Carl G. Jung on Descent and Active Imagination


One of my favorite books is Carl G. Jung’s posthumously published THE RED BOOK. (BTW for the past few years it has become available in a “Reader’s Edition” (2012) for only around 25.00; a great buy, although the original has his amazing drawings and mandalas and the original German journal entries.)


 I have used this book as a textbook whenever I teach a university class on life mapping.  Jung’s self-initiated DESCENT in 1913 for 25 nights and then for some twenty years more with less regularity deeply influenced his therapy practice and theory along with his understanding of the collective unconscious, divinity, as well as personal unconscious ‘persona’ archetypes. Rather than blogging in a reflexive way myself then this week, I present for you below some of Jung’s direct insights (and those of the book’s editor, Sonu Shamdasani). I hope that you enjoy them and I invite you as he would to undertake a process of active imagination and journaling to engage in and record your own encounter with your own unconscious, archetypal parts-of-Self!

“The task of individuation lay in establishing a dialogue with the fantasy figures–or contents of the collective consciousness–and integrating them into consciousness, hence recovering the value of the mythopoeic imagination which had been lost to the modern age, and thereby reconciling the spirit of the time with the spirit of the depth.” (Shamdasani; The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012, Introduction: pg. 49)


“This was my twenty-fifth night in the desert. This is how long it took my soul to awaken from a shadowy being to her own life.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 145)

…I had spoken to my soul during 25 nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission. But during the 25 days I gave all my love and submission to things, to men,and to the thoughts of this time. I went into the desert only at night.(Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 151)

“The spirit of the depths opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the inner things, the world of my soul, the many-formed and changing.” (Jung, The Red Book (Reader’s Edition, 2012: 147)


As I do not wish to violate fair use laws and hope I haven’t yet in using these quotes, I will add that at the end of his reflections on his Descent via active imagination, he states that ever since he would invite all of his therapy clients and friends to do likewise: to encounter their own depth personae and to “write it all down” as he did first in his Black Book and then copied with art into The Red Book journal. He painted mandala images when he completed a phase of understanding; you can see these online or in the 2009 original publication of The Red Book.


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I welcome YOUR comments and story!

Contemplative Hopping (Internal Threshold Crossing)


Story 1:  Yogic Flying

Sometime in the late 1970’s, a group of Transcendental Meditation practitioners first stunned the world with their release of video (before the Web even!) demonstrating “yogic flying” or “hopping” while in a deep meditation state of consciousness. They would levitate and shift position on their mats apparently as an exercise of Mind over Body.

Yogic Fliers reveal that we are capable of controlling the body directly through thought or Mind. What else can we take away from their example?


Story 2:  Conscious vs. “Unconscious” States of Consciousness

For a graduate school assignment in linguistic semantics one week, our professor asked us to compose better semantic accounts than standard dictionary references for a related set of terms.  I chose CONSCIOUS and UNCONSCIOUS and compiled a wide range of definitions in order to sort these out and arrive at a holistic semantic analysis. What I discovered was that any state of consciousness that is not “conscious” or a “waking state” perception or experience people tend to lump together under the very large umbrella of “unconscious” in American English parlance.

Included under the far-reaching semantic domain of “unconscious”: unconscious, subconscious, dream state, daydreams, ‘other side’, Mind, (unconscious) thought, brain synapses, Self, soul, precognition, memory, lack of awareness. What I noticed about this wide range of concepts is that, simply put, Americans comprehend on the whole very little about anything they cannot directly See, Hear, Taste, Smell or Touch. All the rest, which in my view is the whole-enchilada iceberg under that tiny tip of “conscious” sense awareness, is lumped together as “unconscious.”


As one who has engaged in daily, active contemplation and dreamwork for at least 44 years, I have discovered that the “Inner” is much more vast and is much more open to exploration and freedom of experience than the “Outer” realm of matter and conscious awareness.  There are many (perhaps infinite) levels of consciousness beyond the outer physical senses and body, and you are free to explore this diverse multiplicity of states and levels of consciousness through various modes of meditation, contemplation, active imagination, dreamwork, prayer, paranormal investigation and/or mindfulness techniques.


That which is BEYOND the physical body states is neither defined by the mind nor contained or controlled by the Brain.

Implications for Contemplative Hopping—Internal Threshold Crossing

Using Jung’s approach of active imagination, a mode of contemplative envisioning and inner action, I encourage you to try your beyond-the-physical wings!  You do have them, at least figuratively speaking.  Dreams of flying (with or without wings as they are usually not needed!) are a very common early mode of inner travel or shifting of attention inwardly.  Explore an inner landscape, for instance, of an outer place you will soon be visiting “out here.”  Or actively contemplate the results or consequences of some anticipated move or action by yourself or others.

When I  was to make a big move from Buffalo (East) to Arizona (‘Out West”)  some 38 years ago, every night I asked to be shown something about the life I was about to embark upon plus I asked questions to trouble shoot this grand adventure. I was shown four people I would later meet (independently of one another) along with some glimpse of their role in my upcoming life.  I was also shown that  the experience would not be without its hardships but they would be necessary (karmic, let’s say), and when I later experienced what was foretold in these dreams very directly, I had been forewarned so was better prepared to meet the challenges.


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Let’s call your active inner explorations (past, present or future) to be forms of inner Threshold Crossing. I like to say, you don’t have to die or nearly die in order to explore the Heavens as well as really anything/ any state your Heart desires. Sages like the poet Rumi, actually, encourage us to “die daily.” This means you have the spiritual freedom to explore and investigate beyond the limited reaches of brain-mind or body.

See? I welcome your comments and stories!

DESCENDER Dreams, Part One


Have you had significant, memorable dreams where either you are in a dark or “lower” space such as in a basement or valley or the lower level of some house or structure, or where someone else who is a main character in your dream is in such a “lower” or “deep” space? This may be your DESCENDER Persona archetype (part-of-Self). Pay attention and you may learn something important from this often ‘submerged’ facet or energy within your Psyche.


My DESCENDER dreams often include a young girl, around 10 or 12, who inhabits a lower level of a tri-level house (interestingly my favorite kind of home; I live in one now and sleep in the lower level!).  I have learned to tune in to engage in conversation with my Little Linda part-of-Self, as I call Her.  She embodies my quiet side that would rather stay in the lower, shaded regions rather than have too much concourse with the public or other people in formal sorts of situations. She may be that facet of my Self that most suffers situational anxiety when it comes to ‘professional’ social gatherings.  I embrace this part of myself as a vital and important aspect of my identity. I go to Her in active imagination for  ‘Archetype dialogue’ conversation rather than requiring Her to come to the surface, though sometimes She does reveal Herself in our more conscious experience. She loves to walk along a lake or through a path in the woods, and she is a great companion when I am otherwise alone with my dog Sophie and feline Loki and Emily Friends.


Please be assured, I am not encouraging nor will recognizing your Archetypal Personas stimulate any sort of dissociative mental or psychological condition such as schizophrenia or Multiple Personality Disorder.  In fact, as William James wrote about at the turn of the 20th Century, we are indeed all of us “multiple” as an archetypal assembly of sub-identities integrated by the superordinate Self, and in fact it is those who have not allowed their diverse archetypal character modes to be well attended to or integrated who may be more susceptible to ‘splits.’ You can easily tell the difference between an archetypal part-of-Self persona and a dissociated “voice”: archetypal elements within your Total Self System ARE YOU and feel naturally to be a point of view that is part of your Self perspective or outlook, though they may represent various sub-selves or distinct outlooks, see?  Jung, Hillman, Myss, Houston, Pearson, Campbell and many other archetypal psychologists have well described the archetypal landscape of the archetypal Unconscious.

