I saw a clip from a TED talk the other day that enumerated the top ten factors that enabled people to live to a hundred years old. Yes, there was a focus group of long-living folks and tons of data about them. The topmost factor? Connecting with other people on a daily basis, whether it be a partner, a colleague, the mail carrier, or a random stranger in an elevator. Besides being a beautiful truth – that we keep each other alive – it provides me a bottom line for encouraging all of you to attend a writer’s conference.
I went to my first conference last November, after almost fifteen years of writing and networking on my own, or online, with very little face-to-face time. I had a writer’s conference on my To-Do list for years, but I needed a little shove. Although I have been in the performing arts for decades, your basic collaborative fool out for a good time playing well with others, as a writer I followed the shy, reclusive model happily. So what brought me out of the cave to seek the light of my fellow authors? My story will vary from yours, but hopefully it will help draw you out of the Writer Cave.
Two summers ago, I became curious about a training program in Akashic Records readings. Since my fantasy series, 1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles, touches on this concept of a cosmic database of our soul histories, I thought it would be interesting research. What transpired is another story for another article, but my curiosity led me to become an Akashic Records reader, start working with clients, and work on myself with the teacher, Andrrea Hess.In one session where I asked Andrrea about finding an audience … Continue reading →
I would like to honor one of my favorite writers, Mr. Clive Staples Lewis, briefly showing how his intuitive genius made him a famous exemplar through works closely related to the “visionary fiction” genre. C.S. Lewis is the author of the well-known Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as a less known but most inspiring to me, Screwtape Letters, among many other works.
In his Narnia novel, C.S. Lewis uses his main characters to parallel the central players within Christian theology. For example, the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe represents the non-fictional concepts (in Lewis’ mind) of Jesus Christ, Satan, and the Supernatural aspect of the real world, respectively—making the plot of his story “universal in its worldview and scope.” One need not be a Christian to find edification in this work of Lewis’ because Jesus Christ can be universally interpreted as the moral hero generally, Satan can be seen as forces of moral challenge, and in regards to the supernatural aspect of the universe, no additional translation is needed for a fan of the visionary fiction genre.
The work of Lewis which most inspires my own experiment with visionary fiction, however, is his Screwtape Letters. In this book he uses the instrument of letters to convey in dramatic, engaging and most entertaining form, elements of Christian spirituality. Set as letters written between Screwtape, the experienced devil, and Wormwood, his nephew apprentice, he manages to exquisitely draw out and paint a most colorful and at times hilarious picture of the spiritual person’s struggles, temptations, and moments. Communications between an experienced devil and his apprentice via letters was a most creative “metaphysical plot device” on his part.
Vision is not mere fantasy devoid of pragmatic realism but an expression of our core values linked to universal experiences. For a nation that used to pride itself on a universal concept of E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one), we have politically divided and compartmentalized ourselves in the “Pluribus,” but have precious little “Unum” to show the world as the American political process continues to grind away defined by fractured relations and contentious posturing. Our “better angels” have obviously not alighted on this planet to guide our actions to date.
Both sides of the political spectrum confuse the “map with the territory” a concept first proposed by philosopher Alfred Korzybski and expanded upon by anthropologist Gregory Bateson. In essence, people confuse their own personal maps of the world with the territory the map represents by the conviction that their view is the one and only “truth”. As a result, we engage in never ending arguments over whose version of the truth is the correct view of reality. When gazing through a universal lens, multiple realities exist which necessitates a collaborative response for effective governing so that each reality is honored at a given level of consciousness, while moving toward wholeness and understanding. Creating a national vision where multiple realities from diverse perspectives are organized into a coherent unified force to solve our complex domestic and global problems has clearly been lacking in the current political climate.
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 … 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. … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading →
Applied Parapsychology: Synchronicity and Super Synchronicity
To read or revisit Part One of this series, click HERE. For Part Two, Click HERE.
Parapsychology in its various aspects is an enormous field of study and practice both for evolving humans trekking through the maze of physical/mental/spiritual existence and for visionary authors narrating that tortuous saga, aptly named the Hero’s Journey by mythologist Joseph Campbell.
But prior to it becoming a way of life or genre of fiction, parapsychology is a science: a body of knowledge that can be trusted because a scientist, in the broad sense of the term, did the proper lab work and wrote the requisite papers that other scientists diligently vetted. Such science takes dedication, time, and resources, and often must be done in the hostile environment mentioned earlier. So, a work like Super Synchronicity: Where Science and Spirit Meet is a priceless gift to humanity.
For someone coming cold upon the concept of synchronicity, this book might initially evoke a “You’ve got to be kidding.” Why Gary’s degrees and experience are necessary for him to get away with it.
But as a VF writer, who sees that reality is often stranger than fiction, I came to it already familiar with the concept and experience of synchronicity. Even supersynchronicity (six or more events “in close proximity that do not seem to have any causal connection but are still related meaningfully”) was not too much of a stretch. But rarely did I pay attention long enough to count that far. Also, I had no idea how many others had such experiences and in what quantities, or what might cause such chains of … Continue reading →
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