IV active imagination meditation series

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IV active imagination meditation series

Post by Taurandir »

Luthien wrote:I've looked into Buddhism as well, sometime before I found this.
If you don't mind me asking, what does "this" do for you? How does it work for you in day to day life? Does it provide you with a sense of equanimity and inner peace? Does it allow you to see the world in a wider context with deeper meaning?

I'm not trying to disparage what you're doing. I'm sure that learning how to use your imagination better is fun, but I'm curious if your experience is providing you with similar benefits ["benefits" seems like a strange word here] as other spiritual traditions. You've kept at it for some time now, so there must be a reason.

I hope this isn't an awkward question to ask you.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

No, that's not awkward at all.
I should maybe have mentioned it before, but I do have a certain reactance to talk about it because it would feel to me like I'm trying to sell it (not sure if that makes sense?), and besides, it seems to differ for everyone. That goes even for regular religion I suppose.
I'll try and describe it, but it might be an hour or two before I have the chance to do so (must run to work now).
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

Ok, so it's different for everyone.
Before I joined IV I identified as a rationalist skeptic, albeit a somewhat reluctant one.
I grew up in a progressive Catholic family (I know that might sound paradoxical, but that's what it was). When I was about 11 or so I felt the belief evaporating: I vividly remembering listening inside for some sign of life by God or Jesus, but I only found silence. Since then I stuck to what I knew I could rely on, which was my rationality. That, at least, seemed to *work*.
I found that rationality did not apply or work for everything, though. There were many questions and experiences that it didn't touch or concern itself with, and also some that it tried (and tries) to concern itself with though it really has nothing to say. I'm still quite allergic to rationalist methods or science being applied to "explain" things that are way out of its league - for instance, the incessant and inexplicable urge that practically every scholar displays to "explain" Tolkien by considering possible sources; a practice that I find futile and even undesirable (at least in the degree that I see it happening), because it leads people away from what matters.

I've certainly had a fair number of irrational but very meaningful experiences in that time, but lacking a framework to understand them in, they remained obscure and disconnected. I certainly looked for a spiritual home, I've had a few times that I thought to have found something - like Buddhism - but they all turned out to be not quite what I was looking for. Eventually I sort of gave up and settled in being a rationalist. Though, as I said, I was never so outspoken or vigilantly anti-religious as some others, because I did have that sense that rationality wasn't the alpha and omega of everything.

I eventually stumbled upon an organisation called "the Brights", that was founded to provide some balance to the rising Christian fundamentalism in the US. They had just started and were testing out a forum, for which I was invited. I liked it at first, and eventually became a moderator and one of he forum administrators.
After about two or three years things started to feel a bit stale: as if the same discussions were being held over and over and over again. I grew somewhat tired of it and came less often, until I met a girl in there who was trying to consolidate spiritual experiences with a rationalist outlook. I was fascinated, and while talking with her, that irrational part within me seemed to wake up and grow quite a bit more intense. After some time it became so strong that I had an almost continuous awareness of something that presented itself. This is hard to describe: as if another view on reality was overlaid on my usual consciousness, accompanied by a kind of feeling that I have seen described as “ego-death” or “being very small and yet significant, connected to the universe as it were”, usually in connection with practicing Zen meditation or the like.

Somehow this led my dormant interest in the elvish languages to also wake up. I had tried to make sense of them as a teenager, using the appendixes in the LOTR, but he resources weren’t available back then. But now they were, and I set myself to learn Sindarin, and via a mailing list that I subscribed to for that, I was eventually contacted by one of the IV members who asked if I was maybe interested in what they were doing.
This was quite a large step and I thought it over for a few weeks, but eventually I decided that it would not hurt me to try.

What happened next is that I listened to some of Stephan Hoeller’s lectures and was given a series of ‘active imagination’ assignments (by Dave). Maybe it was coincidental, but they provided exactly the missing key. I had always been somewhat aware of an inner imaginative realm, but because the cultural mindset assigns so little significance to it, I never gave it much thought. But now I did, and found that it opened up to an inner realm that seemed as rich and infinite as the outward reality.

