offer our gifts of insight and healing to the world?

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

Upcoming Events

Join us in marking a day for Mother Earth and all other mothers with two powerhouse women mystic-shamans eager to awaken and heal! Tuesday 5/11 at 4:00 PT (GMT/UTC-7).
This free event is a fundraiser for the Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox, which marks its third anniversary on Mother’s Day 2021. Learn more HERE.

Matthew Fox speaks on “Teilhard de Chardin & Carl Jung: A Convergence” for the Omega Center – Center for Christogenesis. Thursday, 5/13, 4-5:30 pm PT (GMT/UTC-7). Learn more HERE.

Matthew Fox offers the webinar, “Meeting the Mystics: The Wisdom of Julian of Norwich and the Tao of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of Earth and Humanity” for the East West Bookshop. May 15, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. PDT (GMT/UTC-7). Register HERE.

Join Matthew Fox and the Infinity Foundation for an inspiring virtual event based on Matthew’s latest book, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic, Wednesday, 5/19, 5:00pm-7:00pm PT (GMT/UTC-8) Learn more HERE.  

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7 thoughts on “Wildness, Creativity, and the Gift of the Shaman”

  1. Avatar

    I love the idea of standing on the shoulders of these giants for wisdom and guidance. It reminds me how these giants represent a communion of saints, along with King, ghandi, berry et al.
    I’m also struck by how this might resonate with the the Buddhist sangha in its universal sense , a wider deeper community that is not bound by physical death but offers possibly what Rupert Sheldrake calls “morphic resonance” in a deep and sustained way across the road centuries.
    The work these wonderful and influential shamens have done balancing wilderness with creativity opens up possibilities for us to “ride” that wave or energy, and in doing so their waves crash into ours as we create and form new waves for our times.
    Wonderful stuff Matthew!!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you Steve for your comment! You are right we are standing on the shoulders of spiritual giants like you mention “King, Gandhi, Berry et al,” but I would add Hildegard Eckhart, St. Francis and others–especially among native peoples. I also like your comparisons to the communion of the saints and the Buddhist sangha “in its universal sense.”

  2. Avatar

    Clarissa’s Wild Woman book was very helpful to me when researching the historical Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Jesus. My research eventually led back to other women including Mariamne, first wife of Herod the Great and Miriam, sister/mother of Moses. Clarissa’s account of the story of Bluebeard which includes the discovery of all the dead women behind a locked door in the basement of his castle provided a “fairy tale” account of the depth reality of patriarchal history.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, I am impressed with your research into the various Miriams’ in Bible times. But your reference to Clarissa’s story of Bluebeard in view of patriarchy is chilling, and yet true–sometimes literally, and more often metaphorically…

  3. Avatar

    Seeking divine balance in our own lives only comes through wholehearted surrender to Divine LOVE. In this way we may walk in harmony and beauty with all things — even one with the universe. }:- a.m.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Your right Patrick, finding “balance in our own lives only comes through wholehearted surrender to Divine LOVE.” And its an interesting aside that the word “Islam” means to “submission” which to me is a lot like surrender. I other words, we all need to surrender and submit our lives to God…

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