Isoke Femi, imaginal practitioner, primary facilitator and founder of Soul Matters, brings to the work more than 30 years of experience. She is co-founder of the Todos Alliance Building Institute and co-author of No Boundaries: A Manual for Unlearning Oppression and Building Multicultural Alliances. Isoke’s extensive study and work have led her to feel excited about the future. She believes that people drawn to this work have a critical role to play in advancing human consciousness and by extension, the social structures to which consciousness gives rise. Occasionally Isoke will invite other imaginal practitioners to support the learning field.
Soul Matters Center
Located inside the Junior Gym at 515 Ross St. in Santa Rosa’s Brickyard Center, Soul Matters is a cultural center founded by Isoke Femi. Soul Matters is a place to feel, to express, and to celebrate difference.
At Soul Matters we believe that Being wants to experience and express itself through our bodies and our souls. So we take the lid off the conditioned ways that we have learned to engage.
Soul, being unpredictable and craving freedom, needs intelligent and loving contexts in which to unfold its divergent nature,
At Soul Matters we hold a conviction that tending to “soul’s” concerns and caring for it through play, drama, storytelling, art making and ritualizing supports emotional intelligence and the emergence of creative responses and actions.
What is the “Imaginal”?
The term, Imaginal was coined by Henry Corbin (1903-1978). At the heart of the concept is the “image.” Imaginal Wisdom holds the significance of working with images as they arise in the individual and collective body, mind and imagination. It is the image that constitutes the language and landscape of the soul. Doing imaginal work brings respectful attention to the wisdom inherent in the images that arise. Soul is capable of accessing and relating to all aspects of being, despite our mental judgements or social norms about what is acceptable and not. This allows to go deeper than the consensus reality we all agree upon and into a reality full of complication, authenticity, and possibility.
Imaginal Wisdom is an exploration of theories and practices that support more effective and creative cultural leadership. In traditional community work and healing work we are used to working in analytical and intellectual modes. When we engage in imaginal practices, we engage in a form of truth as revelatory, versus the dominating force of objective truth so cherished in our prevailing context. Imaginal work asks us to work from a deeper, more creative, more soulful place. This in turn allows for more resilient and accountable relationships.
Imaginal seeks to better integrate the so-called “right/left brain” dichotomy. It is designed to help leaders enhance their skills through deepening, complexifying and embodying experience--especially those that plague our social justice and peace-making movements.
Activating the imaginal within us is as simple as flipping on a light switch; the power is already there. Likewise, the imaginal is already in and all around us. We only need to recognize it and foster it. The imaginal comprises the invisible, intangible, and non-rational dimensions of being. Under the sway of the imaginal, the impossible becomes possible, the unacceptable acceptable.
Imaginal work can help you relinquish your commitment to control, to binaries, to right and wrong and connect with your Inner Child. The inner child is so honest and so close to direct experience. The inner child can connect us to our own direct experience so we do not have to be locked in the prison of our conditioning. Sing songs to your own imagination. “Wake up sleeping beauty!” Set an intention to woo her back into a prominent place in your daily life. Invite her back. I have such a wonderful loving, abundant relationship to my imagination. Everywhere I turn, I can see and feel my imagination ignited. The deeper my trust in her grows, the more fun and rewarding life seems to become.
When we decide to turn back to the imaginal...playing with that inner and outer diversity—magic and possibility are released upon the world.
What Happens in Imaginal Work?
In Imaginal Wisdom we work intentionally to:
Undo the thought system that upholds internal and external forms of oppression
Liberate the creative, participatory inner leader
Share and create practices that encourage the recognition, acceptance and engagement of differences
Learn to draw on cultural and artistic forms of expression to celebrate vitality, joy and freedom
Work to free ourselves from the conditioning and frames that have outlived their usefulness
How we do it:
Emotional release work/Tending directly to affective experience
Creating rituals (transformative practices) that allow us to work with taboo material
Song, dance and play
Personification of different aspects of our and others experience
Theory (Liberation theory; transformative learning; depth psychology; African and African American spirituality; ancient wisdom)
Who may benefit from Imaginal Work?
Educators, therapists and coaches, social change agents, civic and organizational leaders, religious, healers and anyone who sees a need to work differently and more effectively.
The hope is that this work will form the foundation for an ongoing community of practice and mutuality.