So, Dream! Allow your various parts-of-Self Personas including your DESCENDER to manifest in your dreams so you can encounter and engage with them. You will learn more about your Self from understanding their viewpoints and feelings.


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I welcome and invite your comments and stories. Have you had a DESCENDER dream?

Advice from your Golden Child


A major advantage and goal of getting to know your archetypal ‘parts of Self’ is that you can call upon various of your archetypal sub-selves to draw upon their specific perspectives and strengths of character. After all, these archetypal energies are facets of your Self.  Your Golden Child is that charismatic part of yourself that is always willing to step forward to help you express yourself boldly when the situation calls for that. But Golden Child is one of those archetypal personae that many of us—not Leos, for instance—tend to suppress or bury.


Can you think of a current situation in your life that could benefit from your stepping forth to make bold proclamations? Well then, even if you may not be ready to let your Golden Child shine forth fully on your life stage, I invite you to a technique that can help you allow your Golden Child to give you (or others) the advice It is ready to proclaim.

This is an active imagination technique such as Carl Jung and James Hillman have used to encounter  archetypal personae in their own unconscious domains.


Set some alone time to spend a half an hour or so in a quiet space where you will not be interrupted. With eyes closed or open (your choice), imagine! Let yourself sink into a part of yourself where your Golden Child lives. Ask him or her about a situation in your life where you could use strong advice. Have a conversation or just listen/attend to what this bold facet of yourself wants to say to you about the situation. You could also imagine someone else there with you, someone you wish you could be bold enough to say something to that you really wish you could say.


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When you complete your active imagination session, I encourage you to journal about it. Either write out the dialogue as you remember it or at least record the bold statements that your Golden Child proclaimed as messages from your unconscious. By the way, what is she or he like, that part of you that gets to say everything you’d like to be able to express? How might you allow that part of yourself to have more of a voice in your life? Maybe in that situation you were contemplating? Write ONE STATEMENT that boldly proclaims what you need to say. You can print this out and write your statement below if you wish to:


I welcome your Comments and Stories!


“Let’s Meet on the Inner”: An Internal Dialogue Practice


For this month of the archetypal Communicator, I offer you a method for working with a challenging relationship conflict in a positive, constructive way.

For a difficult situation involving communication challenges, you can “go Within” to engage with the person(s) involved, or alternately, you can meet with an Inner Guide and have a conversation with him or her about a snaggly situation. This is a form of what Carl Jung would call Active Imagination.


If you are having troubles communicating with someone because of a personality conflict or in relation to a sticky situation, you can set some quiet, private time aside. Go into a light contemplative/ meditative ‘zone’ (eyes closed in a semi-darkened space or in a natural setting) and imagine that the person or persons you’ve been having trouble with are present in a conference room (or create your own internal environment that is appropriate for your visit).


Start a conversation. It can be very simple and does not have to be directly about the challenging situation you are facing. What is important is that this is a positive exchange. Allow the internal conversation with your ‘alter’ to proceed naturally, as if you and this person or persons are meeting Soul-to-Soul with a shared intention to move beyond your snaggles and to arrive at a positive, win-win solution.


As an example to demonstrate the approach, around 15 years ago I faced a difficult situation with a workplace colleague. Coming from polarized theoretical approaches for teaching, the impasse between us reached the point—very uncomfortable for me—that we would avoid contact with each other altogether.

Then one morning I woke from a lucid dream encounter with this person (let’s call him Carl). In this dream encounter, I simply met Carl in passing. I beamed a positive smile, made Soul-to-Soul eye contact, and said, “Hello Carl!”. That was it. But it had the most amazing effect! That very morning at work, I was in the mail room when Carl walked in. Seeing we were ‘stuck’ alone in the mail room together, we made eye contact for the first time in several months.

               “Hello Carl!” I beamed, smiling.

               “Hi Linda,” Carl replied also with a smile.

That was our entire conversation, just as in the morning’s lucid dream. Somehow, it set into motion an immediate, significant thawing of our relationship. We no longer avoided one another, and in fact shortly after this encounter, Carl applied for and received an out-of-state position that would allow him to advance in his career. (I had put the job notification in his mailbox!) Within 3-4 months, Carl left, with the two of us in a much improved relation, as I even organized, as department Chair, a farewell party for Carl.


free images are from

I invite you to try this technique for yourself. Imagine an internal conversation with someone you seek to have a better relationship with. You are not trying to change this person, but you are simply allowing a Soul-to-Soul encounter that may be difficult to engage in “out Here.”

I welcome your Comments and Stories.

(P.S. I will be on a road trip for the next month, so blog posts may be on a less than regular schedule.)

Take a Balloon Ride to a Higher Perspective

What is your next step forward that will move you in the direction of realizing your fullest potentials or a specific goal? Are you considering a significant decision yet remain unsure about which way you should go or whether to make a change at all? I offer you below a creative visualization/ active imagination technique that you can use to help you achieve a higher vantage point (cf. this month’s metaphor of life as “a mountain with vistas.”)

Creative Visualization technique:

Imagine you are in a round room with several doors and high, solid walls. Above the walls they are extended upwards by a clear plexiglass-like tube that forms into a dome at its apex. You know that you can open any door and step through that, but once you have chosen a door and step through it, you also know that you can never go back to this room for the door will automatically lock from the inside, behind you. You also have the awareness that each door is a portal to a specific direction that will realize one of your present options in relation to a goal or decision you are facing.

Imagine next that near the center of this large, circular room there is a small table and a chair. On the table is a sketch pad and a cup of pastel drawing sticks. Sit down and draw for yourself a colorful picture of a hot air balloon. Then move the table away from the center and place your picture there on the floor instead. Watch as this picture materializes into a real, full-sized hot air balloon, already inflated with its firebox glowing brightly.

balloon sail 2009

Step into your balloon basket and you can remove sand bags from the basket so your balloon rises into the space above the solid walls of the room. Your balloon lifts slowly upwards toward the plexiglass dome, coming to a rest point to hover midway between the top of the walls and the dome.

Hot Air Balloon

As you look down from the balloon you can see the room you were in and you can also see 360 degrees all around that room on the outside. You can see where each of the doors of opportunity would lead you to, what sorts of pathways each represents for you as choices you could take toward achieving your goal or desire.

Stay as long as you wish in your balloon, considering all of your options freely.

When you have become aware of which of the doors below appears to open to the most desirable positive direction for you to take, you can lower the flame gradually in your firebox so your balloon settles gently back down into the room.

Now you are free to open and walk through the door that opens onto your greatest future potential!

I welcome your Comments or stories!

Open Mike

So are you clear about what I mean when referring to your own Archetype Allies? These are your at least partly submerged or unconscious “parts of Self” that compose aspects or facets (like alternative “faces”) of your personality. As a cultural anthropologist I would say that you develop some archetypal potentials rather than others as you acquire ROLE IDENTITIES.  For example, in romantic relationships you may develop your LOVER archetypal potentials; as a doctor you may draw upon the HEALER archetype; or as a writer you are likely to express the universal archetypal potentials of a COMMUNICATOR.

