A Processual Metaphysics of Imaginary Companionship as Exceptional Creativity: Spiritual Emergence / Emergency

by Jace Langone, PsyD

Imaginary companionship is an ontologically valid and profoundly personal, creative event, potentially experienced with an archetypally connotative, peaking intensity (Langone, 2013). Default metaphysical fallacies prioritizing substance at the expense of creative process inherent to materialistic-mechanistic metaphysics reduces inquiry to analyses–a priori expectations and comparisons–suggesting that the data most validly describes how a phenomenon is being considered rather than the phenomenon in and of itself. Whereas a processual metaphysical consideration of imaginary companionship would allow its creative function to be most adequately and validly articulated.

While important data have indeed been generated throughout the historical field of imaginary companion literature (e.g., Taylor, M., 1999), emphases on a priori expectations and methodological inconsistencies pervasive throughout early research perpetuated public misinformation and empirical problems (e.g., Klausen & Passman, 2007; Langone, 2013). Misinformed familial responses to imaginary companionship can occasion interference with its creative function (Langone, 2013). This interference imposes on the axiological teleology, the propositionally felt intrinsic value of these creative endeavors. In the extreme, coercion of becomingness marks the imaginary companionship by its defensively limiting and possibly traumatic demise1 (ibid.).

This paper explores how extreme interference can contribute toward exceptionally intense moments diagnostically known as a Spiritual Emergency, and how the initial creation of an imaginary companion implores reconceptualizing their creation as a Spiritual Emergence (Grof & Grof, 1989, 1992). Particular attention to transpersonal psychiatrist Stanislav Grof’s, M.D., Basic Perinatal Matrixes and relevant transpersonal content are also explored. Central to this inquiry is dissociative forsakenness and its resolution, positing felt tragedy/trauma as complementary to as well as integral for felt peace/transcendence. While ostensibly alarming, it remains that, irrespective of creative intensity, imaginary companionship–inception through exit–expresses the most harmoniously linked thread of felt value informing a child’s conceptual understanding that they exist. In Whiteheadian terms, an imaginary companionship’s demise suggests a potentially exceptional final percipient occasion. This can be experienced by admitting novelty into feeling, superjectively amplifying conceptual understanding, as well as by defensively ending process beyond the repetition of a traumatic conformal proposition, superjectively limiting felt speculation and conceptual scope.

Throughout this essay exceptional is used as in the field of Transpersonal Psychology. Exceptional does not entail immunity to philosophical adequacy, but rather is inspired by the scholarship of American philosopher and psychologist William James (e.g., Taylor, 1983), and is more preferable than altered or nonordinary to identify intensities of experience amplified beyond normative scopes and depths. Respectively, no external activity is required, as in altering a cat’s capacity to conceive kittens, and exceptionality is not always experienced by nonordinary conditions, as when inebriated or when enduring hallucinations symptomatic of a severe urinary tract infection (e.g., Grof, 1988). Exceptional, however, denotes experiences synonymously described throughout common parlance as peak, religious, spiritual, mystical, numinous, shamanic, ecstatic, kenotic, transpersonal, holotropic, nonordinary (e.g., lucid dreaming, hypnogogic and hypnopompic liminality, psychopathology, hypnosis, intoxication, medicated/overmedicated, infection, etc.), and altered (e.g., disease-linked irreparable damage, injury, surgery, congenital abnormalities, etc.).

I use exceptional synonymously with psychedelic, non-substantially emphasizing its etymology. That is to say, psychedelic is often conflated with actual ingested material. The latter facilitates an ephemerally exogenous intensification of experience, a nonordinary psychedelic experience facilitated by stimulants, hallucinogens and other drug and medication classes. By my mentorship with Elizabeth Gibson, M.S., and Lenny Gibson, Ph.D., in Dreamshadow® Transpersonal Breathwork (DTB), mind-manifesting, making apparent from within denotes felt process. Through the folk psychology lineage of William James (Taylor, E., 1999), consciousness does not exist; it is function, process–immaterial felt algorithm of which awareness is a rare and infrequent experience (e.g., James, 1904a; Whitehead, 1978), unique and even less frequently expressed, factually impactful, nonetheless. Relatedly, “[c]onsciousness is the subjective form involved in feeling the contrast between the ‘theory’ which may be erroneous and the fact which is ‘given’” (Whitehead, 1978, p.161, brackets added).

This paper emerged by an intentional approach of pursuing a “Certificate in Process Thought and Practice” through The Cobb Institute in Claremont, CA while reconnecting with my holotropic breathwork practice with the Dreamshadow® community in Pawlet, VT, USA, as the COVID-19 pandemic cautions lessened in 2022. Further revisions of that paper have allowed me to improve the philosophical adequacy of those ideas by incorporating feedback from my teachers from The Cobb Institute, offering an even more robust process-relational metaphysical worldview of imaginary companionship. Initially explored by pursuit of my doctorate in clinical psychology over a decade ago, ongoing personal and academic study has also allowed me to redeem personal trauma I initially tended through creating an imaginary companionship as a child. And, my process of writing this paper, synchronistically admitted further into felt acceptance a Spiritual Emergency I experienced while finishing my doctoral dissertation on imaginary companionship (Langone, 2013), a timeless intensity of grief and forsakenness, as I tended a series of actual and transpersonal losses. My acceptance of and what I personally learn by feeling my way through these experiences draw upon an iteratively intense quest to understand this relationship I have felt throughout my life, since the death of my imaginary companion. Most effectively, how I initially offered my ideas in pursuit of my certificate from The Cobb Institute, I intentionally practiced a mutually informative dipolar exploration involving experientially revisiting and conceptually revising my immediately felt experience of existing. This essay is an expression of Platonic practice-linked, applied philosophy.

The first week of my studies with The Cobb Institute, I was serving in a public-facing role as a Lead Facilitator in Dreamshadow’s® weeklong training event which included a public weekend workshop. While pursuing my studies, I intentionally recommitted to my pre-pandemic pursuit of holotropic breathwork as an applied, practice-linked philosophy–as a breather, sitter, certified facilitator, and mentee. This value was connoted by the weeklong training unit whereby some trainees were invited to apply knowledge, acquired by study during the training component of the week, while shadowing a certified facilitator throughout the public weekend workshop. Exploring the fullness of one’s direct experience of existing in the moment by philosophical study and endogenously psychedelic application is also integral to Dreamshadow’s® Mission, and is evident in the passage from Plato’s Seventh Letter oft quoted during training experiences: “Acquaintance with it comes after a long period of attendance on instruction in the subject itself and of close companionship, when, suddenly, like a blaze kindled by a leaping spark, it is generated in the soul and at once becomes self-sustaining” (par. 341c-d.). My doctoral dissertation (Langone, 2013) was the first attempt to theorize the end of imaginary companionships while also exploring their psychospiritual potential, and this mutually informative dipolar exploration of deep experiential and intense conceptual process that I offer, requires attention and critique, as “[t]he success of the imaginative experiment is always to be tested by the applicability of its results beyond the restricted locus from which it originated” (Whitehead, 1978, p.5, brackets added).

Throughout the weeklong training event, I curiously and self-compassionately explored my anxiety and fear of disappointing the participants and my mentors and peers, shifting my mantra recitation from implicitly self-asserting an identity (I am loving-awareness) to accepting my immediately recognized experience of existing (I am enough), occasioning an exceptional experience referenced throughout the transpersonal and mystical literature as “The Heart of Christ.” When I returned home, I sought understanding through this exceptional experience: walking and hiking, meditating and yoga, as well as, most prominently, by writing papers and online postings for my studies and expressive drawing. This experience felt quizzically awesome, as I was not a participant at the weeklong event and yet my participation endogenously occasioned a psychedelic experience.

