Cities of Transparent Gold
By Greg Taylor of The Daily Grail
Occult writer and researcher Nevill Drury reports that during a guided shamanic journey - facilitated by expert Dr Michael Harner - he travelled through a smoke tunnel and was carried towards a golden mountain rising out of the mist. Drury says that as he approached the mountain, he saw...
...a magnificent palace made of golden crystal, radiating lime-yellow light. I am told that this is the palace of the phoenix, and I then see that golden bird surmounting the edifice.
Drury's account leaves us wanting to talk to Michael Harner, as Drury says the respected shamanic guide was keen to know whether any of the group saw 'geometric structures' during their visions - it turned out that many had the specific experience of viewing geometric 'celestial' architecture.
Furthermore, Drury's visionary journey shares a lot of similarities to the 'alien abduction' experience, in particular the one shared by Betty Andreasson. In her ordeal, she also saw a crystal palace - in conjunction with the tunnel motif and a vision of a phoenix. There are many 'abduction' anecdotes describing similar crystalline locales, such as the experience of Katharina Wilson as related in The Alien Jigsaw.
So here we come across, once again, the implication that these myriad phenomena - NDEs, alien abductions, shamanic visions - all flow from the same spring. And that spring has characteristics which remain constant throughout different experiences.
Perhaps such findings will give serious backing to Henri Corbin's description of the Mundus Imaginalis. Corbin, an expert in Persian mysticism, argued that the modern world had forgotten about the subtle realms, and now classified things via the simplistic dichotomy of either 'real' or 'imaginary'. The mystical world, however, also had what he calls the 'imaginal' world - a place which doesn't reside in our physical realms, but which nonetheless is very much a 'real' place.
Neither the tales of Sohravardi, nor the tales which in the Shi'ite tradition tell us of reaching the "land of the Hidden Imam," are imaginary, unreal, or allegorical, precisely because the eighth climate or the "land of No-where" is not what we commonly call a utopia. It is certainly a world that remains beyond the empirical verification of our sciences. Otherwise, anyone could find access to it and evidence for it. It is a suprasensory world, insofar as it is not perceptible except by the imaginative perception, and insofar as the events that occur in it cannot be experienced except by the imaginative or imaginant consciousness. Let us be certain that we understand, here again, that this is not a matter simply of what the language of our time calls an imagination, but of a vision that is Imaginatio vera. And it is to this Imaginatio vera that we must attribute a noetic or plenary cognitive value.
Ironically, at least in terms of this essay, Corbin frames his argument using the the 'goal of the Orient' - the desire for the Sufi mystic to visit the 'Emerald Cities' which exist beyond the 7th clime (that is, beyond the physical world). Part of the description of one of these locales is that it is made of 'diaphanous marble' (that is, transparent marble). The sufis believe that in order to see this 'region of light' they must develop their spiritual eyes and other suprasensory organs of perception, in order to see the subtle world rather than the physical.
Returning back to Dr Michael Harner, he sums up the 'false' dichotomy of 'real' versus 'imaginary' in simple terms:
Imagination is a modern Western concept that is outside the realm of shamanism. "Imagination" already pre-judges what is happening...I think we are entering something which, surprisingly, is universal - regardless of culture.
Perhaps, then, it is time to begin resisting the modern trend towards physicalism, and instead return to a thorough exploration of the imaginal realms in an attempt to lift the veil from the true 'mysteries'.
Greg Taylor, owner/editor of 'The Daily Grail', is currently researching the mystery of whether consciousness survives the body. He welcomes enquiries from publishers, magazine editors, and literary agents who are interested in his work