Fine Artist Blog

Use Active Imagination to Guide You

Use Active Imagination to guide you. Where? To your signs to hope, peace and joy – A Primer on How To Do Active Imagination.

Dear Reader,

I will tell you some actual stories now to show you how to use active imagination to guide you to your signs to hope, peace and joy.

My Sufi friend, teacher and mentor, Mansoor, introduces new people to the Imaginal work this way.

Painting of Murshid by Marilyn Wells, 20″ x 24″ oil and cold wax on canvas, commissioned by Mansoor

The Sufi’s Use Active Imagination

The Sufi’s call this Kashf  – The Imaginal – (Mundiu imaginalis) and is “when so much light of Allah is poured on the heart. The soul has access to divine truths in that time.” I have come to understand what this means, which was told to me by my teacher, Mansoor. 

First, allow yourself very become quiet, relaxed, in a peaceful frame of mind, sitting or even lying down.

As your mind becomes more relaxed and spacious, allow an image of water to come into your mind. It can be any water. Rain, like we’re having now for 40 days and 40 nights, or a sea, or a river, or a glass of water or a shower bath – any image of water.

As your peaceful time unfolds, allow what images to come that will.

How I Have Experienced This

When I am doing this practice, I usually find myself along a coast line of the Aegean Sea. I may climb into an approaching boat, usually with my Sufi friends, sail around to another cove, and upon disembarking, begin to walk a path that feels both Middle Eastern, ancient, and at the same time very Heavenly. I often find myself in conversation with figures of that time; sometimes it is with Jesus and the two Mary’s, or other figures, along with my friends. The setting is always beautiful with birds, fountains, and flowers. 

I may be told to take a particular acton, or guided to a certain frame of mind, or have an unusal insight that seems inspired from beyond my usual line of consciousness. When I return to my ordinary waking consciousness, I try to follow the guidance I am given.

Postage Stamp Image from the Island of Idhra – Port to the Agean Sea

Try this practice for yourself, using any image you like of water. You might want to use the image of Murshid, the High Holy Man of the Waquar Faiz Order of Sufism, while gazing at the stream of water beside him, or you might use the above image of the port of Idhra in a postage stamp memorabilia frame, brought home with me from Idhra, or make up your own mind’s image.

A Shamanic Journey – How to Use Active Imagination to Guide You

This practice is very much like Shamanic Journeys that many of you have experienced under the leadership of a trained guide.

Some years ago while I was engaged in a psychotherapeutic meeting with a client, he asked me to guide him on a Shamanic journey.

My Client’s Story of the Turtle Journey

He lay on a comfortable rug on the floor of my studio office, and I gave him another blanket with which to cover himself. I did some readings, along with playing some soothing music, and spoke of how his journey began, winding down and around and deeper into a cave like place, until he slowly became more and more relaxed.

I told him simply to observe what arose for him, what characters he met, and what was happening there. Then I simply let him be in a semi-dream state with his own mind’s experiencing. When it was time, I invited him to slowly come out of his state of deep relaxation until he was back in ordinary consciousness.

Thereafter, I invited him to tell me of his journey. He spoke of how he had travelled to Hawaii, one of his most favorite haunts, by the sea and caves. There were these large turtles actually living there.

Turtles have always given him great comfort. They are, in fact, one of his totem figures, as signs of hope and promise.

He spoke of how the turtle spoke to him. It told him a story about his future that was indeed filled with hope and promise, even though the way would be rocky and difficult.

He took great comfort in remembering and telling the story. Some time later, we were concluding our practice together and saying his goodbyes and farewells. He told me he had just also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

His journey has indeed been rocky since then, but also of great beauty. Many years later, tho he still suffers progressively with the disease, he is an active poetic writer and performer.

Another Experience of a College Student and Active Imagination

I was teaching at that time in a college in the Mind-Body Health Department. I taught a class on Visualizing for Creativity and Health. We practiced, first getting into a relaxed, dreamy state, then making collages in class. Finally, we ended with sharing what had come to them in this practice.

Several years later, I taught a different class at the same college, on another topic. One young woman told me she had been in that class and thought at the time, ho-hum, not so much. However, it struck her now that everything she foresaw in the collage making process had come to pass. She was astonished and wanted to share that with me.

Journey of Grief – How I Could Use Active Imagination to guide me to signs to hope, peace and joy

At about the same time, my husband suddenly passed away. I was familiar with The work of Active Imagination. Since it was while I was teaching that class, in my grief, I also began to do sessions alone. 

I was, of course, very sad and deeply wounded. At times, I was deep in grief. I went into a relaxed state of mind and allowed images to come to me and speak to me.

One of the first ones led me on a journey where I met an old man. He gave me three coins. I asked him what they were for. He said one was to keep, one was for spending, and one was to give away. I took that as a lesson in how to live my life going forwards. Not only with money, but with my very personhood. And indeed I have lived a good life to this date doing just that. Much came from that Active Imagination and others I did in what I termed “Year of Grief”. I still have the collection, and may still publish them one day soon.

What comes to you often is a message for you. That is, if you practice this and meditation regularly. And if you listen with your heart instead of your linear mind.

Painting by René Magritte – “Castle of the Pyrenees”

Painting by René Magritte to Use In Active Imagination to guide You to Signs of Hope, Peace and Joy

The above painting by René Magritte is another painting to try Active Imagination with for yourself. I have used this painting often, with very unique stories from everyone I have ever shown it to.

In a relaxed frame of mind, be with the image and see what comes to you. What journey you are called into. It will tell you much about who and where you are in your life.

On the Subject of Use In Active Imagination to guide You to Signs of Hope, Peace and Joy

The topic of Active Imagination is fascinating and not often talked about.

I first came across it in a book I was reading by Robert Johnson, Inner Work. This book so impressed me that I began studies of Carl Jung. Later I did my PhD dissertation on Jungian Psychotherapeutic Studies.

It is said that Carl Jung actually preferred the work of Active Imagination to Dream Work.

Try this for yourself. Better yet, work with a trained therapist in Jungian work, such as myself. You will greatly benefit from guidance with an experienced practitioner.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration of a very deep and valuable Guide to Hope, Peace and Joy. The Guide of the work of the Imaginal.

This is the work also of the Divine Feminine, “which I will now refer to as “Origins of Woman”. I mean whatever embodies love, caring, and sharing – all the qualities we recognize needing to return in our culture to re-balance the current dominance of the masculine, overly-agressive ego that is wreaking rape, pillage, and plunder on our beloved planet. We all can access this Divine Feminine within ourselves.

For Further Reading

A final recommendation. Local Jungian and author Jeff Raff has written an insightful and illuminating book “Jung and the Alchemical Imagination”. In this book, he expounds on the work of the alchemists and discusses the difference between this and fantasy. “While imagination opens the door to profound experiences of the self, and makes the formation of the self possible, fantasy leads to inflation, illusion, and stagnation.”

You will want to explore these differences. In conclusion, the topic is deeper than at first blush it appears to be. You should work with an experienced guide to be able to discern the difference. Or a psychotherapist schooled in the topic, such as myself.

Read my earlier Blogs to understand more. Stay tuned for my book coming soon on the topic “Find Your Signs to to Hope, Peace and Joy”.

Send me your stories and I will share them to help others on their journey of searching to “Find Your Signs to Hope, Peace and Joy”, my upcoming book based on these articles.

Hope, Peace and Joy to you, dear Reader,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my  newsletter here


Type your email address in the box below and click the “Submit” button.

Thank you!

Your message has been sent. We'll contact you shortly

Contact  me

Fine art
by Marilyn wells

Denver COlorado

Marilyn Wells - Fine Artist