Without a priori conceptual intention, I engaged these self-care activities–trusting into the felt propositional process of my becoming, of creating novelty. As I expressively drew, a burst of Promethean creativity (e.g., Grof, 2019) yielded a mandala by which I beheld my childhood imaginary companion, Bigfoot, fluidly scooping me off my feet as he ran by. I typically experience “The Sasquatch Scoop” during shamanic drum journeys, excitedly riding upon Bigfoot’s shoulders straight through a portal within the trunk of the long-dead, New England white pine I would actually climb as a child, holding watch over the woodlands surrounding my childhood home, waiting for my father to return home from work.

“The Sasquatch Scoop”
Jace Langone, September 2024

Stan Grof, M.D., world class medical and clinical researcher of exogenous psychedelic experience prior to Schedule 1 prohibition, co-founder of Transpersonal Psychology with Abraham Maslow, and co-theorist of Spiritual Emergence/Emergency and co-creator of holotropic breathwork with his late wife Christina Grof (e.g.., 1989, 1992, 2010, 2023) wrote that “the experiences in holotropic states often bring illuminating insights into the specific dynamics and mechanisms of the creative process (the ‘how’ of creation)” (Grof, 1998, pp.49-50), and further suggested that the speculative, processual metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of organism could resolve the artificial split between science and spirituality, inherently exposing the split between scientistic and religious a priori dogma erupting from within default materialistic-mechanistic metaphysics.

What the Buddhists discovered experientially and modern physicists experimentally is in essential agreement with the metaphysical speculations of Alfred North Whitehead (1967), one of the greatest philosophers of [the 20th] century. Whitehead calls the belief in enduring existence of separate material objects the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” According to him, the universe is composed of countless discontinuous bursts of experiential activity. The basic element of which the universe is made is not enduring substance, but moment of experience, called in his terminology actual occasion. This term applies to phenomena on all the levels of reality, from subatomic particles to human souls. (ibid., p.126, brackets added)

Inspired by the dissonance between the contemporary ethos and the emerging data, Whitehead’s (e.g., 1925, 1933, 1978) speculative metaphysics responded to the gap of philosophical inadequacy occasioned by the scientific advancements of his era, and remains as the only current scientifically valid and mathematically derived philosophy of science (L. Gibson, personal communication, date not known).

Whitehead’s (ibid.) philosophy of organism offers a teleological purpose of amplifying novelty lured and guided by intrinsic value. The axiological intensity of the propositionally felt process of becoming–rather than a priori destination and form–is the means of ingression, of intending ideal potential (i.e., Eternal Objects) into actuality. That is to say, propositions are lures for feeling, a source by which novelty suprajectively intends its existence by the felt value of what it is becoming (Whitehead, 1978). More specifically, “[a] proposition is an element in the objective lure proposed for feeling, and when admitted into feeling it constitutes what is felt. The ‘imaginative’ feeling of a proposition is one of the ways of feeling it” (ibid., p.187).

By Whitehead’s speculative metaphysics, imaginary companionship–inception through exit–can be understood as an intrinsically valuable creative experience capable of exceptional intensity irrespective of whether its creative function is expressed constructively or destructively. The historical field’s a priori conceptualizations of this creative process implicitly explored its instrumental value. This paper offers imaginary companionship as imagining companioning–a harmoniously feeling-forward relational process connotative of Whitehead’s Creativity and informed by a personally mystical understanding of Creatio ex nihilo and the relationship between forsakenness/dissociation and Oneness/transcendence. Considering this creative endeavor as felt propositional process allows for the creation of imaginary companions and particularly intense exits to be more readily, validly understood as, respectively, Spiritual Emergence and Emergency (Grof & Grof, 1989, 1992)2: psychospiritually transformative opportunities and crises that allow people “to rise to a new level of awareness” (Grof & Grof, 1989, p.x).

The term imaginary companion is colloquially synonymous with imaginary friend–the former suggests a more personal ethos, whereas the latter pronounces subjectivity. I experience person as evincing a stronger etymological resonance with processual creativity–personare, to sound through (e.g., Bourgeault, 2003)–and subjectivity, with Cartesian parsing and Newtonian linearity inherent in default metaphysics, highlighting an implied reification of ego as well as a neglect of relationality, interrelatedness throughout the cosmos. Despite having been challenged, shaken by the emerging scientific paradigm of the 20th-century, Newtonian-Cartesian artifacts prevail by attachment to physicality and sociocultural conditioning as evinced by subject-predicate language systems (e.g., Whitehead, 1925, 1978).

Cartesian parsing and a priori conceptualization compromise the fullness of understanding all experiences of existing, as they evoke artificial knowledge reflecting methodology at the expense of the phenomenon being studied. This was central to Henri Bergson’s criticism of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity as offering insight into the measurement of time rather than to defining time itself (e.g., Canales, 2015). Even as Grof (1985) incipiently posited an experiential cartography of human psychology that included Perinatal Matrixes, he asserted that Cartesian parsing inherent to scientistic objectivity and materialistic analysis evokes conceptual paradox only remedied by felt endurance familiar to Bergson as well as to Bergson’s early and later contemporaries, such as, respectively, James and Whitehead:

It is the fact of observation that disrupts the unbroken wholeness of the universe and generates paradoxes. The instantaneous experience of reality does not appear paradoxical at all. It is only when the observer attempts to construct the history of [their] perception that paradoxes emerge. This is because there is no clear dividing line between ourselves and the reality we observe to exist outside ourselves. Reality is constructed by mental acts and depends on the choice of what and how we observe. (p.58)

As I endeavor to explore the creative activity of imagining companioning, I will offer only minimal attention to empirical findings related to imaginary companions, the children who create them, and the children’s families. Limiting the presented data so as to orient the reader to the creative activity of these endeavors will occasion a more precisely valid formulation of the processual felt becomingness inherent to imaginary companionship’s creatively propositional activity. Understood as and through felt creativity centrally posits intrinsic value as its origin, suggesting a non-analytical conceptualization by which traumatic paradox resolves, and diagnostic formulation improves.

The characteristics of imaginary companions are diverse, as descriptions are difficult to discretely categorize (e.g., Taylor, Carlson, Maring, Gerow, & Charley, 2004). “[T]hey vary in size from a speck to 10 feet tall, they can be newborn infants or they can be ancient (e.g., 1,000 years old), they are every possible species, and they may even be from another planet…sometimes have families and lives of their own” (Taylor & Mannering, 2007, p.232, brackets added). While these findings suggest the uniquely created character of imaginary companionship, operationally speaking, an imaginary companion is most frequently conceptualized in the empirical literature as:

…an invisible character, named and referred to in conversations with other persons or played with directly for…at least several months, having an air of reality for the child, but no apparent objective basis. This excludes that type of imaginative play in which an object is personified, or in which the child himself assumes the role of some person in his environment. (Svendsen, 1934, p.988)

Imaginary companionship is not pretend play, and it does not follow anticipated trajectories (e.g., Gleason, 2005); the form of imaginary companions is application and function, thus necessitating a processual metaphysics. Most descriptions are unpredictable, as their characteristics are transiently described (e.g., Gleason, Sebanc, & Hartup, 2000; Jersild, Markey, & Jersild, 1933). Comparatively, approximately a third of children report permanent and stable imaginary companion characteristics (Jersild, 1940). Characteristics are relatively stable throughout each imaginary instance, differentiating this creative process from hallucinations, as the latter can episodically fluctuate (ibid.). Most imaginary companions are experienced as vividly real (Hurlock & Burstein, 1932), some are even heard (ibid.), and nearly half are reportedly seen (Svendsen, 1934). More often than not, children create imagined conversations with their companions (Gleason et al., 2000).

