“Logic will get you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere.”Albert Einstein
We have lost the pathway to the Imaginal world from which we descended down the rungs of the ladder of Jacob, the Seven Story Mountain that brought us into the cube of the heart, the last vestige of the Garden of Paradise where we were all once united with fiery forces of the divine creator gods. We crossed the river of forgetfulness and entered the endarkened world of the Father of Lies to witness the lonely “other” side of creation that we collide with in the material world. As soon as the blush of youth is gone, so also is the bridge to the world where living ideas burgeon into new life continuously, a roiling sea of Imaginative pictures that are angel wings alighting in this world as higher thought and cosmic forces that wisely dance creation, death, and rebirth each moment of linear time.
Every shadow-image of the spirit that falls crashing into the physical world suffers the death of light exploding into the suffering and deeds of creation’s colorful plethora of diversity and beauty that is always dying and renewing life in the ever-new rebirth that springs from the divine to manifest the visible world, an illusion, if not a delusion that enchants the newly budding consciousness. The fire of Imagination is fueled by wisdom, whereas fantasies seem like delightful effervescent, illuminous dainties that do not endure the tides of time. The Imaginal Realm is fill with spirit beings who speak one language of unity joining the multiplicity of each individual consciousness. Time and space are disenchanted through the living Imagination of angelic hosts along with the freely given love of human moral Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. That is why a wise fable, fairy tale, legend, myth, or archetypal idea can dissolve space and time by existing somewhere beyond space and time, often indicated by the words, “once upon a time, in a place far, far away”; and often ends with, “and if things have not changed, they are still there today.” Fairy tales are eternal signposts of the divine’s attempt to morally train humanity through simple Imaginal images that carry the message of love, beauty, truth, and goodness.
Wise Imaginal tales heal the wounds of incarnating in this world of woe, this vail of tears. Finding the grail, climbing the ladder of Jacob, ascending the Seven Story Mountain, or finding enlightenment are all attainable through the first level of spirit development – Imagination. If the living Imaginative tale comes from a deeper (higher) realm of human development it can serve as a healing salve of the body, an alkahest for the weary soul, or a spiritual balm that heals the wounds inflicted by sense perception piercing the soul with confusion, illness, old age, and death. The bridge of Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition carry the soul across the abyss between the physical and spiritual worlds. Crossing to the other side, after feeding the three-headed guardian dog and paying the ferryman, the cleansed and purified Prince finally finds the Beautiful Princess (the soul finds the spirit) and a glorious and auspicious wedding takes place in a realm beyond the threshold of the physical world – transformed from the world of death to the world of immortality – the land of “Faery” beneath the Stone of Bardsey where Merlin still sleeps until he brings forth the King from the Faery Realm of Broceliande.
We are all called to the quest to discover this new land in our dreams, visions, and inspirations of the divine, far from the impinging outer world of sense perception. It is a frightening path of self-knowledge, a hidden spiritual trace, the descent into hell, and a visit to a spiritual wedding feast in seventh heaven which is individually determined by the purity of the soul who tries to tread this narrow path into the bright lands of immortal magic and eternal beauty. Truth, beauty, and goodness are the ever-present companions of the soul throughout the journey to “one’s own higher self” that should be cherished in the heart and held faithful by the sojourner enkindled by moral impulses of love that are given freely to others.
Some authors can take you across the threshold into another world that seems comprehensive, moral, correct and a source of divine inspiration and beauty in a single sentence. Novalis (Fredrich von Hardenberg) was the master of this literary gift. In one phrase he bridges the abyss over time and space and flies into the eternal, the undying realms of endless births and renewal, like the stream from which the Ancient of Days drinks the draught of thankfulness and sacrifice. Novalis gives us the most profound wisdom in his writings, which he called Pollen and Fragments. “Only love and woman can dissolve the intellect” he tells us in a truth-axiom that lasts forever. This wisdom is a synthesis of all disciplines of knowledge distilled into an equation that defines and enflames life. His words become “the Word” that is often referred to as “the language of the birds”, “the dragon blood language”, “the hidden language of the trees”, or “the voice of the divine” – what Christian’s call “the Word of God.”
Words as symbols light up like shining golden bricks in the cobbled road leading ever onwards up the mountain to our divine home. Words become the creative force that opens the development of new sense organs (supersensible organs of perception), discovers new lands, forges new relationships that seem familiar and yet ancient, and unlock the path to our memories found in our personal, collective ‘ancestral voice’ – what was known as ancient natural clairvoyance. The Words of authors and poets are keys to the etheric kingdom where ideas blossom into ideals as the reader transcends the physical and enters that ancient realm where the gods shine brightly in living images as large as the cosmos and as small as a monad.
