Awen and the Spark of Creativity: The Value of Creative People

Awen flows in this Wedding Gift painting for a friend!

A key principle in druidry is Awen, which means poetic/divine inspiration–the inspiration to bring forth creative efforts into the world. Many artists seek their inspiration in the natural world, through which Awen flows.  It is Awen that gives us poetry, music, theater, dance, art, and other forms of creative expression.  It is this creative expression that we celebrate as druids–but this is often at odds with much of American society.

In our society, the term “Starving Artist’ is an unfortunate reality. Those who are driven–to dance, to paint, to sing, to play instruments, or to put their creative pursuits out for others to enjoy–are often met with apathy, misunderstanding, or a general lack of value in their work.  Most artists cannot afford to support themselves with their talents; this is especially true of the innovators, those who try to break out of the box and really do something unique.  Many of my artist friends who are professional artists lament the fact that people just won’t pay for a nice painting (yet they’ll go to Target or Walmart and pay nearly as much for some reproduced print), they won’t go to local shows, and they generally don’t understand the value of original one-of-a-kind work.  People seem to find their entertainment in mass-produced forms, not forms created by individual artists.  So while Hollywood is alive and well and producing movies, independent filmmakers can’t even get 10 people to come to a showing.  Art has become just another commodity in our consumerist culture.

Awen flows in this Wedding Gift painting for a friend!
Awen flows in this Wedding Gift painting for a friend!

Or even worse, we have others through which much Awen flows, but whom have been stifled their whole life–the boy who wants to dance, but is forced not to by a machismo father; the girl who wants to paint but her parents know that she can’t make a living doing so; the man who learns to play his guitar in front of others but works three jobs and has no time to do so; or the woman who writes beautifully but continues to suffer rejection after rejection at the hands of publishers. Our culture doesn’t support creativity; and we certainly don’t value it.  Even in my own university writing classes, when I encourage creativity using open-ended projects, my students are often flabbergasted about choosing their own topic, doing their own research, in whatever media they think is appropriate.  They are more concerned with pleasing me, as their professor, than they are with genuinely producing something creative, interesting, and fulfilling. Of course, throughout their lives, they are punished for being “different,” taught only to understand and value what is on a test, and any creativity they have is squashed long before they enter higher education.

This all changes if we take away modern forms of entertainment.  When you go to a druid retreat in the mountains, where there is no phone, no TV, no smartphones or  internet….suddenly the creatives become the cornerstone of the community. All gather around the circle to hear storytellers weave their tales, musicians play their songs, and others share their creative pursuits.

Awen and those creative people through which Awen flows are the people who bring life and culture to our world–for what is living without music, art, crafts, theater, dance, creative writing and other forms of creative work? I truly believe that creativity is the most important gift that we, as humans, have to share with the world.

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (REDFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (REDFeather, 2022), and Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth (REDFeather, 2024). She is also the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is an herbalist, certified permaculture designer, and permaculture teacher who teaches about reconnection, regeneration, and land healing through herbalism, wild food foraging, and sustainable living. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart. She also regularly writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and Spirituality and Health magazine.

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  1. I definitely agree that as a society, we do not value creativity nearly enough. However, I don’t think you need to take away all modernity to make creative people the cornerstone of the community again – in many parts of the internet, especially fandom, creativity is highly valued. I think a lot of people instinctively understand the value even if they’re not sure what to do about that feeling, and that can be where events like NaNoWriMo come in to encourage people to express themselves.

    1. Its true. The Internet does allow us to spread free expression and creativity in ways that were not otherwise possible. I do a lot of trading of what are called ATCs (artist trading cards) and that’s all done through the web. I think its not the web I take issue with so much but the consumerist culture that seems to stifle creativity for the masses.Thanks for the comment!

  2. This is the best post of many I read today. I am bookmarking this one to think on further. My own blogpost is coming on this.

  3. Reblogged this on The Bent Needle and commented:
    This post could be about so many of my friends, and perhaps to a lesser extent myself – though I’ve been fortunate enough to find a “normal” job that I find very enjoyable and fulfilling alongside all my artsy pursuits.

    1. Love it! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Reblogged this on Mystic Wolf Soulcrafts and commented:
    Beautifully put!

    This is also why I call myself a creative channel more often than an artist. Because I do believe that it comes straight from source and we serve society in this way by gifting our creations. Great article !

  5. Beautifully phrased! Especially that last paragraph! x

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