Star Wars captured my imagination as I am sure it did for countless seven-year-olds. It premiered in Dublin, the city I grew up in, around my birthday in March 1978, and I attended with five friends and my parents. Going to the movies was a relatively novel event in Ireland back then and having lived a relatively innocent existence, my father refused to listen to my impassioned pleas to take me home (probably on the basis of “we have spent too much money getting here, you are going to stay”) after witnessing the emergence of the Sith Lord, Darth Vader, into a white, light filled corridor having had his storm troopers break down the door in rather explosive terms.
Little did I realise then that my imagination had been snared and had received its first fuelling of what has become a lifelong interest in space, though admittedly my early years were less concerned with the nature and science of space but rather how could I avoid asteroids, destroy alien creatures and make the safe jump into hyperspace all in an attempt to find ways of saving the Princess!
It was impossible not to be impacted by the overwhelming dominance of religion and spirituality growing up in a pre-1990’s Ireland. Born to a Scottish Presbyterian and an Irish Protestant in the North of Ireland during the height of the Troubles and consequently for our safety my parents took the decision to eventually settle in the relatively calm of Southern Ireland, a country dominated by the Catholic Church. Perhaps growing up in a religious minority helped to shape my eventual exploration of spirituality along a road less travelled, as I found it intriguing the similarities and differences in doctrinal practise of those two Christian religions.
Keeping my interest in spiritual private, my road to Damascus epiphany took place at 17, when I was involved in a self-inflicted car crash, a crash that I should not have walked away from. As I lost control of my speeding car, having hit water, I called out to gOd to help me and in the words of a couple of witnesses “we’ve never seen something like that before” as the car somehow decelerated in a remarkably short space of time, stopping just inches before I wrapped the car around a lamp post. It got me thinking about life and I started to formally explore spirituality in a more open manner, becoming at first a born-again Christian before very shortly thereafter leaving that path and organised religion.
Having failed to gain entry in University to pursue Physical Education, I ended up reading Geography, focusing on a mixture of courses relating to both social and physical geography. It was during my thesis year that my current path was defined. I had decided to base my thesis on a locational analysis of the early Celtic Church within a specific region of Ireland and decided to prepare a special topic based on the spatial distribution of the spiritual beliefs of the Native American Indian so as to better understand how climate and topography appear to have had a bearing on the socio-spirituality of indigenous tribes, one fact kept coming up – there was some connection between our lives here on Earth and what was going on in the universe, as many of those Celtic locations were astrally orientated and the Native Cosmology was heavily Sky based.
As humans we are deeply subjective and psychological in orientation and we seek meaning to things that happen both in the world and especially to ourselves. Increasingly over time we have sought answers in more rational terms, but that has not always been the case. From the earliest times humans have sought to order our surroundings and to seek an understanding of our place in the cosmos so as to make sense of our existence. Whilst we have little tangible evidence of the origins of human thought and imagination, a short while after humans developed the ability to consciously evaluate and reflect on the natural world, there was a movement towards the belief that celestial events revealed a deeper meaning, purpose or intent. The skies appear to be more constant than the seemingly chaos of most natural processes and very early on in human evolution a small number of stars that moved quite differently against the circling background of the stars began to be singled out for special attention. The Greeks called them planetes or ‘wanderers’. Very quickly all human culture became defined by their relationship to the sky.
In my undergraduate thesis, this fact became transparent to me – the early churches in Wicklow were orientation to celestial phenomenon; the indigenous American tribes mythology spoke of nature, humanity and the skies all being interconnected. On further exploration there were other rituals of Celtic Christianity that had their origins due to astronomical phenomena that were taken over by the catholic church and subtly indoctrinated into both social and religious festivals (the naming of the days of the week, ceremonies were held on days defined by the position of the Sun in the sky, and the positioning of sacred site).
Furthermore, in a two minute aside during a lecture on the Quaternary Period that turned my head. The lecturer spoke of theories that suggested the influence of sun spot activity, the wobble of the Earth and the gravitational pull of planets and on both the Earth and the Sun had contributed to climate change. I was enthralled and went looking for further reading material a short time after the conclusion of that lecture. I wandered into a bookstore seeking further reading material. I gravitated towards the popular science section where I commenced browsing through the various bookshelves when my eye was caught by a book that seemed out of place.
It was on astrology.
Not really knowing anything about the subject but knowing instinctively it should be in the New Age Section I liberated it from the shelf and scanned the back leaf. The author suggested that astrology had something to do with the interpretation how the cosmos has played a significant role in defining human activities and culture; that culture had developed in sympathy with the skies and that astrology was the first science to bring together maths, psychology, astronomy and culture.
Intrigued, I bought it.
I have not walked on another path since.
 Nicholas Campion, The Dawn of Astrology