by Robbyn Layne McGill
There's a lot going on in our world. From inflation to climate change to poverty and social inequality to financial and political corruption, there's a lot to be worried about. In response to widespread anxiety and sociopolitical instability, faith is experiencing a renaissance and religion is getting a remix. Disillusioned with organized religion and political establishments alike, more and more people are seeking out spiritual paths driven by intuition rather than institutions. In fact, about a quarter of American adults now say they think of themselves as “spiritual, not religious” and that number is rising across the globe.
In an effort to make sense of these turbulent times, people are trying to uncover a more intuitive way to understand the workings of the world, and, according to Tara Isabella Burton, author of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, they are finding meaning, purpose, ritual and communities in ever-newer and stranger ways.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, for example, the ancient practice of tarot reading has seen a rise in popularity, especially through the visual medium of social media. Nearly five million Instagram posts have been tagged with #tarot. On Twitter, more than 130,000 people (along with 52,000 on Instagram) follow Tarot Reader Jessica Dore’s daily draw of a card. And 52.1K Instagrammers follow Kim Krans, the creator of the beautifully illustrated and hugely popular Wild Unknown Tarot and Animal Spirit Guides decks.
Clearly, cartomancy (fortune-telling using decks of cards) has entered the swirl of influence culture and, according to Goop, #wellness. In 2018, the metaphysical services industry, which includes tarot reading, was estimated to be worth US$2.2 billion and has continued to grow over the past five years.
Meanwhile, in addition to alternative spiritual practices like tarot, crystals and ritual home cleansing, more and more people are turning to art as a way to understand and articulate their emotions. Books about creative journaling alone rose from fewer than 50,000 units in 2015 to 700,000 in 2019 — and Julia Cameron’s The Artist's Way, a guide to “artistic recovery” was a lockdown hit three decades after it was first published. Hashtags for both “The Artist’s Way” and “Morning Pages” (its signature creative practice) have over 8 million hits on TikTok.
According to Lindsay Gordon, associate publisher of Avery Books and TarcherPerigee, the publisher of both the original 1992 edition and the 25th-anniversary edition, The Artist's Way's sales have grown over 40 percent in the last four years. It has sold over 100,000 physical copies in both 2021 and 2020, respectively, and the 25th-anniversary edition is currently ranked No. 2 on Amazon’s Popular Psychology Creativity & Genius Best Sellers list.
“In a post-quarantine world that was objectively isolating for many, we’ve been forced on some level to reevaluate ourselves, our goals, and our dreams,” writes Millennial Journalist Emma Turetsky in an article published in The Cut. “I don’t want to just make money, I want to do something that makes me feel like a real living, breathing person," she adds, "and according to The Artist’s Way, there’s nothing more inherent to our humanity than creativity.”
But, according to Carrie Burton’s article in the New Yorker, “Unlike earlier generations of readers (of The Artist’s Way), we don’t need (Julia) Cameron to protect us from the voices telling us to doubt ourselves. What we need, instead, are new voices granting us permission to try new things.”
Kissing the Muse: A Messy, Magical, Creative Adventure & Guidebook (for chasing your passions, wandering wildly and changing yourself — and the world — for the better), grants that permission. A playful, empowering, imperfect dance down the creative path with scissors and gluestick in hand, it takes readers on a cyclical 12-phase inner journey to creatively "kiss" a dozen distinct muses through meditative explorations in expressive writing, painting, mixed media and interdisciplinary performance.
These self-reflective, therapeutic art-making rituals, called kissing practices, are invocations for creating positive change — from personal shifts to global transformations — and can illuminate the reader's authentic path to happiness and help them navigate along the way.
As a tangible spiritual practice, Kissing the Muse creates a sense of hope, agency, and independence — like Cameron’s Artist’s Way and the tarot, but even more so because it empowers people to create a better world as they envision it, even if it’s only their own little corner of it.