Then she asked me, “What do you care about the most?” Satisfied with my answer – that I wanted to do my part to end violence against women and children – she went on. If my answer had not pleased her, I doubt she would have told me what came next. I doubt she would have kept teaching me for over twenty years…
Red Thread Letter #774 The Beautiful Bowl
The story which started Intentional Creativity
By Shiloh Sophia
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New moon greetings to you! I finished a draft of a story this morning that is so integral to my path. It seems so simple now that it is written, yet at the same time it took a lifetime to bring forth.
My mother and stepfather arrived yesterday and they are sleeping at the house with the kittens because no one gets up when I do. Not even the birds. The first birds are the white cranes who come to fish on our dock but they don’t come until there is light. They turn lavender and pale blue in the sun and moonlight. The sky is tangerine glow and dusted lavender. The trees and hills are black.
My brush is in the black paint, as I begin to film the new moon teaching for my class Anthropas. My heart is shared in the Beautiful Bowl writings. The origins of Intentional Creativity began in this exact story – for me. Of course I believe the origins of Intentional Creativity are ancient, yet for our story together, the one we are weaving as our own epic tale….we visit the blue bowls of my beginnings.
I invite you to pause and think of your first memory when you put your intention into something…what was it? Pause a moment and go back back back to childhood and see what comes to mind in image and sensation.
Will you spend 10 minutes of cafe time with me today? This story is inspired by teachings and dialogues that I experience with Sue Hoya Sellars when I was 23 years old, though not exact language as it comes from memory. But bone memory. Deep within me this is the story which started Intentional Creativity.
[one_half] I left my corporate gig in San Francisco and headed for the hills in 1994 for a chop-wood-carry-water mentorship. A mentorship that would last one year and go on for 20 years from that creation and conversation. A conversation that would change my life forever and influence the lives of tens of thousands of women who are shaping beautiful bowls. I work with awakening women through the acts of intentional creativity Sue taught me, and am sharing with you as inspiration for your own journey…
Here is a photo of me and Sue that year.[/one_half]
The Beautiful Bowl
1994 – 1995 Terra Sophia, Mendocino California
This story of the origins of Intentional Creativity came through a teaching inspired by Sue Hoya Sellars about the active emanations of loving intention that can infuse our work. When we create with Intentional Creativity we infuse our creations with this quality of presence, Sue said our creations can become ‘resonators’. A year can change everything. Our mentorship was all of my life but very focused for one year. This took a lifetime to speak to, understand, practice and to be able to share with you.
“You can dig and make clay to shape a bowl. This is good hard work that can honor the earth and teach you,” she said, leaning on her shovel then handing it to me, indicating where to dig.
“You have to use your muscles to make clay,” she said, showing me how to stir as she did when I was little.
“You can put what you care about into the clay you are making,” she said, showing me how to wedge clay like kneading bread.
Then she asked me, “What do you care about the most?” Satisfied with my answer – that I wanted to do my part to end violence against women and children – she went on. If my answer had not pleased her, I doubt she would have told me what came next. I doubt she would have kept teaching me for over twenty years.
“You can shape a bowl to hold soup. This is functional craft,” she said, picking up the wedged clay and placing it on the wheel with a confidence that came from years of working with her hands.
“You can shape a bowl to hold soup, that is also designed to be beautiful. This is art.” She said, inviting me to take a seat at the wheel.
“If you are centered, the bowl will rise. Whatever is not on center will throw you off. But if you are strong and gentle, what is off center will slide off through your hands.”
“You can allow your intuition to shape the bowl, letting it become what it wants to – what is hidden in the clay is longing for its own expression.” Using an antler horn to mark the newly shaped bowl with a pattern, she said, “You can bring your thoughts into the design. With every mark, a prayer.”
“You can bring the Divine into your work,” she said, placing gold leaf and colored glazes into my hands to decorate my beautiful bowl.
“While you work on the bowl, you can meditate on your life, and meditate on the lives of those you care about, in a good way. You can imagine the care you put into it, going out to them as love. This is happening now. This is intentional creativity. A personal and transpersonal creation,” she said.
“You can also use your imagination and your energy to infuse the beautiful bowl with love for a specific person or people who one day may eat soup from the bowl. This is transcendent love. Practice it. The bowl will become a resonator. People will be able to feel it,” she said, nodding her truth and putting my bowl into the fire.
My love was being alchemized by fire. I felt everything in my body stir, my heart expanded to include loving those I do not know, and would never know. Imagining all of them being fed in beautiful bowls.
Stirring her tea by the wood stove, her spoon clinking her cup slowly, she looked at me over her glasses. “If you can hold all of what I have shared, and add an intentional prayer, something like :
May all beings be able to eat soup when they are hungry, this is the practice of the sacred artist. This is mindfulness in action through art. This is a good life. The life of an artist. This bowl can also be an altar bowl.”
“In time, if you do work in the world which allows you to share the bowls you make with others, then you are a working artist. And perhaps you can even fill the bowls with soup made with love. This is healing the world while you heal yourself. Do you want to do this?” She asked me, and I said I did.
When it was time, she took the colored bowl of green, gold, and blue from the fire and showed it to me with appreciation.
“If you are called, you can teach others to make bowls in this way. As well as paintings…writings…
She then took out her notebook and began to sketch a blue bowl with a chip in it, something that was ‘broken and beautiful’. A bowl which belonged to Alice Walker’s mother.
I sat quietly beside her admiring my own beautiful bowl. Feeling the whole world and all its needs unfurl before my eyes, and into my heart.
This is when I became a student of suffering.
This is when I became an artist of joy.
Holding both, together.
Come on over to our new website designed for those interested in learning more about studying and teaching Intentional Creativity in 2020 and beyond! Applications are open now through December 15.
This is our decade year in training, and our website is WILD with expression of where we are now – an evolution of 10 incredible years, with over 320 graduates world-wide living out their sacred assignment in full color!
We have a free livestream coming up about my favorite topic, you guessed it, consciousness, lol.
As we celebrate family and gratitude in the US this week, my gratitude turns towards my earth mama, Caron McCloud, and the mother of my heart, Sue Sellars. Each giving me such profound gifts for which Intentional Creativity would not be what it is today without their love and faith in me.
And to each of you I say, thank you for being along my red thread. I hope you take some time to rest and enjoy.
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