These cumulative findings suggest that the creative activity of imaginative relating is a propositional, a suprajective medium for a uniquely intentional felt process of becoming: an iteratively dipolar flow of mutually informative experience and analysis. Imagining companioning is an intentionally expressed felt activity of emergence, of its own becoming that lures its own process of expression by synergistically disruptive harmonizing creative relationality. Whitehead (1978) wrote of this process in terms of subjective creativity being qualified by objectively immortal events; beyond determinism, a suprajectively intended principle of unrest guides becoming–the creation of novelty–by selecting consequently redeemed perished occasions available for ingression, felt into actuality and personally shaped (i.e., subjective aims) by the most harmoniously luring subject-suprajective felt intensity:

An actual entity is at once the subject experiencing and the superject of its experiences. It is subject-superject, and neither half of this description can for a moment be lost sight of. The term ‘subject’ will be mostly employed when the actual entity is considered in respect to its own real internal constitution. But ‘subject’ is always to be construed as an abbreviation of ‘subject-superject.’

The ancient doctrine that ‘no one crosses the same river twice’ is extended. No thinker thinks twice; and, to put the matter more generally, no subject experiences twice…

…In the philosophy of organism it is not ‘substance’ which is permanent, but ‘form.’ Forms suffer changing relations; actual entities ‘perpetually perish’ subjectively, but are immortal objectively. Actuality in perishing acquires objectivity, while it loses subjective immediacy. It loses the final causation which is its internal principle of unrest, and it acquires efficient causation whereby it is a ground of obligation characterizing the creativity. (ibid., p. 29)

Children who create imaginary companionships evince sophisticated relational awareness and skills (e.g., Gleason, 2002; Gleason & Hohmann, 2006; Gleason et al., 2000; Kastenbaum & Fox, 2007; Svendsen, 1934), and imagine events by which richly felt relational activity expresses care and power, including how children create, constructively and destructively, negotiations of felt security (e.g., Coetzee & Shute, 2003; Gleason, 2002; Gleason et al., 2000; Harter & Chao, 1992; Langone, 2013).

Neither the constructive nor the destructive creative process achieves a moral high ground with processual metaphysics. Holistic acceptance of experience, surrendering through felt tragedy and peace, amplifies experiential potential beyond conditioned monism, beyond the willful attainment and preservation of pleasure, beyond the limits of default substantial metaphysics and desirous attachment to anesthetic peace (e.g., Whitehead, 1933). That is to say, peace is not anesthetic; it is “a broadening feeling due to the emergence of some deep metaphysical insight, unverbalized and yet momentous in its coordination of values…the removal of the stress of acquisitive feeling arising from the soul’s preoccupation with itself” (ibid., p.285). This attitude of surrender requires no reason, as intention is its own lure–the intrinsic value of becoming (ibid.). Whitehead (1978) further noted that ingressive appetitions valued into actuality are lured by trusting into the flow of:

…intensity, and not preservation….God’s purpose in the creative advance is the evocation of intensities…There is intense experience without the shackle of reiteration from the past. This is the condition for spontaneity of conceptual reaction. The conclusion to be drawn from this argument is that life is a characteristic of “empty space” and not of space “occupied” by any corpuscular society…Life lurks in the interstices. (p.105)

Harmony must allow for momentously feeling necessarily tragic; peacefulness requires a desire to feel through tragic intensity, as acceptance justifies novelty:

As soon as high consciousness is reached, the enjoyment of existence is entwined with pain, frustration, loss, tragedy. Amid the passing of so much beauty, so much heroism, so much daring, Peace is then the intuition of permanence. It keeps vivid the sensitiveness to the tragedy; and it sees the tragedy as a living agent persuading the world to aim at fineness beyond the faded level of surrounding fact. Each tragedy is the disclosure of an ideal: —What might have been, and was not: What can be. The tragedy was not in vain. (Whitehead, 1933, p.286)

Conceptually propositioning Peace, however, “very easily passes [experience] into its bastard substitute, Anæsthesia” (ibid., p.285). Whereas, harmonizing tragedy, accepting surrender “fruits…the love of mankind” (ibid., p.286). Such communal, and even universal belonging can burst from within cathartically experienced existential aloneness. Such forsakenness is the heart of posttraumatic sequelae: a paradoxical felt experience of only oneself, synonymous with a dissociative event. Interestingly, Whitehead (1926) also noted that solitude composed the heart of posttraumatic catharsis, the nonrational extreme of which is numinous forsakenness and transformative reverence:

It is not until belief and rationalization are well established that solitariness is discernible as constituting the heart of religious importance. The great religious conceptions which haunt the imaginations of civilized mankind are scenes of solitariness: Prometheus chained to his rock, Mahomet brooding in the desert, the meditations of the Buddha, the solitary Man on the Cross. It belongs to the depth of the religious spirit to have felt forsaken, even by God. (p.19)

Solitude is also the preferred medium of imaginary companionship, which is often even protectively private, and at times secretive, suggesting imaginary companionship is grounded in a process deeper than fulfilling the social functions of play (e.g., Ames & Learned, 1946; Bouldin & Pratt, 1999; Gleason, 2005; Hoff, 2005; Hurlock & Burstein, 1932; Jalongo, 1984; Langone, 2013; Manosevitz, Prentice, & Wilson, 1973; Pearson, Rouse, Doswell, Ainsworth, Dawson, Simms…Faulconbridge, 2001; Taylor et al., 2004).

Bigfoot denoted a colloquially sensationalized, cryptozoological succession of a mythological archetype familiar to indigenous cultural knowledge (e.g., Strain, 2008). I imagine naming my childhood imaginary companion having needed an excitingly soulful lure sanitized enough for acceptance within a relatively privileged acculturating ethos. I mourned my grandfather with Bigfoot, and confronted existential fragility through many wildly felt adventures, like heroically slaloming through busy traffic to safely keep up with our car and epically exhilarating games of hide and seek in busy places when I felt overstimulated and unseen. Confrontation with mortality was further evinced by a repetitive dream I was experiencing: witnessing earth and stars vanish, witnessing the factual impossibility of Universe–and thus, by mutual dependency, of God, too (Whitehead, 1978).

In Whitehead’s (e.g., 1925, 1933, 1978) process philosophy, God is not to be understood substantially, deistically; God is a rationalized necessity for the factualization of novelty within an ordered system whose amplification is lured by suprajectively intensifying felt values throughout the eternal process of becoming. Existence–the experience of existing–ontologically necessitates God. That is, by Whitehead’s speculative philosophy (ibid.), God is understood as a nonfactual reality through which Creativity everlastingly intensifies a qualification of potential by consequently redeemed perpetually perishing novelty.