For me, this might have been a bigger change than for most other members: it seems to me that all others had at least committed to some form of spiritual awareness before they arrived. But to me that dimension had not existed at all. It was indeed like having a complete dimension added to your world, or to suddenly see in color where you only could see in black-and-white before.
This was not always easy to deal with. Because I never had been involved with any religious activity or interest before, people around me would have been surprised to say the least if I had told them everything like I do now. I still think that most would think I had gone a bit nutty. This made the whole thing also quite a lonely adventure, because practically everyone that I know in real life are nonreligious - and besides, the ones that are religious would not condone this sort of thing, either: to them it is plain heresy.

My apologies for the lengthy introduction, but I think it is necessary to also provide a background for any conclusion to make sense. Hopefully I can now answer your question.

What has it brought me?
I think it is important to stress that this epinoia has almost exclusively addressed my non-rational self (which I think is a synonym for ’soul’ or Jung’s ‘eternal / timeless self’) and woke it from a dormant and nearly forgotten state to grow into an active part of my self next to the rational self.
Maybe it sounds strange, but since then I have been aware that the rational self and the imaginal self are coexisting within me. The rational part still tries to question the validity of the imaginal part at times, but (as I think I mentioned elsewhere) it does not stand a chance of dethroning it again. It is striking how the imaginal self looks unreal when seen through the rational mind; but the opposite is just as true: the rational self looks utterly flimsy, transient and irrelevant when seen from the imaginal perspective. Overall I think the imaginal is even “heavier” than the rational - that’s the beset description that I can give - though I remain as true as I ever was to rationality, though *only* when applied strictly in the factual domain. And I can’t say that I see this restriction being heeded everywhere (and that’s an understatement).

So, I could say that it has made me a more whole person, in the sense that Jung talks about “individuation”, which indeed comes down to reintegrating one’s soul. I think this is much healthier in a psychological sense, even at the cost of some inner strife. Maybe this antagonism between imaginal and rational is unavoidable.

But that’s definitely not all. I did not yet mention that this process of opening up of the imaginal was above all incredibly joyful. It’s amazing and very difficult to describe in regular terms; but at the time an analogy presented itself of me having been inside a busy inn for as long as I remembered, talking to people, for so long that I had literally forgotten that there was anything outside. But something happened that made me suddenly notice the door of the inn, and I got up, opened it and looked out over a very wide landscape, stretching out as far as I could see. And also, there was a large dog sitting next to the door (it reminded me of a St. Bernard dog) who had been waiting for me to come out again all that time. It was both incredibly touching and incredibly strange. I later tried to paint that scene (without the dog though):

Image

Going inside that imaginal realm comes with a very specific kind of fulfilment, but for me at least it also comes with a moral sense of obligation to put it to some kind of use. I felt that the best that I could do is to find a way to present the reality of it to others, hoping that this might help them find it as well. But that isn’t easy, because our culture is in a state of serious denial that there is anything there at all, or even that “imagination” itself is of any worth apart then to provide entertainment for small children (only). If there is anything that I think this time needs, it’s surely for people to realise that “imaginative” does not necessarily mean “false”, or reversely, that “factual” does not necessarily mean “true”.
I try to do that in several ways: by creating artwork based on imaginal experiences - I found they often tend to make people think even without explanations. Another way is by writing: I found that I like to write, be it satirical fiction or articles that (hopefully) provoke people to think about these things, for instance, that article for Medium that I put in here somewhere (I did not yet publish it though, lacking time :( ).
I’m still thinking about whether it would be possible or good to start being a bit more open about these things towards my environment, for instance the Dutch Tolkien society. As I said above, I am exceedingly reluctant to discuss this openly out of fear to be labeled a lunatic. Maybe I’m too anxious about it, but it makes sense to be very careful in any case, because I cannot turn back the clock once I have become more outspoken.

Did it make me feel more peaceful? I’m not sure. In one sense it even added some unrest as I described above, but all in all I think that I feel quite a bit more whole and balanced now than I did before.

It does not provide definite answers to the big questions. As I tried to make clear, it acts first and foremost on my imaginal side, which is not prone to have Great Insights (or what have you) in any case. But in a more indirect sense it is very helpful. It has made me much more creative and perseverant. I think I do understand a lot more about how certain things work, because I’ve experienced them myself. For one thing, I could never have come to the realisation that the cultural mind-set has such a phenomenal blind spot without this.

