Creativity and the Collective Consciousness

Josh McDonald, creator of the Ask Rachel comic, recently noted that, on the same day that I wrote about Christianity and sex at the Young Adult Catholics blog, he was also exploring the topic in Ask Rachel. We’ve all had experiences like this; we’re writing a brilliant novel when we find one with eerily similar plot or themes newly released on the shelf; we ponder how we haven’t heard a certain song in ages and hear it on the radio later that same day; we wonder how a certain someone is doing and find an email from them in our inbox.

OK, so I know that, statistically speaking, random chance is all that’s needed for coincidences to occur. But I’ll admit that I like to think it’s more than that. A few of the theories I’ve come across or “created” myself . . .

  1. Collective Consciousness / the Collective Unconscious. Very Jungian, this is the idea that there ARE universal themes and truth in life, and that all human beings can tap into these. This is one explanation for the fact that similar myths or fairy tales appear in cultures that supposedly had no interaction with one another.
  2. Messages from God / a Higher Power. The idea that a Higher Power uses us and speaks through us, and that S/He will plant an idea in many minds or hearts at once, with more than one having the potential to take root and effect change or, at the very least, dialogue.
  3. Psychic Abilities. We don’t receive an email from a long-lost friend because we thought of her; we thought of her because we’re all a little psychic and on some level knew that email would be coming our way. We don’t get random inspiration to create; we psychically tap into our future masterpiece that has already been created.
  4. Soul Connection. This is similar to the Collective Consciousness and psychic gifts, but a little more personal. Essentially, we’re all connected by spiritual energy, and we can pick up on someone else’s energy without being aware of it. So if another soul is spending a lot of time and energy thinking about the Catholic Church and sexuality, we might just tap into that energy and start to ponder it, too.
  5. Alternate Realities. This is one of my favorites, I think. This is the idea that being creative isn’t “making something up”; it’s tapping into a story that already exists in a different time and place. In other words, you’re tapping into something REAL when you create; it’s just not something that’s happening in your world. You’re used as a vessel to create a bridge between worlds, to tell the stories that need telling — from this world or from another.

I admit to being fascinated by esoteric ideas, and while I don’t swear by any of these ideas, I happily entertain all of them. Creativity is a mysterious and amazing gift, and many creatives will tell you they feel as if their art comes “through” them rather than “from” them. I’m interested in theories or ideas I’ve missed, too. Where does it all come from?