A Methodology of the Imagination by Angela Voss
Eye of the Heart Journal, vol. 4, 37-52.
In his work on Sufi mystics, Henry Corbin uses the term mundus imaginalis to designate the psychic space in which the “super-sensible”reality of dreams, theophanies and spiritual beings are manifested, in a visionary sense, to the individual. This is the intermediate place” in the neoplatonic cosmos of emanation from spirit to matter where the former is given a perceptible form through an image, and the latter loses the density of embodiment and is “seen through” to its immaterial essence. This is the place revealed through the symbolic image and perceived by the corresponding soul activity of the active imagination, an approach which has been developed extensively by C.G. Jung and James Hillman through the disciplines of depth and archetypal psychology.
In this paper I want to consider the possibility of a “methodology of the imagination” as a basis for the symbolic interpretation of texts and images in an academic context. Such an imaginal methodology would honour, and speak from, this meeting place of literal and spiritual realities. Corbin’s articulation of this world (which is described as more “real” than that of sense-perception alone) is of primary importance for studies in traditional cosmology and divinatory or magical practice. It grants the creative imagination an interpretative function in the realm of visionary experience, whether this is entered through divinatory methods or spontaneous intuitive insight.