And yes, I do have a sense of “connectedness”, though that works through my imaginal side.
I also gained a very clear sense of purpose, of what to do with my life, where I almost completely lacked that before - at times I forget that. Even though the imaginal feels somewhat more distant when I’m using my rational side, for instance during work, I’m always aware of it, as if feeling that the everyday world is embedded inside something larger.

I hope I did not forget something … I’ll add that if I find out. Hope this helps!
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

I didn't know you had finished this painting -- cool.

I am again struck by the likeness to some of the Altai mountain scenery, though your Inn is farther away from the feet of the mountains than was the photographer in this pic.

Image

Other scenes: [link]
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

Yes, they look similar indeed!

@Skookum Jack, Dave: as I said above the experience of "this" is different for every individual.
For one thing, I know Dave would tell you something quite different. It's also that he uses entheogens, which might be an even far more efficient way to launch yourself into that realm. I've not yet been able to try that because I really would want a sitter to be present as I don't know how I would react, but I don't know anyone whom I could ask that from.

Anyhow, for Dave it seems to be much more about something like "concepts concerning the nature of reality" - I hope that's not too far off.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir »

Luthien wrote:I still think that most would think I had gone a bit nutty.
You are absolutely nuts! :o

No, you seem fine. Besides, are you really doing anything that strange? You're doing mental exercises, meditations, and so on. That's not too out there. You just have a rather unorthodox hobby. In the end, your interests or spiritual beliefs will have less of in impact on how other people perceive you than the force of your personality, and this will not change if you let other people know what you're doing.
Dave: as I said above the experience of "this" is different for every individual.
For one thing, I know Dave would tell you something quite different.
What would Dave tell me? Dave, what is this spiritual path that you've created doing for you on a day-to-day basis? How has it changed your life for the better? Why are you doing it? What are you doing?
I eventually stumbled upon an organisation called "the Brights", that was founded to provide some balance to the rising Christian fundamentalism in the US.
I am aware of the Brights. Besides having one of the worst names of any organization, the whole skeptical movement seems a bit misguided to me. It's great as far as it goes, and applying rational thought to bring light to misconceptions, preconceptions, and outright superstition is a laudable end, but it goes too far by claiming that anything that can't be proven by science doesn't exist. A lot effort is spent trying to prove that anything not within the realm of science isn't worth considering. They've set their sights on religion, tradition, philosophy, and subjective experience in general. At the same time they give in to religious "scientism". Science will answer all questions, solve all problems, and is an inherently good pursuit. It is in fact the only worthwhile pursuit; literature and the arts, and imagination only have worth as far as they promote the agenda of science. In the end the materialistic, reductive worldview is limiting, and purposely turns a blind eye to phenomena that doesn't fit into its framework. It's arrogant and tedious and ultimately denies a giant portion of the human condition.

I'll stand by that rant too. Science and rational skepticism are excellent tools for their purpose, but they do not encompass the entire range of possible experience.
Going inside that imaginal realm comes with a very specific kind of fulfillment, but for me at least it also comes with a moral sense of obligation to put it to some kind of use. I felt that the best that I could do is to find a way to present the reality of it to others, hoping that this might help them find it as well.
I suppose that makes me a sort of charity case for you. You have stumbled across an individual enmeshed in a dark gnostic fantasy, who has come to see archonic forces of the Demigurge at work in all levels of reality (even in my own mind and body) but unable to envision a way out--unable to realize escape or redemption from the problem. Miguel always says that answer is in art and imagination, but knowing how to pull that off from ground zero is a thorny dilemna.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Skookum Jack wrote:[...] What would Dave tell me? Dave, what is this spiritual path that you've created doing for you on a day-to-day basis? How has it changed your life for the better? Why are you doing it? What are you doing?
I've avoided answering the latter part of this discussion for a few different reasons. The first is that I'm naturally a pessimist with a lot of bad childhood experiences, and I didn't want to make the situation worse. The other main one is that I had a generalized paralysis when I was age 11-14 that I never fully recovered from, and it makes typing a bit difficult in a physical miskeying sense (e.g., on a QWERTY keyboard, when I'm aiming at the 't', I may hit the 'y' or the 'r' or (usually) the '5'). As I am a perfectionist, posting takes a long time. Also, I have many layers to my personality, like Shrek the Ogre, and though I can elucidate those, doing so (again) takes a long time.

