Active Imagination

Active imagination as theurgic divination would work on the Gods rather than recognizing their working in us.

We reach too far, missing the daimons that are present every day, and each night too. As Plotinus said: "It is for them to come to me, not for me to go to them."

So, Jung's method of interior imagining is for none of these reasons - spiritual discipline, artistic creativity, transcendence of the worldly, mystical vision or union, personal betterment, or magical effect. Then what for? What is the aim?

Primarily, it aims at healing the psyche by re-establishing it in the metaxy from which it had fallen into the disease of literalism. Finding the way back to the metaxy calls up a mythical mode of imagining such as the Platonic Socrates employed as a healer of souls.

This return to the middle realm of fiction, of myth carries one into conversational familiarity with the cosmos one inhabits. Healing thus means Return and psychic consciousness means Conversation, and a 'healed consciousness' lives fictionally, just as healing figures like Jung and Freud become under our very eyes fictional personages, their factual biographies dissolving and coagulating into myths, becoming fictions so they can go on healing.

One may aesthetically give form to the images - indeed one should try as best one can aesthetically - though this is for the sake of the figures, in dedication to them and to realize their beauty, and not for the sake of art.

Therefore active imagination, so close to art in procedure, is distinct from it in aim. This is not only because active imagination foregoes an end result in a physical product, but more because its intention is Know Thyself, self-understanding, which is as well its limit ...

We may fiction connections between the revelatory moments, but these connections are hidden like the spaces between the sparks or the dark seas around the luminous fishes's eyes, images Jung employs to account for images. Each image is its own beginning, its own end, healed by and in itself.

Know Thyself is its own end and has no end.

[James Hillman]
Healing Fiction, p.78-80

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