Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Believing that it’s real

Perhaps the most difficult part of doing imaginal work is believing that it’s real. In a culture that provides us with no framework for these kinds of experiences, it’s so easy to tell yourself that it’s all in your head, that you’re making it all up. And the more important the imaginal world is to you, the easier it is, in some perverse way, to talk yourself right out of it.

I was lucky. More than ten years ago, my first experience of imaginal beings since childhood came in a way that made it nearly impossible for me to doubt their reality. I can’t discuss it in a public forum, but the experience was profound and life-changing. Even so, at the time I still wondered if somehow I was imagining it all. These kinds of things just couldn’t possibly real, could they? In the face of hard evidence (in my case, actual evidence in the waking world), I still managed to doubt. So I can readily understand if you’re telling yourself that this is all nuts.

It would be great if there were some way of verifying our experiences. Wouldn’t it be great to have a “trail buddy” to go along with us, someone we could turn to and say, “Hey! Did you see that?” and get confirmation from. We need someone to compare notes with—especially those of us who are more concrete and practical-minded. It all just sounds so crazy, eh?

I (being a Gemini) have always been of two minds about the imaginal (yes, folks, even I still wonder at times if I’m nuts!). Part of me has always known, in an instinctual, intuitive way, that psychic experiences are real, and that you can actually enter a different space and converse with beings whom others can’t see. But my parents were always telling me to get my head out of the clouds and stop daydreaming, and eventually I absorbed what they taught me. I basically quit believing in anything but the practical realities of everyday life, until the imaginal world forced its way back into my life.

My mother did tell me a few times, with much nervous laughter, about her own mother, who “had the sight.” Granny had some pretty hair-raising experiences, it seems. The incident I remember best took place while she was in the nursing home, slowly fading from cancer but completely sane and alert. One evening while my mother was visiting, Granny looked out the second-story window and calmly reported that she saw her son-in-law Jack’s face there. Mom thought she had gone round the bend until a phone call came late that night that my uncle Jack had died suddenly. Now, my mother didn’t believe in “the sight,” she said, but that experience shook her up a bit.

So anyway. All this to say that we just need to trust our intuitions here. Experiences of the imaginal world go against everything we’ve been taught about how the world works. There isn’t going to be a lot of support in the culture, and even for those of us who have long experience with it, there are always moments of doubt. Try “pretending” it’s real, maybe. If you ever find a trail buddy, take advantage of it! And as you gain experience, it will get easier, I promise.

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