Experiencing the absence of God and thus Universe is a felt potential of beholding de facto impossibility arguably akin to aloneness, forsakenness. The paradox of really experiencing nothing, as further discussed later, is an integral condition by which imaginary companions are created and animated, and by which imaginary companions meet their demise. God and Universe are everlasting by Whitehead’s (1978) philosophy of organism–mutually immanent, ontologically (relative) dependent necessities. Everlastingness is an expression of God and Universe’s mutual dependency, and the process by which this mutuality intensifies is what orderly disrupts and synergistically redeems wholeness throughout eternal present (ibid.).

By God’s everlastingness, drops of epochal actuality must also be impossibly factual, and experience, rationally enduring. The dipolarity of God and Universe evinces mutually dependent physical and mental polarity immanently exemplified with varying intensities. Experience and actuality are interdependent, and by that interdependency, actuality evinces flux, and experience, permanence. Respectively, the physical and mental poles of becoming–neither of which necessarily implies conceptual awareness and both of which evoke felt contradictions with those polarities of perishing. The reconciliation of felt contradictions between permanence and flux, mentality and physicality, ideality and actuality, becoming and perishing, euphony and cacophony, expansion and contraction into accepted harmoniously felt contrasts is integral to the felt selection of novel potential, lured toward ideal by the intrinsic value of becoming: “The ideal necessarily lies beyond any final achievement. Life is a process always aiming beyond itself to elevate itself to transcendence” (Gibson, 2020, p.141).

Imaginary companioning is a creative activity known by direct experience; creating and engaging in imaginary relationships is indirectly insensible by reductive observation. The direction of its creative process cannot be explained only felt. Formulaic attention to creativity recognizes that presently felt realness of nothing beyond oneself is an impossibly factual integral condition for creativity. To feel no universe is to feel no God. Since God cannot die and always is (i.e., God does not occasion, God does not want, God is the only actual entity that is not an actual occasion, an expression of the Ultimate, of Creativity; Whitehead, 1978), the only way by which everlastingness can be adequately maintained when considering the factually impossible creative condition of God actually not existing is to understand Creatio ex nihilo beyond Medieval substantiality. As world renown Whitehead scholar, John B. Cobb, Ph.D., wrote: “The creed was composed by persons who thought in terms of a divine substance and a human substance, and of a person as a substance” (1976, p.32). The staying power of Medieval theology’s materialistic emphasis as evinced by default metaphysical considerations blindly informing scientistic exploration was ostensibly effected by Clement of Alexandria’s 1st-century CE demotion of philosophy from applied science to theology’s handmaid: “Among medieval and modern philosophers, anxious to establish the religious significance of God, an unfortunate habit has prevailed of paying to Him metaphysical compliments” (Whitehead, 1925, pp.179). Beyond substance, Creatio ex nihilo is an event that can be potentially felt as presently real, and yet never actual, as God is required of all experience, including the felt absence of God–forsakenness.

Reactions to the factual impossibility of felt absence often betrays the field of cryptozoology with a proliferation of artifacts of reportedly real events: seemingly intense personal encounters that occasion, instead of curiosity and compassion, disrespect and, even further, doubt regarding one’s capacity for reason. One can experience something as real and not actual, and the experience of non-actuality can, too, feel real. This openness to paradoxically real yet factually impossible experience is an extension of what James (1904b) noted in “A World of Pure Experience” in that, irrespective as to whether an event is felt as continuous/reconciling or discontinuous/fragmenting, the intrinsic value of both events to understanding existing is the same; aside from conditioned subjective isolation informing abstraction, all experience is continuous and can be harmoniously felt as much. James’ theory of Radical Empiricism3 also advocated for validating the seemingly bizarre as real, concluding: “To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced” (ibid., p.534). Grof (1998) further acknowledged the potential of a paradoxical experience that can only be understood by feeling through it:

When we encounter the Void, we feel that it is primordial emptiness of cosmic proportions and relevance. We become pure consciousness aware of this absolute nothingness; however, at the same time, we have a strange paradoxical sense of its essential fullness. This cosmic vacuum is also a plenum, since nothing seems to be missing in it. While it does not contain anything in a concrete manifest form, it seems to comprise all of existence in a potential form. In this paradoxical way, we can transcend the usual dichotomy between emptiness and form, or existence and nonexistence. However, the possibility of such a resolution cannot be adequately conveyed in words; it has to be experienced to be understood.

The Void transcends the usual categories of time and space. It is unchangeable, and lies beyond all dichotomies and polarities…underlies the phenomenal world…and…is supraordinated to it. This metaphysical vacuum, pregnant with potential for everything there is, appears to be the cradle of all being, the ultimate source of existence. The creation of all phenomenal worlds is then the realization and concretization of its pre-existing potentialities.

…while it is the source of all existence, it also contains all creation within itself. Another way of expressing it is to say that it is all of existence, since nothing exists outside of its realm. (pp.30-31)

While Whitehead’s notion of God and Grof’s notion of Void are ostensibly similar, they evince a striking conceptual difference. Understanding this difference requires, as Whitehead (1925) wrote, “a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious” (p.4). Grof’s holotropic model does indeed evince a syncretic approach to understanding Psyche and related data, reflective of the emerging scientific paradigm yet unusual to the pervasive tendencies of reductive specialization of his era. Even so, the above passage implies metaphysical blind spots suggestive of dualisms affecting occidental theology articulated throughout and having an impact on the expression of European life and culture especially since the Middle Ages (e.g., Cobb, 1976; Whitehead, 1925, 1978): “But no language can be anything but elliptical, requiring a leap of the imagination to understand its meaning in its relevance to immediate experience. The position of metaphysics in the development of culture cannot be understood without remembering that no verbal statement is the adequate expression of a proposition” (Whitehead, 1978, p.13).

While Grof (1988) admittedly parsed normative, hylotropic experience from exceptional, holotropic experience “primarily for didactic reasons” (p.42), there remains an implied Platonic separateness of Ideal from actual in the above excerpt. This implied distinction is an artifact of Cartesian parsing and Newtonian linearity inherent to materialistic-mechanistic metaphysical fallacies by which matter and simple location are accepted as the fundamental tenets of understanding the experience of existing. The role of Creatio ex nihilo in the process of creation, however, can validly be conceptualized by considering Whitehead’s suprajective intention, the process of felt propositional becomingness integral to each interrelatedly existing occasion.

As noted earlier, this suprajective intention, this principle of unrest orderly disrupts and synergistically redeems wholeness throughout eternal present (Whitehead, 1978). When understood processually, mystical connotations of Creatio ex nihilo are more aptly and validly articulated; that is, suprajectively–to propositionally intend existence, becomingness–is a factually impossible mystical experience that can be felt as presently real when the intrinsic value of this intensity is the most harmonious potential to actualize. As such, in Whiteheadian terms, the nothingness from which everythingness emerges is not understood as a separate realm occupied by a supraordinated, anthropomorphic, separate being, but rather is embodied interstices, feeling of not existing: a factually impossible experience that can be felt as presently real–conceptually paradoxical, holistically plausible.

I have thus come to understand my repetitive dream in the context of my imaginary companionship with Bigfoot as mutually informative. I created an imagined occasion–normatively maintained in solitude–inspired by reportedly real, dubiously extensive encounters. My creation of Bigfoot seemed to have suggested a private desire to experience myself as really factual, a private desire to tend an experience of the factual impossibility of experiencing only myself: first by his creation and then by relationally processing absence, forsakenness through our relationship and eventually, by his demise.