Beautiful Carnation flowers and butterflies

Still in all, while everyone has the potential for expression of all twelve of the universal or primordial classes of Archetypal Persona forms (see the wheel below, based on Dr. Charles and Nin Bebeau of the Avalon Archetype Institute), most of us will express some of these as dominant modes versus others, and the form of expression will vary based on your situational experience and other personality factors.


An approach I work with a lot myself and encourage through coaching via the Life Maps Process that I will be presenting in the upcoming book, Life Paths, is a technique I call Archetype Dialogue practice. One stage of this process I call “Open Mike.” To get to know some of your archetypal dispositions or members of your “ensemble cast of Archetypal characters,” you can simply contemplate upon a topic that is meaningful to you, perhaps a question involving an upcoming decision or a possible transition in your life, or a goal.  “Sink into a reverie” sort of state; that is, allow yourself to “descend” to a subconscious awareness level, and invite your archetypal subselves to speak out in their distinctive voices or from various of your own dynamically complex points of view or attitudes.


You can also invite any one of your archetypal allies to step up to the “open mike” about a topic of relevance to its specific outlook. Since we are closing this month’s focus on the COMMUNICATOR archetype in association with the metaphor of Life is Heeding the Call to Realize Your Dream, I invite you to call upon your unconscious COMMUNICATOR persona one more time. Invite the COMMUNICATOR aspect of your Self to speak up about a topic relating to your own Life Dream or a significant GOAL. You can engage your COMMUNICATOR inwardly via active imagination and then record your experience in your journal or as a story, or you can directly transcribe a dialogue with your COMMUNICATOR in a dialogic writing mode.

Angel of music with violin on white

Allow me to briefly exemplify from the perspective of calling forth my own COMMUNICATOR persona:

LW:  So are you there, Communicator? What shall I call you?

C: Call me what you wish, I do suppose. I am quite adaptible, after all. How do you wish for me to express myself Now?

LW: In your Writer mode, I guess, for Open Mike.

C: About what topic, then?

LW: The upcoming meeting with our Agent.

C: But of course.  I would emphasize how important it is for us to be clear with her and to LISTEN VERY WELL. Communication is a two-way street, and this is a rare, golden opportunity for you and for all of us, to Listen and to Learn.

LW: I hope this meeting can result in the project going forward, the proposal being sent out soon.

C: Yes, but please do let the Moment reveal its own potentials. Trust in Spirit; have faith in your inner as well as your outer guidance to reveal what is needed of us next as stewards of the book’s most effective emergence into publication.

LW: The faith of the mustard seed, do you mean?

C: Or of the Acorn, as we have talked about previously with our MYSTIC Ally.

LW: So, why the Acorn?

C: Acorn has within its seed nature the capacity to grow into a mighty Oak, its roots descending deeply into the nurturant Mother Earth while its branches reach far upwards toward the Heavens.

LW: You took that metaphor from Stranger by the River by Paul Twitchell.

C: Indeed, yes I did! But I added the Seed metaphor, as you have been thinking about how the life mapping Tools are also seeds.

LW: Beautiful! Okay then, together here we go…

C: We are Multiple, yet together we are One!


******   ******

I welcome YOUR insights and stories!

(As I am traveling, my next post for this site will be on Tuesday to begin our new monthly cycle.

P.S.: The meeting went well !!!)

Your Communicator as Writer


A writer is first and foremost a Communicator, so being an author is an archetypal profession. What archetypal forms of the Writer/Communicator do you draw upon in composing your manner of writing?

Some authors might emulate the communicative style of a well known writer whose works they admire. This can help initially to establish a narrative “voice”; however, ultimately your own unconscious Communicator, as your archetype Ally, can more genuinely articulate your unique point of view.


What are you passionate about? Draw from that. Allow your inner Communicator persona to express through your writing your most authentic Self.



Consider then how you can tune into your Communicator part of Self. Archetypal Dialogue is a simple way to connect. Simply imagine your Communicator archetype ally as an individual point of view within your unconscious makeup. Establish a conversation, either by active imagination or via direct journaling, alternating between your conscious and this usually subconscious perspective.

I welcome your insights and stories!

Tuning In to Your Mystic Awareness

Vintage Circles Background

How can you tune in to your own inner Mystic Guide? Let’s count some of the many ways available to you:

Active imagination




Dream work

Archetype Dialogue Journaling



Each of these natural modes of accessing your unconscious and/or spiritual awareness offers great potential for engaging your Mystic archetype as an Ally who can help your conscious self by sharing deep insights. Let me describe a few of these methods, then, that you may wish to practice.

Micro Crystals

Active imagination:

This is the technique Carl Jung himself used which he wrote about extensively (e.g. see the marvelous new Reader’s Edition of Jung’s The Red Book). It is a mode of creative visualization. You can journal about your inner experience after returning to your normal waking perspective.


Contemplation is an active, engaged form of meditation. You maintain awareness while asking an inward question for inner guidance, or you can travel, either astrally (in your emotional state of consciousness), mentally, or via soul travel, to explore dimensions of consciousness beyond the Physical realm. With active contemplation you may assume the perspective of being in the state which you wish to observe, and release your conscious mind to allow whatever experience is relevant from that perspective. You may begin with active imagination and then shift into a contemplative experience.


Dream work:

Dreams occur from many different levels of consciousness, so different kinds of dreams reflect these different levels of perception (and action). Lucid dreaming occurs when you become aware within a dream that you are dreaming; achieving lucid dreaming can help you to be more conscious of your ability to control your outer states of consciousness while waking as well as your dream state.  Archetypal dreams—which Jung was interested in—appear with symbolic content that can reflect either universal, collective archetypal imagery (e.g. a snake can refer to transformation, or a circle can refer to completion or wholeness) and also personal unconscious archetypal parts of Self can appear as personas in your nightly dream. Waking dreams may also happen (more so when you pay attention as such), wherein you realize an outer occurrence has a symbolic component or gives you an answer you are seeking in a serendipitous manner. Some mystical philosophers would remind us that the outer life is as much of a dream as a nightly, “inner” dream scenario.’ (A good primer: The Art of Spiritual Dreaming, by Harold Klemp.)


Archetype Dialogue Journaling:

Using active imagination and contemplation, you can enter into a conversation with your own personal unconscious archetypal ‘parts of Self’. This is the approach I use with the Life Maps Process, and it is the approach Jung used that is described in his The Red Book.  Once you become proficient at invoking and ‘shifting’ between these perspectives, you can journal a dialogue with your varying archetypal personae as it occurs. This can allow you to explore your conflicting attitudes and motivations. These different archetypal perspectives may be identified with “typical situations” in your life; that is, with the distinct ROLES you have established and that you enact daily.

Winged lion head

You can approach your MYSTIC archetype for a direct, dynamic dialogue or within a soul travel type of inner encounter.  Remember, all you have to do inwardly is to ASK! And then, accept what happens with a loving heart, ready to learn, and record your experience so you can interpret and remember the insights gained.

The Oak in the Acorn


A primary tool I will be offering with the upcoming book Life Paths is the Archetype Dialogue Practice. This approach lets you use active imagination and journaling to engage directly with your unconscious archetypal parts-of-Self (personae) so you can get to know these ever present aspects of your own Self and so you can enlist the Strengths of your archetypal cast as Allies in the pursuit of your most integral goals or Life Dream.


