Spirituality Within Visionary Fiction: a Round Table Discussion

Visionary fiction is a relatively new genre in the world of writing and publishing. And the paradox is that it is also an ancient form of storytelling as well. As we engage in discussions about defining Visionary Fiction, we inevitably hit upon the crossover of VF and Spiritual Fiction. While our consensual definition of VF from our website does an excellent job at describing VF, we, the founding members of the VF Alliance agree that it is an evolving, organic description which will be refined as we grow in our understanding and writing of the genre.

colorful-meeting-mdAnd, one definition we cannot attempt to resolve is the perennial question of ‘what is spirituality.’ However, we can attempt to discuss what is the role of spirituality within Visionary Fiction. Given that intriguing question, we are offering a round table discussion of this very question. The discussion is not meant to confuse readers or writers, or to disregard our official VFA definition. It is our way of exchanging ideas and inspirations to further grow the genre of VF.

Please join in the discussion. Comment, or if you have something longer to share, we invite you to write a blog post        detailing what you feel is spirituality within VF. As the definition of spirituality is diverse amongst individuals and cultures,  so, too, will it be diverse amongst the members of our VF Alliance group.

 

Enjoy the round table discussion. It is all grist for the mill.

What is spirituality within Visionary Fiction:

Eleni Papanou, author of Unison, Beyond Omega’s Sunrise Jessie’s Song.

The way I view spirituality in visionary fiction is similar to how I view my personal spirituality. Characters in my stories follow the same path as people who seek enlightenment, e.g., shedding themselves of all labels and conditionings in order to awaken to their true selves.

Translated into what it means to be a visionary author, I don’t tether myself to one genre. I allow my story to lead the way, no matter how frightening the destination where it takes me to may be. It’s necessary to move forward, without pause, to evolve with the story.  This movement of faith is sacrosanct to me, and is the key aspect that makes a story visionary.  Without evolution, a story will not have the visionary spark that can only be ignited when I transcend with my characters. I view this writing sojourn as spiritual because the motivation in my characters happen from within themselves. What keeps them  moving forward is the desire to be liberated from their past conditionings in order to reconnect to their authentic selves and become whole. As a visionary author, my goal is identical. Therefore, my internal world manifests in the internal world of the character.

 

Margaret Duarte, author of Between Now and Forever

We can come at spirituality from a philosophical view as well as a spiritual view Do we as visionary fiction writers define spirituality as the search for the sacred? If so, how do we define sacred? Is the sacred that which is set apart from the ordinary? If so, what exactly sets it apart and what makesthis extraordinariness worthy of veneration?

If we do not define the spiritual as the search for the sacred, how do we define it?

Wikipedia says, The use of the term “spirituality” has changed throughout the ages. In modern times, spirituality is often separated from Abrahamic religions, and connotes a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religions aimed at personal well-being and personal development.

Are we more focused on the personal well-being and personal development aspect of spirituality?

The question is: How, exactly, do we here at Visionary Fiction Alliance define spirituality? If we’re talking about feeling uplifted after reading a book, that covers many genres and many bases. If we’re talking about the character’s life changing in a way that makes it more expansive, happy, better, this also covers many genres and bases.

I get the part about paranormal experiences, but many other non VF books have paranormal experiences. We can’t be all inclusive. How do we distinguish ourselves from the many other genres listed under the umbrella of speculative fiction, including sci-fi and metaphysical?

What exactly sets us apart? I believe it is a combination of the spiritual (non material) and growth-in-consciousness components, which leads back to the questions. How do we define spirituality and how do we define growth in consciousness?

 

Vic Smith, author of The Anathemas, A Novel of Reincarnation and Restitution

I think the VF writer is trying to drill upward to find out, to prognosticate, what actually is on that level, by whatever name we choose to call it.

Gurian’s was my original definition for VF (and I studied his novel The Miracle as an example), and my concept of VF was his of visionary realism. This I understand to mean: it is obviously not realism or what Jung puts into psychological fiction, one end of the spectrum; but it is also not religious, or only spiritual or even metaphysical, the other end of the spectrum.  It is about that in-between stage, where matter is mixed with spirit in the mind realm; and how, by exploring and understanding that realm , which is accessible to human beings with a bit of stretching, that the mind is evolving to the next higher level of consciousness. Perhaps it is this definition that makes me resist too much of the “supernatural” or even too much of the sci-fi/fantasy element in our final definition.

