There are two realities. I live in the one in which the whole planet is impregnated with spirits, and I see their faces and forms everywhere; in the clouds, in the mountains, in the seas.
Scientists call this way of seeing pareidolia. It is, apparently, a sub-category of apophenia which they say is a tendency to see connections between unrelated things. But to my way of thinking, that’s just because modern science has convinced itself that we are merely tiny specks trying to survive within a chaos of sub-atomic particles in endless, random collision – in which nothing has meaning or connection.
Western science also appears to hold to the faith that once they have given something a Latin label, they have explained it away. But the ‘what’ is not the ‘why’; just hanging a tag on Paddington bear doesn’t explain why he exists. They cannot elucidate on the meaning of Earthly existence because their thinking is predicated on a school of thought limited to observing that which is perceived only by the five senses of the human being. They may as well try to measure the volume of the oceans with a teaspoon.
Modern science has its uses. But applying its tunnel-visioned viewpoint to human existence is what makes our lives seem empty and meaningless. We find ourselves rushing around trying to fill the vast, yawning abyss inside us with all manner of material objects and when those fail to satisfy, false belief systems.
We know instinctively something is missing and we are right. We have been trained not to see, and so we continually miss that which is hidden in plain sight.
Through practising shamanism, I inhabit a similar cognitive reality to that experienced by our earliest ancestors, who were not taught to think according to the strictures of modern science.
Once you cross into that other world, you start to understand the great treasure that the ancients have bequeathed us. You realise that they wrote their stories in the stars to enact a drama – a Mystery Play – that once understood, saves us from the hellish and dispiriting atheism of dystopic times.
Another skill that I developed during my shamanic training was that of pattern recognition. When you are continually zooming in and out of other worlds, you quickly begin to see the blueprint underlying the web of Wyrd in this one.
The patterns repeat, although they are not identical. They are self-similar, in the same way that fractal geometric shapes recur in Nature. But they are alike enough to allow one to predict the probable outcomes of events that make up the continual ebb and flow of the tides of man.
It is why the shamans of old were oftimes prophets and oracles. However, there was nothing vague or “woo-woo” in the casting of their predictions. They were founded on the same abductive reasoning, repeatability and verification of results upon which modern science bases its theories. It’s just that the ancients had a more zoomed-out picture.
In other words, while most today would struggle with completing a million piece jigsaw without a final picture to guide them – these sages and seers had the lid!
So once I was able to combine the abilities of pareidolia and pattern recognition, it became much easier to understand what our forefathers were trying to convey in their stories in the stars, which we call “myths”.
I was no longer peering through a glass darkly, to quote from Corinthians. This gave me a clearer insight. And in the study of comparitive mythology, which had been keeping me happily occupied since my early twenties, patterns began to slowly emerge that made sense to that vision.
The Three Worlds of the Hero
For instance, I realised was that these sagas of old were not just set in one world, but across the three worlds of the shaman: the Upper World, the Middle World (of which Earth is part) and the Underworld. The shaman journeys to receive guidance from the spirits who inhabit these realms which are arranged, in the stories of many diverse cultures, on a World Tree.
We are of course familiar with the protagonist, The Hero of A Thousand Faces as the 20th century mythologist Joseph Campbell titled his work about the exploits of this universal champion. Campbell called it the Monomyth, because it is the core story of innumerable ancient myths found all over the world. They all describe the pilgrimage of a sort of Everyman character which leads to his eventual enlightenment as to the true meaning of Earthly existence.
Thus, by employing my shamanic skills, I was able to stand on the broad shoulders of Mr Campbell to take his work on further.
In this way, I discovered how the hero’s journey is around a zodiac, the patterning of which is dictated by the position of the stars at the time of the hero’s birth. And that each of the transformative trials he faces, as he traverses around the wheel of the constellations, are metaphors for the different processes in what is known in alchemy as the Great Work.
This Great Work is the metamorphosis of a piece of material called the First Matter, which is actually the human being.
This fully illuminated human is the Philosopher’s Stone, the real Rock of Ages that turns all it touches into gold. It is also known as the Holy Grail, or the Hallows that were won in a stormy, firmamental voyage by one of our British mythological heroes, Arthur Pendragon.
In essence, the psychologist Carl Jung described this process as “reincarnating into your own life”.
This mega-myth was composed long before our days of light entertainment in which we try to temporarily lose ourselves in hollow fantasies on a silver screen to find comfort from a hostile world.
By contrast, our ancestors’ myths, drawn on the sparkling silver screen of the night skies, are cognitive arks sailing across the seas of time that carry, in their holds, golden threads of wisdom to help us to navigate the voyage of our own human vessel, and allow us to make much more sense of our lives today.
I have laid out it all out quite simply in my book Stories in the Stars: What our ancestors were trying to tell us.