I am working through The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron this winter. This is my third attempt within the last 20 years to finish the course. I have a partner this year who is working through the course at the same time, which I am excited about and hope means I'll finish. But this year I also feel the need to "rewrite" some of the book to match my own personal preferences. I am an atheist and, although Cameron invites us to substitute whatever word or phrase has meaning to us for the word "God" in her book, I had difficult doing this. I found that I needed to do more than just replace a word. Some statements and descriptions of the process of the Artist Way weren't clear to me. Cameron refers often to supernatural forces and processes. I do not believe in the supernatural. This became most clear to me when I began to re-read the Basic Principles (from the introduction) as one of my Week 2 tasks. I found myself wincing at all the references to "forces," etc. But I thought the basic concept behind the principles was a good one and I wanted to make use of the construct. So I decided to rewrite them. As I worked, I realized that I didn't really know what some of the original phrases meant, so it was hard to translate them. But I gave it my best shot, using phrases and words that fit my own world view. I did not succeed completely. Some of the statements still make me squirm after rewriting, but that's OK. I think that is just me continuing to process what I need and believe. So I wouldn't call these rules "atheistic." The closest might be "Secular."
One principle, Number 7, worked well for me just doing what Cameron suggested: Substituting "Good Orderly Direction" for the word "God." I also found that three of the principles needed no rewrite: they were secular as is and fairly clear. These are numbers 1, 6, and 9. Ironically, number 9, although I didn't feel the need to rewrite it, is one of the principles that I trip over each time I read it. Number 9 scares me because I feel that if I'm just creative all the time, I will loose what I have now in my life. Perhaps I'll write more about that later. Meanwhile, maybe some of you who are atheist (or not specifically religious) and are working at discovering your "Creative self" will find these rewritten rules useful.
Basic Principles Rewritten with a Secular Cast
- Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is creative energy.
- There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative flow infusing all of life--including ourselves.
- When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creative flow within us.
- We are, ourselves, creations of evolution. And we, in turn, continue that creativity by being creative ourselves.
- Creativity is human nature's gift. Using our creativity is our gift back to the world.
- The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our nature.
- When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to Good Orderly Direction.
- As we open our creative channel to our creative flow, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
- It is safe to open ourselves to greater and greater creativity.
- Our creative dreams and yearnings come from our nature. As we consider our dreams, we see ourselves more clearly and move toward our creative flow.
Reference: The Artist's Way, Cameron, Julia, Copyright 1992, Penguin Putnam, New York, NY