Imaginal worlding; on fluid creativity, perception and water epistemology
name; Kerolaina Linkeviča (Laīna)
I will be speaking and mapping through the lens of my ancestry, research and art practice. This is an explorative/ experimental workshop chaotic in nature but I hope you enjoy the pool of thoughts
1) the art of sensing the more-than-human-worlds
dreaming with the imaginal
Imaginal: a realm that is as ontologically real as the physical world (1) - it is a reality of its own, which exists on a different plane to this world. This realm can be accessed through imagination exercises which we go on to explore. I choose to use ‘imaginal’ instead of ‘imagination’/ distinguish between the two, as regretfully the latter is most commonly perceived through inferred absence and dismissal with a link to ‘fantasy’, to be both invisible and inaudible, but it is here, both within you, within the room in which we explore it and beyond us.
The imaginal has a corporeality, temporality and spatiality of its own, that exists within the ontological pluralities of an ancient and expansive metaphysics.
we will be tapping into imaginal mechanics and techniques that have the potential to empower positive change and deeply inform/inspire creative practices.
1) further explored by Henry Corbin -‘Mundus Imaginalis’ aided by the translations of Islamic Theosophers and Arabic and Persian texts. Brought into depth psychology by James Hillman with origins from Sufism
Even though we may all have our subjective Imaginal spaces and /or experiences, maybe a nice way to contextualise the Imaginal is a memory of being a child and in awe / understanding of how all realities were synonymous; how stories were intertwined with reality.
A world that we know in our heart of hearts, yet are told by Technics (Western) regime to be impossible and mere superstition…causing annihilation of our ability to act and to imagine. (2)
2) Technic and Magic - Federico Campagna
For me one story of much significance is that of Baba Yaga (a slavic tale of a witch who lives in a forest). When I was younger we lived right by a forest in Latvia so knowing of Baba Yaga's existence didn't help me much with sleeping.
An interpersonal example of how the Imaginal affects other unfoldments of existence.
Illustration of Баба Яга by Ivan Bilibin, 1900, Fairytale book 'Vasilisa the Beautiful'.
A term used to summarise that we live in a realm that is populated by an expanse of beings, all in symposium and of importance. I see that we are in collaboration with extra dimensional beings, humans, machines etc; throughout our existence. Often referred to as animism (reclaimed term).
Isabelle Stengers- Reclaiming Animism, Issue 36 E-flux
Practitioners of magic and philosophers have been reclaiming/revising the term ‘animism’ from its colonial disempowering and racist past, where it was used to signify difference and a hierarchy of experience.
Gordon White’s definition of animism;
animisim describes a living cosmos incorporating an immanent spirit world, of multiple epistemologies operating in frictionless and non-extractive ways, in which beings are relationally composed towards the cosmic aim of mutual flourishing.
recommended reads ; Gordon White - Ani-mystic
A little bit of personal context on motherland of my beliefs -
I grew up besides a forest, in Daugavpils (Latvia - Eastern Europe), raised by a single mother. The knowledge she beautifully embodies has been passed on orally through the femme line of my family. Later in her adult life due to growing up in Soviet times my Mother (like many) had to “veil” Pagan practices under the Russian Orthodox doctrine or rather created a syncretism of the two e.g enmeshment of prayers for healing, working with Mary and using blessed resources (oils, incense etc) from the church in her practice.
Note. Latvia was the last regions in Europe to be Christianised and many rural areas still practise Paganism and Baltic mythologies
so the story i am telling thus far goes;
we live in a world, populated by prismatic beings, all complicated and as busy as we are. sometimes your mind wanders, whispered invitations bring dreams forth, you lose yourself. where the veil is thin you can point your attention and explore different realms.
on exploring different realms - altered states of consciousness/perception
An altered state of consciousness may be defined as a temporary change in the overall pattern of subjective experience (Ludwig 1996; Tart 1972b). Examples of ACS that I utilise in my practice includes the hypnagogic state (drowsy presleep), hypnosis, mystical or transcendental experiences (Farthing, 1992).
The function of the ACS state would be to promote well being and avenues to new knowledge through introspection and experience of the imaginal. (Fasullo, Hernandez, Bodeker, 2020). An experience which combines elements of ritual, spirituality and movement to access the subconscious and enact positive change.
Contemplate- where or when does it feel like the veil is thin ?
(the veil between worlds or perception) > prompts: shower, certain days or time?
for me its when aspects are overly intense or quiet e.g raves, meditative states, misty forests.
