Close your eyes.
No… don’t close your eyes. That won’t work. Keep reading, but picture yourself in your mind sitting there with your eyes closed.
Take a second. Can you do it?
Well, you have just exercised the first Value in my Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month Series: Imagination.
*** Imagine An Image Here ***
Imagine What I Said Before
As I wrote in my last post, there are challenges to any group claiming a value as their own. The principle that is meant to be a strengthener of group identity can also be used to alienate others outside of the group. After asking a slew of questions, I concluded my post with the decision to write about my own personal values first — The Teo Value System, if you will. Then, I could see if these values resonate with other Pagans, and I may also discover that they are values shared by an even wider community of seekers and critical thinkers.
Values are kissing cousins with morals, and I don’t think I want to get into a discussion about morals. I’m probably not the only one, either. Moral-talk has its place, usually within smaller groups of people who share a perspective, perhaps even a system of belief. And we know that’s not really an accurate description of my readership, not to mention the wider Pagan community.
No. Let’s unpack some values first. They’re going to be enough of a handfull.
So, I start here with a Teo Value that is free of any moralistic residue, but that is quite central to my spiritual practice, my creative work and my expression of self.
Imagine It, and It Is There
Was that a siren? Do you hear that?
Imagination is the fundamental building block of all spiritual and magical work. Your imagination is where it all takes place. See a deity? Give thanks to your imagination. Create a circle of protection? Again, imagination.
Note that I do not say, “Those things are in your imagination,” in some dismissive fashion. Rather, they come from your imagination. Your imagination is the origin point of co-creation. You make things exist from and out of your imagination, and so do the Gods. It’s a shared workspace; a common medium.
So, I’m not suggesting that the Goddess you saw when you were standing, eyes closed, in front of your altar was not, indeed, a Goddess; nor do I suggest that you’re ritual is actually not protected from malevolent forces ’cause your circle ain’t real.
To say that something is born of the imagination– The Goddess, the circle, the…
…ball of green, glowing light that has begun moving around your computer screen, slowly at first and then steadily faster, changing form, becoming a continuous beam of color, growing, growing…filling the whole space around you with green light….
…those things totally exist. Just differently.
You Were Once Imagined
Before you were you, you were not you. But, you were still you.
That before-you may have not looked much like the present-you, but it was still kinda you.
Can you think of this thought of you?
Is the wordplay dizzying? If so, try to picture this:
Everyone with whom you have a relationship once imagined you. Not the you-you that looks exactly like you now. But, the essential you. The stuff of you. They imagined your attributes, or your qualities. Or, they imagined that they wanted to feel or experience in their lives, and somehow you help them to realize those feelings in relationship to them. You are, then, helping to bring to them qualities and experiences of the life they once created in their imagination.
And if you feel a little like a tool after imagining that, don’t. They’re serving the same imaginative function in your life.
Spare Some Change?
Imagination is the staging ground for all real transformational change. If its going to happen anywhere, it has to first happen in and through the imagination.
Let’s say you’re tired of your job. You’re bored. The routine is stale, and you feel almost robot-like as you go through the motions. You want something different.
Well, what does different look like? It doesn’t look like what you’re experiencing now. It looks like something else. But what?
Turn the key and crank up that imagination. The quickest and most effective, perhaps the only way to build a life that is different than the one you’re experiencing now is to engage your imagination. Transformation depends upon an active imagination.
*** Another Appropriate Image Is Here ***
Suspend Your Disbelief
Imagination makes ecstatic religion possible. For the Catholic, does the bread turn into Christ’s Body & the wine turn into His Blood? If she suspends her disbelief it does, and in that moment she is able to experience something truly magical. It’s happening because she allowed herself to engage in an imaginative experience of her revered ritual.
I realize that the Catholic Mass may not be a useful example for some Pagan readers, but its High Magic nonetheless. Plus, its familiar to me, and I’m writing about Teo Values, after all.
But, this same act of engaging the imagination in ritual applies to all of us in our own traditions. If we want to experience our spiritual lives in a relevant way; if we want to get out of our books, step onto sacred ground and truly commune with forces that are greater than ourselves, we first have to suspend our disbelief in our own imagination.
A Value Challenge
So, I conclude with a challenge. Be a kid again. Let your imagination expand and explode, and remember that doing so is a way to invest in your own spiritual growth. Regardless of how you self-identify, you have an imagination. It’s a sacred tool. A magical instrument that you were born with, created from, and to which one day you will return.
So use it, already.
You can open your eyes now.
If this ideas got your imagination going, please share your thoughts in the Comments section. I’d love to know what you think about Imagination as a Pagan Value!
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4 responses to “Imagination is a Pagan Value”
This was the most picture-filled and colorful post yet! And all the images were perfectly in line with what I was thinking….! 😀
I really appreciate this insight. I’ve always struggled with the concept of “visualization” versus “imagination.” Considering it all one in the same with a “shared work space” is very helpful at bringing some mental dissonance into harmony. Thanks!
Great to hear, Paul! I’m glad those words resonated with you, and that the pictures did, too!
Thanks, Michael. I’m glad these words spoke to you. Let me know what insights you come to.
Blessings to you.
“You make things exist from and out of your imagination, and so do the Gods. It’s a shared workspace; a common medium.”
That’s a really meaningful insight to me. I’ve been learning Greer’s Sphere of Protection and sometimes wondering what I’m really accomplishing by imagining elemental symbols and whirring spheres. This thought bears reflection. Thanks.