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Spiritual Activism

Performance artist and activist Dominique Mazeaud cradles her "bowl of tears of the world" on Friday, February 24th, on the Plaza during a vigil to mark the first year of the war in Ukraine.

Photo: Jim Weber, Santa Fe New Mexican

Last time I was in touch, my musings were about why eco-art and environmental art were not included in the Spiritual in Art credo. Today, I am called to muse about Spiritual Activism. Why do I write about a spiritual activism? It is because Spiritual is a word that should be more visible. When it is, it’s a sign of the awakening Spirit and therefore is key to the positive evolution of our world.

heartist, my little friend of a word has asked me to hang another coat on the rack (portmanteau, the French for coat rack, a word in which parts of multiple words are combined to create a new word). I love language and delight in the playful qualities of portmanteaus. Here are a number of them, mostly part of the art and heart family.

Artivism (takes its roots off of a 1997 gathering between Chicano artists from East Los Angeles and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico).

Craftivism (coined by Betsy Greer in 2003 and discovered via Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective and author of How to Be a Craftivist: The Art of Gentle Protest, 2018).

heartivism (See “heartivism: Gently Shaking the World,” coined by Nipun Mehta, founder of, a non-profit that works at the intersection of technology, volunteerism, and a gift culture. This 2/2023 talk emerged out of collective conversations held at a retreat of global luminaries in India).

WOW! I noticed two things:

1) Merging words that reflect different fields signifies a re-union, of sorts; a reunion of what has been separated OR an evolution toward what is coming. Union. Unity. Oneness. Qualities ­­­of the spiritual.

2) ‘Gentle Protest’ and ‘Gently Shaking the World’ resonate with a favorite quote by global activist Bill McKibben: “What a warming world needs now is art, sweet [gentle] art…” (a 2005 article).

For me the idea of ‘gentle activism’ goes back to Peace: Piece by Piece, the book I worked on with Donna Henes, circa 1987. Protest, after all, means to speak for (pro = in favor of, test = speak). In our book, Donna and I covered the development of “creative activism.” We documented productive, participatory projects from all over the world—a softer, gentler approach this heartist has been led to. For more on the topic, you might want to have a look at my book, The heartist’s Secret.*

With the Earth in my heart,


Here are some references from my archives because these writings are signposts for the journey of Spiritual Art Activism:

Leading with Spirit (from the Satyagraha Institute).

Spiritual Activism in the Now (from The Women’s Institute at Omega).

Art for Activism’s Sake by critic Arthur C. Danto (The Nation, June 1991).

Mystical Activism (notes from author Andrew Harvey’s workshop in Santa Fe, April 2005).

Gentle Action: Bringing Change to a Turbulent World by F. David Peat

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