The process of active imagination has been well described and exemplified by Carl Jung.  Wikipedia explains:

 As developed by Carl Jung between 1913 and 1916, active imagination is a meditation technique wherein the contents of one’s unconscious are translated into images, narrative or personified as separate entities. It can serve as a bridge between the conscious ‘ego’ and the unconscious and includes working with dreams and the creative self via imagination or fantasy. Jung linked active imagination with the processes of alchemy in that both strive for oneness and inter-relatedness from a set of fragmented and dissociated parts. This process ultimately resulted in the Red Book.

A simple method for engaging in active imagination yourself to explore or to meet & greet some of your own archetypal energies (or, synergies) is simply to close your eyes and imagine going down into a subterranean cave or down a set of stairs where your archetypal sub-selves can meet with you. Use this or another active contemplation technique to encounter or to observe these aspects of your psyche, then when you return to your usual conscious awareness, as if waking from a meaningful dream, you can record what you experienced or learned. You can also use any artistic media to represent this encounter or what you have learned from it.

Rose-petal with notebook.

I find it easy after long practice with this approach to simply “shift down” to a subconscious perspective and to journal a dialogue directly with my own archetypal aspects. It is important to be receptive and allowing; create an internal environment of acceptance and offer a safe space for the dialogue to occur. Note that the ‘voices’ you will encounter will feel naturally to be aspects of yourself; they are not external ‘entities’ (you can discontinue your session if these voices do feel external). You will know you are ‘in the zone’ when the alternating perspectives in your dialogue feel inwardly to be authentic and clearly distinct parts of Self.

So for this week’s pairing of Idealist archetype traits with the metaphor of life as a Long and Winding Road, allow me to demonstrate, and I invite you to encounter your own “inner Idealist”, too. Remember that your archetypal personae might manifest either as masculine or feminine images and they might present in either Strength (positive) or in Shadow (repressed or feeling suppressed) modalities.


LW: Calling Doña Jeanne [a combination of a female Don Quixote and Joan of Arc!; I  used to address my fencing foil by this name]; come in, Doña!

DJ: We like how you animated and personified your blade in this way; ‘et la!’ we would say…

LW: Thanks. How are you doing these days?

DJ: We—Let’s say I—am always available. I wish lately you would allow me and the rest of us to shed light on why it is so important for you to maintain your trust, your faith. It is one thing to claim a faith but quite another to demonstrate the ‘faith of the mustard seed’, remember?

LW: Or of the Acorn?

DJ: Tell the story; have you ever found its message for you?


LW: Ok… One of my greatest mentors, Antoinette Paterson (Toni), loved oak. All her furniture, mostly from Salvation Army stores around Buffalo, NY, was made of oak. She once showed her young son an acorn while under an oak tree in a park, saying to him, “There is God!”

DJ: And the meaning, dear?

LW: I have always figured she meant that the Acorn, as the seed of the great Oak it will grow into, is a manifestation of the divine principle of Creation. Isn’t that the message?


DJ: But there is more, much more.

LW: What else then?

DJ: The Acorn IS GOD, as God IS the essence of Everything and No-thing—the Alpha and the Omega; Yin and Yang; beginning and goal achieved; inner and outer; Spirit and form; Sea and Foam. Do you see?

LW: I like the sea and foam image.


DJ: It is no metaphor. It Just IS! From out of the Formless, Form emerges. Then and Now, Once and Forever, IS. What does this imply for you?

LW: I look into the Acorn to see therein the Oak in full expression. It is not now and later but it is One. The Oak already exists in the Acorn. Is that what you mean?

DJ: Can you apply this to your recent displays of frustration and impatience?

LW: You mean re. the arduous, nebulous publishing process?

DJ: How can you bring about the bend in the Road you desire?

LW: By focusing on the End achieved.

DJ: No!

LW: By further editing?

DJ: Not even!

LW: Hmm…just by allowing the process to be already complete from within?

DJ: Indeed.


LW: So when I dreamed last week that several large boxes of books were ready for delivery…

DJ: Precisely! On the Inner first; the Outer is a reflection. “All creation is finished in the lower worlds.” (Paul Twitchell)

LW: So trust, allowance, acceptance!

DJ: Love is All! Love is the acorn is the oak and all its roots and branches and leaves. Even its corpse is Love.


LW: Thank you.

DJ: God Bless!

LW: God bless you too, with Love.

 ******   ******

I invite you to your own Idealist dialogue. I welcome all your insights and stories!

Take Me to Your Leader

Aliens Spacecrafts

This week we are pairing—or aligning—the Elder Leader archetype with the monthly life metaphor of Life is What You Make It. This is an especially fruitful alignment because it is a very natural, common combination culturally.  Leaders “make things happen” by their inherent character, so long as they are manifesting archetypal leadership qualities more in Strength than in Shadow mode. Villains (Shadow leaders), on the other hand, interfere with positive growth or survival potentials, requiring a protagonist’s leadership potentials to be ‘stepped up’ in order to meet the challenge.

Consider the prototypical science fiction line, then: “Take me to your leader!”…what’s that about? First, this line recognizes the archetypal nature of a Leader; we expect to find a leader of some sort in any society, on any planet. The Leader is conceived of as a single, central persona figure, representing an organizing principle for that society.  The Leader’s own character permeates all of the alien or subordinate ‘others’ by virtue of her or his influence over their world and lives.


Second, the visitors want to talk with the Leader because presumably it is s/he who makes the important decisions and gets things done. If the visiting astronauts are ever to get Home, they know it is only the alien Leader who can facilitate their Return and implement the necessary process to make it so. The visitors’ main concern is that the Leader might be in Shadow, a villain; then they will need to count upon their own intrinsic leadership strengths in order to overcome that opposition and find a solution that can get them Home under their own steam, as it were.  Either way, it is archetypal qualities of the Leader that must be appealed to in order to achieve the protagonists’ goal.

To be clear then for those fairly new to this blog or to the concept of archetypal character modes, archetypes can be defined and understood in two interconnected ways. Archetypal characters in one sense are simply character MODES; that is, they are typical forms that are found in fictional, mythical and everyday situations around the world. The Leader is found everywhere with fairly normative character traits, albeit each society may attribute to the Leader archetype some culturally relevant traits.

American Football Quarterback Throw Ball Shield Retro

In another aspect, archetype character modes–according to archetypal or depth psychologists such as Hillman and Jung—are also found in each of our personal unconscious makeup, so that the Leader is a complex of potential character traits inherent in all of us.  The fact that universal archetype modes show up in the day to day SOCIAL ROLES we occupy as well as in our nightly (or daytime, waking) DREAMS simply shows that as we grow up in and are socialized within any given cultural milieu, we internalize facets of these archetypal character modes as a matter of adapting to our social personas in life.  These sorts of archetypal layerings of our psyche may be more or less conscious to us, and their positive and/or Shadow traits may become embedded in our general personality orientations.


So then, a useful active imagination or creative visualization technique we can try this week is to contemplate a sticky situation or a difficult decision in your life right now. Imagine you are a member—the leader—of a visiting astronaut crew, shipwrecked on some alien planet. Inwardly imagine a group of aliens approaching and surrounding you. Step up and address the one who appears to head up this alien delegation, and ask: “Take me to your Leader!” Imagine what transpires after that on your own, focusing on the situation about which you are seeking greater clarity.

