The Spirit Is The Master, Imagination Is The Tool

The alchemists produced some of the most innovative yet baffling theories and artwork within Western history. Although often thought of as the originators of chemistry and medical arts in their attempts to turn lead into gold, much as been discovered by the likes of Carl Jung in regards to their deeper philosophical and metaphysical ideas. The art and procedures of the alchemists can also be seen as deeply metaphorical for personal transformation of the human spirit.⁣

Paracelsus, one of the innovative thinkers in medicine, placed great emphasis upon the importance of the imagination as the bridge between the physical and divine. There was also a consensus in the belief that each physical event had some sort of a non physical or spiritual cause and in his own words “that which exists in man exists invisibly in the ether pervading the world”. ⁣

Paracelsus (1493-1541)

This idea in regards to the relationship between the inner world of the psyche and outer physical world is referred to as the principle of correspondence. This is represented in the below image showing two alchemists performing a chemical reaction while in the heavens, two angels observe the manifestation of a spirit inside of a similar flask. It is difficult to tell if it is the human alchemists who are affecting the manifestation in the other world or if it is the angels influencing the humans. ⁣

The principle of correspondence is heavily implied in the David Lynch series “Twin Peaks” in which real world events are often shown to be influenced by other worldly causes.

This scene in Twin Peaks shows an otherworldly being sending a golden orb containing a “positively charged energy” into the world in order to counteract the forces of darkness.

This relationship between the psyche and corporeal world can further be seen in terms of how art and creative works allow us to glimpse at this relationship in regards to the way in which a piece of music, painting or film can show us new ways of perceiving the world and lead to new realizations which can affect how we interact with the physical realm. ⁣

Strangely, some of the most ancient and “primitive” mythological stories show a striking accordance with recent discoveries in the fields of evolutionary psychology and biology. Somehow through the creative process and establishing a relationship with one’s inner world, deeper ways of knowing can be grasped which allow one’s life to become alive with a richness of meaning. Recurring motifs such as the hero’s journey and themes of death and rebirth suggest crucial patterns of being with which individuals can model in their lives in order to produce maximum effectiveness.

This calls into question much of the moral and aesthetic relativism which has been prevalent as of late which states that the value of a creative work is simply in the eye of the beholder, as the fields of comparative mythology suggest that much of the meaning derived from mythological stories and creative productions may have to do with the fact that their themes are deeply grounded in biology and psychological patterns of being.

In this way, the imagination acts as a portal to the world of the unconscious which contains the underlying wisdom of the nature of the world. Through the imagination the artist can bring into being creative representations which distill inherently valuable archetypal truth. It can also also act as a way of “seeing” below the surface of physical world and its circumstances in order to grasp underlying patterns at work. ⁣ ⁣When William Blake said that “the imagination is existence itself” he was not referring to fanciful daydreaming but a way of being which is practical and rooted in reality in the deepest sense.⁣

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