Latest Inspiration

I’ve been reluctantly editing Story Alchemy again today. After letting it rest for a week or so, I started reading it yesterday, and I found some significant problems, some repeated material, but also a couple of pages of material that didn’t belong in the book. So disappointing. I deleted it.

Afterward, I was talking to my son — seems talking him always leads to inspiration — I realized that a bridge I’d mentioned inside the plot dodecahedron was in fact a representation of Jung’s Transcendent Function. This bridge extends from the Iris of Time to the confluence of bindus inside the dodecahedron, or Imaginarium as I’ve termed it. (Chapter 9 The Land of Story) All the material in Story Alchemy fits much closer together than even I can imagine. I generated the material using Active Imagination, and at times I don’t recognize my own writing. At others, a casual reference to something that seems inconsequential to me turns out to be a major discovery.

I never cease to be amazed at how inspired Jung’s theory of the Unconscious and its relationship to consciousness and thus to creative endeavors really is.

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Announcing Pre-Release of Story Alchemy

If you’ve read Novelsmithing and thought its groundbreaking approach to novel writing was useful, get ready to be blown away. Story Alchemy: The Search for the Philosopher’s Stone of Storytelling is coming soon, and you’ve never read anything like it. It’s a new concept in storytelling that was developed using Jung’s Active Imagination, much of which was posted on this website. Here’s the cover to give you an idea of what it’s all about. Click on the image for a larger, readable version. You can download the first 35% now on Smashwords and pre-order the full eBook for $2.99 on Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo (in the next few days). Full release is scheduled for 14 Mar 2014. Paperback and Kindle versions will also be available through Amazon on 14 March 2014.


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Lumi Laura’s New Novel Now Available

Carpathian Vampire by Lumi Laura

Carpathian Vampire by Lumi Laura

Psychic entity Lumi Laura’s new novel, Carpathian Vampire, is now available in both paperback and digital formats on Amazon. Click hereYou can get a 20% sample (first 12 chapters) in digital format on SmashwordsThe novel was written using Active Imagination by virtue of the techniques developed on this website. The method will be more fully explained in a new book titled Story Alchemy, which will be published later this spring.

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Soul Searching While Practicing Creative Active Imagination

During the two and one half years of practicing Active Imagination to channel Lumi Laura’s Carpathian Vampire, I came across several instances where the material went beyond what I consider my own personal boundaries for the presentation of violence and sex in literature intended for young people ages 16 to 25 but also possibly of interest for all adults. Some of her language in Chapter 3 “To Grandmother’s House” concerning her protagonist’s physical attributes seemed too crass. I let this pass. The first of the instances that truly bothered me was in Chapter 9 “An Unfortunate Encounter” where Ms Laura’s protagonist is attacked by a rapist. Her reaction to the attack and her subsequents actions, her violence and sexual aggressiveness, went far beyond what I would have written by my usual creative methods. Even in other areas of less concern, I didn’t agree with what she’d written. I started to edit it out, but then thought I should at least try to maintain the integrity of the process by honoring her perspective.

My apprehension dramatically escalated in Chapter 29 “The Pleasure Dome” when her protagonist was initiated in a vampire psychic location called Millennium Road. The problem was that this scene is reprised even more dramatically close to the end of the novel in Chapter 47 “Battle of Pivniţă de Vinuri.” I had pulled the scene in “The Pleasure Dome” back to something I thought I could tolerate only to learn that the even more graphic nature of “Battle of Pivniţă de Vinuri” demanded that the original material of “The Pleasure Dome” had to be reinstated. It seems that Ms Laura knew what she was doing all along. I felt that I was being played. I was concerned about my reputation as an author, and it was obvious that she didn’t see me as the ultimate authority on her story. This was when I decided to publish it under her name and not my own. Do I think that that absolves me of responsibility for the nature of the material in the novel? Obviously not. But still…

It seems that Jung provides guidance for practicing Active Imagination that really puts pressure on an author trying to use the technique for creative storytelling. We’re supposed to contact autonomous entities and let come may, but he also tells us to use our own moral judgement when bringing material from the Unconscious into the real world. Of course, the author isn’t bringing anything into the real world but the fictional world. Still, I contend that the author is morally responsible for a work’s content and to some extent its impact on the real world. But he tells us that we’re not responsible for what we produce under the influence of the Collective Unconscious. We don’t write it, the autonomous entities within our psychic space write it. All this presents some real difficulties for an author.

