For in That Book Is Your Soul

The first post I wrote when I restarted the Ninth Wave Designs blog nine years ago included this quote from Carl Gustav Jung:

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book. It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”

I read it again recently and it surprised me – in a splash-of-cold-water-in-the-face kind of way. I was looking back on the blog to see when it was exactly that I started working on the alchemy-themed oracle cards that I am finishing up now, and came across the quote. Sometimes it takes the perspective of time, of looking back through the filter of the collection of events that have passed over months and years, to see things more clearly – only then can you see the way forward. Through that filter it was like reading Jung’s quote fresh for the first time, and the meaning was clear and complete.

The background noise of life has reached a level of distraction that has been hard to manage lately, for all of us I’m sure, and it has been interfering with my ability to hold the focus of clarity that creative work requires. These words from Jung snapped my mind back into sharp focus, and I see now what I have been doing all along, and what I must continue to do. Reading it brought a cascade of images to mind of all the drawings and paintings that I have committed to paper between the pages of my sketchbooks and watercolor notebooks through these unsettled times, created with a sense of urgency and necessity about them – and now I see why. These creations have been the silent places of my spirit, and it has given me a sense of renewal, just as Jung promised. I feel fortunate that I have so many blank pages in these creative books that are yet to be filled, they represent an investment in the continuation of an essential creative process that involves nothing less than saving my soul.

If you keep this same kind of creative practice between the pages of your notebooks and sketchbooks, take a moment to pause and honor that process, and recognize it for what it is:

your church;

your cathedral;

your place of renewal;

because in that book is your soul.

Here is a glimpse into mine:

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi Lisa!
    I am new to your blog and want to say what a pleasure it is to have discovered it. I have been studying Jung for some time and it’s wonderful to be reacquainted with this important quote. None of my sketch books meet the requirements, I ‘m afraid–full of rough starts and stops and possibly only a few pages that I would call ‘sacred’. I have just started a new book that may be more successful. Your renderings are exquisite and I wish that all artists would follow Jung’s advice.
    Thank you,
    Lynne

    1. Thank you Lynne, and welcome!

      Yes, I return again and again to Jung as a guide for my creative work. As of yet, I have found nothing better to serve as a guide, unless it is Marie-Louise von Franz, who I am reading now (On Divination and Synchronicity).

      Keep up the work in your sketchbook, it is all worthy. It’s about taking the time and participating in the process more than the final results. All the best in your creative pursuits! – Lisa

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