J. R. R. Tolkien, the modern don of ‘high fantasy’ was a master at creating a living, inhabitable landscape with just a sentence, or a world with a paragraph. Tolkien tells us where his thoughts wondered to after taking up the challenge of his fellow Inklings to write fantasy stories that defy space and time – for him that was the sinking of Atlantis (Numernor). He wrote his first story about time travel after being prompted by fellow Inklings to “do better” than David Lindsay did in his disturbing fantasy The Voyage to Arcturus. This “challenge” to write better novels about conquering space and time in a believable fashion, led to a commitment by numerous Inklings to try their hand at writing fantasy novels that make space and time travel believable.
In Tolkien’s first attempt to defy time and space he wrote an unfinished story entitled: The Notion Club Papers wherein he says:
“And Fire! I can’t describe that. Elemental Fire: fire that is, and does not consume, but is a mode or condition of physical being. But I caught sight of blazing fire, too: some real pictures. One, I think, must have been a glimpse of the meteorite hitting our air. A mountain corroded into a boulder in a few seconds of agonizing flame. But above, or between, or perhaps through all the rest, I knew endlessness. That’s perhaps emotional and inaccurate. I mean Length with a capital L, applied to Time; unendurable length to mortal flesh. In that kind of dream you can know about the feeling of aeons of constricted waiting. Being part of the foundations of a continent, and upholding immeasurable tons of rock for countless ages, waiting for an explosion or a world-shattering shock, is quite a common situation in parts of the universe.”
All aspects of time and space travel were considered by Tolkien in the conversations found in The Notion Club Papers. The Notion Club was another name for the Inklings in this fantasy novel. Tolkien thoughtfully examines dreams, visions, imaginations, reincarnation, and a hundred other different considerations of ways to accomplish the magic-trick of “defying” time. He complains that some authors are not convincing in their literary ‘contrivances’ they use to jump through time or leap through space. Tolkien logically complains about poor attempts that did not make him, as a reader, “willing suspend his disbelief.” Tolkien, in The Notion Club Papers has two members of the group go ‘off the deep-end’ and believe they could see and feel their previous incarnations on Atlantis (Tokien’s Numenor) – thus, Tolkien ‘time travel.’ Both members (probably Barfield and Harwood who as Anthroposophists believed in Atlantis) go somewhat mad in their insatiable desire to unravel the ‘ancestral voices’ sounding in their minds and the many karmic influences in their lives that bridged the present with ancient Atlantis. These two Club members go off on a quest following ‘signs’ and their personal intuitions unfolding before them as they hear the voices calling them ever further ‘West’ – Numenor/Atlantis was in the ‘West’ – the home of the immortals (the Blessed Realms) and long-lived elves out beyond the Lonely Isle (Tol-erresea) on the Lost Road which climbs into high heaven (Ilmen).
Tolkien takes the reader up the Seven Story Mountain of spiritual ascension through time travel insinuated by the mad Club members ‘remembering’ their previous incarnations. Tolkien, through Middle-earth and its prior immortal ancestors the Elders, the long-lived Elves, the Valor, the Numenorians, short-lived men, and even hobbits and dwarfs imaginatively portray the history of developing humanity and outlines the future stages of ascending human consciousness. Tolkien intended to create a history of the English people that was informed by philology, linguistics, culture, and imaginal history. Thus, many scholars believe “The Inkling Challenge” was met by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, which was, of course, informed by this initial “Inkling/Notion” about the ancient history of humanity which seems to go back so far as to address the myths of Atlantis (Numenor) and Lemuria (Tol-erresea/Avallon) or even further back to Hyperborea (Valinor). The Blessed Realms of Ilmen may even be the obscure realm of the Sun called Polaria which harkens to the earliest days of Creation when humans where still in the heavens with the gods.
Tolkien takes his speculation on time travel quite seriously but was not happy with his fantasy novel, The Notion Club Papers since he did not finish it nor consider it a major work for the public. One might say that Tolkien used The Notion Club Papers as a way to loosen up his imaginative powers to breach the time-walls of the Imaginal World and tap into a living world that is often seen as Merlin’s Faery Kingdom. Tolkien has one of his main characters from the novel say: “People of the future, if they only knew the records [of the Notion Club] and studied them, and let their imagination work on them, till the Notion Club became a sort of secondary world set in the Past: they could [picture the real past].”
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