Black Elk, a Native American visionary and Lakota Sioux medicine man chronicled by John Neihardt in Black Elk Speaks, believed a coherent vision to be central to a people’s well-being. Black Elk’s prophetic message was clear—“Without vision, the people perish.” A vision encompasses not only the values and goals a people strive to honor but creates a mythology of who we are, what we stand for and how our vision fits into the cosmic order. Out of this mythology comes its symbolism of meaning that functions in maintaining the moral integrity and stability of the community as a whole, while also assisting individual members through the stages of life. Vision permeates what Jung calls the self, “…the organizing principle of the personality,” through the archetypal symbolism we embody tied to the collective unconscious. According to Jung, the self is the archetype of order, organization and most importantly, unification, which harmonizes all other archetypes and their manifestation. The visionary connected self carries us through crises that occur during the course of our individual lives and the history of a people.
Joseph Campbell, a professor and lecturer on comparative mythology and author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, found that danger exists when the social order requirements and interpretations of social institutions (religious, political and cultural) “…press on people mythological structures that no longer match their human experience.” Campbell maintained that the symbols or metaphors which express societal mythology must possess a “spiritual aura” signifying a living spiritual core of awakening. If mythological symbols are “…reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization,” they lack the “connotative meaning of … Continue reading →
This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. – Ha’aretz Magazine, October 1999.
Old Testament stories are spiritual allegories, Visionary Fiction that is. These allegories recount the struggles of men and women who met God face to face. Visionary Fiction has the same goal. It is a literary form that illustrates the process of growth in human consciousness and contains an all-inclusive spiritual component (Wikipedia).
Why do we read the Hebrew Testament like a history and law book? Because we take its stories at face value. Moreover, our minds are wired differently than those who wrote the Torah. In his essay The Philosophy of the Hebrew Language, Jeff Benner, an expert in ancient Hebrew, draws attention to an unrecognized issue: Throughout the world, past and present, there are two major divisions of thought or philosophy; Western and Eastern. Eastern philosophy has its roots in the ancient past and was the predominant form of philosophy throughout the ancient world. The beginning of Western philosophy arose in the ancient Greek culture from such philosophers as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. As the Greek culture spread, so did Western philosophy, to the point that it has become the predominant philosophy throughout the world. The Hebrews … Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Karen Rider’s insightful article was originally published in January, 2013 on our VFA blog site. We thought the discussion it catalyzed was worth having it reposted. We invite you to enjoy and comment!
Setting the Literary Stage for Visionary & Metaphysical Fiction
Rapid-fire change is ongoing in the publishing industry—and it’s not just in the way books are produced, marketed and distributed. Perhaps like no other period in literary history, writers are experimenting with voice, style and format. Such literary exploration arises from both a writer’s creative urge and in response to market trends. This has led to the emergence of new genres and a shift in the way books are marketed and categorized. On physical and digital bookstore shelves, we find books grouped as “alternate historical fiction”, “slipstream” and “paranormal romance.” These categories may arise from official sources (e.g., the Library of Congress), publishers and sometimes from authors and readers. Rarely is there agreement and many books can be placed in more than one category. For example, novelist Alice Hoffman’s book The Story Sisters has Library of Congress designations as Fiction/Psychological fiction/Loss/Mothers & Daughters. The same book has been described as a literary magical realism (for which Hoffman is most widely known) and mystical fiction. (It even popped up under fantasy on my Goodreads profile—and this book is definitely not Fantasy.) M.J. Rose’s series of novels dealing with the quest for tools that can reveal past life memories (The Reincarnationist, The Book of Lost Fragrances) are categorized as suspense right on the cover. On Amazon, these books were once listed under both suspense and … Continue reading →
I first started watching Once Upon a Time with my daughters this year. The visionary fantasy story was created for television by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. It focuses on a young boy, Henry, who believes that his book of fairytales is based on real-life events. The setting is Storybrooke, Maine where Henry’s foster mother, Regina, is the town’s mayor. In actuality, she is the Evil Queen. She spends most of her time plotting revenge against Snow White, who inadvertently blurted out a secret that led to her lover’s death. Unable to kill Snow White, Regina casts a spell that transports all the fairytale characters from the Enchanted Forest to Storybrooke, each without memories of their previous lives. The story takes off when Henry’s birth mother, Emma, arrives in Storybrooke. Henry reveals to Emma that she is the long awaited Savior who must help the residents remember who they are and liberate them from Regina’s control. He also discloses that Snow White and Prince Charming are her parents.
Villains and Heroes
What makes OUAT stand out as visionary fiction is the character arcs. As there are many characters in this story, the focus of this article will be on the three leads that personify the symbolic archetypes of darkness and light. The two main villains, Rumpelstiltskin and Regina are three-dimensional, which helps make them sympathetic to the viewer. Through their backstories, we are shown that evil isn’t born but rather created out of circumstances along with the choices that stem from those circumstances. Regina turns to the dark side after the murder of her lover. Rumpelstiltskin’s weakness and inability to care for his son leads him to enter the world … Continue reading →
Visionary Fiction gives us a stairway upon which we can climb and express what we know deep within. When we look at great works of art, it is as if they are reflections of higher worlds, higher dimensions. Artists paint upon a canvas, writers write upon a page, but at the top of the stairway we paint in Light upon the universe and we write in words of Light upon the universe. As we look up we see the vision, we reach into our souls and we can connect to that place, that reality.
Francis Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, author and concealed poet, said, “All rising to great place is by a winding stair.” Today we say, “What was that guy talkin’ about?” But Francis was a very great visionary, and he understood how we evolve.
We can think of good vs. evil in terms of an upward spiral or a downward spiral, a good choice or a bad choice, the truth or a deception. There is only one power source in the universe and it allows downward spirals and wrong choices because it honors free will in the hopes that we will learn to always fight to spiral up and propel the Light and defend the Light and love the Light. Energy returns to its source and its source is perfection, and we have to reach up to return to our source and come home.
But why fight to spiral up? Is it worth it? What will we find at the top of that stairway? Will we get to … Continue reading →
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that those of us writing Visionary Fiction have had some sort of vision, be it a lucid dream, an unexpectedly successful meditation, a trip brought on by a substance outside the normal diet, or even a near-death experience. It may have lasted several hours, possibly a day or two, but more likely it was only a few minutes. Nevertheless, a mere glimpse beyond the veil is all that’s required to alter one’s consciousness. We are suddenly aware that we are more than; more than we had been taught, more than we believed, more than we could have imagined. We are aware that things are not as they seem, and perhaps more importantly (as a motivating factor), we are aware that things need not remain as they are, that if only more people were clued in to the true nature of reality, the manifested mundane world could be modified in ways that would benefit all beings. So we are driven to spend endless hours of our short time here on earth piling up words, in hopes that our work will open the minds of our readers.
I’ll go out on another limb and presume that as writers of fiction we have all learned the maxim: show, don’t tell. Yet how do we show the qualities we have come to know in that eternal moment snatched from the other side—timelessness, infinity, unity—given that our only tool, language, is linear, finite, and distinctive by nature? How do we convey a globe to Flatlanders at all, let alone without technical ‘tell-y’ … Continue reading →
I get excited when I come across something like Gary Schwartz’s Super Synchronicity: Where Science and Spirit Meet. Such books and operations like the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health at the U of A allow us visionary authors to write about various preternatural phenomena with confidence of their veracity even though we have neither the time, resources or perhaps brains to perform the requisite scientific experiments ourselves. Continue reading →