On 10/2/11, I delivered a 90-minute presentation at Imagery International’s annual conference. My topic was Using Guided Imagery To Overcome Creative Blocks. In it, I mapped eight stages of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey onto the creative process. To illustrate the eight stages, I shared a tale from The Odyssey, I discussed how each stage relates to the creative process, and for each stage I shared questions for reflection, and explained one or two imagery techniques that I find helpful. I will post notes from my presentation in parts here. Click here for the series of entries.
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The Road of Trials and Temptations—Odysseus’ Story
We have already seen some of the tests and trials that Odysseus faces. There are many more. On one of the islands they visit, some of his men get addicted to the Lotus plant and lose their memories and desire to get home. He must find the narrow margin of safety between Scylla and Charybdis—a life-threatening whirlpool, and a terrible sea monster. Odysseus perseveres.
Odysseus is waylaid from his quest to get home by two beautiful immortals. He spends a year as the sorceress Circe’s lover. Her charms seem to be as magical as the lotus plant and all of Odysseus’ crew enjoy the continual feasting and creature comforts. One of Odysseus’ men must finally ask him to shake off the trance and think of home.
The goddess Calypso keeps Odysseus as her lover for seven years. He refuses her offer of immortality; he still wants to get back home, but it is Athena that must finally intervene arrange for his escape.
Consider this fact. It takes Odysseus ten years to get from Troy back to Ithaca. Eight of those years are spent in the arms of beautiful immortal women—perhaps a comforting thought for an artist who says they haven’t worked in years.
For the artist, The Road of Trials and Temptations means procrastination, perfectionism, discovering skills that need to be developed, guarding against critical comments from others, the temptation to be lured away from creative work
Here are questions for you when you find yourself on the road of trials and temptations.
The Road of Trials and Temptations—For Reflection:
- What internal and external challenges might stand in the way of moving forward?
- What temptations might lure you from your creative work?
- What thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will support you in meeting the challenges?
The Road of Trials and Temptations—Imagery Techniques:
- Imagine symbolically releasing or letting go of the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and temptations that stand in the way. You can send them into a fast moving river, or let the ocean waves take them far out to sea. They can be bubbles or balloons that you pop, or baseballs that you crack out of the ballpark.
- Imagine engaging in the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that will support you. Imagine the rewards of success.
- Imagine climbing a mountain or pyramid with your inner creative spirit, or another appropriate subpersonality. Observe his or her emotional and physical response to the challenge. Notice your own response. (See the “Working on a Subpersonality” exercise in What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth Through Psychosynthesis by Piero Ferruci.)