Whenever I work with a new client or group, more often than not, this is one of the first questions I’m asked. It’s a good question. Not simply because it’s reassuring to know the level of experience of the person who’s about to put you into a trance or administer an ancient healing technique, although that helps, but because the answer is often an intriguing surprise in itself.
We think of careers as things that begin, at the earliest, when we leave school, and when we ask someone to provide a professional service we unconsciously perceive that what they do is part of a career. In a way, I suppose the services I provide could be seen in that light but they are rooted in something else. Something deeper, something much older. In fact, I started “doing this” before I started primary school.
One summers afternoon, at the age of about four, I lay on my bed, alone in my room, and stared at the white ceiling of a flat in London. I noticed I could feel my heartbeat. It fascinated me so I began to focus on it, still staring at the smooth plaster above. The sounds of my mother going about her daily business and the potato peeler in the yard of the cafe opposite, in Old Street, faded into the subliminal and something remarkable began to happen.
On the blank, white screen above, images began to form. They expanded into something more than moving pictures and became places. Very quickly, I felt, rather than heard, a kind of “pop” as I broke through something and found myself in one of those places. (Yeah, I know, I was a weird kid and thank goodness I didn’t get over it.) It’s a strange thing about being that age that we are very accepting of new experiences, after all, everything is pretty new so how are we to know what’s unusual? Accept it I did, and revisit it frequently? Oh yes.
I knew no name for what I was doing and simply went with it. Looking back, it seems I had stumbled upon a technique for inducing some kind of trance and subsequent journey, as used in Shamanism. I know that now because having experimented, years later, with shamanic journeying I found the experience to be identical.
Although I didn’t realise at the time the significance of what I was doing it awakened in me a fascination with and a passion to find out more about what lay beyond the plaster. Beyond, behind and within the mundane surfaces of the apparent, material world.
Thankfully my father was a writer and was therefore keen to introduce me to the joys of reading. As soon as I was old enough I was signed in and given four brown cardboard library tickets and the kind of loose reign that comes with a jazz trumpet playing, pot smoking, prose writing dad. To this day I don’t know how I got away with reading a copy of Stewart Farrar’s “What witches do” in a library of a grandly Gothic design that would have satisfied the architectural fancies of a young Crowley but I am so glad I did.
In my teen years, I must confess to coming the closest I ever have to running with the herd by exploring the Eastern religions and philosophies. Although in Thatchers Britain most of the herd had taken a different turn and were studying fraud, corruption and how to get away with dodgy investment schemes. These exotic Indian and Oriental explorations were quite productive but before too long I returned to study and experiment with my own spiritual and esoteric inheritance. From the distant but still resonant roots of Asatru to the closer to contemporary Western Esoteric Tradition of Alchemy, Kabbalah and Hermeticism.
While wandering widely in the search to find just what does lie beyond that which can be seen by the physical lens of the naked eye, I have always been equally interested in the discoveries of science. Physics in particular and especially quantum physics. Issac Newton is known for being an early physicist but less known as an alchemist. This body of his work has been all but airbrushed out of the modern curriculum. The fact is that until Newton and a few colleagues decided to separate them (an oversimplification that I hope you’ll forgive for the purposes of this post) Science, the occult and the esoteric were all of one field of endeavour – a philosophy.
This brings me to what particularly fascinates me today. The blurring that is once again, to the annoyance of some scientists and surprisingly some esotericists, occurring in an area where the forefront of science and the most ancient of the esoteric are beginning to overlap. You see, I am a kind of open-minded sceptic. I believe that empirical science misses much through being blinkered by, well, empiricism. On the other hand, unicorns and pan-dimensional dolphins don’t really do it for me either. I still have a need to explore what lies beyond the physical and, almost by definition, Newtonian and even Einsteinian physics can’t take me there. In fact, they really don’t want to. At the other extreme, I find it hard to believe that crystals blown out of the ground by exploited miners using high explosives and then fashioned into aquatic mammals can bring me enlightenment.
I have always been keen to expand my mind to grasp concepts beyond the constraints of three dimensions, but the search is not for the outlandish. It is, ultimately, for the truth of the workings of our universe(s). There are some amazing discoveries being made in the field of quantum theory which create that controversial (controversy is always a sign of healthy debate) place where the most cutting-edge science and the most ancient of the esoteric may collide and their ripples create the most wonderful and intriguing of interference patterns. A universe once more of mystery and wonder that can be explored, debated and measured against plausibility rather than an absolute that seems less and less likely to exist anyway.
These shifting, shimmering places on the edges of our perception are my playground and my laboratory. I have explored and experimented with many philosophies, beliefs, ideas and concepts there and love to share with you my findings but I have found my home in no one belief system. Shying away from any dogma I prefer to continue to explore. An astral vagrant.
Oh, of course, the question. I’ve been doing this for quite some time.