Imaginal Selves

Eeeegad,it’s been six years since I wrote an earlier version of this piece for a June 2012 newsletter. It also appeared in this blog during the same year. The call to show up as an imaginal self to support the evolution of humanity is more urgent now than it has ever been. That call is also an important theme in my new art book about to be published: Ode to Gaia. I’m still not sure of the sub-title, though I appreciate reader, Anahata’s, suggestion: Living Beyond Self. This is the current view of the proposed front cover with the original subtitle. I’d be happy for feedback.
Ode cover (730x800)

Here’s a new and improved version of my post calling forth the imaginal selves of our evolving species.

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Imaginal cells – have you heard of them? I attended an Earth and Spirit conference in Oregon in 1989 and heard the biologist, Elizabet Sahtouris speak. She described imaginal cells, the cells which carry the butterfly blueprint to the caterpillar.  When the butterfly’s imaginal cells begin gathering and the caterpillar first notices them, the caterpillar becomes a voracious eater, consuming everything in sight and eventually becoming so bloated she stiffens and weaves the cocoon around himself.

Metaphorically, doesn’t this sound like our current cultural need to gobble up goods?

When those first imaginal cells appear, the caterpillar’s desperation drives it to eat and eat while the caterpillar’s immune response automatically kicks in and tries to destroy the imaginal cells.  But the imaginal cells keep showing up.  Finally there are so many that the caterpillar’s immune cells can no longer fight them off – that’s when caterpillar soup begins bubbling and that little living being is neither here nor there…another fine metaphor to help us grasp why our contemporary culture in the USA seems amorphous, insensitive, chaotic and incoherent.

It IS.

And more and more of us imaginal selves need to show up to help us humans reach the evolutionary tipping point.

Thankfully, on a global level, we imaginal selves are showing up everywhere. We need millions more in our country of the USA, but I have hope. All it takes is people expressing love, faith in something greater and more miraculous than ourselves, compassion, community and tender awareness of supporting the web of life which supports us  – everywhere amazing people and projects are happening against tremendous odds. I watched a film last night which reminded me of this, reminded me of human dignity and the wisdom of love. One Peace at a Time, – A film about a messed up world…and how we could fix it, written and directed by Turk Pipkin.

I am an imaginal self. How about you?

Despite our technological savvy, faith in virtual realities and robotic solutions to every problem, we modern, urban humans suffer from a host of debilitating symptoms new to the planet. We’re disconnected to the ground we walk upon. Here are a few of the disorienting symptoms I’ve noticed: alienation, numbness, raging fear, depression, fatigue syndromes, meaninglessness, anxiety, helplessness, seasonal affective disorders, and addictions, addictions, and more addictions.

This is the first time in human history when we have actually been aware that we can destroy the future of our own lives. We humans have no idea how to deal with this awareness, nor with that power.

No wonder we go shopping and bury our heads in piles of money.

But we can transform ourselves. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, because quite literally our species may not survive if we don’t change. To arrive at the potential we now have, humanity has changed many times over the history of our existence as two leggeds to be here now with fully functioning rational minds and scientific technologies up the whazoo. But along the evolutionary way we have had to diminish our imaginative, intuitive, wildly creative and deeply spiritual capacities. We must reclaim all of them to be whole. That’s the bottom line. Who will we be with fully functioning brain hemispheres working in harmony, a wholesome relationship between the bodymind and the headbrain, and a fully functioning heart awareness guiding our choices?

I think magnificent!

stories ODE to Gaia (598x800)

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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