But, since you asked, I will try to hit the salient points.

Well, the worldview of the Valar as real entities and the Legendarium as a mytho-history goes back to childhood and has carried me through some very dark times, so there is that. More shamanically, before I ever encountered entheogens, I would occasionally receive messages from them, much like Ramanujan received messages from Namagiri Thayar. So, to speak in cognitive science terms for a moment, the mythos acts as an active schema which allows me to make sense of the data coming in from the shamanic receiver in my head.

But as for "How has it changed my life for the better?", other than what I've just said, it doesn't by its nature make it either better or worse. It's just there. And so for the "Why are you doing it?" Literally, because I can't do anything else. I must hasten to add to that "Nor do I want to." In general, I lived long enough to know (I'm 51) that I have less 'personal choice' than the ordinary humans. But that doesn't bother me, because people with my form of autism don't like choice, really. It's annoying. I can't count the number of times I've gone to some Jacassian fast-food restaurant and been confronted with a huge-ass menu of useless Blibber, with the teen or twenty-something 'associate' (or whatever they call themselves) asking "What do you want?" I don't 'want' anything, I just require refueling. 1500 calories should be sufficient. Choose whatever your local culture dictates, please. It usually goes downhill from there, which is why my wife mostly does that now that I'm married.

So, given that, what really increased my shamanic abilities was the Salvia. Not only did it increase the connection to the Valar, but I also was introduced to the Salvia-people. I call them the "Salvia-collective" because their cognition is in the form of a group mind, of which each element is quite small, but when combined they are extremely powerful, much in the manner of a massively parallel supercomputer. The insights I have received from this enhanced state has improved my life quite a bit, even if not so-judged by a U.S. Cultural normative observer, who tends to see "net worth" as the only true measure of a humanoid. Here is a post on the nature of reality Luthien mentioned earlier which mostly comes from the Salvia-people: [link].

If you would like to get an idea of what the lived experience is like for me, the book Peopled Darkness is pretty good. The following, rather rare, privately published 'journal' is better, which I will try to attach to this message (not written by me, someone else). [link] Of course, given my "layers, like an onion" those are only rather rough homeomorphisms, not identities. In particular, my experiences with Salvia were never 'horrific' like many people describe. I've experienced the "shamanic dismemberment" but it was a case of my body dissolving and becoming bodiless, not being torn apart. In fact, I usually journey this way, it isn't just an 'initiation' as is the common description -- at least, not for me. As a consequence of this, things that bother a lot of people either don't bother me at all (the whole "he cut in front of me in traffic!!!" thing: to me, those are just moving objects to be avoided, like in a video game) or bother me less, if I am to gauge that by the (ordinal) level of vitriol in the posts in the comments section of the major newspapers (re: the Orange Gasbag). There is also the information from the Salvia-people that they are engaged in incipient speciation of a number of species, a subset of humans being one of them, so there is (they say) a 'backup plan', but that is way too involved to go into here.

So, to conclude, the combination of these things, not one in primacy, have indeed helped to improve my life. Not sure what else I can say and my fingers are tired, so I will post this and try to attach the document I mentioned. If that doesn't work, I'll upload it and post a link.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

Skookum Jack wrote:(...) Besides, are you really doing anything that strange? You're doing mental exercises, meditations, and so on. That's not too out there. You just have a rather unorthodox hobby.
I'm not so sure. Maybe you're right.
My worry is that it won't be a perceived as an unorthodox hobby, but as "believing in fiction", which I'm pretty certain is generally considered as one of the hallmarks of "nutty".
Skookum Jack wrote:In the end, your interests or spiritual beliefs will have less of in impact on how other people perceive you than the force of your personality, and this will not change if you let other people know what you're doing.
Again: I hope so.
My concerns were confirmed two years ago when Markus Davidsen, a scholar of religion of he University of Leiden here defended the PhD thesis he wrote about IV and a couple of other spiritual groups based on "fiction". The media found out and asked him if they could interview someone. I agreed to do that under the condition of anonymity.
This immediately caused several papers to lose interest, but I had phone interviews with quite a few.
I had previous dealings with the press, so I was cautious, knowing that they would sell their own mother to the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal if it would earn them a penny. Still, I was shocked and saddened by their drooling sensationalism and refrained from telling them anything they could latch onto, talking only about inspiration and creativity and whatnot.
Most declined to use my contributions. Some asked Markus if there was anyone else they could talk to: the only thing they wanted was a juicy story about "lunatics who actually (Gasp!) believed in Tolkien (read all about it!)".

