Kat and I are reading The Miracle Tree by R. J. Stewart. There is a chapter in it, which he devotes to the topic of imagination. I like his definition of imagination, in part because its similar to my own, and acknowledges that imagination is a very real element of magic. I think of imagination as the composite super consciousness of all living beings linked together. He calls that the imagination of the universe which works for me. I think that when a person accesses imagination, s/he is accessing this superconsciousness. I suppose the best evidence of that is found where a person will invent something and someone else who s/he doesn't know will also invent it as well. The imagination works through people to bring forth new visions of reality.
And when a person works with his/her imagination s/he is accessing all the creativity that is available, but also the limitations of what people can conceptualize. At the same time the imagination could also be that place where we meet the spirits, a middle ground that they use to present a face to us, and that we use to discover more about them. I think of the astral plane as a good example of that latter idea. It's an experience which is based in the imagination, imo, and we shape it they way you can shape your imagination, but it's also more than that. Maybe the astral plane is one of the more "physical" representations of imagination.
Whatever you think about imagination, the truth is we use it a lot in magic. Visualization, for instance, is an application of imagination. When you visualize that piece of fruit, smell, taste, touch, and hear it, you are imagining it, which doesn't mean its a fantasy...It's a vivid experience that you have.
Still you might wonder what the difference is between fantasy and imagination. Fantasy is another form of imagination, albeit one usually caught up in specific desires. I think of fantasy as non-applied imagination. It's something you day dream about, but it's not the application of imagination to reality, so much as a desire to escape reality. People flee to fantasy to get away from something or to lose themselves in an experience. Applied imagination, on the other hand, always has some level of practical application involved. If you are writing a business plan for example you are using your imagination to help you visualize what the business will be and then you taking action, which starts the process of manifesting imagination into reality.
Imagination is possibility and what a person does is filter all those possibilities into something concrete and then s/he starts the process of applying it to reality. Imagination is the zero, entropic in a way because until action is taken its just endless possibility, but no reality. But imagination is essential to magical work and life in general because it provides us the forum in which we can visualize a different reality. If you had no imagination, you'd have no incentive or creativity to make change happen.
Here's a link to my latest radio interview from Pagan Propensities.