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I invite and welcome all of your comments and stories!

The Learner: A Question Of Afterlife


Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
About anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.

~ Rumi ~

(picture and poem reposted from Theresa at Soulgatherings, Dec.10, 2014)

This week while focusing on the Teacher archetype, what has come forth for me is a Learner part of Self. I have been asking and asking, what can I learn from some of the more difficult life experiences I am confronted with lately?


I lost a friend whom I thought very highly of last week. He passed away suddenly after battling an illness for a long time that he never told me about. I should have known, I felt. I should have questioned him when he uncharacteristically issued a swear word in our usually very positive exchange at Words with Friends.  What would my Teacher say?

I will name my inner-self teacher Rumi, after the poet I admire whose poetry I deeply appreciate. Please, teach me, Jalal.


I envision a desert oasis. I walk around, exploring.  I hear music, the sound of a wooden flute, and I think of Rumi’s “Song of the Reed”, and here he is, sitting across a wooden table from me at a quiet tavern.  The music that fills the air seems to be coming directly from this gentle man with dark hair, otherworldly eyes and olive toned skin, wearing an off-white cotton overshirt, without a turban. A stack of of cloth papers and a quill pen sits on the table before him.


“Where do we go when we leave this pale plane?  I know we go on forever, in various forms, but do we retain the sense of a unified consciousness?”

“Do you fear your own freedom so much that you would seek to contain its expression after your bird-soul is released?”

“I know that at least in this body-state, for all of its slow progress and limitations, it is solid; this lifetime is predictable, consistent. I go to sleep at night and I awake the next morning in the same body and Mind, day by day by day, for many decades. Without this solid frame, I don’t know where I will be.”


“Where are you, Now? Who are you, really?”

“I am Soul and not this body; yet there is comfort in the familiarity of my little-self personality and identity.”

“When you dream at night where do you go? Who are you Here?”

“Much of the time I am still me; other times I am personas from within the dream, or something greater.”

Praia del Rey beach

“What happens in these dreams when you feel yourself ‘something greater’ than your little ego form?”

“I am just a perspective, often. Not with a body although it doesn’t feel that way. But I am still me, as a point of view.  Sometimes I can fly; sometimes I ride a Pegasus. But I am not aware of having a body in those experiences.  Yet still, you see, that is my question. These dreams are episodic, not connected to one other. I am here or in another here, but I do not live a connected lifetime. I am afraid of letting go of that thread of continuity.”


Jalal sighs, a twinkle of laughter in his patient look. He slides the paper he has been writing on across to me on the table. Then he pushes his chair back from the table and gets up. He walks to a wooden platform on the side of the tavern where a man has been playing a stringed instrument like a lyre. Rumi sits tailor fashion on a large silk pillow on the platform stage. He draws out a reed flute from his wrap. He closes his eyes and lifts the flute to his lips and he begins to play.


I look at the writing on the page in front of me, listening to the delicate music. It is a poem, one I have read before, many times:

Oak branches

This Disaster

Why am I part of this disaster, this mud hole for donkeys? Is this the place

where Jesus spoke? Surely not. A table has been set, but we have not been served

sweet spring water yet. Evidently we came here to be bound hand and foot. I ask

a flower, “How is it you are so wise so young?” “With the first morning wind and

the first dew, I lost my innocence.” I follow the one who showed me the way. I                 

extend one hand up, and with the other I touch the ground. A great branch leans

down from the sky. How long will I keep talking of up and down? This is not my

home: silence, annihilation, absence! I go back where everything is nothing.

Coleman Barks, The Soul of Rumi

Forging an Archetype Ally


As one of twelve primordial archetype character modes, the Teacher is associated with the element of Earth, with a Dissolving energy mode, and with Sagittarius (hence, December).  A Teacher perspective usually involves practicalities or facts rooted in solid foundations, revealing in that sense an earthy nature.   Teacher also brings a dissolving or resolving energy, allowing questions to be answered and transitions forged. And Teacher may cut to the heart of a matter with constructive critique like the Sagittarian archer.

Balanced Pepples at the Baltic Sea of Germany

Regarding our archetypal aspects of Self as potential Allies, Teacher is a very positive ally to cultivate in its Strength mode.  If in Shadow, Teacher can be overly didactic or attached to a rigid point of view. But in its positive nature, Teacher can be a transformative Ally, showing the way to new vistas or a more flexible, new way of being.


In order to harness the positive strengths of your inner Teacher potentials, it is necessary first to get to know yourself in this dimension.  In my personal development book and Handbook, LIFE PATHS, I will be presenting a complete Archetype Dialogue process to facilitate your “alliance building” in this respect. For now, I invite you to start an “active imagination” form of conversation with your Teacher energy.

I invite you to simply seat yourself in a comfortable armchair or lie prone on a couch or bed. You might chant a favorite mantra or a prayer, or breathe deeply several times and release your breath to relax into a mindful or aware state. Focus inwardly on that spot between your eyebrows, gently expecting to encounter a part of your Self that has a Teacher aspect to him or her. Imagine this inner Teacher energy; it could be someone who has been a teacher for you or a fictional character or your inner Teacher may take her or his own unique personal form.  Allow yourself to spend some time with this inner character. Allow your experience to unfold in its own way. Meanwhile you can have a conversation with your Teacher figure. Ask whom s/he is and what s/he would like for you to know about him or her. Continue the encounter as long as it naturally unfolds.

Tree frog

When you return from your active imagination session with your Teacher part of Self, you may either continue the dialogue before opening your eyes, then record in your journal all that you remember; or, you might open your eyes after your main interaction and then start journaling an immediate dialogue in your journal.

When Jung returned from an active imagination experience–as described in his THE RED BOOK–,he would first journal about what he had experienced, then he would often draw a painting  or create a mandala to represent the lesson he had learned.


 What does your Teacher archetype look like? Does s/he have a name? Now that you have shared an encounter with him or her, do you feel a little differently for having included your inner Teacher energy more consciously within your Awareness?

Inwardly you can invite this figure to remain part of your consciousness from now on! You can offer to be more attentive and caring about his/her interests and concerns. You can work together to help achieve your common goals.

I welcome your insights and stories!

Spelunking Your Cave


IMAGINE there is a vital, vast, accessible CAVE deep within your own unconscious layers of Self. Today I invite you to visit this cavernous realm of your Psyche and to explore its dynamic potentials.

This Cave is available whenever you feel a need or desire for Descent; it is a place you can retreat to for shelter against the storms and shoals of life. It is where you in your Descender mode may have a hidden place of repose.  It reminds me of the secret forts and special treehouses I built with my siblings and closest friends as a child. Was there a place like this you and your friends used to go to (or, still do) for a special getaway?


A Visualization Technique: Spelunking Your Cave

I invite you to engage in an Active Imagination form of Inner Adventure.  Close your eyes and simply envision visiting a Cave–or a hidden fort or other secret place–deep within your own realms of Imagination. Find this secret space, and Explore! Please bring a flashlight or torch or some other source of illumination, and you can build a cozy fire within your cave.

fire place

Explore this space fully. Is anything written on the walls?  Would you like to write something? There is charcoal available. Are there artifacts left there from your own earlier or others’ use of this space? What artifacts are these? What is their meaning to you now?


