This is a brave account of a woman’s inner dialogue over approximately a two year period. Though she doesn’t use the term, her process is what C. G. Jung calls “Active Imagination.” Similar methods have occurred throughout history, but what separates active imagination from channels, mediums, etc. is that the person both gives free rein to what emerges from within, and also that they “actively” engage with it; i.e., they take personal responsibility for their side of the dialogue, just as they would with a dialogue with another human.
Active imagination can be done in a variety of ways but most often it’s either visual or oral. In Ms. Costello’s case, it was both visual and oral to a degree that it felt as real as involvement in a dream feels real. In part, this may have been because of her extensive training from the past in a variety of methods of meditation and spiritual development. But perhaps even more because those previous processes had brought her to a dead end while the desire to become the person she was intended to be compelled her to be brave enough to go beyond the limits she had gone before.
Her active imaginations were with Dionysus, the Greek god of ecstasy, but he proved protean and took many forms over this two-year period, all with the intention of opening Ms. Costello to the limitless reality contained within her own body. The deep and abiding relationship between spirituality and instinct was the battlefield on which her struggle took place, a struggle still avoided by most religions and spiritual paths. What especially distinguished her journey was that she allowed herself to extend what she learned in this dialogue out onto her life in the day-to-day world. That, of course, is the real goal of any inner work.
Robin Robertson, Ph.D., is the author of The Shadow’s Gift & several other books