It is this in-between concept that, in writing the historical aspects of my novels, drives me to get all the facts first (realism) and then amplify them by inserting the overlooked but likely paranormal aspects like reincarnation, magic, or psychic gifts of the characters and their impact on events. Thus, I see my work as well-researched historical fiction with a big dollop of the paranormal, which, I hope, will get readers to reassess what they have been taught in Sunday school about the Heaven/Hell paradigm and open them to new options for self-definition (as an immortal soul which has experienced much more than this limited one lifetime).  This last being the mind expansion factor, growth-in-consciousness components.

Indeed a finer point but one I feel should be made. Visionary fiction stays in the in-between accessible to the enhanced mind while spiritual fiction can indulge in theological speculation that is not grounded in available reality.

 

Jodine Turner, author of The Awakening: Rebirth of Atlantis, The Keys to Remember, Carry on the Flame: Destiny’s Call, Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic.

While we cannot attempt to resolve the age-old question of defining spirituality, what we can do as VF authors, is attempt to describe what spirituality is within VF.

Bottom line, in my VF writing, spirituality is about raising awareness and evolving consciousness through story; specifically through what the reader can intimately experience for themselves via the character’s experiences.

Spirituality in VF expands and deepens consciousness to include other realities, other dimensions, the paranormal, and the invisible and unseen that is intrinsic but not always acknowledged in our hearts, bodies, and souls.

Since my definition of spirituality in general always includes the divinity within the physical, then spirituality is also about life in the trenches, and pulling out the gold, the gem, the love, that is inherently deep inside any occurrence or any suffering. I define VF as the language of the soul, which shouts ‘spirituality’ to me.

Any story that brings in the power and magic of love, human and divine, and how love heals and transforms, is to me, spirituality within VF. Anything that elicits an experience of hope, faith, good will, kindness, through the reader’s experience of the character’s experience, is spirituality to me. Thus, the delineation that makes spirituality within VF is that the story engages the reader in such a way that the character’s experience elicits a reader’s transformations of consciousness.

Sandy Nathan, author of Angel and the Brown Eyed Boy, Lady Grace, The Headman and the Assassin, Numenon, Tecolote, and Leroy Watches Jr. and the Bad Ass Bull

I don’t get too hung up on definitions and requirements for a piece to be “real” VA. The question I ask is: Is the reader uplifted after reading the book? Has his or her life changed in a way that makes it more expansive, better, happier?

I don’t get too hung up on definitions, because that focus can sidetrack the purpose of the writing, which is to illuminate and enlighten. And heal.

Editor’s note: Sandy’s blogsite is entitled “Sandy Nathan’s writing opens worlds of spirit and inspiration.” A sound definition of spirituality within VF!

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image credit: Crimson at Clker.com

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About Jodine Turner

Jodine Turner is an award-winning, best-selling Visionary Fiction and magical realism author, Adorata Practitioner, therapist, and consecrated priestess. She writes about how the most potent transformative power – Embodied Love – is the next step in the evolution of humankind. Through story, Jodine takes you on an initiatory journey into the Goddess, as well as the Sacred Union of the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine within. Jodine authored “The Awakening: Rebirth of Atlantis” and “The Keys to Remember”, followed by "Carry on the Flame: Destiny's Call", and "Carry on the Flame: Ultimate Magic."
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11 Responses to Spirituality Within Visionary Fiction: a Round Table Discussion

  1. tlcrater says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing all this! For me spirituality is about direct experience while religion is about ideas. It also includes all the experiences on the path, our journey to enlightenment. Conflict defines story, so when we have all arrived in enlightenment, perhaps we'll only write lyrical poetry about how beautiful everything is. For now, as Vic says, we're in the in-between. As Jodine says, VF is to raise awareness; as Vic says, to help people question pre-packaged religious ideas and move to experience; as Eleni says, we transcend with our characters. Margaret asks how we're different from other genres including the paranormal. The genres definitely overlap in my opinion. VF uplifts and teaches. Perhaps that's the difference. I's like the Zen finger pointing to the moon.