I capitulated. I pulled the material back as much as Ms Laura would tolerate and left it at that. But I’m still uneasy about it. I didn’t expect “my” vampire story to involve a ménage à trois either, but that’s another story… I think.

All this points out a rather curious aspect of today’s culture. We seem to have little restraint in what we will now present before the public. Some of our most popular protagonists are hitmen (Bourne Identity, Spy Games), cannibals (Hannibal Lecter), porn addicts (Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt), etc.

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The Fruits of My Active Imagination

Cover for Carpathian Vampire, When You've Never Known Love

Cover for Carpathian Vampire, When You’ve Never Known Love

Anyone who has frequented this blog realizes that I’ve been practicing Active Imagination for almost three and one half years now. During the last two and one half years, I have been using Active Imagination to contact an entity within my Unconscious to write a novel, vampire novel actually. I decided on a vampire novel because I wished to write something totally different than anything I’d attempted before. The psychic entity is named Lumi Laura, and just recently she has finished her novel. It has been edited during the last few months and is now ready for publication. The publication date has been set by Tragedy’s Workshop at January 1, 2014. However, a sample of the novel, the first 12 chapters out of 52 are now available for free on Smashwords (click here). It’s titled Carpathian Vampire, When You’ve Never Known Love. I would estimate that 95 percent of all the material came from Active Imagination sessions. Obviously, it was edited by me and others to achieve its final form. Check it out if you’re curious. Here’s the purchase information from the publisher:

Lumi Laura’s first novel Carpathian Vampire, When You’ve Never Known Love is now available for pre-release sampling (first 12 chapters FREE) and advanced purchase of the digital version at the introductory price of $2.99. Click Here. The complete novel will be published by Tragedy’s Workshop on January 1, 2014. After publication, the introductory price will be discontinued and the publisher’s suggested retail price for the eBook will be $7.99. A paperback version will be available on following publication for the publisher’s suggest retail price of $13.99. A Kindle version will also be available for $7.99.

During the time Lumi Laura was writing her vampire novel, I was also writing a book on the application of Active Imagination to storytelling. My book will be titled Story Alchemy, The Search for the Philosopher’s Stone of Storytelling. It will be published sometime during the Spring of 2014. You can keep up to date on it here.

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A Dream

The following doesn’t concern Jung’s Active Imagination, at least not directly. However, it does fit within the larger context of Jungian psychology.

On December 14, 2007 in the early morning hours, a dream startled me awake. I immediately picked up my notebook, and this is what I wrote:

Description of my dream of 14 Dec 2007.

Description of my dream of 14 Dec 2007.

[14 Dec 07: I just had the strangest dream of my life. I was in a house with several rooms standing before a mirror shaving or combing my hair, I believe. Quite without warning something took hold of my head as if a large hand had seized it from above with its fingers and turned it around for me to see something. I walked from room to room turning in circles but saw nothing when suddenly a man came from an adjoining room, smiling. He was my age and build, same gray thinning hair. He was me. He walked up to me, put his arms around me and kissed me on the forehead. “What’s happening?” I asked. “You’ll see in just a few…” he said, and then the dream faded.]

I concentrated so hard on his last few words, trying to find out when this ominous event was to take place, that I woke myself just before they were spoken. The feeling of that hand grabbing my head from above and turning me around was the most real sensation of being touched that I’ve ever felt in a dream. The sensation of being hugged and kissed was as real as it would be at any time during my waking day. The dream was not really a dream, and I had realized that fact from the very beginning. It was not imaginary but a real event that occurred during the dream state. It was terrifying, and I knew something life-changing would happen soon. I cushioned myself for the blow that was surely to come.

