The Greatest Piece of Art You Will Ever Make Is Your Own Life

The Greatest Piece of Art You Will Ever Make: Your Own Life
Water color painting by Gayyatri. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Your Life’s Work
The greatest piece of art you will ever make is your own life!

I wrote this book in the hope of challenging some deeply ingrained beliefs and conventions in the Western culture I was born into. As goes for all of us, I was (and continue to be) shaped by the lives and decisions of personal and collective ancestors as well as political decisions and cultural periods.

Living and working abroad (in various ‘foreign’ countries) for all of my adult life has taught me that I am a profoundly European person! Not just that, after three decades abroad I remain Dutch at heart. Being an authentic person in the world means standing up for my deepest beliefs and for perspectives and modalities at risk of extinction.

As a teacher of art and shamanism, it is my job to walk between many different worlds. I believe that my talents and gifts need to find expression in service to other people. I also believe that every person alive (however seriously challenged) has such gifts, divine in origin. That the world becomes impoverished for every person who does not turn his or her life into a piece of art, or dies a compromised death.

It is my dream that one day the art of living itself will once again be perceived as a sacred art in the West. That all art forms (in the widest possible sense) are valued, and not placed in hierarchies devised (largely) by privileged white men with a Western education.

It is my dream that we will follow the example of Sandra Ingerman and fill our house and existence with prayers, songs and sacred art in its myriad of manifestations. Frog is always singing the world into creation! Creation is always happening in every moment – and we are all part of it!

As artists we are forever dancing that tightrope between the sublime and the subversive, between art and crime, between what stays out and what is in, between private inner world and collective outsider world. Did you know that graffiti already existed in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire? In our day (as then, one assumes) there is a very fine line between art and vandalism, a punishable crime!

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Finding Your Right Form of Artistic Expression

It is my dream that everyone who feels a desire to make art can release all limiting beliefs and engage in this life-enhancing process, finding the right form of artistic expression. Materials have never been cheaper, accessible and abundant and YouTube tutorials abound.

I myself have enjoyed fabulous cello lessons courtesy of YouTube, how amazing is that? On the higher octave, YouTube (as well as many other sites) is a living testimonial to collective generosity. On the lower octave we find internet trolls (and I much prefer the Scandinavian trolls).

It is my sincere hope that we can welcome back the gods and goddesses and evolve in partnership with them so that the gods no longer needs to creep in at night, through the backdoor, as diseases, political tyrants and ‘psychic burglars’. I also hope that we can start actively creating (perhaps conceiving is a better word) the gods and goddesses of the future! I had a powerful dream where young people showed me that we need to co-create the Gods and Goddesses of the Future.

The active paths of art, healing and myth are, on the whole, so much kinder than the path of pain.

I have spoken at length about the benefits of marrying art to a committed spiritual path (resulting in sacred art). The spiritual path that called me and chose me (and it was really that way around) is shamanism. Have no illusion shamanism is pure dynamite! If people think that they can coat their existing life or profession with a sprinkling of shamanism, they had better think again.

Practising shamanism means building spiritual muscle and embracing all the ordeals the spirits send us as the right medicine for our soul (if not our ego or comfortable everyday selves). There is nothing comfortable about this process of being torn to pieces and completely rewired, but our lives improve beyond comprehension when we commit to the process.

Doing Powerful Spirit-Led Work

In order to do powerful spirit-led work, we hollow out. We become a hollow bone for Spirit. I am 50 years old at the time of writing this book and I feel that this process is happening on a very physical level indeed!

As women age, their bones lose mass and density. This occurs especially after the menopause. Our human bones then become more like bird bones: hollow bones. I have no doubt that this aids our soul flight and shamanic work!

I seem to recall that some anthropologists have written that the first shamans (in Siberia) were post-menopausal women. Mesolithic peoples carved flutes from swan bones for example, and my personal dream is to become one note in the Music of the Spheres as I die. One author who writes beautifully about this concept and process is Terence Tempest Williams in her book When Women Were Birds.

A Gentle Wind or A Hurricane... You Choose

Often the spirits only whisper and we confuse their voices with the wind, but if we do not pay attention, they may well unleash a hurricane in our lives. They certainly did with me and with many of my students because we were slow responding – but we lived to tell the tale and it was a tale of rebirth and miracles.