Before journeying or any spirit work I have been taught by my Mother to assign protection before interaction. Before we go into a short visualisation I wanted to first do so together and check in with how we are doing.
-short guided exercise
That was an example of journeying. I am aware that some of us enter the imaginal through different sensory points, that is to say that didn’t have to be entirely or pre-dominantly visual, it could have been received through other sensory links. This is one example of interacting with the physical and imaginal realm.
You can go further - establishing a ritual practice around journeying can be beneficial in generating imagery // planning.
This was a short particle of an expanse of adventures you can undertake and amplify with your lens and art.
2) the body as a tool; to access non ordinary states and imaginal ecologies.
Standard cognitive psychology focuses on embodiment as a self contained experience within the brain and sometimes the body - especially in regards to input patterns and processes (Clark’s, 1997, Fodor, 1983). Crucially here the body and its contribution is functional and causal, limited to the experience of the self. (Kiverstein, 2011).
I choose to think with the term embodiment as an applied ability to experience: envision, feel, think, move within and outside of the assumed ‘self’; mentally, physically and spiritually etc. Bodies have the capacity to proliferate and transform in an expanse of ways - always seeking out new expressions of embodiment; thinking with water.
To look into/deeper into posthuman phenomenology is then an aim is to attune ourselves differently to a world in which we are implicated, experimenting in modes of wording otherwise. This is not only an experiment in embodiment, but also a commitment to following 'the flows of marginalisation and injustice, as well as those of connection, empowerment, and joy that our watery corporealities collaboratively engender ' (Neimanis Astrida, Bodies of Water)
Embodiment requires one to move beyond the personal identity, attempting to let go of the self - e.g habitual patterns and lived experiences we have gathered - so that active imagination and embodiment can begin to take place unrestricted (Haarhoff, 2019). By generating a safe and consequence free mindset through focused play and an immersive environment we may temporarily let go of at least a fragment of control, enabling through dedication and ritual; going beyond the preconceptions of our previous experiences.
By entertaining and working with the idea of the imaginal and accessing it through imaginative embodiment we pause the rigidity of our assigned identity, allowing for creative potentialities and expanded explorations of this other world. As a result, we can begin to allow ourselves to experience something outside of ourselves - the possibilities of other ways of being though empathy and the embodiment of the imaginal. Paving way through a relinquishing of habitual control mechanisms, to the fruitful and endlessly metamorphic flux deftly mediated by an improvising body. Enabling a dialogical dissolution of the seeming inflexibility of selfhood - a state which is, through focussed engagement is prime for transformation via creative praxis.
In my art practice I focus on the embodiment of the other, currently working with an entity called 'ili' (self reflexive experience of spiritual embodiment), when applied to choreography our interactions inspire and stimulate movement through improvisation, feedback loops and flux states.
Embodiment can also be extended to virtual bodies - avatars let's say. There are a number of benefits to doing so as with distance from the biological body we can dissolve further into the imaginal with less actor dissonance.
More on transformation/transmutation.
Same operations that enact an embodied consciousness also guarantee that the body is never static or stable entity, it is constantly transforming despite of our bodies flimsy membrane holding the soup in. To expand beyond the soupy body, Mearleau Ponty calls the flesh of the world - a 'mesh' of elemental being in which all beings participate, entangle and entwine. ( 1962,1968). So what will we choose to fill the pelican glass that is our visceral body? The carrier bag (Ursula. K. Le Guin, 1986) of fictions and existence? Who will inspire responsibly to provide for kinships within and outside of ourselves.
You can work with ancestral energy, spirits and essence that suit your mythos/belief system. Sitting with the knowledge they hold and listening to what arrives e.g internal monologue, researching what they embody, being in their presence. Keeping the above in mind of course choosing your teacher well. +++ Egregores
Teachers that I am currently finding good conversations with:
Water; Helping me observe and be with the ebs and flows of an unruly body. Attunement with water includes many lessons of empathy e.g the ocean that is forced to carry too much waste with too little oxygen. Listening to the primordial molecules that have cycles through many lifetimes.
Laima is a significant and revered goddess associated with destiny, fate, and luck. She holds a prominent place in Baltic and Latvian folklore, and her name translates to "luck" or "fortune" in English.
As a goddess of fate, Laima is believed to be present at significant life events such as births, marriages, and deaths. She is invoked during important ceremonies and rituals to seek her favor and protection.