I had known immediately that the other person in my dream was me. And yet, how could it be? I was both astounded and puzzled. Yet, I was there and saw myself, saw “him,” coming toward me through my own eyes. And what, who, was this “hand from above” that turned my head around and around? That was a third presence in the dream. Whose hand was it? I tried to interpret the dream, but no scenario seemed to fully explain it. I noted that the “me” of my dream specifically didn’t tell me that everything would be okay. I worried that this may have been a warning of my own impending death. During the next few days, I was careful not to get into risky situations. At night, I was more careful about locking the doors. My pulse had become irregular, and I wondered if I was about to have a heart attack.

On December 22nd, I drove from central California where I was then living northern of the Bay Area to visit my son, Richard, and his wife, Marilyn, over Christmas. Before I left, I checked my tires and inflated them to precisely the proper pressure. I was ultra-careful on the freeways as I passed through the outskirts of the Bay Area, reducing my speed and avoiding congested traffic. But nothing out of the ordinary happened.

I told no one of my dream.

On the 24th of December, we received a telephone call that precipitated events in quick succession where we found out that my kids’ mother, my ex-wife, had just died in Phoenix, Arizona, on Christmas Eve. Those were the most devastating words I’ve ever heard. “Oh, dear Lord in heaven,” I said. I fell to my knees and leaned forward against the sofa. “Oh, dear God, no.” Although we had been divorced for twenty-seven years, she had been my one true love. It took me several months before I began to come out the other side of the grieving process. It was more of a shock to me because I had been removed from her and not seen her for years, whereas they had both been in contact with her almost daily and realized how fragile she was.

The dream seemed to have the purpose of cushioning me for the devastating event to follow ten days later. In the six years since, even with my years of practicing Active Imagination, I have never experienced anything to compare with this. It was a singular event, or pair of events, in my life. The dream touched me at the spiritual level before the tragic event, and when we learned of her passing, it reinforced the spiritual validity of the dream.

One thing it reinforced was the idea that something really strange is going on in the psychic world. These events occurred before I knew anything about Jung’s Active Imagination. Now that I’ve become familiar with Active Imagination and The Red Book, I do have somewhat of a better grasp of what was involved, but I still have so many questions that remain unanswered.

I believe I can safely say that something or someone, two someones actually, within my psyche were concerned enough about me and my reaction to the forthcoming event to contact me, both to warn and comfort me prior to the fact. That realization is extraordinary. However, this wasn’t the first time I had a dream bringing help from the psychic world. Here’s a poem I wrote back in the spring of 1993 describing two such dreams:


The night before my grandmother died,
she came to me in a dream.
We walked out back of their home
where I used to play in the dirt as a kid and
we talked of our short time together here on Earth.
She had come to say farewell.

Last night I said a short prayer before sleep,
a silent prayer,
prompted by unemployment,
loneliness and the guilt of past mistakes.
It summoned my grandfather to populate another
of my dreams, this one some

seventeen years following his death.
He had once
reneged on a promise to pay me
a certain wage for work I did as a kid.
He unzipped the cocoon of death he now inhabits
and told me not to worry.

That old farmer was dressed in a new suit
and tie, had a fresh
haircut. Before I kicked him
out the door, I asked him to hug me. I
wasn’t going to pass up this one last chance. Besides,
he owed me.

What was so different about these two dreams and the one I had fourteen years later is that the first [1972] was just a simple but profound goodbye. I wasn’t aware that she was close to death, so the dream came as a surprise when I learned of her passing the following day. Also, I wasn’t able to attend her funeral, and this dream seemed to be a consolation. The purpose of the second dream seemed to be to let me know that everything was going to be all right and to tell me that I shouldn’t worry. On the other hand, my dream of December 14, 2007, which really wasn’t a dream at all, contained the unspoken warning that something devastating was going to happen, which it surly did. Someone came to cushion the impact and to console me.

