Dreaming Worlds Awake is the newest book by VFA member Esme Ellis.
This is a book that offers glimpses into the soul journey of the author. It could have gone the way of many memoir or Visionary Fiction books and been self-absorbed or pedantic. This does not happen in ‘Dreaming Worlds Awake’. Esme expresses her life experience through narrative, through life synchronicities, through her dreams, through conversations with mentors (dead and alive), and through poetry. This variety proves creative and interesting. Esme’s writing drew me in.
I particularly liked her description comparing the Heroe’s Journey and the Writer’s journey as being one and the same. How fashioning words, and paragraphs, and stories, is magic and is in effect casting a spell… (in its most basic form, when you ‘spell’ a word correctly you are casting a ‘spell’!)
In one of the dreams and past life remembrances Esme related, a priestess appears and gives symbolic messages about the inner feminine and masculine of both Esme personally, and the world at large. These reflections are so crucial to our world today, where these two aspects are out of balance and struggling to come together in harmony as they are meant to be.
Esme also asks an intriguing question which bears further contemplation – Is there an unconscious aspect to Divinity?
Esme, when you studied the art of sculpture, one of your earliest mentors chose you to be in the college program because he said you had ‘presence’. This indeed, comes through in the art of your writing. Well done.
Charcoal smoke surged over me in a thick stream obscuring the stars, along with the events that forced me down onto this cold, hard sidewalk. I stared into the flames streaking out of the second-story window until my senses were hypnotized, and the searing pain from the bullet that pierced my abdomen disappeared. “Stardust” began to play in my radio brain and transmitted the memory of my first meeting with Stella. I was at the Jazz Room with my band-mates, Donnie and Snaps. Most of our conversations were pointless, but I recalled them with startling clarity on this starless night.
The pain from my injury forced me back to reality, a reality I had no desire to return to. As blood surged out of my wound unrestrained, I thought this was it. I’d die alone and without my last dream realized. Just as I had given up hope, it came true.
“Daddy!” My daughter, Jessie, ran over to me wearing the pink pajamas I got her for her ninth birthday. She looked off to the side, hypnotized by the flames.
My sister, Leda, arrived next and knelt beside me. “Hang on little brother. An ambulance is on its way.” She gently assisted Jessie down to her knees.
As I gazed at my daughter’s face, an emotional storm struck me. Is this real? Are you here? I couldn’t trust my own senses. I wanted this moment so badly. It sustained me all the way up to now.
“Why are you bleeding?” she asked.
“I’ll be okay.”
“That’s a lot of blood.”
Review by: Eleni Papanou
Wow! That’s how I’ll start my review on this book. Philip Dick uses the vehicle of fiction to understand the meaning behind his spiritual experience. I have had a similar experience, and much of what is revealed in Valis runs parallel to what happened to me, which is why I personally resonated with the story.
What drew me in was Dick’s use of first and third person in the narration. The reason for the switch was so that the narrator could be more objective about his spiritual experience. However, this split in narration evolves into something greater, which I won’t mention here. Dick’s decision to use two points of view is eventually made very clear. I couldn’t see this story being told any other way.
Valis is filled with introspection, madness, and spiritual insight, all effectively seasoned with humor. Dick never takes himself too seriously and always makes it seem as if he’s open to every explanation that he muses over. My personal favorites in this book were the movie sequence, the banter between Phil and his friends about the meaning behind it and their subsequent meeting of Sophia, which I won’t go into here as I don’t want to give it away. During the reading of the book, I was noticing similarities between Dick and Robert Anton Wilson, and I was pleasantly surprised when Dick mentioned Wilson’s book, Cosmic Trigger!
Valis is not an easy book to read, and the plot is thin, but if you’re looking for something with philosophical and spiritual depth, you’ll enjoy it.
What makes this book visionary fiction? I only have to … Continue reading
I write visionary fiction.
Unfortunately, mainstream agents and publishers do not recognize visionary fiction as a genre. In fact, they have dubbed it “the kiss of death” with the flat of their swords.
In the past, visionary fiction was heavy on preaching and light on storytelling, so it deserved temporary banishment to the time-out corner.
