Dr. Marie Angelo
Imaginal Studies is a research project about learning ‘from inside’ the images of the Splendor Solis, or ‘Splendor of the Sun,’ an illuminated manuscript from the Renaissance (1582) treasured as the pinnacle of alchemical art. The 22 hand-painted golden illuminations distil profound knowledge of alchemical transformation.
Of timeless worth, the Splendor Solis themes of personal change and ‘rebirth in the Light’ can be traced back to the ancient Mystery Schools, yet are relevant to us today (see our ‘School of Memphis’ page.)
Making an ‘imaginal’ study of the Splendor Solis uses that same ‘stuff as dreams are made on,’ spoken of by Shakespeare’s magus, Prospero, but is true exploration, not fantasy. ‘The imaginal’ is scholar and mystic Henri Corbin’s formal, poetic name for a substantive reality; the vivid, colourful middle-ground of living image ‘in-between’ the tangible physical world, and the intangible spiritual world (for an adventure into the subject, Tom Cheetham’s Corbin books are a wise and friendly guide.) Psychologists may conflate ‘the imaginal’ with ‘the unconscious’ but Archetypalists will say, ‘no, it’s we who are unconscious, not the imaginal’ (that’s post-Jungian James Hillman’s provocative style!)
To esoteric thought, the imaginal is the Astral Light, ‘the many-coloured land,’ inner worlds of the soul. When the ‘eye of the heart’ is cultivated, through practising visionary imagination, the imaginal opens to us as the tangible domain of mystical experience, meeting place with Living Powers whose presence brings Truths of Love and Wisdom into our lives.