I know not everyone's a journalist. But it scared me sufficiently to be even more careful than I was. I have little trust that something like this would go down well even with the people around me.

Somehow, challenging the notion that "imagined == false" is very threatening to most.
I am aware of the Brights. Besides having one of the worst names of any organisation, the whole skeptical movement seems a bit misguided to me.
Agreed on both. Incidentally, there was some resistance towards that name from within as well, at least at the time I was there.
A lot effort is spent trying …
.... (snip)
… and ultimately denies a giant portion of the human condition.
I'll stand by that rant too.
I can add little to that :)
I suppose that makes me a sort of charity case for you. You have stumbled across an individual enmeshed in a dark gnostic fantasy, who has come to see archonic forces of the Demigurge at work in all levels of reality (even in my own mind and body) but unable to envision a way out--unable to realize escape or redemption from the problem. Miguel always says that answer is in art and imagination, but knowing how to pull that off from ground zero is a thorny dilemna.
I'm not sure what a "charity case" is?

You could also say that "you've stumbled across us" ;)

If I may say so, I think that the problem is not so much that you see archonic forces at work all over the place (I agree that the world is marred) but rather that that's all you seem to see, or at least mention you see. Which I can imagine is not an overly inspirational place to be in.

Of course I can't guarantee you anything. I can only say that there seems to be a way to contact / enter a realm in which others have met something that they found of great significance (in the positive sense).

But I don't know how hard it would be for you to enter that realm. It seems to me that it requires a certain minimal capacity to be enchanted, or in other words: a certain minimum level of willingness to suspense your disbelief.

I suppose this requires you to accept at least the possibility of the existence of something good besides those forces of evil.

We found a way of doing that based on Tolkien's mythos. I find it a powerful and significant "framework", so to speak.
I'm sure though that it does not really matter what you use as long as it leads towards the same goal.

If you want to give that a try, we can maybe help you get started by sharing what works for us. Note that this does neither guarantee that it will work for you, nor that if it doesn't that nothing will.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Lúthien wrote:[...] Somehow, challenging the notion that "imagined == false" is very threatening to most.
@Skookum Jack: Apparently, threatening enough that they go, as Richard Parker says, "ass ova teakettle into a bucket ov dere own Blibber!!" Check this shit out from back in da day:

http://sguforums.com/index.php/topic,21216.0.html
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir »

Dave wrote:I've avoided answering the latter part of this discussion for a few different reasons.
Well, thanks for replying. It's all a lot to take in; a thick and meaty post; with links to follow, and aspects to consider. You make me want to try salvia again. Have you ever tried chewing it in a quid? I understand that's the traditional method. I tried it once. It's very bitter. The experiment seemed a failure. I'm wondering if sucking on a quid while meditating, aiming for a threshold dose would be an effective way to launch into the imaginal realm.

You're 51, Dave. I'm 50. It's nice to be interacting with someone in my cohort about this kind of thing. First because I encounter so few interested in this sort of thing (like 0), and second because youth tends to have wild energy that's not always preferable to be around. With age comes a focusing of energy. Even talking to you guys in this forum takes a certain amount of precious time and energy. I am doing it because I enjoy it. I am particular about what I choose to enjoy.

Luthien: So you're worried that people will find you nutty for believing in a fictional work--like every other religion in the world? I was wondering if Americans are more at ease with unorthodox beliefs. There's all kinds of flavors of religious nuttiness here; from Mormonism to Christian Science: But on second thought I reflected that most of my interior life is completely hidden from almost everyone I know, including my girlfriend. I'm not particularly trying to hide it. It's just private, and probably of no interest to them anyway. My girlfriend certainly knows I'm a gnostic, but she is sort of a-spiritual and it's not something we talk about. I think it seems kind of grim and upsetting to her.

