There is a world between time and eternity with structures created by thought that outlast anything on Earth. This is the Imaginal Realm. You may enter it through the gate of dreams, or the gate of death, or on nights when you drop your body like a bathrobe. Here you will find schools and palaces, places of adventure, healing and initiation.
The Imaginal Realm is a fundamental ground of knowledge and experience. It is a region of mind between the world of time and the world of eternity. In this realm human imagination meets intelligences from higher realities, and they co-construct places of healing, instruction and initiation. Here ideas and powers beyond the grasp of the ordinary human mind – call them archetypes, tutelary spirits, gods or daimons – take on guises humans can begin to perceive and understand.
The great medieval Sufi philosopher Suhrawardi insisted both on the objective reality of the Imaginal Realm and that the way to grasp it is the way of experience: “pilgrims of the spirit succeed in contemplating this world and they find there every object of their desire.” To know the realm of true imagination, you must go there yourself. Happily for you – once you wake up to what is going on – the doors may open to you any night in dreams, or in the fertile place between sleep and awake, or in a special moment of synchronicity when the universe gets personal and you know, through your shivers, that greater powers are in play.
In dreams, we awaken to other orders of reality. When we wake up in our regular bodies, we may have fallen asleep in another world. Sometimes, lying in the drifty state near sleep, I sense that as I grow drowsy, a second self, back to back with me on the bed, is stirring awake, ready to prowl. I call him the Traveler.
I track the Traveler by recording his exploits – the ones I manage to catch – in my journal. In one report he seems to be very like my present self, just two days ahead of me, on my present probable event track. Sometimes he is much further ahead, or on a different event track, or in another body in another time or another world..
The traveler’s tales in my book Mysterious Realities are "just-so" stories in the sense that they spring from direct experience in the Imaginal Realm, my own and that of other dream travelers who have shared their adventures with me. This territory is more familiar to you than you may currently realize. You are a traveler in your dreams, whether or not you remember them.
You visit realms where the dead are alive. You travel into the possible future, scouting the roads that lie ahead. You travel into the past, into scenes from your present life, and other lives that are part of your story. You go to studio sets, where dream movies are made by production crews behind the scenes, to arouse and entertain, or to shock dreamers awake. You slip into parallel lives, where your parallel selves are moving on different event tracks because they made different choices.
What is going on in your dreams doesn't
necessarily stop when you wake up or switch to a different screen. The action
may play on, like episodes in a television series that continue to run after
you turn off the set.
It gets more interesting. When you exit a scene in a life you are leading somewhere else, you may or may not remember where you were and who you are in that other world. When you do remember, you tag what lingers in your mind as a dream.
When you exit a dream that is also a visit to a parallel life, your parallel self continues on its way. While you go about your day, your other self may dream of you.
In Mysterious Realities, you’ll confirm that the doors to the Imaginal Realm open from wherever you are. You’ll see what it means to live on a mythic edge. At any moment, you may fall, like the author, into the lap of a goddess or the jaws of an archetype. Are you ready? A survival tip: don’t go to any world without your sense of humor.
Magic carpet collage by Michele Ferro