The night following the day I wrote this chapter I woke up at 2 a.m. to a voice saying: ‘The memories – they are the gods.’ I had a vision of gods and goddesses sitting in a circle around a pool that is the Void, the Cosmic Womb, the Great Unmanifest. (It looked like a giant inkwell.) They show me that they store the shapes in the process of returning to no shape, pure potential. They are the great cosmic archives of form that we human beings mirror back for them. They are configurations of the Knowing Field or Morphogenetic Field. They show me that ‘dying’ is a slipping back into that inkwell, that delicious darkness, that cosmic pool of black light, in order to be reborn as something else. That process is not supposed to be a struggle it is meant to be as natural as falling asleep and waking up again. So is the process of creating – our reality is the ink in the inkwell.

In preparation for bringing my sacred art programme to the US, I called a meeting with my spirit allies. They told me that we human beings get things upside down at times. They said that Life is not in service to us, we are in service to Life! That message hit me like a punch in the solar plexus. Our creativity does not belong to us alone! The real question is how do we harness our creativity so that too is in service to Life and all life forms?

Years of teaching have brought me the discovery that part of my own creativity is creating sacred supportive containers for the creativity of others to flourish and find fuller expression. Being facilitator and sacred witness both is an immense privilege!

Remember, your own life is the greatest piece of art you will ever make!

Miracles do not, in fact, break the laws of nature. (C. S. Lewis)

Activity: Write the Story of Your Own Life as a Work of Art

Write the story of your life as a great piece of art. Flip negatives into positives and find the heroic, the uplifting, the beautiful.

However ‘negative’ (as you perceive it) the influences that shaped you, they still made you who you are today. As any writer knows that a story where nothing happens is a boring story, a non-starter.

Become the author of this unique book. Where circumstances allow, write a different script. There are many things we cannot change or edit out (deaths, accidents, serious illness, traumatic yet formative personal experiences), but we do remain responsible for our own response to those events and forces that shaped us. We also remain responsible for where we put our focus. (And living in a vibrational universe means that what we focus on will grow or attract more of the same.)

In shamanic healing work with people, I have sometimes been shown a book, the book of their life. I was shown that in the moment of Death we are presented with this book (for some it may be a film, story or slide show) and invited to read it again.

I cannot guarantee that I am right about the existence of such a book. However, I do believe that we live our lives better, with greater self-reflection and awareness, if we treat our own life as a book, or movie, or tapestry and make conscious choices about what we welcome in and what we edit out.

Move beyond the view of life ‘just happening to you’ and take some control over what you want to happen. Follow your vision, be clear about your mission, savour every drop of human life while you have it.

And of course this ‘book’ (or film, or movie, piece of music, theatrical performance etc.) could be a picture book for children, an adventure story, an Aga saga or beach read, a collection of poems or even the next War and Peace. You are the author and editor both – you decide!

©2018 by Imelda Almqvist. All Rights Reserved.
Publisher: Moon Books, imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd.
All Rights Reserved.

Article Source

Sacred Art - A Hollow Bone for Spirit: Where Art Meets Shamanism
by Imelda Almqvist

Sacred Art - A Hollow Bone for Spirit: Where Art Meets Shamanism by Imelda AlmqvistThe greatest piece of art we will ever make is our own life! Making sacred art means stepping outside the realm of ego-led consciousness to become a hollow bone for spirit so art becomes a mystery school process. When we connect to Divine forces greater than ourselves, creative blocks do not exist and healing occurs naturally. Sacred Art - A Hollow Bone for Spirit: Where Art Meets Shamanism tells the story of sacred art across cultures, continents and historical periods and makes a plea for sacred art to once again take its rightful place in our perception. (Also available in Kindle format)

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About the Author

Imelda AlmqvistImelda Almqvist is a shamanic teacher and painter. She teaches courses in shamanism and sacred art internationally and her paintings appear in art collections all over the world. Imelda is the author of Natural Born Shamans - A Spiritual Toolkit for Life. For more about Imelda visit

Video with Imelda: MY INUIT ANCESTORS -- A Reflection On Spiritual Heritage

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