More precisely understanding imaginary companion exits could offer insight as to why children even create these imaginary relationships (Taylor, M.,1999). The paradox of experiencing only oneself is an integral condition for imaginary companionship–inception through exit (e.g., Langone, 2013). Irrespective of the reason overtly identified as invoking the creation of an imaginary companion (e.g., birth of a sibling, entering a new school, social isolation, discipline, successive invalidations, etc.), significant familial experiences seem to saliently mediate the creation of these imaginary relationships (e.g., Gleason et al., 2000; Manosevitz et al., 1973). Even when an experience outside the family context is conspicuously identified as triggering an imaginary companion’s creation, difficulty accessing family support to process that overt trigger seems to be what ultimately leads to the creation of most imaginary companions (Langone, 2013). The creation of imaginary companions seems to thus be a creative response to a paradoxical experience of only oneself, in that without a world–which to a child, a world is familial felt togetherness–there can be no self (e.g., May, 1950, 1953, 1967, 1972, 1975, 1981a, 1981b, 1983).

Without relationship, there is no experience: “Every actual occasion exhibits itself a process: it is a becomingness. In so disclosing itself, it places itself as one among a multiplicity of other occasions, without which it could not be itself” (Whitehead, 1925, pp.175-176). Forsakenness is felt factual impossibility, and is as experientially integral to Creativity as Oneness: “…there are no single occasions, in the sense of isolated occasions. Actuality is through and through togetherness—togetherness of otherwise isolated eternal objects, and togetherness of all actual occasions [including tragically felt becoming]” (ibid., p.174, brackets added). In order for Whitehead’s philosophy of organism to remain adequate, it has to allow for an everlasting God to offer for prehension an experience of not having become: the only way God can truly be absent, as God is within every concrescing and objectively immortal occasion.

This is confusing as God is necessary by Whitehead’s cosmology. Whitehead (e.g., 1925, 1933, 1978) understands God as a necessary ground by which the everlastingly purposive intensification of experience occasions novelty–orderly disrupting and synergistically redeeming wholeness throughout the eternal present. The everlasting Converse Process of God and Universe4–i.e., Creativity, The Ultimate Occasion–evokes paradox, as neither could ever have even become, never mind stop becoming. If Whitehead’s process philosophy is to be adequate, a suprajectively intended Ultimate Occasion is required. God and Universe must not have been is a paradoxically integral condition to processual everlastingness. As posited by Grof (1985) earlier, intense paradoxes cannot be conceptually known; such contrast can only be affirmatively felt through: “[the] principle of concretion which is not discoverable by abstract reason…[as]…What further can be known about God must be sought in the region of particular experiences, and therefore rests on an empirical basis” (Whitehead, 1925, p.178, brackets added).

Dogmatic ideology compromises the fullness of this experience, particularly when extensivity is emphasized at the expense of felt potential, of creative intensity as evident in scientistic reification of process and in religious orthodoxy. Since “the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity” (Whitehead, 1929, p.14), experiencing no universe at all is available for prehension. This extremely intense creative lure is immanently felt as forsakenness. The felt absence of God is to experience no God at all and therefore the impossibility of existing, as without God there can be no factual experience.

While Medieval theology’s emphases on a separate realm of Platonic Ideals and Aristotelian substance rendered Creatio ex nihilo philosophically inadequate (e.g., Cobb, 1976; Herman, 2014; Whitehead, 1925, 1978), human occasions can immanently experience the paradoxical impossibility of God’s Superjective Nature intending everlasting Creativity into process. Every occasion must hold within itself impossibly factual Nothing from which Cosmic Becoming irrationally intends. This felt experience of Creatio ex nihilo is “the only veritable form of creativity…anything else is merely a reiteration of matter” (L. Gibson, personal communication, date not known). The implied spontaneity of intended felt actuality compared to the implied linear predictability of materially caused existence was at the core of the Einstein and Bergson debate regarding the reification of time and epistemological protests occasioned by scientific data of the early 20th-century’s emerging quantum paradigm (Canales, 2015). This debate wasn’t the first time that sociopolitical factors effectively eliminated process-oriented metaphysical inquiry from scientific discussion, as also occurred by William James’ effective academic exile occasioned by an influx of behavior-oriented academic psychologists in the early 20th-century, escaping devastation throughout Europe (Taylor, E.,1999). Without epistemological reconsideration of psychological data and attention to metaphysical inquiry, scientific validity of human experience and clinical interventions will continue to be succeeded by scientistic factoids that conflate default mechanistic-materialistic natural law with means of assessment and reify the process of existing that do not well enough explain how creation and how creativity occur.

By surrendering through the factual impossibility of forsakenness, God’s transformation is occasioned “from the void to God the enemy, and from God the enemy to God the companion” (Whitehead, 1926, p.16). Creating an imaginary companion is admitted into feeling by immanently experiencing the factual impossibility of God Superjectively prehending everlasting Creativity, the factual impossibility of God intending temporal actuality–i.e., as if having existed prior to and separate from Creation. While Creatio ex nihilo is scientifically invalid and philosophically inadequate when understood in terms resonant with a mechanistic-materialistic ethos, if conceptualized as Whiteheadian processual metaphysics, it is understood to be a pluralistically valid–a real experience that could never factually occur if the Universe is held to be whole, one organism. These felt experiences of Oneness and the absence of everything, as further discussed below, are what allow the intensity of imaginary companionship to express exceptional axiology familiar to the field of Transpersonal Psychology as Spiritual Emergence and Spiritual Emergency (e.g., Grof & Grof, 1989, 1992).

There’s precedent for considering the psychospiritual implications of imaginary companionship in Mills’ (2003) cross-cultural analysis of children in the United States and India who create imaginary companionships and who report past life experiences, respectively, suggesting the former may be more readily comparable to what are referred to in India as invisible companions: autonomous spiritual manifestations with whom some children relate. Imaginary companionship is a quest to confirm existing (e.g., Kastenbaum & Fox, 2007; Langone, 2013); they help children explore and express existential concerns–one of many aspects describing spiritual phenomena children can experience (Piechowski, 2001). Reports of imaginary companion experience acknowledging religiospiritual inspiration have also been published, differentiating the experience from theistic and nontheistic occasions, highlighting grateful, appreciative, tender and inspired men, who recognize the childhood experience as having been important to wonder about throughout their lives, and who sometimes even report benefitting from presently revisiting imaginary companioning (e.g., Sukrungruang, 2016).

Imaginary companionship’s transpersonal capacity of providing an experiential conduit of shared intergenerational imagination between a father and son was explored in the children’s book Ted (DiTerlizzi, 2004) whereby a transgenerational agential guide could only be experienced when one was willing to behold rather than determine its location. The implied transcendence of Whitehead’s fallacies of misplaced concreteness and simple location inherent in Newtonian-Cartesian default substance-based metaphysics suggests that an exceptional state can be occasioned by intensifying an organismic metaphysical orientation readily accessible through childlike proclivities toward wonder, curiosity, awe, adventure, creativity. The capacity for childhood spiritual potentiality has long been academically accepted (e.g., Coles, 1991) and was even implicitly expressed in the earliest documented examples of imaginary companionship in the late 1800s, ostensibly suggesting a foundation of puritanical orthodoxy, laity interpreted these creative endeavors as ominously supernatural experiences akin to demonic spirit possession (Klausen & Passman, 2007).

