April 28, 2023
As an artist, dreamtender, ancestral healing practitioner and oracular guide, what weaves my work and orientation in life together lives in the realm of the imaginal. It has been a long road of reclamation—calling home the innate capacity for intuition and imagination we all have as our birthright. In my case, (and I bet many can relate) I was taught not to value or trust in these gifts. And so, I buried them in a treasure chest which I found years later— in nature.
I found a teacher— Eliot Cowan—who knew how to listen to the plant spirits. He learned of their gifts and their personalities, their generosity and their medicine all through journeying to meet them in spirit form.
When he was teaching us to journey —before we could get anywhere near the plant spirits—we inevitably met an authoritative voice in our heads. I think you all probably know this one too. The one who says “this is all in your imagination, don’t believe this”—Or—“you are not special enough to do this, they can do it because they’re special.”
I know this voice well and it’s often the first thing I hear from folks when guiding them in sessions. This voice inspires hesitancy, doubts, insecurities and sometimes a seemingly inpenetrable block in doing the work. And it’s a real thing we were pretty much all brought up to believe in the West. But does it have to stop us?
Over time I’ve danced with this voice, and over and over I decide to trust in a deeper flow instead. The river that takes us into the unseen realms is our imagination. I have found imagination is a language. The language of images and story and all things creation. It’s the language that connects us to the trees and the animals. It’s the language of emotions and it’s the birthplace of dreams and the arts.
Being open to the imaginal is being open to perceiving the extraordinary—seeing, hearing and feeling beyond the ordinary. Becoming aware of things that without imagination would be invisible to us.
Fairytales and myths, and all things story would not exist without imagination. Without the boundaries of the analytical mind. there is something shared throughout the collective in the imaginal field. It is the telepathic language across cultures that gives birth to symbols, the forms and stories of gods and goddesses, faeries, unicorns and dragons.
So I ask, is the voice that I hear in my head of a tree sharing her story with me real or imaginal? The feeling of warmth and connection that moves through me when I am tuning into the forest—is that imagined? And what is the story that is behind these feelings? The words, the songs, the magic being shared?
If I give these experiences the benefit of the doubt how much more does my world open up? How much more wisdom flows through from the unexpected arrivals of imaginal experiences? After all, when there is a visceral quality to the experience of connecting with an ancient ancestor, one that opens my heart and mind into wisdom teachings previously unknown to me, does it make sense to question whether it is “real?” To me, it makes more sense to open to possibilities and to allow for healing and upliftment.
Through the imagination dreams can be re-entered and discovered beyond what the analytical practical interpretive mind could see. There is so much more to this precious world than meets the eye. So I invite you to take a chance and trust in the deeper stream that is sparkling inside you, beckoning you to jump in and see where it takes you. Pay attention to your dreams, to your imaginings and to those mysterious movements inside you we call intuition. See where this kind of attention leads you when you are out in nature. Perhaps you will find yourself drawn to sit under a tree and sing and talk and feel and listen. And maybe, just maybe, you will hear a story….
Image—Breath from the Ancestral oracle deck, a work in progress.