If your Descender part-of-Self lives in this space or comes here sometimes, meet with him or her; you can engage in conversation and interact. Allow him or her to show you around, or listen as s/he tells you a story.

After you have discovered much of meaning to you in your Cave or place of repose, you can return to your normal awareness and make a record of what you have experienced and learned.  You might wish to journal or to write a letter to yourself about your Cave Adventure. You may create an art piece or a poem or a mandala representing something significant about this Inner journey. You may wish to talk about it with a loved one.


You are welcome to share your insights or a story about your experience here!

The Descender in You


shared from LIORA  

Within each of us reside The Twelve: universal archetypal energy modes or traits that affect our development of character throughout our lives. These twelve show up in the social roles we enact in connection with our relationships and our activities; in our job or career ‘personas’ at work, in our dreams and daydreams or fiction writing, in our sports, hobbies, service roles, spirituality, travel, and at rest. Have you noticed how you might “shift gears” from one role perspective to another, drawing upon or expressing different inflections of your dynamic, diverse Self? Do you sometimes even hear ‘voices’ that seem to come from somewhere within yourself yet that are distinctly focussed on a specific intention?

Your archetypal inner cast of character modes dwell both in the Above and the Below. They are interwoven with your day to day presentation of Self, as the sociologist Erving Goffman would describe, yet they also inhabit or perhaps more properly “live” within your personal (and collective) unconscious, realms of IMAGE and STORY; the same realms in which many of your most significant dreams unfold.  These are real energy modes or beings; parts of your very Self that have formed out of universal primordial energies interacting with the development of your identity over time and across situations.

Archetypal character forms can have both positive and/or negative sorts of influences on the person you are in any given context; upon the person you have become til now and are becoming. We can refer to the positive archetypal traits that show up in your conscious attitudes and behavior as Strengths. Each archetypal part-of-Self may also have its Shadow side pertaining to your fears or inhibitions or negative tendencies.


The Twelve universal archetype character modes we will be exploring this year are based on the archetypal psychology works of Dr. Charles Bebeau and archetypal psychotherapists Nin Bebeau and Debra J. Breazzano (whose works I will present further in my book and handbook, Life Paths. The twelve, organized vertically according to their associated Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and horizontally according to their energy modes (Originating, Maintaining, Dissolving), are:





Since these 12 have astrological associations according to Dr. Bebeau, who bases these on ancient Sumerian astrological and mythological figures, I will introduce them here according to their main astrological month. Hence, being November/ in Scorpio, I will begin this week by introducing the DESCENDER.


The Descender archetype is not the same as what Jung would call the Shadow. In fact, all twelve of the universal archetype modes have Shadow forms, including the Descender; yet Descender also brings positive Strengths to our building and expression of Self.

So, who is the DESCENDER in You?


Your Descender might show up in your dreams as someone or something literally dwelling in a “below” or interior place, like a basement or cave. Or you might see the Descender in your dreams or daydreams as one who engages in Descent, going “Down” from one place or stage to a deeper, lower, darker domain. As well as in your dreams, your Descender energy may show up in your waking life in relation to particular situations or circumstances. You can learn much from when your Descender appears.


As a fairly introvertive person, I have a lot of the Descender in me, both consciously in my outer self-expression and unconsciously/ inwardly. I see my Descender usually as a young girl in my dreams; I feel her as a young girl who lives in a low-lit space like the lower level of a tri-level home in the body of my self-identity. She is largely a loner, though connected closely with my conscious Self like a protected–and protective–daughter. She is an observer of my outer activities but prefers not to participate directly with most of the people-interactions I maintain from day to day. My very special friends are her friends, too, though, so she takes more part in our activities with them, like hiking, playing games, talking deeply or going to a movie.


“Oddly”, I have always preferred to sleep in Descender sorts of spaces. As a child, when not sharing a bedroom with my older sister, I preferred to sleep on my father’s old army cot, either in the basement or in an unfinished attic. This gave freedom to my very imaginative Descender–I call her Lindy. She loves the texture of such dark spaces. These dark, quiet spaces I share with her provide a portal for my creative ideas and fantasies. I would often sneak out when I slept in my family’s basement as a teen, just to slip out into the fertile darkness of the night. I experienced there a natural freedom and sense of adventure upon which Lindy thrives.

Still today, I live in a tri-level home. Two fully furnished bedrooms are in the upper level where my housemate sleeps, but I sleep downstairs on a futon, with my pets. In this ‘descent’ zone, every night I contemplate, write in my journals, and dream!


Who is Your DESCENDER? What is s/he like? When does s/he appear in your life? Do you constrain, resist, or express your Descender inclinations? What name might you give her or him? How does s/he appear in significant dreams you have had?

What have you learned or could you gain from listening to and nurturing your Descender? What Strengths does s/he bring to you? Does s/he also hold some of your fears or negative antisocial tendencies?

Remember to acknowledge and to love and care for the Descender part of yourself. My goal for us all this year in this blog in recognizing our archetypal facets of Self is to gradually integrate and unify these aspects as an Ensemble Cast of Archetype Allies.

red diamond 3d

I invite your Comments and Stories!



Using Life Metaphors as Positive Affirmations

Bouquet of plumeria flowers

Life Is… A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY! This is our Life Metaphor theme especially for this week and throughout the rest of this month of November.  A Golden Opportunity means, you have the freedom to be creative in your life, every day and always! There are opportunities around every corner, every turn in the road.  Setbacks are opportunities for change or a new direction. Hardships offer lessons, opportunities for new growth, new vistas.


Why focus on positive or “Better Endings” Life Metaphors?  A metaphor is a cognitive scaffold; it allows us to orient ourselves to the images and to the PATHWAY represented therein. As a Golden Opportunity, life is OPEN in all directions; nothing is set in stone; everything is rich in rewarding choices.


Can you think of times in your life when you have realized how life is a Golden Opportunity? Maybe when you graduated from high school or from college? Suddenly the “world is your oyster” (another positive metaphor”: you could take the job of your choice or travel to live in a setting or location full of rich possibility! Or perhaps your marriage or the birth of a child brought joy to you in the awareness of life’s infinite potentials.

Small Girl Blowing Sparkly Stars

On the other hand, is there a situation in your life right now where you might be feeling “stuck” or “pinned down”? Those are also metaphoric scaffolds. You can apply a positive Life Metaphor as an AFFIRMATION. Look at this “stuck” situation and replace it with the repeating mantra: “Life is a Golden Opportunity”! As a creative exercise, repeat this affirmation; write it or say it aloud or inwardly 12 times, while gently focusing attention on your situation.

Do you begin to see some light ‘around the edges’ of your stuck situation? What OPPORTUNITY is implicit, even if heretofore hidden, in your present set of conditions? This is a question ripe for active imagination, contemplation, meditation or prayer.  Ask inwardly to be shown, how might this situation offer a Golden Opportunity?

What can you be doing in your life Now, to manifest this opportunity?

As you arrive at some insight, you can journal about it or talk about it, or create a poem or artwork to ILLUMINATE and to remember and reinforce your new awareness.


For me, I can acknowledge feeling stuck in a particular situation that I have not felt I have much control over, lately. But, Life is a GOLDEN OPPPORTUNITY! So, I will maintain faith that things are as they are meant to be, Now. I will look for the opening, for the opportunity to ACT in a manner that may release the potentials I long to realize; the Gold at the end of the Rainbow!