By 'charity case' I meant that perhaps one way of looking at things is that I am in some kind of slow-motion existential crisis. I've internalized all the negative aspects of gnosticism without developing any realization of the positive redemptive aspects. You therefore try (naturally, for you) to give me a little help. That's charity. Helping a brother when he's down.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Skookum Jack wrote:[...] You make me want to try salvia again. Have you ever tried chewing it in a quid? I understand that's the traditional method. I tried it once. It's very bitter. The experiment seemed a failure. I'm wondering if sucking on a quid while meditating, aiming for a threshold dose would be an effective way to launch into the imaginal realm.
Quidding was actually how I started, but I didn't have my own Salvia plants then, so I had to use the dried leaves from an online vendor. Since I'm sensitive to it, it had an effect, but not a very strong one, so I moved to smoking it to get to the profound levels. I only used an extract once, as my roommate at the time was also interested in Salvia, but the dried leaves didn't do it for him. For me, it was rather useless as I went way past the Visionary state into a sort of amnesiac one (much like ketamine is said to do, though I have never personally tried that), and so there was really nothing to report after I came back.

After I began raising my own plants, then I tried quitting again, and it had a much stronger effect. I often use that now if I want to do a guided meditation or just listen to the Martin Shaw Silmarillion recordings. A person like me can't do that while smoking Salvia as no matter what is being played, I won't hear it -- it will morph into something else in the immersive Visionary state. With quidding, you have more awareness of both states at once.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

Skookum Jack wrote:Luthien: So you're worried that people will find you nutty for believing in a fictional work--like every other religion in the world? I was wondering if Americans are more at ease with unorthodox beliefs. There's all kinds of flavors of religious nuttiness here; from Mormonism to Christian Science: (...)
I think that there is a difference with Europe in that respect, though we also have a fair amount of New-Age airheads here. A friend told me some time ago that one of her friends (whom I don't know myself) is a Reiki fanatic. It may very well be that Reiki can also be practiced in a serious manner, I know nothing about it. But this particular lady has the habit of treating her own garden with "reiki" - whatever that may come down to ... I image her standing in the living room, making vaguely ceremonial gestures towards her garden and thinking that that will make her petunia's blossom more abundantly.

But kidding aside, the problem for me would mostly be the contrast with what people are used to with me. People such as that garden-reiki-lady usually have a long history of being into whatever interests them and their social environment is used to them being like they are - or, actually: she will have connected to people based on being like she is.
But with me it's a bit different. I've always displayed a nonreligious facade to the outward world, so to speak, and most of the people whom I know I bit longer will never guess anything like this.

I should add that I've been more open to people that I have met more recently. So far, none of those has reacted strangely, so that might be a good sign.

I just realised that another part of the issue is that in places like this, where it has always been possible to be completely open about it and where you can expect to meet people with this very specific goal in mind, I have often noticed that there are still very few people who truly understand what this is about. This suggests that it will likely be much harder or impossible to convey it to anyone in my social environment.

"Regular" religion may essentially be no less "odd" (I even think it is a lot odder) but at least people have gotten used to the fact that there are people who are committed to it. Something like Gnosis is so wildly different, most people won't even know what the word means.

Skookum Jack wrote:But on second thought I reflected that most of my interior life is completely hidden from almost everyone I know, including my girlfriend. I'm not particularly trying to hide it. It's just private, and probably of no interest to them anyway. My girlfriend certainly knows I'm a gnostic, but she is sort of a-spiritual and it's not something we talk about. I think it seems kind of grim and upsetting to her.
Interestig ... it is somewhat the same with me.
Skookum Jack wrote:By 'charity case' I meant that perhaps one way of looking at things is that I am in some kind of slow-motion existential crisis. I've internalized all the negative aspects of gnosticism without developing any realization of the positive redemptive aspects. You therefore try (naturally, for you) to give me a little help. That's charity. Helping a brother when he's down.
Ah, ok ... sure, I'd be glad if we could help in some way.
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Taurandir »

When you do these meditations, or imaginal exercises, how long do you do them for?

Also, do you only do imaginal exercises in a Tokien framework? It seems it would work for any mythology or imagined world that one was sufficiently familiar with--such as ancient Greece, biblical Israel, or even some original world of your own devising. Using the Bible might be interesting because of the blueprint-like descriptions of the tabernacle and the Temple, and the wealth of resources available.