Imaginary companionship is an example of Spiritual Emergence, as the creation of an imaginary companion is an immanent expression of Eternal Object Creatio ex nihilo felt into present reality by affirming, surrendering through forsakenness irrespective as to whether it is inadvertently or intentionally experienced by biographical events. When this creative activity is imposed on by others, imaginary companionships can suddenly end by abandonment, exile, pronounced death (e.g., Kastenbaum & Fox, 2007), and even by killing an imaginary companion (Langone, 2013). The creativity of imaginary companioning is a response to felt factual impossibility, and significantly interfering with the ensuing relational process can occasion exceptional intensities as ostensibly evident when imaginary companions are killed (ibid.).

While observantly provocative, abrupt and even violent exits are harmoniously appropriate responses, protective expressions to a deeply personal process experiencing rigid imposition, with the scope of destructive creativity mirroring the degree of interference (ibid.). “Value arises out of the intensity that develops when the contradictions associated with feelings of psychological trauma or metaphysical crisis are resolved into contrasts—that is, by bringing previously conflicting elements together within a greater harmony that subsumes these elements” (Gibson, 2020, p.143). In the extreme, when an imaginary companion is violently killed, the process of becoming has creatively destructed into a Spiritual Emergency (e.g., Grof & Grof, 1989, 1992; Langone, 2013), a cacophonous harmonization of traumatically defensive potential.

As a contradiction to Whitehead’s internal timelessness, experientially accessible within the felt intensity of present experience (e.g., Gibson, 2020, p.145; Whitehead, 1929, p.14), violently fatal imaginary companion exits can be understood diagnostically as a Spiritual Emergency of exiled archetypal axiology, such as that connoted in mystical Persian accounts of Lucifer’s Fall from Grace, apt toward destructively entitled expressions of power unless he grieves, unless he feels the Hero’s Journey of forsakenness, of No Exit (e.g., Campbell, 1973; Flowers, 1988; Langone, 2013). This psychological trauma and metaphysical crisis are contrary to the constructively creative act of concrescing an imaginary companion from felt impossibility (i.e., Spiritual Emergence conditions). By creative concretions, felt contradictions are synergistically reconciled, synergized into holistically accepted contrasts in this occasion’s ongoing felt process of becoming (e.g., Gibson, 2020; Whitehead, 1929); whereas by destructive prehensions–particularly suddenly fatal expressions–felt contradictions prevail, suprajectively informing concrescence of defensively dissociative patterns, cacophonously felt harmonies.

Children who create imaginary companions are sophisticatedly adept at exploring fantasy and reality to actively process distress, and doing so even furthers one’s knowledge of the factual limitations of fantasy (e.g., Anastasi & Schaefer, 1969; Bouldin, 2006; Bouldin & Pratt, 1999; Bouldin & Pratt, 2001; Fraiberg, 1959; Gleason, Jarudi, & Cheek, 2003; Hoff, 2005; Schaefer, 1969; Schaefer & Anastasi, 1968; Schilling, 1985; Sharon & Woolley, 2004; Singer, 1961; Singer & Singer, 1990; Taylor, Cartwright, & Carlson, 1993). The felt locus of fantasy has a profound impact on this differentiating capacity in that when autonomous creative expression is noninvasively supported, its emotional valence is modified by processes within so as to prevent it from surpassing a threshold beyond which emotional involvement would no longer be enjoyable and fantasy-reality differentiation would no longer be accurate (e.g., Bouldin & Pratt, 2001; Golomb & Galasso, 1995).

While contemporary empirical research clearly indicates that imaginary companionship is a healthy and normative experience (e.g., Bouldin & Pratt, 2002; Hoff, 2005; Meyer & Tuber, 1989), parental responses vary, including cautioning and discouraging, tolerating and ignoring, and welcoming and encouraging imaginary companionship (e.g., Gleason et al., 2000; Manosevitz et al., 1973). Some imaginary companions are loved by caregivers, whereas, others are suppressed out of fear they ominously forebode mental illness or demonic possession (e.g., Allison, 2000; Anderson, Vanderhook, & Vanderhook, 1996; Carlson, Taylor, & Levin, 1998). As Svendsen (1934) noted, imaginary companionship is usually “highly charged emotionally by virtue of being novel and pleasurable, or humiliating and consequently painful…reflects parental attitudes, particularly disciplinary attitudes and the child’s reaction to them” (pp.995-996). Jalongo (1984) further hypothesized that the privatization, or even secretive nature of these imaginary relationships (e.g., Ames & Learned, 1946; Bouldin & Pratt, 1999; Gleason, 2005; Hoff, 2005; Hurlock & Burstein, 1932; Jalongo, 1984; Manosevitz et al., 1973; Pearson et al., 2001; Taylor et al., 2004) may be exacerbated by having been ridiculed for a rich imagination and emotional life, and occasioned as a means to avoid further censure.

Findings suggest that the impact of caregiver interference on imaginary companionship is skewed by both a child’s as well as by their parents’ gender5 (e.g., Gleason, 2005; Haight, Parke, & Black, 1997) with boys lured into boisterous and rumbunctious expressions of competitively individualistic power more readily, which may increase susceptibility to developing intra- and interpersonally aggressive and violent reactions to perceived or actual conflict (Langone, 2013). These cumulative findings may thus imply that adult understanding of, attitude toward, and response to imaginary companionship differs greatly for boys and girls, with boys arguably experiencing greater degrees of feeling misunderstood by adult interference and with particular attention to relationships with fathers whereby expressed maleness is partially modelled as a destructive expression of power, of creativity, of becomingness (ibid.). In addition to how inconsistent adult responses to imaginary companionship reflect the outcome of a turbulent methodological history throughout the incipient field of empirical research, gaps in empirical attention denoting shifts in theoretical zeitgeists (Klausen & Passman, 2007) and a progressive infiltration of the economic more of competitive individualism into the family system, whereby teaching was succeeded by disciplining (May, 1950, 1953, 1967, 1972, 1975, 1981a, 1981b, 1983), also contributed to adult interference, to adult application of misinformation.

The lay population’s misinformation and suspicions of imaginary companionship suggest an inheritance of the 19th-century forebodingly theological frame, of an ominously supernatural capacity, moralized into a disease model morphed by psychopathological constructs. Imaginary companionship is seemingly also a relatively novel phenomenon, as prior to the middle of the last century most children did not have the freedom to create imaginary companions and, moreover, parents did not have reason to conceive of these imaginary creations as a normative aspect of childhood, as contemporarily privileged solitude to explore and imagine were not customarily practiced in the United States until the middle of the 20th-century (Klausen & Passman, 2007). This limited scope of exposure to imaginary companionship was likely further complicated by significantly limited attention to imaginary companionship in parenting guidebooks, as well as inconsistencies when it actually was acknowledged (Langone, 2013). Of particular interest is how unintentionally perpetuating inaccurate information contributes toward interference with imaginary companionship’s deeply personal process, shaping both its expression of power dynamics and how these imaginary creations meet their demise–the more intensely felt the interference, the more destructive the sudden exit, including, as arranged in escalating degrees of expressed intensity: abandonment; exile; expiration; and murder (ibid.).

The direct murder of an imaginary companion evinces an exceptional intensity of destructively expressed archetypal creativity (ibid.). Denoting the extreme intensity of imaginary companion exits, imaginatively killing one paradoxically connotes a necessary condition for their initial becoming: felt existential invalidation, the paradoxical experience of only oneself—the experience of nothing (ibid.). Their inception emerges by affirming aloneness, forsakenness. As noted earlier, improving the precision by which imaginary companion exits are understood could elucidate why children even create these imaginary relationships (Taylor, M.,1999). Imaginary companionships are created in response to a felt sense of existential unrealness; their creation is an affirmation of existing, and their agentically created, relationally imagined events serve to confirm that one exists while securely processing the felt impossibility of not existing via negotiations of power (Langone, 2013).