I welcome your thoughts and comments about this theme. How is YOUR life or a specific situation you have been feeling stuck within actually or also a Golden Opportunity?


Synchronicity Sharing:

Isn’t this image and thought below a beautiful awareness that highlights how life is full of possibilities?


This artistic image with words about how Life is a Golden Opportunity is reposted from Mandi of Caged No More, who reblogged it on Nov. 14 from Mimi’s blog, Everyday Positive Quotes (Nov 15, 2014: ). Mimi’s title for the post is: New Beginning!


Jung’s RED BOOK: Using Mandalas to Ground Your Awareness


Today I want to discuss Jung’s RED BOOK (or, Liber Novus; 2009) as an example of how to use Totemic Representation to ground and illuminate your personal growth and development.

For a series of evenings starting from November 23 – December 25, 1913, just before the outbreak of WWI,then continuing for 16 years off and on after that, Carl G. Jung, founder of Depth, or Analytical, Psychology and the primary pioneer in the field of archetypal research, undertook an adventurous odyssey; he dived into the netherworlds of his own unconscious depths, and he returned to integrate his dreamlike encounters with the denizens of his unconscious domains within his conscious awareness. Using a form of contemplative practice that he termed “active imagination,” Jung sank willingly into a dreamlike awareness in order to encounter aspects and personae of his own Psyche that he would refer to as Archetypes.


 To Jung, Archetypes exist in a “collective unconscious” dimension; that is, similar archetypal images or forms are found all over the world and often appear in myths and dreams in similar ways and with similar meanings, although the individual appearance of an archetype might have very individual, personal form and specific cultural relevance. Jung identified several collective archetypes in his active imagination scenarios: an Anima (feminine aspect of a man’s Psyche), Shadow forms, and a Mage sort of figure represented in Jung’s experiences as a philosophical guide or guru figure, Philemon. He also experienced many fairly idiosynchratic figures related to his personal relationships and to his academic, religious, and literary background studies.

Religious stained glass windows

Some of Jung’s archetypal encounters lasted for several nights at a time, weaving a meaningful story.  Every night after his active imagination session, Jung recorded what he had experienced—including dialogue that had occurred with his archetypal figures—in a special journal he called his Red Book. He would sometimes paint some of the content of his experience in the Red Book, too. Every time a storyline had revealed its full significance to Jung, when he came out of his reveries that night he painted a special artistic image to represent his understanding of that archetypal encounter in the form of a circular Mandala (see link).


A Mandala is a universal sort of artistic image, created in a Circular form within what might be a 4-corner outer frame and with a center image around which the rest of the picture aligns. Tibetan monks and Navajo Indian healers alike use Mandalas in healing and centering rituals. Mandalas represent Balance and the organized coherence and integration of what might otherwise be considered disjoint or even chaotic elements or forces. To Jung, his Red Book mandalas represented the “integration” of archetypal energies within his own Psyche or Soul as he came into greater understanding of their presence and significance.  This process of integrating archetypal energy forms is crucial within Jung’s broader psychological theory of Individuation which he developed more completely after completing his Red Book ‘Descent’ and reemergence.

Jung’s Red Book mandalas—which I can link to only indirectly here so as not to infringe on copyrights—are an excellent form of totemic representation. They served to literally ILLUMINATE the shadowy unconscious forms that might appear in Carl Jung’s dreams and reveries. The process of arranging these archetypal images in Mandala forms revealed the deeper significance of these forms to Jung; it represented the integrationof their MEANINGS within Jung’s holistic understanding of his own Psyche or Self.

Gate to Heaven Fantasy Background

I certainly recommend reading Jung’s Red Book (there is a new Readers’ Edition available that makes this precious gem more accessible and affordable). Even more,I encourage you to engage in an ‘active imagination’ exploration of your own archetypal depths. In Life Paths–also in the next year of this blog that will begin in a couple of weeks from now— I’ll be offering an Archetype Dialogue process to help you discover aspects of your own unconscious archetypal influences that can be thought of as your own ensemble cast of archetypal Ally characters.

For now, though, I invite you to create a MANDALA to represent your LIFE DREAM. Place an image that represents your GOAL ACHIEVED (how you will feel or what your life will be like when you have fully integrated your Life Dream into your daily reality) in the center of a blank page. Around this Life Dream image, place other images or words and phrases to represent significant aspects of this Dream or representing the steps you can take to manifest your Life Dream.  You can refer to last week’s “Yellow Brick Road” and “Your Next Step” blog posts to find or develop material to use in filling out your totemic Life Dream Mandala image.


I welcome your Mandala image or comments!

Childsplay and Active Imagination Techniques



I consider myself to have been very fortunate as a child to have shared a best friendship with Karin, who was as much interested in creative imagination and adventure as I was. We were so interconnected through “childsplay” of various forms that when I remember my past in this life, I often say that my Childhood WAS Karin (…later extending to Barb, Diane, Ro, Pattie, Franco, Sebrena, Kery, Jan P,  Jan J, my sisters, Corinne, Gianmichele, Zvia, and Kathleen; gratitude for all these human companions, plus always my beloved pets!). But Karin and I had a special latitude in our very actively imaginative play, from when we were around 7 to 12. She lived with her mother in a beautiful, woodsy area in Pennsylvania; there were willow tree vines on which to swing across a creek, and lots of little green clearings within circles of large trees that made excellent forts, or rooms, or spaceships, or hiding places, or worlds. We played outdoors a lot in her yard: we played WWII soldiers, Indians (never cowboys), spies, and horses (that was my fave; we were just horses, wild and free, or one of us–playing a human–would rope and befriend the other, leading to many high spirited adventures!) Then indoors, when not practicing our violins together (we aimed to play “Santa Lucia” together at Carnegie Hall one day), we built elaborate universes, mansions made of Golden Book walls filling the upper and lower areas of a ping pong table at my family’s home. We created lives there for her Barbie, my Ken (yes, always the tomboy…); and we would weave adventurous, intricate life stories for our alter selves extending for over months at a time.


I am glad I had Karin as my playmate, along with family and other friend adventurers throughout childhood and beyond. I don’t remember ever closing down this creative flow and in fact I can gratefully say it has continued always, through writing, dreaming, daily contemplations, daydreams, reading, and travels. Compiling the Life Paths Portfolio Handbook as a self-help toolkit, based on coaching people who have used this method for their own life mapping adventures, has helped me remain engaged with my own Active Imagination playground!

Children toys

One vital tool for using active imagination as a personal growth and development sandbox is to establish an ongoing “Archetype Dialogue” contemplation and journaling practice, which I highly recommend for anyone. This is what Carl G. Jung engaged in, which he in fact called an active imagination process. For Jung it resulted in his The Red Book: Liber Novus, and it spawned his general approach to understanding and working with “Archetypes of the Unconscious.”


We all can have some access to our unconscious archetypal sub-selves—what I like to call our ensemble cast of mythic characters–through engaging our imaginative faculties and by remaining attentively engaged with our dreams. While some psychologists and others who have read of Jung’s forays into his Unconscious Archetypal domain through active imagination and journaling concluded this was evidence of Jung’s own psychological imbalance, he countered that since he was in control of when he would engage his archetypes and since he used these inner encounters to gain a more balanced and integrated Psyche, quite the opposite was true. Joseph Campbell similarly has cautioned that when people do NOT attend to their inner archetypal impulses, that could result in a form of ‘schizoid’ split in a person from “not listening to” their own inner selves, or Soul.