But enough is enough. The majority of today’s visionary fiction writers have mastered page-turning plot and in-depth characterization, with the bonus of writing fiction that uplifts and transforms.
There’s a need – no, a yearning – these days for what visionary fiction has to offer.
Let me introduce you to an organization called GATE (Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment), “an evolving community of creative, business and technical professionals in entertainment, media, and the arts — and the interested public — who realize the vital and expanding role media and entertainment play in creating our lives, and who aspire to consciously transform those domains for the benefit of all.”
Each year, GATE holds a public event for networking between media professionals with transformational values. GATE 2 was held on February 4, 2012 with a standing room only crowd of 2,400 at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills. One of the featured speakers was sociologist and author of Cultural Creatives, Dr. Paul Ray.
In the video below, Dr. Ray presents a convincing argument that transformational entertainment has a billion dollar market just waiting to be tapped.
You are what you read, what you see, and what you hear. Where you put your … Continue reading
Review by Pat Perrin
This is a personal book, a narrative of experience that leads the reader through some very nice juxtapositions. In her introduction, the author says, “Of its own volition something began to take shape. Stories arose, dreams came, a poem or two, a letter here and there.” And that is what the book consists of. In poetry and various prose styles, Esme Ellis describes dreams, synchronicities, channelled entities, and everyday life. She treats them evenly, finding something to learn of all of them
Esme Ellis is open to the wondrous without insisting on dogmatic interpretations. She says that dreams may, “if you learn to ‘live alongside’ them without pressing for instant disclosure, reveal their secrets later, in their own good time.” She could be describing her approach to adventures of all kinds. Her discussions range from the philosophies of Freud and Jung, to insights from the spirit of the sculptor, Jacob Epstein, to advice from an ancient consciousness, to encounters with animal totems and other unconventional topics. She looks on it all as a “playground of boundless discovery and spiritual expansion“ that is simply not to be missed.
My personal favorite is a brief story about helping a blackbird to protect its nest from a feral cat by …. well, you’ll just have to read the book. I recommend it for those who are searching for a playground such as this.
Reviewed by Pat Perrin.
Purchase book here.
By Margaret Duarte
For part one of the article, click here.
Hal Zina Bennett points to ebooks as a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to proving to the mainstream that visionary fiction has something valuable to offer.
“Maybe successful visionary fiction is a little like the legendary Hindu rope trick,” Bennett says, “where the fakir throws a rope into the air. Instead of it falling to the ground the rope stays firmly in the air like a solid post. Then the magician orders his assistant, usually a young boy, to climb the rope. The boy obeys but when he gets to the top he refuses to come down. The angry fakir throws a knife, which swirls viciously toward the sky. Soon, severed arms, legs and body parts of the boy come hurtling down. The magician’s assistants collect the pieces, toss them in a basket and cover the basket with a cloth. The magician passes his wand over the basket, sweeps away the cloth, reaches in and helps the restored and whole child step out. Thousands of people have sworn that they know somebody who has seen this trick done. But of course, the first hand witnesses never seem to be found. Perhaps visionary fiction is a little like that. We know the trick. Sometimes as we’re even convinced we’ve accomplished it. And maybe we have. But where are the spectators, the witnesses, when we need them?”
By Margaret Duarte
The genre of visionary fiction leaves many people puzzled, even the experts.
Take Hal Zina Bennett, author of more than thirty books, including: Write from the Heart, Writing Spiritual Books, Follow Your Bliss, and Spirit Circle, his own contribution to visionary fiction.
When I asked Hal to define visionary fiction, he said, “I think I have some understanding of spiritual non-fiction, and have written one moderately successful ‘visionary fiction’ novel, but sometimes I’m not sure I really ‘get’ visionary fiction at all. I find powerful spiritual work in books that don’t at all announce themselves that way, for example, in mysteries such as Louise Penny’s The Beautiful Mystery, about the murder of a priest in a remote Canadian monastery. Most mainstream publishers I know are prejudiced against reading anything that calls itself visionary fiction, just certain it’s going to be ‘religious’ and that the author is going to sermonize. Most editors won’t even get to the first page. Whenever I present a new project to an agent or an author, I avoid such labels. My advice to writers of spiritual fiction is just call it fiction. Ten years ago, it looked like the category “spiritual fiction” was gaining traction and was going to be adopted by the publishing industry, thanks mainly to the efforts of Hampton Roads Publishing, but I would not claim that today.”