The creation of an imaginary companion is an ontologically valid, organismic and creatively processual response of posttraumatic growth. By a processual analysis, the creation of and sustaining a relationship with an imaginary companion clearly evince a process of emerging from within the felt sense of existential invalidation. As to whether the trauma of existential invalidation develops into a disorder depends on other contributing factors, such as resiliency and intensifying invalidation. At the very least, experiencing an existential threat is the core of both the creation of an imaginary companion as well as of Criterion A for the clinical diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.) (2022). That is to say, transcendent and traumatic experience complementarily centralize impossibly feeling nothing and by an absence of interrelatedness, one cannot feel oneself. Both experiences suggest complementary elements of ecstasy–etymologically from the Greek ekstasis, meaning, standing outside oneself, which does not necessarily denote pleasure as often colloquially assumed.

The destructive and constructive creativity of imaginary companionship can evoke axiological exceptionality by which children can experience anything from the scope of eternity (e.g., Whitehead, 1929), particularly in that felt intensity can amplify awareness transcendent of immediate extensivity to include experiential knowledge beyond biographical limitations (e.g., Grof, 1985, 1988, 2000). The propositionally felt actualization of tragedy, however, defensively facilitates dissociative survival of traumatic forsakenness rather than eudemonia for having instead livingly surrendered through it. That is, coercive interference with a child’s capacity to agentically express a constructively creative potential most harmoniously linked with a thread of felt value informs the final percipient occasion with a conceptual awareness by which power is defensively, destructively expressed as denoted by archetypal themes of Tragic Heroes.

Invalidating the propositionally felt endeavor of negatively apprehending a previously experienced existential invalidation intensifies the existential paradox, the felt contradiction of existing being processually re-experienced through the companioning. This intensification is what ultimately provides the condition for sudden imaginary companion exits: amplifying aloneness to its intensity of forsakenness by which trauma is acted out dissociatively rather than mystically felt through by surrendering within. I conceptualize violently fatal, sudden imaginary companion exits similarly to how Grof (e.g., 1985, 1988, 2000, 2019) conceptualized suicide as a defensive acting out of a felt process related to perinatal data–i.e., physical trauma experienced during birth–that needs to, instead, be intensified within in order for psychological catharsis, in order for felt transformation by which the final percipient occasion suprajectively intends experiential peace, accepted contrast: a novel way of experiencing oneself.

While conceptually similar, I am not equating the clinical relevancy and severity of suicide and the death of an imaginary companion, nor am I suggesting that the death of an imaginary companion is an expression of suicidal ideation. Unresolved traumatic felt contradictions–artifacts, marks of a murdered companion–however, could persist throughout life, amplified by further difficulties defensively expressed as a linked thread of valued events Grof (e.g., 1985, 1988, 2000, 2019) referred to as Systems of Condensed Experience (COEX). A COEX can be negative, life limiting or positive, life creating.

The manner by which an imaginary companion meets their demise alludes to the Hero’s Journey (e.g., Campbell, 1973; Flowers, 1988). Grof (e.g., 1985, 1988, 2000, 2019) conceptualized Basic Perinatal Matrix (BPM) III as connoting this struggle for life within the birth canal. The hero’s return is the hardest element of this archetypal quest, requiring a willingness to surrender through holistic reverence for what is as opposed to subjective entitlement by which attachment to anesthetic peace, immutable satiation, intractable pleasure is eventually consumed by tragedy. The hero need not survive, as the opportunity for redemption is in the surrender–irrespective of that be through really experiencing non-factual nothingness (metaphoric death) or through really experiencing factual ever-present everythingness (metaphoric life, Universe as organism). When well supported, each are as psychedelically effective of a boon as the other.

Violently fatal, sudden imaginary companion exits thus seem an expression of unredeemed BPM III physical trauma with consideration of BPM II No Exit phenomenology, which, too, is an expression of the Hero’s Journey, and lures transformation through surrender as noted above. By this cumulative understanding, the entire imaginary companionship can be understood as a Hero’s Journey–a quest to confirm individual power by which personal power, the power of simply existing advances the final percipient occasion beyond default, conditioned narratives of isolated subjectivity and prioritization of material, beholding the permanence of experience within epochal fields of material flux, feeling interrelatedness throughout the cosmos. Whether by death or triumph, heroes are eventually redeemed, eventually admit peace–a felt resolution of the birth-death struggle familiar to BPM IV. Heroic descent into entitlement and despair–attachment to a priori expectations informed by subjective pleasure–offers consideration of BPM I dynamics, a wish to re-experience the Cosmic Womb whence need and desire lay superjectively dormant within the interstices of becoming. The ecstatic peace of BPM I and BPM IV are qualitatively different (e.g., Grof, 1985, 1988, 2000, 2019), respectively, Apollonian, oceanic evinces a lure to feel the nothing that is not factual, and Dionysian, volcanic resolution of BPM III is succeeded by the everything that’s always been–felt eternal Peace of BPM IV, Resolution of Tragedy, The Return of The Hero: holistic felt acceptance through immediate factual impossibility of existing.

Respectfully supporting an imaginary companionship facilitates a sense of empowerment by which felt factuality and significance can be securely experienced in the context of processing existential invalidation (Langone, 2013). Most imaginary companionships meet their demise by a gradual disappearance (e.g., Mauro, 1991; Taylor, M.,1999)–they are eventually forgotten like a prized Teddy buried in the back of a closet. In Whiteheadian terms, gradual exits are a processually perishing event, objectively immortalized by negatively prehending (i.e., eventually forgetting about an imaginary companion) the initial conditional event of paradoxically feeling the factually impossible experience of only oneself. By this negative prehension, felt propositions of peace, of having survived imminently indubitable annihilation, arguably anticipated through the tragedy of forsakenness, informed the child’s final percipient occasion to suprajectively create a novel understanding of the experience of existing denoted by acceptably felt contrast succeeding existential contradiction, the despair of felt existential paradox. This gradual process is akin to iteratively feeling through the intensity of BPM III via negotiations of power that allow for waves of BPM IV security by which one accepts all experiencing–i.e., feels the universe as organism–having accepted the factually impossible feeling of nothingness. This acceptance nonlinearly resolves BPM II No Exit phenomenology as well in that it is the core of The Hero’s Journey. That is, as the late United States Poet Laureate Robert Frost wrote in his poem “Servant to Servant”–“the only way out is through” (1979, p.64).

Whitehead (1978) referred to the transformation of felt contradiction into acceptable felt contrast as “[w]hen a non-conformal proposition is admitted into feeling” (p. 187, brackets added), describing a synthesis of incongruous factual datum and ideal potential suprajectively admitting novelty into felt existence: “a new type of individual, and not merely a new intensity of feeling” (ibid.). Whitehead (ibid.) further described an eliminative process “in the process of origination” (p.273) as involving “conscious feeling of what might be, and is not. The feeling directly concerns the definite negative prehensions enjoyed by its subject. It is the feeling of absence, and it feels this absence as produced by the definite exclusiveness of what is really present. Thus, the explicitness of negation, which is the peculiar characteristic of consciousness, is here at its maximum” (p.273-274). Whitehead (ibid.) also referred to “negative perception [as] the triumph of consciousness…[rising] to the peak of free imagination, in which the conceptual novelties search through a universe in which they are not datively exemplified” (p.161).

