I have long wondered at the ability for writing, (and by this I mean on paper with a tool in my hand) to put me under a spell. Above I am working with variations of a short poem by Antonio Machado. Even the words of the poem, without knowing the meaning, have a trance quality: everyone who moves on walks like Jesus, on the sea.
The word "spell" is intriguing, as it relates to writing as both a noun and a verb. To spell a word means to put the letters in proper order. To spell a person means to give them a rest. And being under a spell has a sense of magic. Here we have spell as an act of writing, as a way of giving a respite to another, and as a magic trance.
What interests me is how writing by hand will naturally lead to a sort of spell that frees us from self-consciousness, that makes room for the muse. The muse, I think, is a word that describes the sense of Other we experience when under a spell– or so magnetized by the process that we have the exhilaration of forgetting about ourselves. Mary Oliver spoke of her writing in a rare recent interview with Krista Tippett. This poet carries a notebook and pencil with her whenever she goes out– and always begins her poems in hand written form.
There is something about the physical act of writing– putting pen or pencil or brush to paper– that with time, naturally becomes an invocation. Writing in a contemplative mood becomes indistinguishable from prayer. Writing often helps me to find the thread I am looking for in painting– an image, idea or story.
Mary Oliver said: Is prayer a gift or a petition, or does it matter?
How do you get yourself in a creative mood, or find yourself under a spell?