Did I just venture into IV heresy?

I will do the Two Trees meditation again today and tomorrow. I might even work up the courage to chew a small quid of salvia while I'm doing it. I've had a meditation practice for several years now. It's been my habit to stick with a certain style of meditation for a long time at a stretch before changing it. That's why I keep doing the first meditation you list. Is that appropriate, or would you recommend focusing on a variety of subjects such as the Valar, etc?
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Meneldur Olvarion »

Skookum Jack wrote:When you do these meditations, or imaginal exercises, how long do you do them for?
It varies a lot. For me, about 20-30 minutes, for Luthien I believe she has told me much longer.
Also, do you only do imaginal exercises in a Tokien framework? It seems it would work for any mythology or imagined world that one was sufficiently familiar with--such as ancient Greece, biblical Israel, or even some original world of your own devising. Using the Bible might be interesting because of the blueprint-like descriptions of the tabernacle and the Temple, and the wealth of resources available.
Luthien and I use the Tolkien framework because that's what we grew up with. You could use another Mythos, but you'd have to be both sufficiently connected to it and have an intimate knowledge of it to make it work well, most likely. The reason for that is kind of complex, and though I have considered the issue for a long time, I don't fully understand it myself, but to use a mathematical metaphor these datasets are essentially non-orientable surfaces with regard to the "mapping function" between the dataset and one's cognition in a meditative state.

We just happened to hit on a workable form with the Tolkien Mythos. You'd have to experiment with another one.
Did I just venture into IV heresy?
Nah. Questions are fine.
I've had a meditation practice for several years now. It's been my habit to stick with a certain style of meditation for a long time at a stretch before changing it. That's why I keep doing the first meditation you list. Is that appropriate, or would you recommend focusing on a variety of subjects such as the Valar, etc?
Actually that's kind of the way we planned it back in the day, and then we had other ones once the person was ready to branch out. I will see if I can dig those up tomorrow (my tomorrow -- which since I have insomnia, means after my next sleep period, which means early evening today).
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Re: Legendarium Texts

Post by Lúthien »

Skookum Jack wrote:When you do these meditations, or imaginal exercises, how long do you do them for?
Usually about an hour to one and a half, very rarely up to two hours.

Skookum Jack wrote:Also, do you only do imaginal exercises in a Tokien framework? It seems it would work for any mythology or imagined world that one was sufficiently familiar with--such as ancient Greece, biblical Israel, or even some original world of your own devising. Using the Bible might be interesting because of the blueprint-like descriptions of the tabernacle and the Temple, and the wealth of resources available.

Did I just venture into IV heresy?
Heresy in a gnostic context doesn't make sense.
I think it would indeed work for any mythopoetic context if you are sufficiently familiar *and* it has, for you, this particular imaginal quality so that it can enchant you.
I mean, I'm pretty familiar with the Christian mythology but it would not work for me because I don't feel particularly enchanted by it.

Re. "IV heresy" you could say that *if* you are in a place dedicated to a particular mythology it might defy the purpose of coming to that place if you insist on using another mythology. After all, IV was created to provide support for the practice that targets that particular mythology; insisting on using another mythology would be like insisting on sculpting in a painting class. It's not that anyone opposes it as such, but it might not be the best place to do that in.

However, "this place" is now more than IV though. Mundus Imaginalis aka The Virtual Alexandria has a broader focus, so it would be absolutely fine if you want to chose another mythological framework. I would advise you chose the one that appeals most to you.

It's just that I think I can't offer as much advise or support when using other mythologies because I'm less familiar and/or 'at home' with them.
Skookum Jack wrote:I will do the Two Trees meditation again today and tomorrow. I might even work up the courage to chew a small quid of salvia while I'm doing it. I've had a meditation practice for several years now. It's been my habit to stick with a certain style of meditation for a long time at a stretch before changing it. That's why I keep doing the first meditation you list. Is that appropriate, or would you recommend focusing on a variety of subjects such as the Valar, etc?
If you want to do that, sure.
It might be a good idea to start using the report format to record the experiences. I found them very useful, for they help you get much more out of the experience even after it happened. Let me know if you want to proceed.

@Dave: the Valarin formats are already available on the IV sub-board. Or, they always have been.
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