Within these passages, Whitehead emphasized how the absence of what once was is felt by what actually is. As related to negatively prehending the factually impossible experience of not existing, subjects suprajectively admitting into feeling the experience of existing (i.e., interrelatedness) must also admit into feeling the experience of nothingness that is no longer in order for the experience of existing to be presently felt. As Gibson (2020) further explained, “A person finds resolution by transmuting the contradictions of past experience into contrasts in present experience. To do so is a profound achievement in the subjectivity of becoming. The result of this achievement in respect to the actual event is greater intensity and realization of value, which was inhibited previously by unresolved contradictions from the past” (p.147).

I conceptualize felt propositionality as a harmonious event capable of evincing cacophonous as well as euphonious qualities, as a function of infinitely varying infinitely various intensities. Symbolizing this function, while wavefields within a wave field may seem utterly cacophonous, they are just as valid to maintaining integrity as those that are euphoniously vibrating. While destructive creativity can be potentially provocative, particularly when tendencies toward moralizing behavior prevails, it is as philosophically necessary as constructive creativity–even so, it warrants attention to agential intention when a child’s safety is of concern. As related to imagining companioning, creating aggressive and fatally violent exits do not indicate individual psychopathology, but rather they evince exceptional intensity familiar to the transpersonal term Spiritual Emergency. Even so, these ostensibly worrisome expressions are personally harmonious, reasonable protests of cacophonous conditions not well enough suited to sensitively support direct expressions of mystical interstices. In Whiteheadian terms, this exceptionally expressed intensity is a conformal proposition abruptly, reactively admitting into feeling an existentially invalidating attunement with what factually contributed to the initial creation of the imaginary companion; whereas undisturbed negotiations of power within the imagined relationship are iterations non-conformal propositions supporting the gradual forgetting of an imaginary companion.

The initial creation of an imaginary companion as well as their reportedly phenotypical transiency are occasioned by non-conformal propositions prehended by the intrinsically felt value of Becoming. No explanation needs to justify the felt lure of imagination, of creativity beyond the axiological teleology of experiential novelty and beauty–intensity. No a priori factuality needs to qualify further intention either. Imaginary companionship thus seems to connote the Superjective Cosmic Intention of Creatio ex nihilo–a factually impossible function of everlastingness that can be paradoxically really felt as an exceptional expression of concretion during which the intensification of the present reveals Eternity, and by which the most harmoniously qualified Eternal Object is offered for ingressive prehension. Whitehead (1978) defined the activity of The Superjective Nature of God in this way:

…the character of the pragmatic value of his specific satisfaction qualifying the transcendent creativity in the various temporal instances….This is the conception of God, according to which he is considered as the outcome of creativity, as the foundation of order, and as the goad towards novelty. “Order” and “novelty” are but the instruments of his subjective aim which is the intensification of “formal immediacy.” It is to be noted that every actual entity, including God, is a creature transcended by the creativity which it qualifies. (p.88)

Whitehead (ibid.) also ostensibly mentioned God’s Superjective Nature as the intention of God’s Consequent Nature: a perpetually redemptive fluency that qualifies harmoniously relevant ideals God’s Primordial Nature offers for concrescence:

For the perfected actuality passes back into the temporal world, and qualifies this world so that each temporal actuality includes it as an immediate fact of relevant experience. For the kingdom of heaven is with us today. The action of the fourth phase is the love of God for the world. It is the particular providence for particular occasions. What is done on the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world. By reason of this reciprocal relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world. In this sense, God is the great companion—the fellow-sufferer who understands. (p.351)

Similarly to previous descriptions of the void, the ‘kingdom of heaven’ to which Whitehead referred is a felt process within as opposed to an Ideal, only actual beyond, supraordinated to temporality.

Forsakenness is a felt potential of beholding de facto impossibility. That is, nothingness cannot be physically prehended as it is impossible to factually experience. The condition of Creatio ex nihilo implicit to imaginary companion inception involves non-conformal propositions of Axiological Teleology, The Superjective Nature of God, the activity of Creativity. While imaginary companion characteristics include vast ranges of complementarity and similarity, their creative expression through the activity of imagining companioning–inception through exit–is a creative activity of self-determination, primarily regarding that one exists. As a statement of reverence for autonomous power within creative, imaginative processes as an imminent expression of Creativity, of Creatio ex nihilo, Whitehead (ibid.) wrote:

…self-determination is always imaginative in its origin. The deterministic efficient causation is the inflow of the actual world in its own proper character of its own feelings, with their own intensive strength, felt and re-enacted by the novel concrescent subject. But this re-enaction has a mere character of conformation to pattern. The subjective valuation is the work of novel conceptual feeling; and in proportion to its importance, acquired in complex processes if integration and reintegration, this autonomous conceptual element modifies the subjective forms throughout the whole range of feeling in that concrescence and thereby guides the integrations….autonomy of the subject in the modification of its initial subjective aim must be taken into account. Each creative act is the universe incarnating itself as one, and there is nothing above it by way of final condition. (p.245)

The present reveals the capacity to prehend eternity, anything that has ever happened and anything that could ever happen (e.g., Whitehead, 1925), including transpersonal content ontologically felt as presently real while not necessarily factual, validating fields of study and reported experiences long inviting of skepticism by default mechanistic-materialistic metaphysics, such as paranormal psychology, cryptozoology, shamanism, applied philosophy, experiential mysticism, psychedelia, etc.

While companioning through grief and felt nonexistence with Bigfoot as a child, I experienced a loss of another whom I significantly loved. Soulful excursions into the depths of grief and mortality weren’t necessarily morally appropriate in a world dominated by default metaphysics whereby abstracted morality succeeded experiential axiology, and process became managed, disciplined rather than supported, tended. In response, I harmonized a defensively dissociative response. I vaporized Bigfoot. He fragmented as if dust, and vanished into whisps swallowed by nothingness (as well as by everythingness)–just like what I witnessed the Universe experience in my dream. While a defensive cacophony, a harmonious concretion nonetheless by which a varying intrinsic value of dissociation–subjective peace–could be maintained, and by which corresponding intensities of spiritual anesthesia and psychological stagnation would qualifiedly be prehended until felt becomingness lured novelty of cathartically, processually living through tragedy, through the felt trauma of forsakenness, of felt nothingness, to experience permanence beyond the flux of matter.


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1 Demise and exit are used interchangeably in the empirical literature as referents for the end of an imaginary companionship, whether sudden or gradual, tragic or peaceful.

2 Anton Boisen (1936, 1960), whose personally informed research was the first clinical and empirical inquiry into studying such experiences, set precedent for Grof and Grof’s (1989, 1992) transpersonal conceptualization of Spiritual Emergence/Emergency and also fruited the fields of pastoral counseling and spiritually-integrated psychotherapy.

3 An inspirational predecessor of Whitehead, James’ Radical Empiricism was based on holistic experience as opposed to British Empiricism (e.g., Francis Bacon, John Locke, David Hume), which confined knowledge to sensorily informed concepts suggestive of the Cartesian mind-body split familiar to the early modern era.

4 Universe denotes epochal universes not simply our universe.

5 All gender assignments were presumably declared at birth, as personal identification data were not available.