Active fantasy being the principal attribute of the artistic mentality, the artist is not merely representer, he is also a creator, hence essentially an educator since his works have the value of symbols that trace out the line of future development. Whether the actual social validity of the symbol is more general or more restricted depends upon the quality or vital capacity of the creative individuality." C.G. Jung, Psychological Types

In one of the few books dealing and elaborating on this method and THE POTENTIALS OF ACTIVE IMAGINATION: The Knight, A Jungian Healing Journey, J. Marvin Spiegelman Ph.D (isbn 0-941404-23-4) says:
A) Active imagination is the method par excellence for coming to terms with the unconscious and in finding one's own wholeness or Self.
B) It is largely effective in the soul/spirit dimension and in aspects of introversion, but less so in the extraverting aspects of relationship, connection with the world, and, in the other direction, with body energies, physiology, and matter.
C. Extensions of the method into "psycho-mythology" and "joint active imagination" are promising, as well as the related developments in the area of guided fantasy, magic, and bio-feedback.
I (Spiegelman op cit.) summarizes the stages as follows:
1. To make one's consciousness empty; to stop the"mad mind," ego dialogue and chatter; to achieve emptiness. This is done by many people now (e.g. in meditations of various kinds).
2. To allow emotions and fantasies to flow in.
3. To have it out with the unconscious: auseinanderstzung. The Jungian method is to confront; in the East one tends to ignore the fantasies (see also
Confrontation is rather like the constant clinging to the changing Proteus in the myth.
A danger here is a "fictive ego," namely not having a true reaction (e.g. the lady who saw a lion at the seashore and merely looked. If it were a "true reaction," she would have jumped, fled, or something, not just looked). The attitude of the fictive ego results in a continuing split and nothing happens. A true reaction includes an ethical confrontation.
4. One then must draw conclusions in real life. Promises need to be kept when made with the figures of the unconscious and integrated into life.

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Active Imagination, Jung's technique of confrontation with the unconscious , is of central importance in his teaching yet is mentioned relatively little in his writings. Barbarah Hannah, in an introduction to the book by Anna Marjula, quotes Jung as follows:....”(Jung) regarded it (active imagination) -- right to the end of his life -- as our greatest help and support in establishing and keeping a balance between conscious and unconscious. He often regretted that it was not more widely used by his pupils and even once said to me: 'Active Imagination is the touchstone of whether anyone really wants to become independent through analysis or not.' When I asked him whether I might quote this remark, he replied: 'Not only may you, but I ask you to do so.”...
And in his Letters (Vol I, pp. 458-460), Jung says: “As you know, the principle of my technique does not consist only in analysis and interpretation of such materials as are produced by the unconscious, but also in their synthesis by active imagination. (Jung goes to say this method is indicated in his situation and continues that he should:. . do what we call in the German language the Auseinandersetzung mit dem Unbewussten" which is a dialectical procedure you carry through with yourself with the aid of active imagination. This is the best means I know to reduce the inordinate production of the unconscious”. . .
. . .”The point is that you start with any image, for instance just with that yellow mass in your dream. Contemplate it and carefully observe how the picture begins to unfold or to change. Don't try to make it into something, just do nothing but observe what its spontaneous changes are. Any mental picture you contemplate in this way will sooner or later change through a spontaneous association that causes slight alteration of the
picture. You must carefully avoid impatient jumping from one subject to another. Hold fast to the one image you have chosen and wait until it changes by itself. Note all these changes and eventually step into the picture yourself, and if it is a speaking figure at all then say what you have to say to that figure and listen to what he or she has to say. Thus you can not only analyse your unconscious but you also give your unconscious a chance to analyse yourself, and therewith you gradually create the unity of conscious and unconscious without which there is no individuation at all. It doesn't seem right that a man like yourself is still dependent upon analysts. It is also not good for you, because it produces again and again a most unwholesome dissociation of your opposites, namely pride and humility. It will be good for your humility if you can accept the gifts of the unconscious guiide that dwells in yourself, and it is good for your pride to humilate itself to such an extent that you can accept what you receive. . . Did you never ask yourself who my analyst is? Yes, when it comes to the last issue, we must be able to stand alone vis à vis the unconscious for better or worse.”

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