4. House of the Spirits – the beings and structure with whom we dwell

Family and Pets, Ancestors and Spirit Animals

What happen when we honour and recognise the immaterial beings who dwell close to skin? The reason this is important is because in the work of co-becoming, we are engaging with the real world but in a different and very specific way. We are engaging with the world Imaginally.

To engage Imaginally means to engage with the world spiritually through what we call co-becoming. Co-becoming is sometimes called soul-making, where the world and presence (‘our’ presence, or the eternal shared presence that manifests within us) witness each other and become something more, together.

To talk about it, to try and get our ‘head’ around this, will fail every time. That’s ok — think of all these words as place-holders for the ritual, which is the time when we are co-becoming, and the knowing of co-becoming.

Back to what we do in the ritual. We bring to presence the being we seek to meet. Thus it matters not at all whether this person is alive or passed, this animal is our specific and hairy companion or a ‘totem animal’ (the sense we might have of a more-than-human presence whose intelligence seeks to engage with our own). The Imaginal realm is a realm where space, time and intelligence are different. There is a sense of timelessness and permanence here, yet also change. We aim to bring our softness, our aliveness, our sensitivity and our trust to this place, and listen carefully for what it might say.

Part of the reason to combine many elements together: current or past lovers, children, people who we touch with intimacy, plus pets and totem animals, is to cover a variety of ways we might experience intimacy upon our skin. To include both current and past is to bring forward the way the imaginal works — it operates outside of linear time, so the past is absolutely alive. And to include the imaginal aspect of animals (I used the word totem to signify a creature that you have a deep and particular relationship with) is to acknowledge that some of us may live with an abiding sense of animal presence that has a subtle felt sense.

To work imaginally with humans is not so much to work with their personality or their psychology. It is more dwelling in the third space – the space that is alive between the two of you, and the way this changes you. I remember the surprise of this the first time I felt it – the strange sense that there were three of us – me, him, and a presence generated by the relationship. I imagine for many this is the first experience of the imaginal.

Imaginal/archetypal love, the archetypal lover, archetypal loss – these are patterns of enormous psychic energy that at times in our life we enter and experience their vast and ancient grace. Archetypal love never fades, archetypal loss is profoundly deepening — these are initiatory experiences that, once experienced, we find ourselves humbled by.

I acknowledge that this theme may bring with it material that is very personal. My invitation to you is to work with the question we always ask. Undergirding all our research this year is the question – how are you supporting me? There are many questions, many enquiries possible, but we focus on this to bring forward our awareness of the enormous support always given us. The great gift of life, arriving in so many ways; this work aims to bring gratitude strongly into our experience of the world.

I am so grateful for the depth of connection and safety that is being held by all of you in the group, which gives me faith in our ability to provide a container for what arises.

Regarding the Imaginal experience of animals, where the touch is on our soul, I am pleased to share with you this beautiful radio documentary made by my former writing mentor featuring four of the most significant teachers in my life – and me! https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/archived/radioeye/tiger-country/3307180


I once studied architecture – beautiful buildings mean the world to me.
I thought I’d share with you the work of my favourite architecture theorist, Christopher Alexander. It’s not the best website, but you can get a sense here, if you browse, of his work, which is very much on theme – buildings as expression of soul.
This site has the text of his book I read when I was 18 that, I think, first showed me a glimpse of what it might mean to work with the Imaginal. The man’s a genius.
We will be going on writing journeys to explore our actual home, as well as a mythic, or dream home, so I hope this material is enriching.
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