Okay, I understand that Hal Zina Bennett is primarily an author of spiritual non-fiction, but I won’t let him off the hook that easily. In 2002, he wrote an excellent article about visionary … Continue reading
By Eleni Papanou
Visionary Fiction villains are my favorite of all villains because they have a chance to evolve beyond their fiendish personalities. What sets apart visionary fiction from other genres is good and evil are seen as acts rather than the core of a person’s existence. In other words, even villains can evolve.
Since Star Wars is so popular, it’s the perfect story example to use in this post. It also allows readers not familiar with the genre to better understand what sets apart visionary fiction from other genres.
One of the most well-known villains of visionary fiction is Darth Vader. We hated him when he destroyed Princess Leia’s home world and forgave him when he turned his lightsaber against the emperor to save his son. Why did we overlook Darth Vader’s sins?
We watched Darth Vader defeat his dark nature and embrace the light. It’s a very common archetypal theme in mythology that Lucas drew upon using Joseph Campbell’s template of the hero’s journey.
I create my own villains using a similar template, although they don’t always end up embracing the light. I love to explore the interior struggle of a villain. There’s a reason why they do what they do, and I flesh out my antagonists as intensely as I do my protagonists.
In Unison, my first book in the Spheral Series, Master Kai is seduced by ambition; however, there’s an obvious ambivalence he demonstrates throughout the book. I indicate this by how he relates to Damon, the protagonist.
“We can’t escape … Continue reading
I like to use the nice stuff, the good stuff. I put my feet on the coffee table, I use my best dishes, and I squeeze every ounce of practicality out of my spiritual beliefs.
I like the good stuff. Visionary Fiction is the ultimate in good stuff. You can find a far more definitive explanation of it here, but here’s the very humble, boiled down, practical version I use for myself: Visionary Fiction promotes views of life that encourage us to live it in harmony.
Notice, I do not say “in lock step”, or “in preparation for the next.” I don’t say “in accordance with specific rules, or teachings, or dogma, or tenets.”
Live it in harmony. In harmony with one another. In harmony with our planet. In harmony with life itself. In harmony with a greater intelligence, love, power, and beingness that, try as we might, we can’t truly articulate, much less define. In harmony with the highest and best that lives within us all.
But, we’re human. The minute we start reaching for that harmony, we start making rules about how to achieve it. And we tell stories about how we came to make the rules. And we share them. And enshrine them.
Visionary Fiction is about breaking the rules. It’s about remembering that we write our own stories. The true function of our stories is enabling a harmony between our condition and the Divine. They should inspire us to live our best lives, provide signposts on the journey. They should help us burst through the self-imposed bubble … Continue reading
Elroy Stark shuffled up the steps to the Eternal Flame Christian Spiritualist Church one wet Monday afternoon. He was late again. His manager always managed to persuade him to stay for ‘just a few minutes’ to finish off some important document or other.
He shook his umbrella several times in quick succession when he reached the top step, folded it down and smoothed back his wet, greasy hair into an overly-slick Dracula style before entering the hall.
The meeting, as usual, was already under way and the spirit medium, Frederick Wallas, was sitting perfectly still and upright in a wooden chair at the front. His monotone voice bounced off the stone walls of the former Freemasons’ building.
Elroy’s scuffed leather shoes squeaked on the highly polished floorboards as he approached the back row of seats. He tried to shift his weight to prevent the squeaking, but ended up making it worse. A few heads spun around to look at him as he squelched his way towards them. One woman in her sixties saw it was Elroy, shook her head and turned back to face the medium. A red-headed, pale man sitting in the front row narrowed his eyes and glared at Elroy as if trying to kill him with his thoughts. That was ‘Bonny’ Benny, the Church’s founder.
Elroy sat on a chair right at the end of the back row, next to a lady he’d noticed at the last three meetings but had not spoken to. Her greying auburn hair was wavy and although it was fixed up tightly in a bun, a couple … Continue reading