“I am your vessel, empty without you but brimming over with you.”
– C.G. Jung, The Red Book (p. 237)
In this eighth decade of my life, I turn often to the world of imagination, the home of the soul. On my daily walk in the woods or close to the lake, during my prayer time, when I let go of my worries or sitting down at the breakfast table with my husband, grateful for our long love. I welcome whatever image appears.
I have learned this from my slow readings of The Red Book. Jung, when confronted with visions of disaster, called out to his soul, “My soul, where are you?” She answered. Today, seeing our world wracked with a virulent virus, with escalating climate change, economic disparities, racial divides, I too call out to my soul.
She will come if I call. If I see her on my daily walk, find her during prayer, or set a place for her at the breakfast table. If I speak to her, she will answer. As Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the soul wishes to experience something she throws out an image and steps into it.” She is there, waiting for me.
With each active imagination, my vessel fills. I return to my writing desk and take out my journal. I close my eyes. I see again the image. I write a few lines to describe the experience. Then I ask the image why it came to me. My soul image has something to tell me. I listen and write down the dialogue with a few comments.
Here is an active imagination I did a year ago, speaking to the ripples on the surface of the lake.
October 1, 2019
I close my eyes and see anew the ripples on the surface of the lake. It’s a beautiful day, blue sky, blue water, bright sunshine. The ripples are coming in my direction. I am mesmerized by their continuous motion. They keep coming. I speak to them.
I: What are you bringing me?
Ripples: Trust, security, calm. Watch us.
I: Yes, today, in the sunshine. But when it is stormy?
Ripples: You will see tomorrow. We will be bigger. You need both: the calm and the danger.
I: I prefer the calm.
Ripples: But it’s the danger that moves you forward, outward. To not just sit back and be grateful, but to combat injustice.
Ripples: By sharing love. Right where you are. Little acts of love!
Comments: Another lesson! In good weather and in bad weather, I need to keep going outward with little acts of love. I think about the stormy weather. It could be a literal storm, but it could also be an emotional storm. I could be tired, worn down. Just keep remembering the ripples on the lake. They keep coming.
My little act of love is to share this experience. To encourage others to brim over with soul through the practice of active imagination.
Join Susan’s course Rekindling the Soul: Active Imagination and discover how the masters of different spiritual traditions approached their imagination and engaged with their soul and dreams. Learn and put into practice what Carl Jung termed Active Imagination as you expand your individuation toolbox with journaling, dialoguing, and drawing practices. Learn to use active imagination to enrich your own life, the lives of those around you, and even the world at large.
Susan M. Tiberghien
Susan Tiberghien is an American writer living in Geneva, Switzerland. She holds a degree in Literature and Philosophy and did graduate work at the Université de Grenoble and the C.G. Jung Institute Zurich. She is the author of four memoirs: Looking for Gold, Circling to the Center, Side by Side, Footsteps, and the writing book, One Year to a Writing Life.More Posts by Susan M. Tiberghien