CJSSF: What is Active Imagination and where did the term originate?
LvD: Perhaps the simplest definition of Active Imagination is to say that it gives us the opportunity to open negotiations with forces or figures within the unconscious. In my understanding, Active Imagination is when we consciously focus on contents within the unconscious and how they relate to ourselves, our inner life and our outer life. In 1913 Dr. Jung had some dreams he did not understand. Then he conceived of symbolic thinking, beginning two years of what he later called Active Imagination. It was in the atmosphere during these years, as there were others who were also working with images and allowing them to appear. We can see Dr. Jung’s process in his Liber Novus, or The Red Book, that was published this past October.
CJSSF: What distinguishes Active Imagination from Passive Imagination?
LvD: With Active Imagination, we consciously allow images to spontaneously connect with us from the depths of our psyche. We recognize them and allow them to connect with our life in a conscious, creative, healing way. We participate with them. These images can come from dreams, deep emotion, fantasy, or even come forth from a painful place in our body. Passive Imagination would be more connected with daydreaming.
CJSSF: Why is it important to give the Imagination physical form, such as painting, sculpture, dance, dramatic encasements or through creation of ritual?
LvD: There are various ways to be with the image. It varies from individual to individual. By giving the image physical form we allow it to come closer to consciousness. The goal is learning to let things happen. When we give an image from our unconscious physical form, it impresses it on our memory, and, it helps us to be more aware of synchronistic phenomena in our life.
CJSSF: Would you share with us some of your first experiences with Active Imagination?
LvD: After I was asked to speak on this topic, I first asked my Soul if it was the “right” thing to do. It was said to me in a dream, “It is important to speak and to tell your experiences”. Since I must listen to the dream, on March 20, I will be sharing some of the stories from throughout my life pertaining to listening, and to living the image.
Linda van Dyck, M.Div. Ph.D, earned a degree in Analytical Psychology at the C.G. Jung Institute. She studied and worked in Switzerland for ten years after completing a Masters of Divinity, in psychology and counseling from Yale University Divinity School. A member of International Association of Analytical Psychology, The Association of Graduate Analytical Psychology and a senior training analyst with the IRS-JA, she is in private practice in Palm Beach, FL. She presents retreats, workshops and speaks on various topics of Jungian Psychology.
Center Interviewer: Ann Q. Lynch, Board Member