If you’re interested in how I practice my brand of Active Imagination, please realize that first of all, I do it to develop a new technique for writing fiction, and that I also do it at night in the dark. I have with me an Apple MacBook Air. I turn off the Air’s screen and keyboard lights, then set the notebook on my nightstand, and type on a totally separate bluetooth keyboard with my eyes closed to ensure I see nothing except what is going on inside my head. See the associated picture. This works amazingly well. I’ve followed this procedure for the last year and a half while on my personal excursion into Jung’s Active Imagination.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you realize that I’m now using Active Imagination to write a vampire novel. I started writing the novel in early May 2011. I hope to finish by the end of 2011. What follows in this post is an accumulation of thoughts I’ve had on the subject during the past few months. This information will be reflected in the book I plan to write about using Active Imagination for fiction writing. It is pretty much a hodge-podge and sometimes repetitions of previous writings.
In these active imagination sessions, I find the pure story that I’m searching for. Only during these night sessions does my story make total sense. I can tell when I’ve struck gold, and it only occurs during these sessions. The next morning, when I start editing this content, it provides a bridge to the Unconscious and allows more high-quality content to cross over. The process feeds on itself. The material has been generated in the far reaches of my psyche, and while editing, it takes mr back there. But the cornerstone is delving into the Unconscious through Active Imagination during the night.
I have found a way to better connect with the narrator of my vampire story. I greet the Keeper of the Gate, she opens the Iris of Time, and I step through. I address all the beings of psychic space, and call Manto to me. She takes me to the narrator of my vampire story. The narrator and I go into her room and lie down together. We join hands, my left, her right. I ask her to tell the story of my main character. My female narrator’s hand is small, soft and gentle. This is all the connection required to understand each other’s thoughts. I quieten mine and let hers intrude upon my psychic space. I tell her that I love holding her hand. “You’re the female companion I never had while I was go growing up.”
Just now, I rubbed my eyes, and when I quit, I saw a ring of fire. The ring had gaps in four corners : top, bottom, left, and right. I believe it was the beginning of a mandala. I’m interpreting it as the mandala of the main character in my novel.
Even during daylight with my eyes open, I don’t see something if I don’t have my attention directed at where my eyes are focused. Somehow, it is the same with my eyes closed. I will not see what the Unconscious is directing toward my consciousness if my attention isn’t focused on it. You have to see into the Unconscious. Real visual images only come when I’m close to the dream state, and then they can be so vivid that I don’t even know if I have my eyes open or closed.
I seem to have a really bad memory for things I write during active imagination. I write mostly at night with the lights off, and the next morning, I sometimes don’t even remember if I wrote or not. Even if I remember that I did write, I have a poor memory of what I wrote. However, I can recall a good portion of it if I go back into Active Imagination. It seems that that’s where the memory of the session resides. Performing Active Imagination this way occurs very close to the Land of Forgetting, the Unconscious.
Another thing of which I increasingly become convinced is that in Active Imagination, I can’t get specifics from the Unconscious. It doesn’t contain real world information. It is psychic information, mythic information, but it doesn’t contain real-world specifics. Everything I see in psychic space that looks like something in the real world is distorted or twisted because it is a metaphorical representation of some related Unconscious material. When I bring information from the Unconscious into the real world to put in your fiction, I have to add the details. Of course, one of the reasons for prepping myself before Active Imagination is that I can then take the packing material with me when i enter the Unconscious psychic space. The Collective Unconscious has human forms but without definition. Just as Kerenyi explains about Zoë. When we write fiction, we pull story and personages from within the Collective Unconscious, and also story, myth, but the intricate definition of all this content must be added by consciousness in the real world.
It would seem that every story taken from the Collective Unconscious tries to become a huge work with cosmic implications. The scope of the work is one of the author’s decisions, and if he does decide to make it more limited, he has to exercise control early on, or it will explode into something unmanageable, or at least evolve into a work of many volumes. If this is the intention, it is fine, but if it is not the intention, it can be a problem. The novelsmith should just be aware that the effect is more pronounced when using Active Imagination because s/he is in direct contact with cosmic forces, therefore the cosmic inclination.
At night, the internal dialogues I sometimes have that are ego connected (the worrying, the anger) that energy can be harnessed to either fuel an Active Imagination session to create Jung’s Transcendent Function, or it can be used to write fiction. If I’m telling the story I should be telling, I will be using that energy, that same psychic energy. This is the Conscious usage of the Unconscious to write fiction instead of using that same technique unconsciously. Using it consciously creates an avenue for always making contact with the mythic energy rather than contacting it by chance. I then have avenues that will always put me in contact with the psychic energy I need to write fiction.
I should not only give my characters autonomy, but also recognize my characters’ autonomy. I tend to believe I’m making things up, when in actuality I’m receiving it from the Collective Unconscious. This means that I must develop the ability to recognize where the information is coming from. Generally the character will have its autonomy. I’m just not used to seeing it that way. This is really important because it means that the problem is one of recognizing a process that already exists and not one of developing a new skill of how to receiving information. I do this already. I am simply trying to make the process more transparent, so that the author can make it more accessible and predictable. The author must resolve the twin stars of self-generation and that of other psychic entities. This is not just true when writing fiction, but also when using Active Imagination for Jung’s psychological purposes.
Every gift from the Unconscious comes wrapped in contents from the Conscious. The thing is that if no Conscious material exists, the Unconscious material cannot be packaged and won’t come across by itself. That seems to be the reason that to gain inspiration, the novelsmith must go into an Active Imagination session having primed his Conscious. The Unconscious provides unadorned inspiration. It comes with revelations but it is not adorned with specific details.
One thing I believe is true about psychic space is that when you enter, you keep your Consciousness but lose your identity, at least you lose your earthly identity. You are of indeterminate age and origin.