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  2. Let's not overlook the simplest definition of spiritual, which is simply "not material." Any activity that does not contain a material component can be viewed as spiritual, the most obvious and close-to-home being thinking and thought itself (brain theory aside). Mastery of our routine thinking, as anyone who holds still for even a few seconds knows, can be a Sisyphean labor.

    IMHO As human beings we are, by our dual natures (physical and rational), positioned squarely in that realm where matter and spirit overlap, what I call above the in-between. I like also to see VF as the ongoing saga of the spiritual entangling with the material, not to triumph over it (as religious fiction might posit) but to transmute both matter and spirit into a third form(synthesis), which I'm guessing is what most people call Love. Really abstract, but the seed in its variations of an unlimited number of stories.

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  3. I am loving 'chewing' on these theological pieces with you, Vic, and everyone!

    It seems to me that the mentioned simple definition of spiritual as being 'not material' enforces a chasm between material and spiritual. Just like there used to be an emphasis of head over heart, I think this perspective is up for debate and is changing.

    I assert that material is as spiritual as 'spiritual'. I think of it as a continuum. For example, water is H2O – and water can be in various forms, from its liquid state, to vapor, to ice, its more solid form. But it is still water, it is still H2O. For me, the same sort of continuum goes for what we call spiritual. Divinity is divinity, whether it be the rarified form of the unseen, or inherent in the physical form of the material.

    So, I would not be one to use that definition as a simple way to define spirituality – by itself, or within Visionary Fiction. That is why I say the spiritual within VF can be found in the seen, the unseen, and the in-between.

    Stirring the pot…..

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    • Am grinning, Jodine. At some level you are probably right that "material is as spiritual as ‘spiritual’," but it seems extreme to say that the simple dictionary definition of 'spiritual' enforces a chasm between material and spiritual. Separate words with their separate meanings are the means to communicate about discrete objects/actions in the current "game." It is quite possible that all separation from Oneness is illusory, thus any indication of separation is false. But that wouldn't be a fun place to write about as it would have a one Word vocabulary.

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  4. Admin - Eleni says:

    I appreciate how you differentiate between attempting to define spirituality as opposed to the role it plays in VF. Margaret’s explanation about the spiritual and growth-in-consciousness components are something I resonate with in my own writing.

    The water/ice/vapor analogy works here, and I think the reason it doesn't work for materialism/spiritualism—in secular thought—is that there's no agreed upon or discovered link as to what both stem from. And many secularists doubt the spiritual angle. But let us say we one day discover that we come from the same material—let's call it divine matter organism (DMO) for this example. If we are all made up of DMO, manifest in spirit and material form, the DMO is all of us, projected in slightly different forms, yet all traceable back to the DMO. And we wouldn't need to use one word to define it anymore than we do for H20 and its byproducts.

    I'm loving this conversation!

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  5. Jodine, I, too love the conversation/conversations we've been having here at VFA. I also, appreciate two comments you make near the beginning of this post: "While our consensual definition of VF from our website does an excellent job at describing VF, we, the founding members of the VF Alliance agree that it is an evolving, organic description which will be refined as we grow in our understanding and writing of the genre." and "The discussion is not meant to confuse readers or writers, or to disregard our official VFA definition. It is our way of exchanging ideas and inspirations to further grow the genre of VF."

    Now, the question is: How can we get all this into a two-sentence elevator pitch, when we're asked, "You write visionary fiction? Never heard of it, what's that?"

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  6. elevator pitch definition – that should be our next project. I would like that as well! Let's see if we can distill all we've developed over nearly two years as the VFA.

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  7. Yes, Theresa. One sentence! Even better than two. That's what we're looking for. Each VF writer can tweak it to make it personal. Then memorize it, to be on the ready for anything or anyone.

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  8. vfalliance says:

    Hope you don't mind a latecomer to this discussion, which is giving me a strong feeling of déjà vu. Spirituality certainly seems to mean slightly different things to different folks and that's often down to personal religious upbringing. Personally I don't even like the word "spiritual" because it's misleading in a way. At any rate, to me the "spiritual" (for lack of a better word) in VF is about exploring the meaning of human life … its ("higher") purpose, minus religious dogma, obviously! Just what are we here to do, individually and collectively? That seems to be the "spiritual" thread tying most VF together in what I have read to date.

    I like Theresa's one-sentence explanation too. Very much in line with Gurian's "expansion of the human mind".

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