This year my partner decided to surprise me with a Halloween/birthday party that was also a murder mystery dinner. Needless to say all of us had fun, but a critical component of having fun involved everyone being willing to engage in an exercise of make believe in order to become the character they were supposed to represent. In fact it was somewhat like invocation... When I invoke an entity there's a process at work which involves as a key component my willingness to believe in the entity and believe that I can open myself to allow it to enter my body. I don't consider it make believe per se, but I recognize that imagination is a a fundamental component that helps to make invocation effective. Imagination is a path that allows you to become something else.
At the party,I played the party of an ancient mummy. We even wrapped me up in some toilet paper, which kinda worked. When I spoke, I made sure I spoke in a wheezing voice. I shuffled around and in short allowed myself to become that character. It wasn't the same as invocation, but I still had to use my imagination to get into character.
I think imagination is one of the more powerful tools a magician has, and its important to cultivate that tool whenever you can. One of the reasons I read a lot and play games is to exercise my imagination. I've found that my imagination has helped me look at the world in unusual ways that has benefited me on numerous occasions.
What about you? How is imagination important to your magical work?