Jung speaks of these types of events, i.e., one occurring in a dream, the other in the real world, as examples of synchronicity. He expresses his thoughts on the subject in a little volume titled Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle. Jung grouped these synchronicity phenomena into three categories, the third of which is:

The coincidence of a psychic state with a corresponding, not yet existent future event that is distant in time and can likewise only be verified afterward. [page 110]

My dream experience certainly seems to fit in this category. Somewhere deep within my psyche was the realization that my ex-wife would die at some later but relatively near date. Not only was there a time differential but also a separation distance from Central California to Phoenix, Arizona. Yet somehow something within me knew and also realized the impact it would have on me and wished to warn and console me, cushion me for the impact of the future occurrence.

I’m not sure what to make of all this, but to say that this is a really weird world we live in, and that everything we normally think of as human existence is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, there are all manner of religious explanations for this, none of which do I wish to get involved in. The experiences themselves didn’t come from within a religious context, and I prefer to think of them relative to the state of existence within which they occurred rather than within a faith discipline in which everything is construed to fit a certain belief system.

I go back to these dreams from time to time to see if I can gain insight into them from what I’ve learned from my continuing life experience and  investigation of Jungian psychology.

It’s quite a journey.

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Creative Disillusionment

After practicing Active Imagination, both as an individual psyche exploratory process and as a creative process, I’ve come to the conclusion that a phenomenological relationship exists between Consciousness and the Unconscious that should be defined beyond what’s usually mentioned in describing the Transcendent Function. Specifically, it seems that Consciousness always invalidates the Unconscious as a matter of necessity for self protection. If Consciousness doesn’t keep material from the Unconscious at bay, it will flood into Consciousness, destroy the reality-based intellectual processes and information from the senses, and essentially drive the individual into psychic unrest from which it will be difficult to recover. The individual’s sanity is at stake. In the past, I have referred to this as a big brother/little brother relationship, with big brother as Consciousness always invalidating little brother, the Unconscious. The irony of the situation is that the Unconscious (little brother) is much bigger than Consciousness (big brother). The size differential is possibly the reason Consciousness is so afraid of the Unconscious.

It takes a strong functional relationship between Consciousness and the Unconscious to operate in the real world successfully. Culture essentially comes from the Unconscious and is projected onto the real world through its influence over Consciousness. It shapes reality and provides insight into it. Mathematics, physics, all knowledge of the universe comes from the interaction between Consciousness and the Unconscious. The Unconscious provides meaning because when real world concerns match up with Unconscious insight, what we know as meaning and understanding result.

For Active Imagination to work, you must have faith (confidence) that the material coming from the Unconscious is from autonomous psychic entities. This is necessary because otherwise we believe that we are simply making it up, i.e., creating something out of nothing that has no meaning. Thus, through time, we come to trust what we learn during Active Imagination and take what we uncover there seriously. When we do that, the Unconscious gains confidence and in so doing provides more important and well thought out material. But also Consciousness’s interpretation of the material is put on firmer ground, and we gain insight into the material. If we don’t have faith in the process, it breaks down, and we gain nothing and learn nothing. It becomes trivial because the material that comes across is trivial, and Consciousness invalidates it.

If this starts to sound a little like religion, that is because it is precisely what religious people talk about. Once you start questioning the process, it breaks down. You must have faith to get the process to work, but once you learn something from the process, and have retrieved material from the Unconscious, it must be scrutinized for applicability and suitability for the real world. You can’t always take it literally. Much of the material must be dealt with metaphorically, otherwise it may have an inappropriate impact on the real world. This is the reason that it frequently goes into the arts and is not put into literal practice. You don’t become a serial killer and inflict that archetype on the real world. It is channelled into the arts through novels, motion pictures, etc.

