The ex member of the band Blondie, Gary Lachmann, has been writing readable books for a number of years now – on various alternative thinkers from Jung and Steiner to the more occult Madame Blavatsky and Jacob Boehme. In his latest work Beyond the Robot he explores the work of writer and philosopher Colin Wilson. Wilson’s great point was the very part of us designed to make day to day life easy, the automatic part that could take care of driving or idling in a boring meeting was actually threatening the full vitality of our life experience. He records the elation that the depressive youthful Graham Greene had when he played Russian Roulette with himself and survived. He records the last minute reprieve of Dostoevsky from a firing squad and the vigorous sense of life purpose that coursed through him afterwards. Wilson argued we needed to consciously remember these moments of extraordinary significance and let them elevate our lives.
I met Wilson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in the early 1990’s when I was an undergraduate. My friend and I had self-designed a course on modern poetry that a professor has kindly agreed to teach us. Wilson was teaching on what he called Faculty X – the mysterious extra factor that the Occult world explored. This helped my friend and I clarify the nature of the mysterious heightened state that some poetry would achieve; that we had become so interested in. The mystical thread held in the best poetry that we would ultimately follow back to its origins in spiritual experience and teachings.
Lachmann’s book included the section of Wilson’s biography that I had just read in which he details his own intense boredom as a young man and Wilson’s reading of thousands of books to overcome this state. This state nearly claimed him one day when working as a lab technician his depression reached a suicidal moment: he was inhaling the bitter almond smell of the cyanide in the lab when a part of him stepped outside of himself and showed him all his life potential that this smaller, and more depressed part, would then never know. He put the cyanide away and lived a life of tremendous purpose and creative output.
What is this quality that sees us see past the limitation and existential frailty to claim our larger life? From my perspective we touch on the realm of the Soul when we go past our small habitual self. It is this realm of the Soul which holds memory and a deeper sense of identity which is the crucial foundation of our greater life. The birth-chart is a multi-dimensional symbol of the way that this greater self reaches into and through our lives. One way of exploring this is by understanding the Outer or Transpersonal Planets as symbolising the influence of this greater realm upon the Inner or Personal Planets. It is this insight that is proving so powerful in so many of my clients and students life. It reveals the spiritual and existential hope that Astrology offers – at its best. May we endeavour to understand and practice it at its best in order for that greater life to emerge. This is a time, as perhaps all times are, where this greater life seems needed more than ever.
May its light guide us.
God Bless, Mark