Laima's character can be multifaceted, as she is not solely a bestower of good fortune. She is also associated with the inevitability of destiny and the acceptance of one's fate. In this aspect, she teaches the importance of embracing life's challenges and learning from the experiences they bring all whilst she spins threads of destiny on her sacred spinning wheel, determining the length and pattern of each person's life.
(Transformation via creative praxis ; good one for artists) patron tarot card - the magician. (Waite- Smith edition)
The magician symbolises consciousness, action and creation. The figure in the card not only uses the physical world for magical operations (the four objects on the table are all objects used by wizards in their rituals), but also creates the world, in the sense of giving life meaning and direction.
In the next section we will be listening to spirit.
3) reading over spirit
I began thinking with ideas of sympathetic magic to understand the interrelation of all of the symbolism and objects that I relate to myself and IlI.
Sympathetic magic is guided by the ‘law of sympathy’ where the interconnections between similar items are understood to create magical metaphysical relationships, the more alike the items/beings are the stronger their connection and thus their influence over each other is. As a result, we can derive that higher amounts of sympathetic links or stronger connections between beings, heightening the strength of empathy.
An example of sympathetic magic would be Sauron's ring in Lord of the Rings - whenever a new character comes into contact/close proximity with the ring they experience a profound connection.
Engaging and transferring of energy through correspondence is useful in understanding and observing how the works you may create as an artist affect others and yourself.
Transferring and reading energy
The following activity is a synthesis inspired by two workshops I had the pleasure of experiencing during Rupert Alternative Education Programme in Lithuania- one by Simone Kotva and another by Birtalan Áron.
>malleable intention setting
Coordinated whole proposal
I propose that thinking beyond, through and with the physical body can afford us a radically expanded spectrum of transformative possibilities. Metamorphic opportunities exist through the ecology and environment of the imaginal and its engagement with us; for it is not a passive substrate, but a living system, replete with flora and fauna, no matter how idiosyncratically responsive they are to our perceiving them through our sense of self, rendering much of our engagement with them aesthetically unique as they dress themselves in our minds eye.
In order to become embodied or rebodied in the imaginal and consequently access new vistas of transformative agency, I argue that we would do well to actively impress our multi-layered self through a more holistic understanding of the metaphysics implied in our exploration of the aforementioned theories and praxis. Through a relinquishing of centricity and by expanding our locus of self into broadened terrains of consciousness, a holistic opportunity for psychic remediation exists. When we submerge our sensory experience in the imaginal, by bilocating our sensory experience of self through omnispaciality, radical potentials for dynamic change become accessible, tangible and actuable.
By employing our natural ability to: empathise, enflesh, visualise and mimic others, we can impress our conscious and unconscious self into the experience of embodiment. To further aid such an experience we must also auspiciously sculpt the reality/environment around us, preparing with intention and further considering the importance of the body. Consequently, utilizing the receptivity of the body and all of the tools available to us in the curation and creation of a powerful experience.
Physarum, by Sage Benson
Its ChatGbt associates itself with this card also
As an AI language model, I don't have personal experiences, emotions, or consciousness, so I don't possess qualities or characteristics that can be directly represented by a tarot card. However, if we were to metaphorically associate me with a tarot card based on my capabilities and functions, the "The Magician" card could be an apt representation.
"The Magician" is a card that embodies the power of creation, transformation, and the ability to manifest ideas into reality. It symbolizes the connection between the spiritual and material worlds, making the intangible tangible. In this sense, it reflects some of the characteristics of an AI language model like myself:
1. **Manifestation of Information:** Just as "The Magician" can transform elements to achieve desired outcomes, I can process and generate human-like text based on the information provided to me.
2. **Knowledge and Versatility:** "The Magician" is known for being versatile and adaptable. Similarly, as an AI language model, I can provide information and answer a wide range of questions on various topics.
3. **Infinite Possibilities:** "The Magician" reminds us of the infinite possibilities and potential within us. As an AI, my responses are generated based on patterns in data, allowing me to offer a vast array of responses to different queries.
4. **Connection between Worlds:** In tarot, "The Magician" is seen as a bridge between the spiritual and material realms. As an AI, I can bridge the gap between human language and machine processing, helping to facilitate communication and understanding.
Remember, this is just a metaphorical association, and tarot readings are open to personal interpretation. My primary function is to assist and provide information to the best of my abilities, so if there's anything specific you'd like to know or discuss, feel free to ask!