THE CREATIVE VOICE. This is the tenth in a series of monthly posts that will explore the sources of creative inspiration of living artists. Featured artists will speak of the unique circumstances that cause the Muses to visit them, and how they understand and interpret what the Muses are imparting. The artists will share their personal intuitions and insights, sometimes by telling a story, sometimes by explaining a concept or vision. May this exhilarating voyage encourage and motivate the artist in each of us.
How does one accurately synthesize eighty-six adventurous years into a few short paragraphs? This was my dilemma when interviewing Leeya Brooke Thompson, ever the student of metaphysics, seeker of personal transformation, and multi-form writer.
Leeya grew up, next to the oldest of four sisters, in a minister’s home with prayers marking the time of day. Strong, athletic, and capable, she had a keen interest at an early age in writing, poetry, and music. Leeya learned to play piano and began writing her own verses, a constant during every period of her life. She lived through the Great Depression and WWII, then married and gave birth to a son and later to a daughter.
When her daughter was two years old, she had a vision of establishing the Mt. Diablo Montessori School in Lafayette for her daughter and the many other children whose fathers and mothers wished for them to have this fine education. In her late 30s to 50s, she became a masseuse, a Stanford dorm parent with her husband, and lived and worked at Findhorn and Lindisfarne. In her 50s to 70s, she earned a master’s degree at the University of Humanistic Studies in Transpersonal Psychology, and worked to preserve the Kurdish culture by collecting and recording on paper Kurdish children’s stories.
In her 80s she now finds herself living in a four-generational home with many literary accomplishments to be proud of: five published books, two short plays, and twenty-five original stories she considers worth sharing. And, of course, many, many poems.
Her expansive and free-flowing mind is always at work. Intrigued with the concept of archetypes – inherited patterns of thought or symbolic imagery derived from past collective experience and present in the individual unconsciousness – she found early resonance with Carl Jung:
As the result of the influence of Jungian Psychology in my 30th year, I began to adventure into the wonderful intricacies of myself using this form of exploration. The Shadow, the archetypes, animus and anima, peaks and underground areas became my area to explore. The Jungian work, especially under the guidance of Elizabeth Howes and Sheila Moon, worked with the Synoptic Gospels as a way of helping me understand myself and thus reconnected me in a different way to Jesus from the Methodism of my youth.
Roberto Assagioli’s system continued to assist me in my search for myself in offering an understanding of how we could name and observe the way in which subpersonalities acted in our lives. Subpersonalities are aspects of us and in some instances become detached from the Self, taking on a life of their own where more than one subpersonality may inhabit a body. Under the direction of the Self, however, subpersonalities have a wondrous opportunity to do what they came to do in assisting the Self in a more substantial and concrete way.
Leeya developed the idea of creating a California-based Mystic Theatre, like the ancient Mystery Plays, time-honored means of communicating the invisible realms of Spirit and religion while passing on the truths and values of a culture. The setting within a Mystery Play is mythic, peopled by archetypes that are perennial, as true to us today as they were to those in former eras. Her personal fascination centered around archetypal characters in the Bible.
I discovered many books having to do with Jesus that gave a different account of his life than what I had learned in Church or Sunday School, either filling in the gaps of his biblical account, continuing his life beyond the crucifixion as well as before this event took place. This expanded view of Jesus was a very heady experience for me as I realized that the men who put together the Nicene Creed in 325 AD carefully combed the books of the Bible to “create” the Jesus they felt was necessary to insure that the Empire (formerly the Roman Empire) would succeed, and assigned the remaining books as the Apocrypha.
I then had the idea of looking at those who were his contemporaries with new eyes. Who were these people who surrounded Jesus and what was their experience of him? Assagioli’s psychology came alive with the very real possibility that Jesus was the Self, while the contemporaries of Jesus were the subpersonalities of this Self. This would help me to understand myself more fully as well as the extensions of myself in others.
Participants in the Mystic Theatre would choose their archetypes, interface with another person who had chosen the same archetype, and then – after experiences in dance, mask making, and meditation – present their monologues to the group.
For us to become freed and enlightened, we need to summon forth the erroneous and wounded archetypes that have informed our unconscious selves so that we can heal and release ourselves from them. This is the Hero’s Journey. When released, we discover that we are and have always been held in Love, the dimension within which we find our Oneness with the Whole.
For circumstantial reasons, Leeya’s Mystic Theatre was unable to continue after its first successful performance; however, Leeya later brought together a group that regularly presented similar monologues accompanied by singing, bells chiming, costumes, and a time for people to talk about the theme of the subject and how this subject had entered their own lives. In 2012, she published an e-book on Amazon about the Mystic Theatre titled Timeless Voices, which explores twenty biblical archetypes.
What was it about the Staff that made it so special, and why had the protagonist’s great grandfather given it to her with the warning that when it awakened, she would need to protect it from the “evil people?” After puzzling over these questions that had no answers, she crammed the staff back in a closet for 30 years. Life was too busy and filled with too much pain to bother about an ancient Staff, even if it had belonged to one of the Egyptian gods. At the depths of her existential suffering, the staff aroused from its sleep and from this point on, her life was never the same.
This work is an epic about a woman’s metamorphic journey, a tale of adventure, love, danger, friendship, and the realization that life was much more than what it is believed to be. The enemy the protagonist confronts is not only her initially closed mind but one she would have dismissed earlier in her life as too irrational to be real.
Blending history with a vivid imagination has enabled Leeya to craft timeless poetry. For example, a few lines from her poem Renewal:
I celebrate the death of my serving, submissive, hypocritical self.
And I embrace this new breed of woman that I am becoming:
Sacred, strong, courageous, feminine.
I shed the tattered chrysalis of subservience
And take my place, an equal among equals.
My life is chartering new horizons
Within the charred remains of ancient passions now renewed.
and Isis Revealed:
Who draped the veils upon her muted form,
Forcing upon her invisibility?
Who wrote and executed laws
That caused her loss of power
To become a timorous non-entity?
Was she bound as well,
her fettered wrists held tight
Thwarting her attempt to free herself
and thus take flight?
Or did perhaps she place them on herself,
Denying the vision of what her Lover had become?
both of which explore a woman’s search for Self and identity.
Leeya’s personal Muses are her own beating heart and far-reaching imagination. Whether taking literary sojourns to Mongolia, Kurdistan, ancient Egypt, or Greece – excursions that sometimes parallel her own world travels – Leeya shares with her readers the limitless and profound depths of the human mind. We look forward to the treasures she will surely write about in her ninth decade.