V is for… Visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful and often-cited technique, not just in Paganism. Some people find it easy and natural; others of us (like myself) take a while to get the hang of it; for some people it never ‘clicks’ at all. I suspect that for those whom it really doesn’t work, no amount of comment, discussion, or suggestions will help, so if that’s you, there is no pressure in this post to try.

For some people who aren’t sure, though, perhaps my experience might be helpful or at least interesting.

Some starting points: I am not a classically ‘visual’ person – I can’t draw or paint, I’m as happy to listen to the radio as watch TV, and so forth. Nor am I everything you might expect from an ‘auditory’ person – I love spoken words, and lyrics, but am not at all musical. In some ways I am a tactile or kinaesthetic person, though not sufficiently good at this to be able to apply smoothly to physics or physical skills. My dreams tend to be about situations, experienced rather than seen, and come complete with sounds.

As a kid, when I heard people talk about ‘visualising’ things – not automatically in a Pagan context, but using the word in the same way – I assumed that I couldn’t do it, because it seemed to me that they were holding the pictures inside their heads, and I couldn’t see how you made them that small!

It took me a long time to connect my practice of imagining – a whole-body, multi-sensory ‘imagination’ which includes visual components – with ‘visualisation’. I still can’t simply picture something ‘behind my eyes’; I can ‘see’ things in front of me, things which are not really there and which I can control simply with my imagination. This is a practice closely connected with my childhood ‘pretend games’, in which a whole world could be imagined and held as a layer over the real world, ready for interaction.

I might call it ‘visualisation’, because a long word sounds more grown-up. But my Sacred Grove is a really a (perfectly serious) pretend game, an imaginary world which I can visit at will, and in no way restricted to the sense of sight.

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