In a positive sense I could define the spiritual as the Unseen Realm, or a place or state of Oneness where there are no boundaries or differentiation, just love, understanding and compassion. This also suggests the eternal nature of the soul, and from there, reincarnation, with there being no boundaries in time or space.
My earliest spiritual experiences were in my childhood, both of which might be seen by some as just ‘odd’ rather than spiritual. They were ‘unseen’ by everyone else but definitely seen by me. A fleeting one was my ‘imagining’ that there was a North American Indian totem pole in our back garden in Reigate, Surrey. My parents humoured me about this, and my brother and sister just thought I was competing for attention. But for me is was just a natural fact; there was a totem pole in our garden.
During a similar time, late 1940’s to early 1950’s, I once saw a flypast of UFOs above the road where I lived. It was in broad daylight and the UFOs were pastel coloured and balloon-like. I had the feeling that they were communicating with me. Something like ‘We know you feel odd and alone, but we are always here for you’.
Again during this period I had another ‘spiritual’ experience when my brother and sister and I, along with friends who were also siblings, went off into the woods, took all our clothes off and made bracken skirts and ate tiger melons given to us by my mother’s lover who owned a market garden.
This experience made me feel I was back in what I understood to be the Garden of Eden. I always wanted to do it again, but the rest of our gang never seemed to want to, and being the youngest I had no say. I’m still trying to “get back to the Garden”, a feeling that to me sums up much of what the spiritual life is truly all about. Redemption?
A lot later, in the 1990’s, I had become very immersed in the Maya of Southern Mexico and their sacred calendar or Tzolkin. The Maya were and still are a shamanistic culture and as such I realised that you were not just playing with concepts or ideas. You were getting in touch with occult forces and I had one episode where I was under attack from Mayan demonic entities for three nights. Their intention was to reduce me to a single-cell organism.
At one point I even thought that this was preferable to the fear they were inducing in me. But something told me ‘No’ and I fought my psychic corner until they eventually left me alone. Around this time I met a Mayan shaman or daykeeper called Hunbatz Men. He was the first of his kind to visit England and I was appointed as his ‘guide’ by the people who had invited him over for talks, etc.
Hunbatz was quite intrigued for he saw the Mayan in me, and couldn’t understand why I was not taking it more seriously. During the time I was also practising past-life regression and a very fleeting memory/playback was of myself travelling down a great plaza with pyramids to the left and right of me. I was bedecked in the robes of a priest.
This links into my creative history and process, for Hunbatz was very taken with a poem I’d written to the Sun, the central Mayan deity. He couldn’t understand how this middle class Englishman could have written it. He asked me for a copy to pin up back in his centre in Yucatan. It was originally written at the behest of an artist friend who was doing an exhibition of paintings of the astrological planets. As just mentioned, ‘Oneness’ is a word with strongly spiritual connotations, and another planetary poem was written to Neptune, which is symbolic of Oneness. If you wish to read these please click here (Sun on page 3, Neptune on page 50).
These poems were eventually published in 2005 by O Books in my book (with cards) entitled Divine Astrology in which I explore and promote the ‘celestial art’ as a form of religion, but one completely without dogma. To a degree, I presented it as a moral compass based upon how the planets are saying ‘Do this and that happens; do that and this will happen.’ The images I created for the reader/user to gaze or meditate on and thereby ‘connect’ with the planetary energies, are now presented on my website, https://www.lynbirkbeck.com/portals.html.
In addition to the deep memories, ancient cultures, astrology and poetry, my creative and spiritual sense of life has been, and still is, greatly concerned with Music.
Music evokes a sense of something finer and more beautiful than mundane life allows. I learnt to play the guitar when I was fifteen, inspired by black men such as Leadbelly, Blind Blake and Big Bill Broonzy, and eventually became professionally involved with performing, recording, A & R, and ultimately song writing. I wasn’t hard-headed or confident enough to make that much of a success of it – co-producing the album Gorilla by the Bonzo Dogs possibly being the high point – but it was the process of writing songs that put me strongly in touch with my inner vision and sense of beauty – and more importantly with my own emotional centre, something which progressively leads to a deeper and deeper experiencing of my life as a spiritual event. So yes, writing songs was, for me, a spiritual exercise – and it still is, as too are the spiritual feelings evoked by such great musicians as Brian Eno, Nick Drake, Carlos Santana and many others.
I have to say that my career, since 1979, as an astrological author and consultant has, until recently, inhibited my creative impulses. I think this is because astrology provides one with a blueprint of what life is about at an energetic level. As such it does, to a degree, make one – or me at least – attempt to make one’s creations fit that blueprint. This is in turn runs the danger of contriving as distinct from creating. Almost like painting by numbers. Where I have managed to get astrology to employ my imagination is in the way I have put astrology across, both in person and through my nine books on the subject. It has been gratifying to hear people say that they could never quite understand how astrology works, or what it was saying, until they had read my way of putting it across.
But still I was left with the ongoing feeling of creative frustration, born of having to keep to the rails that astrology had laid down, so to speak. This dilemma came to head a few years ago with, on the one hand, the writing and publishing of my latest book Dynamic Interactive Astrology, and on the other hand, with the commencement of writing an epic poem, The Song of Wayland – now over halfway at 3000 lines.
Dynamic Interactive Astrology is the summation and distillation of all my astrological work so far. This book concentrates on the idea that your fate is factored into you at birth, and the keyword and keyphrase method of the book effectively unlocks the various dynamics of your being by invoking one’s innate creativity, rather than just describing them as a collection of character traits. As one student/user of this method put it “With each phrase I create a unique poem and can reflect upon and connect with the dynamic energy of my uniqueness which I find to be inspirational and reassuring in feeling that I have a purpose in my life.”
The Song of Wayland is being written without any astrological blueprint to keep to – or for that matter any market driven material goal. So it leaves me free to flex my creative and emotional muscles while not having to keep to the astrological script or demographic.
However, I can also see how the storyline of the poem echoes my planetary transits as they occur though time. Paradox is also seen in the fact that over forty years of astrologizing has processed and progressed me to this very point of creative freedom. And to my mind, ‘creative freedom’ is another way of saying I am connecting with my spirit, that is, spirituality.
I hold that astrology, contrary to its popular conception, is a subject that directs rather than predicts. Living astrologically, according to cosmic dictates, has directed me to this point where I fly solo, and leave behind that which has, again paradoxically, both liberated and constrained me, and express what my personal journey is all about. The Song of Wayland opens with a quote, lines taken from a poem written when I was writing songs and getting into astrology at the same time in the mid 1970s.
“Beneath the sunburnt sky we fail
To see our souls above us tower
On memory’s lonely ships we sail
As we await our final hour.”