But this faith has a down side. Once material from the Unconscious is brought into Consciousness and Consciousness takes an objective look at it, the apparent worth of the material starts to break down because Consciousness always has a derogatory opinion of everything that comes from the Unconscious. That’s the way it protects itself from being flooded by it. The term “being flooded” is how we interpret the rapid release of Unconscious contents into Consciousness. But in fact what is important is the rate of release because also built into the process in sane people is an evaluation and interpretation function that adapts the material from the Unconscious as deemed appropriate to the real world. This process can happen rapidly or it can be extremely slow, and the degree to which it is appropriately applied to the real world determines the impact that it has. This is where morals and value judgments are applied, which as Jung tells us are not a part of the Collective Unconscious. All of this is a part of what we know as the Transcendent Function.

Faith and disillusionment seem to be flip sides of the same coin. Perhaps even more concretely, they are like matter and antimatter. When they come together, they annihilate each other and then we are indifferent. This also reminds me of Samuel Coleridge’s famous statement that, when he was embarking on a particularly imaginative writing project, “…my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” Undoubtedly, Coleridge’s Collective Unconscious provided this mechanism to him, so that he could have a more productive creative imagination. In other words for Coleridge, the Unconscious made a bargain with Consciousness. This is what enabled him to write The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Note also that Coleridge equates “faith” with the “willing suspension of disbelief,” which must be in force for Active Imagination to be productive. The practitioner of Active Imagination (while engaging psychic entities) is very much in the same position as the reader of an imaginative literary work, and the suspension of disbelief is a necessary part of the process.

Since the material has been up until now prevented from entering Consciousness, when it is allowed across, and is viewed directly by Consciousness, and since Consciousness always believes it is the source of the material and all at once it doesn’t look so inspired, Consciousness becomes disillusioned. Faith has lead directly to disillusionment. And the big thing here is to realize that this disillusionment is a part of the process. All creative individuals become disillusioned with their work. Religious people also become disillusioned. Later in life, Billy Graham spoke of his own disillusionment, how he had suffered from it from time to time. I’m reminded of Christ on the cross saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Matthew 27:46] Christ’s own faith in his mission failed him. He had lost contact with the myth that was living him. I don’t mean “myth” as something not true, but “myth” as the highest form of wisdom and enlightenment.

I increasingly come to the conclusion that Jung himself suffered from this phenomenon. I believe that may well have been the reason he didn’t publish The Red Book in his lifetime. I believe he lost faith in it. This was his pure material from his Unconscious and was continually being invalidated by his Consciousness. But his disillusionment would have undoubtedly foreshadowed that of the public if he’d published it. They would have recognized it as material from the Collective Unconscious and invalidated it also. By him setting it aside, he enabled his psychology to mature to a point where it attained a mythic status, so that we can take it seriously and give it the consideration it deserves.

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17 Jul 2012 The Problem with Active Imagination

[This is another of my posts that I saved in draft form but never published. Thankfully, my WordPress blog software saved the date it was put into draft form. I’m not sure why I never published these. Probably just didn’t believe they were significant. Now, they seem as important as anything thing else I’ve done.]

To imagine is simply to call the Unconscious into action. The activation of the imagination is simply a request sent into the Unconscious. It is much like asking a question. The imagination is a dialogue between Consciousness the Unconscious.  Unless my experience is radically different from that of others, I believe people who practice Active Imagination should not be asked to wait to see imagines. They should not be expected to hallucinate. I believe a more appropriate term would be to visualize images. The problem of course is that when we visualize, we “make up” images. This difference is crucial to understanding what is going on in an Active Imagination session, when it is happening and when it isn’t. It’s the difference between gold and fool’s gold.

I believe we have to jumpstart our imaginations. When we “ask” for input from our imagination it responds with whatever is available. If we’re asked to visualize a house, we can, and if we’re asked to describe it, we can because our imagination provides a certain amount of detail with the imagined image. Our imagination will supply more details than requested. If we go in expecting to see someone, we will. Perhaps a better technique would be to go into an Active Imagination session with a problem we wish to discuss, and anticipate seeing and conversing with someone who knows something about the problem. We should then be asking questions of the personage in psychic space to learn what they think about that particular problem. Therapists can’t expect someone to halucinate an Active Imagination session.

