A Square-Peg People Book Review
The Vein of Gold
by Julia Cameron
This book has been sitting on one of my bookshelves - practically untouched - for a long time! I have almost all of Julia Cameron's books - her ideas spark my creativity, her ideas and suggestions comfort me and at the same time goad me forward.
But somehow this one has rarely been opened. Why? I think it's the way the first chapter starts out. There's a description of each of the "basic tools" in your "backpack" - morning pages, artist dates - the things that come to mind when you hear the name Julia Cameron. I got stuck there. Said to myself: "Oh, it's just that stuff again."
Ah! How foolish of me! Authors, painters, all artists - have a tendency to point to - to show and re-show - the same issue(s). Makes sense. That's their gift - their slant on the world - and it bears repeating. When we sing it, paint it, sew it, write it again (and again) we're not being redundant - we're showing more of what we know - showing it deeper, wider, fuller.
It would have served me well to read Julia Cameron's brief description of the "basic tools" - to remind myself, and to get a fuller picture of them. And, if I'd read further, I'd have found loads of new lessons as well.
Cameron breaks the book up into "Kingdoms", there's The Kingdom of Story, The Kingdom of Sight, and Kingdoms of Sound, Attitude, Relationship, Spirituality and Possibility. Each Kingdom (and the book as a whole) ends with a "Breaking Camp" section - a review of the highlights of the section.
There are many quotes in the margins - I love that in a book! One of the biggest surprises for me was Julia Cameron's emphasis on sound. Cameron says: "As sound healer Joy Gardner-Gordon notes, 'Sound can be used as a form of deep tissue work, to release old programs and pain.' " And she shares a number of personal stories about working with - and being worked on - by sound.
I have been reminded repeatedly lately (even though you'd think I would know this - living in a house with two musicians and a music afficionado) of the importance of music. Cameron offers a number of sound "tasks" that I found very enlightening.
In one, "Task: Forming a Sound Round", she describes a simple exercise for "toning" - which she tells us is "...an ancient spiritual technique that is very centering." Another, Task: Sing a Spirit Song, helps us get through " 'stuck' emotions." All the tasks remind me of a quote of Jon Barlow's that is in the book: "Take seriously the idea that music can represent emotional states, liberate your body in this world, and save your soul in the next." And to round it out there's even a whole chapter on silence!
The "Kingdom of Relationship" section could be seen as hard. Cameron is tough with us here - she asks us to give ourselves complete honesty in looking at who we are, what's holding us back, where we need to take our power back. The section starts with looking at our relationship to ourselves and progresses out toward our relationships with others.
In examining our relationships with others, Cameron has us contemplate a question a friend shared with her: "Who would you take to war?" Cameron continues: "What an interesting, useful question!...We suddenly see, 'Oh, Phyllippa would sleep with the enemy. Terry would compete, arguing about strategy...Joyce would want me to carry her pack as well as my own..' "
This is a full book - lots to think about - lots to digest. In every chapter there are "tasks" that make the lessons personal. Cameron leads us into exploring many different parts of ourselves, as well as guidance, gratitude, creativity, passion, patience...
In the "Breaking Camp" section that ends the book Cameron has given us "Tribal laws" - the first, the one I consider MY first rule too - is acceptance. There's also "A Guide for Starting Creative Clusters" - now that sounds like fun!
If you've had The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart sitting on your bookshelf for awhile, please pull it down for a good read. If you don't own this book - or haven't seen it - it's definitely worth looking for!
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