I’ve read a couple of novels lately about magic, small magics and large. And in two of them, there were women who made magic with their stitches, hiding things in the embroidery, protecting their home while creating a quilt, somehow always binding or restricting with their art.
I loved the stories, but something didn’t feel right to me.
It took a while to figure out that I don’t see art–or magic for that matter–as a tool of restriction. That is, it CAN be used that way, but I personally feel like this falls short of art’s potential. I see art as a tool of expression and creation (um, this might be one of those painfully obvious statements, sorry). When I stitch a leaf, a spiral, a tree, I am making something–yes, it’s an image, but also it’s an idea, a potent little bit of energy and (hopefully) beauty, the kind of thing that I truly believe changes the makeup of the universe in a very small but important way.
If you are an artist, a person who creates–and I define “art” very loosely, anyone who creates is an artist, I think–you have a beautiful opportunity. The artist is able to make more of whatever he or she wants in the world. I stitch, and I make more trees and leaves, more beauty, more magic. A person who spins yarn or knits a sweater creates more warmth and comfort. A person who makes toys creates more joy and play. A person who grows a garden makes more nourishment, more life.
And usually, we are blessed by the universe, and what comes out of our creation is MORE than what we put in. We create, and the universe, god, whatever you want to call it, breathes life in to it, the whole more, more, infinitely more than the sum of its parts, more even than the love and energy the artist puts in. Humbling.
In this way, art is a sort of magic, whether we set out with magical intent or not. Think about what a miracle it is that you can take one thing, or many things, and turn it/them in to something else. We make a meal, we build a house, we make a garment . . . and we have worked transformation, we’ve changed the world. Transformation is amazing, and we do it every day without thinking about it.
So how do we use our magic, our art? I think this really matters. I try to pour love and hope in to what I create. I try to amplify the beauty in the world, in the hopes that there will be plenty to go around. I’m no grand artist, I’ll never be famous (thank the goddess!), and I doubt I’m going to single-handedly remake the world any time soon. But I hope–and believe–that the work I do makes little ripples of goodness, and leaves the world a little brighter for the people who encounter it.
That is enough, and more than enough, for me.