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17 Jul 2012 Memory and Event Definition

[This is another of my posts that I saved in draft form but never published. Thankfully, my WordPress blog software saved the date it was put into draft form. I’m not sure why I never published these. Probably just didn’t believe they were significant. Now, they seem as important as anything thing else I’ve done.]

Perhaps forgetting is a natural and purposeful characteristic  of the human mind. It is inherent in the relationship between the ego and the Collective Unconscious. When people get old, they become more forgetful. Perhaps that’s the reason names become so difficult to remember. Old people are more psychic, more mythical. They love to tell stories. When you meet someone new, it takes a while to become aware of who they really are. This is because something within our Collective Unconscious has to hook up with our sensory data of who that person is in the physical world. We always have a double image of the person: one comes form the physical world, who they are in reality, and the other comes from the psychic world, the Collective Unconscious that adds meaning and mythical material of who they represent. In actuality, we are always creating a double person. When we get old, we become more metaphorical and less connected to the external world from where the names of people come. Thus we tend to forget names  because their identity becomes more mythical and less based on reality. Names are a real-world thing.

Something I’ve written about before but has become even more a part of my awareness lately is the extent to which we are connected to the Collective Unconscious during our daily lives. We  construct our memory of what happens to us through the use of narrative.  It seems that we can only understand our lives through the use of narrative. Indeed, the essence of understanding something depends on us being able to put the memory of an object or an event into narrative form. Anything we conceptualize has a narrative that defines it. Even what we know as an event involves a narrative, a defining narrative that is its description and contains its essence. But this event requires input from the Collective Unconscious to construct its narrative.

What is an event? An event must be of a certain length in time for us to understand it as an event. This is a neat little packet of existence that has some particularity for us to be able to remember it as an event. This also bears a relation to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal. When you dissect an event, if you get too close to it, it starts to lose its meaning and even its characteristic as an event.

If we talk about or consider the event of getting into the car, it can be broken down into opening the door, putting one foot inside, sitting down, putting the other foot inside, and closing the door. But we can break it down further by talking about each component as it if it were an event also. For example, opening the door is an event all by itself, but in doing so we have lost the original meaning, which was getting into the  car. We can break down what actually happen on many levels. We could even go to the level of physics and talk about the molecules of the human body and those of the car, how they clustered and how their movement was governed by the laws of physics. But the human narrative would be lost. When we look at an event this closely, we lose the human connection. We lose the myth, the narrative that provides meaning to the story.

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24 May 2012 Vision Solution

[This is another of my posts that I saved in draft form but never published. Thankfully, my WordPress blog software saved the date it was put into draft form. I’m not sure why I never published these. Probably just didn’t believe they were significant. Now, they seem as important as anything thing else I’ve done.]

03:00 am. I just woke and was lying here in bed thinking about my year of Active Imagination followed about almost a year  of writing a novel using Active Imagination, when it suddenly came to me that the startling image I had of a street scene that occurred maybe halfway through my AI sessions, that one where I attempted to talk to people out on the street because the image was so vivid and so real, was in all probability a scene in Sinaia, Romania. That’s where I’m setting my vampire novel. The Active Imagination vision was of a night scene with lots of people milling about. I’ve been on Google maps the past couple of months, perhaps a year following the vision, and I’ve discovered that Google has every street in Sinaia imaged from street level. The main boulevard down Sinaia, is Carol I Boulevard matches the scene in my Active Imagination session. That is quite remarkable.

During AI, when the story you are telling is not as powerful psychically as some psychic need, you will get cross fertilization between the two. This always happens to some degree, although the less troubled person will be able to work on fiction without being sidetracked as much. But then a lot of the story comes from or perhaps all the psychic energy of a story comes from some author issue. The thing to realize is that author issues always play a part in telling a story. Perhaps we are always dealing with our own issues but not all ways the central issue.

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