The Art of Bibliomancy
Contributor
Written by
Kirsten Olson
August 2010
Contributor
Written by
Kirsten Olson
August 2010
This post is a narration of my experiment with a simple form of divination called bibliomancy. I am an actress and director and I wrote this after I had closed a show. When a show closes I always feel a sense of relief because I get to have my life back for awhile, but I can also feel a little empty when I don't have a reason to go to the theater every night. This post is an edited journal entry written the morning after the last cast party: It's a brainstorming day. Time to think about what comes next. This isn't a process of decision making. It's a process of opening to the possibilities. And it's not a process intended to find the "next project". It's more of an internal temperature reading. A sensing of what form or forms of expression will move into forefront of my life. I'm thinking - poetry, poetry, poetry. I spend some time browsing my bookshelves and reading the titles on the spines of the books out loud. Poetic Medicine Finding What You Didn't Lose The Artist's Way The Creative Habit Eventually a book will feel like "the one". Writing Down the Bones That's it. It's Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I pull it off the shelf and hold it in my hands. Yes. This is "the one". The sub-title leaps off the cover and tickles me a bit. Freeing the writer within. Yes! I fan the pages of the book before I am ready to open it and make eye contact with the words inside. This book is beat up and ragged. It's dark around the edges and it smells dusty - like it hasn't taken a breath in a long time. The edges make a noise when they fan past my thumb like rushing water far away. Then I open it and the noise stops. I open to a random page and look down Page 45, "Baking a Cake" I scan the page from top to bottom - reading quickly and returning quickly to the pieces that of their own volition speak to me in a way that is different from the rest of the page - sweetly or with urgency. Today it is sweet: "When you bake a cake, you have ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda, eggs, milk. You put them in a bowl and mix them up, but this does not make a cake. This makes goop. You have to put them in the oven and add heat or energy to transform it into cake,..." I sit with this for awhile. I write it in my journal. Copy it and copy it again. Then use my own words to explore it until I exhaust it. The part that is singing to me today is, "You have to put them in the oven and add heat or energy to transform it..." - add heat or energy to transform it - - add heat or energy - - to transform it - - heat or energy - - heat - Where is my heat and my energy leading me? What am I baking? Where do I sense the heat of my creative energy? What am I warming up to? What is making the barometer of my internal temperature rise? I feel a confirmation that I am listening to the right source: my heat. I am warming up to something new. At the bottom of the page there are more words: "Katigiri Roshi said: "When you do zazen [sitting meditation], you should be gone. So zazen does zazen. Not Steve or Barbara does zazen." This is how you should be when you write: writing does writing. You disappear." So I will sit with this and try to disappear into the heat. Let the heat do heat. Let the heat be. Let the heat lead me.

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