 Many scientists, artists, and writers have likewise relied upon active imagination to keep open to the Creative Wellspring within each of us that allows us to be adaptive, flexible, playful, creative and productive in making of our lives that which we would fashion out of choice rather than only of necessity.  It is said that Edison never slept more that 20 or so minute catnaps at a time in order to stay primed at that creative aperture of consciousness between waking and sleeping.  Many artists share how their ideas have come through visions either sought or unexpected, as have scientists such as Kekule, who in 1890 dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and thereby developed a model of a benzene ring. Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA with Watson, theorized it is important to use dreaming to ‘forget’ our non-productive or fixed ideas so that the subconscious mind can better explore and reveal its secrets.


The book and recently released film Heaven is for Real adds a spiritual dimension to the practice of active imagination which I believe is also very important.(Or, read Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander in this same vein.) OOBE’s, NDE’s, and some forms of dreaming (e.g. lucid dreams, prophetic dreams, past-life dreams, etc.) can reveal to us that there is so much more to Reality—and life and death—than can be understood by physical science alone.

Hot Air Balloon

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What are some favorite ways YOU exercise your Active Imagination?

Where does it take you to?

I welcome your Comments, Insights and Reveries!

A View from the Dock of the Bay

 Hut on jetty


Talking about Active Imagination, this week I keep remembering one of my all-time favorite songs: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding.


I have been there all my life it seems. Literally when I was 19 I went to Alaska and ended up working at a crab and salmon cannery most of the summer in Yakutat, AK. And there was this dock overlooking Yakutat Bay, in 1973, that I would sit at for hours at a time, in awe of the triple levels of mountain ranges ahead on the horizon; contemplating life, my future, spirituality, poetry, and at the time Yeats’s book A Vision, with this song playing over and over in my mind, as it is today. A similar lyric from Don MacClean merges for me with Dock of the Bay:

   You know I’ve heard about people like me,

   But I never made the connection;

   They walk one road to set them free,

   And find they’ve gone the wrong direction.

   But there’s no need for turnin’ round,

   ‘Cause all roads lead to where I am;

   And I believe I’ve walked them all,

   No matter what I may have planned.


So what is it about Dock of the Bay that lingers; that has dogged my footsteps and supported my own Dreamer nature all my adult life? My favorite line personally is:

    I can’t do what ten people tell me to do;

    So I guess I’ll remain the same.

These lyrics are more than song words; they are banners, manifestos; philosophical cornerstones of a Generation, the late 60’s – 70’s; my formative generation. They comprise a FORGE for the Imagination to be Fired in; an Alchemical cauldron in which Identity itself has stewed, and brewed, through the decades.


Lyrics like these ring true with my independent-thinking, Explorer instincts.

They are an invitation to ACTIVATE the imagination; to LISTEN DEEPLY, within the cauldron of your own BEINGNESS, and then, to Follow in the direction of your Dreams, unafraid and alive; to activate your spirit of Adventure.


I invite you to a Creative Visualization technique:

Imagine you are sitting on the Dock of a Bay. Your feet are dangling over the water. Waves wash in and then recede.You smell the salt air, taste the moisture. Boats go here and there at sea. The horizon seems infinite; it carries you anywhere you wish to go in your thoughts, your wishes, your memories, your dream reveries. Just sit here on the dock of your bay, and IMAGINE! Stay as long as you can; go back over a series of days if you like. Bring a question or just enjoy your repose. You are “time out of time”; everywhere and nowhere and there is no place but Here you need to Be. Later, you can journal about your thoughts and feelings and you can ponder the VISIONS that come to you in this practice.

So, here are the lyrics.  Where do they take YOU to? (I invite your reminiscences and stories!)


– written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
– lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time


Here’s a You Tube Link to Otis Redding’s version

And a re-blog of a relevant quote from Albert Schweitzer

from Theresa’s Soul Gatherings blog yesterday:

It is not necessary
to go off on a tour of great cathedrals
in order to find the Deity.
Look within.
You have to sit still to do it.

~ Albert Schweitzer ~
German Theologian, Physician



I have mentioned the practice of Active Imagination here and there throughout this site, but this week let’s focus on Active Imagination as our focal topic. Many forms of meditation, contemplation, yoga, mantra chanting, children’s creative play, nighttime dreaming especially when lucid (aware of dreaming while in it), daydreaming, fiction or drama or fantasy writing, journaling, prayerfulness, and Mindfulness techniques all could constitute Active Imagination practices, as long as You are Present and Aware. Active Imagination entails an exploration and exercise of your own imaginative faculty within your own perceptual multi-verse.

 The fragment of ancient theatre Amphitheatre

When was the last time you ‘just’ sat (or laid down on a bed of meadow grass, for example) and imagined; deeply and fully? I did that this morning (written on Thursday). I went to a café, opened this laptop, started a new file called JOURNAL, and engaged for an hour or so actively envisioning on the page my future life after retirement. Every fear I privately nurture about that transition I allowed myself to feel and yet when I envisioned in words various aspects of the life I may live, I felt my fears greatly reduced and a relieving sense of freedom entered my consciousness instead.

Dream 6

               From the journal (a brief sample):

… Maybe I will mainly be alone with my pets. Then Cheryl will be not far away, and there are many places to visit that will feel familiar (Lewiston, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Canada). Will that feel weird with no one other than my pets to share it with wholly at this advancing age?

… Put Academe behind me. Hike in the state parks, get a used motorboat; go boating with Sophie and alone or with Cheryl (my sister) and her friends. EXPLORE, outwardly and inwardly. EXPAND HORIZONS. Contemplate. Write. Offer workshops and life mapping. Present spiritual events, facilitate and join satsang and book discussions. Join a Scrabble club. Fence with seniors if I wish to. Travel and enjoy visitors. Learn at Chautauqua. Write to my heart’s contentment! Publish more. Go deeper philosophically, spiritually. READ MORE. DREAM DEEPLY. IMAGINE. EXPAND.

Honestly I can tell you that after taking time to creatively envision, freely and without constraint, I felt even physically better than before I did this: less encumbered, lighter, less blocked. And the rest of the day (now 11:20 PM on the same day as I compose this), my imagination remains open and I feel like a child again in relation to a greater acceptance of Trust and of Possibility!


Oddly synergistic events also transpired after engaging in this active imagination practice. Without my having scheduled it directly, men showed up to clear trees from my yard, removing debris and clutter more than I had even expected this team to do when they would arrive. This clearing of clutter is a big step in the direction of realizing the future of my imaginings, as I am gradually working to improve my home’s condition in preparation to sell the house before moving. It was like…Magic!


So I invite you to take ample time to JUST IMAGINE. Exercise your Creative imaginative PLAY via direct, daily contemplation; journaling “alternate future lifescapes”; writing “from the future”; composing magazine image collages or creating mandalas.  Many techniques such as these are included in the Life Paths Handbook, to come.  Remembering to simply take ‘time out’ for IMAGINING can help you to “live INTO” your goal or life dream with creativity, building a clarity of intention while remaining flexible to new ideas along the Way.