The unconscious knows what the ego does not. It knows things that societal consciousness, in overvaluing science, technology, engineering and mathematics, dismisses. In the unconscious, decisions unfold before we are aware that we have made them, and gifts of creativity or guidance emerge, causing us to feel that these are not of us, but flow through us. It is in the depths of the imaginal that our humanity resides, and there that the problematic trajectory of the 21st century can be averted.
As if with new eyes, one is open to that which is neither a matter of mind nor a material event. In that fluid realm one discovers wonders of the natural world that might otherwise go unnoticed, lost not because they are not there, but because they are not experienced. Seeing with one’s organ of imagination invites one to enter a multi-valent, multi-vocal reality in which the divine manifests in the mundane, and dark inner shadows are illuminated, becoming transformative possibilities.
If one can say, “I had a dream,” then she or he has met an imaginal figure. If one can say, “I can’t stop thinking about this or that literary character,” then one has been visited by an imaginal figure. The same is true when a mythic figure resonates in a particular situation. Is it not true that many of us have been forever changed by Eros arrow, and true too, that in the 5,600 years of recorded history, Mars’ impulse has brought 14,600 wars? The imaginal is the land of subtle beings, arbitrary gods and goddesses, and strange inner guides bent on solving mysteries or exposing lies. These figures visit without our permission, but it is our choice to grant them hospitality.
(Image by multimedia artist Cynthia Clabough)
See Imaginal Figures in Everyday Life: Stories from the World between Matter and Mind