Spirituality Within Visionary Fiction – a Round Table Discussion

Editor’s Note: A few years back I wrote this article to ask the question, ‘What is Spirituality in Visionary Fiction?’ We had a round table virtual discussion, which spurred a lot of comments and further discussion. Last month I posed the question again on our Facebook page, since we have so many new VF members. Here are the latest thoughts from our VFA members along with some of the original answers.

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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. And, 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 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: Theresa Crater, author of School of Hard Knocks, The Star Family, Beneath the Hallowed Hill, and Under the Stone Paw. I was recently invited to a book club and one of the women told a story about her experience walking into the Holocaust Museum in Israel. She said she was drawn to a particular corner and as she walked toward it, she knew what she’d find. She knew the names of those who’d been killed. Knew what the place looked like before she saw the pictures. She felt that she’d been in that place in a past life or somehow was spiritually connected to those people. Then she told me she’d always dismissed that experience because she didn’t think humans could have that kind of knowledge – until she read my book. Visionary Fiction affirms people’s spiritual experiences and offers a vision of possibilities. It does this without a lot of dogma. It teaches spirituality without preaching or requiring people to join a group. It portrays old traditions that have been lost or repressed, widening people’s ideas of religion and human potential. Plus, it’s fun to read and write.   Eleni Papanou, author of Unison, Beyond Omega’s Sunrise, and 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, Between Darkness and Dawn, and Between Yesterday and Tomorrow. 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, and Channel of the Grail 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, and 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, Leroy Watches Jr. and the Bad Ass Bull, Vanessa Schierman PhD Witch, and In Love By Christmas. 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. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ What does spirituality in Visionary Fiction mean to you?
image credit: Crimson at Clker.com
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7 thoughts on “Spirituality Within Visionary Fiction – a Round Table Discussion

  1. V. M. Franck - Vi says:

    For me spirituality is just part of who I am. I can’t separate myself from it. So when I write there are always elements of the spiritual woven throughout my work, including the nonfiction book I wrote about my brother’s crimes. I think when someone wants to read something, they need to be lured in by things that are important to them. That’s why I write my blogs the way I do. Academic assessment may appeal to the writers, but won’t necessarily get readers to buy our books.

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  2. reanolanmartin says:

    Spirituality for me personally is the same as the spirituality I weave into the Visionary Fiction I write. It is the core connection between me and my Creator, however it manifests in and outside of space/time. Developing this connection also expands the potential of every effort I make personally, or on behalf of my characters. To put it in the language of deep physics, it develops the ability to perform particle and wave functions simultaneously, opening the Divine seed within and allowing miracles to unfold.

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    • Jodine Turner says:

      Rea – I love how you say “opening the Divine seed within…’
      I agree with your statement that your personal spirituality is what you weave into the VF you write. And you do that so well!

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  3. heidi skarie says:

    I enjoyed hearing everyone’s ideas defining Visionary Fiction. I agree with many of them like the story of the woman who remembered a past life.

    I write Visionary Fiction, but my books can also be listed under the Historical Fiction and Sci-Fi genres. I’ve written Historical fiction novels about my own past life experiences and sci-fi novels where the main characters are growing spiritually and may remember a past life with another characters in the story. I always include an element of love, both divine and human, and have a character who serves as a spiritual teacher or mentor for the main character.

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  4. margaretduarte says:

    Love the following taken from Vic Smith’s comments: “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.” And: “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.” One reason all four books in my “Enter the Between” visionary fiction series have the word “Between” in their titles.

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