The magic of perception

Druidry talks a lot about Awen, both in the sense of “bardic inspiration” and as the life force that flows through all the worlds. In the second sense, of course, we all partake of Awen just by virtue of being alive. My perception, though, is that a lot of people – particularly those who don’t consider themselves to be “creative” – don’t think that Awen in the first sense has anything to do with them, that it’s only for “arty” stuff like music, art and writing. Even those whose understanding of creativity runs deeper, and tap into the current of Awen that can raise more “mundane” activities (cooking, childrearing… you know, the little stuff ;) to a higher pitch, seem mainly to consider it in terms of active doing, of making and producing something.

But there is also another aspect to the flow of Awen – for lack of a better term, I’ll call it the “perceptive” aspect – that I haven’t seen discussed much. When someone creates a song, or a piece of needlework, or even a blog post, if  they do it with due intention and with an open and receptive spirit, I believe that Awen flows through that work and makes it more than it would be through their effort alone – more polished, more holy, more itself. That’s understood by pretty much everyone, I think. BUT – I also believe that when someone engages openly and receptively with the work of others, that Awen flows through that experience as well, and deepens their perception of the experience and the work.

Back in December, Thorn Coyle interviewed Jason Pitzl-Waters on her podcast (I just listened to it today, which is mostly what sparked this post). During the interview Jason talked about certain “holy” (his term) moments in his DJ career when the mix came together just right, he could feel all the pieces falling into place, and ecstatic people would mob the dance floor. I might say (and I will, at least for the purposes of this discussion) that he was clearly tapping in to the flow of Awen, that it was flowing through his mix out through the crowd and back to him – everyone responding to this amazing creative energy.

To truly experience a piece of music, to feel it so deeply that you have to dance, or cry, or laugh out loud; to actively study a piece of art or a poem; to be mindfully present with the eating of a meal… this is also a creative act, the making of a unique encounter that will never again happen in exactly the same way. How often have you heard people say, “Every time I read that book I come away with something different”? Of course they do – they are not the same as they were the last time they read it, or as they will be the next time. The work itself doesn’t change (much), but we and our circumstances certainly do, constantly. How, then, should our experience of the work – or of our entire life, for that matter – not flow and change?


9 thoughts on “The magic of perception

  1. Ali

    Excellent post, Erik! I have noticed, too, that people on the Celtic/Druid path tend to throw around the term “awen” as a stand-in for other words like “spirit” or “energy” without taking much time to think about the implications. The whole idea of “inspiration,” the in-breathing of spirit or divine energy… begs a closer contemplation of that relationship, as you point out, between receptivity and creativity. Lots of food for thought here!

  2. gaiasplace

    The work itself doesn’t change (much), but we and our circumstances certainly do, constantly.

    This is so true. I’m amazed at how quickly my perceptions will shift if given just a small amount of time and experience. I’ll read something that will put a familiar subject in a different light and it will click. I’ll be able to look at something from a different ‘angle’ and find myself going “Aha! I GET it now.”


  3. Vitor

    I really love this perspective. I know from my own experience that observing and hearing can be profoundly creative.

  4. executivepagan Post author

    Thanks. I just checked out your blog, and you’re doing some amazing work!

  5. luckyloom1

    Lovely Post! I so respond to what you say about how we access Awen via the work of others – I love the idea that this whole process is about exchange. I am so pleased you liked my Nemetona post – thank you so much for mentioning it.

  6. Pingback: A phrase out of context | sightless among miracles

  7. Feral Boy

    I’ve both the bad and good sides in performing. Sometimes the crowd is decidedly not receptive — only in there to drink & talk to each other — which usually drowns out a performance completely (harp, not at all assertive mostly). On the other hand, some of the best: two little girls dancing their hearts out during a couple of dance tunes. And after playing a lament — the moment of total *silence* after, before the applause — when it took them time to come back from the Otherworld.
    Performance needs both givers and receivers — otherwise we’re only playing with ourselves — pun intended.

    Thanks, Erik

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