Upon the summit of Primrose Hill, the enigmatic words, ‘I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill,’ remarked by artist William Blake and transcribed by the reporter Crabb Robinson, can be found inscribed in York Stone. It is upon this summit, which offers one of the best panoramic views of London, that I intend to herald in the New Year in a few weeks’ time, and where, like Blake, I have sought to discover my own relationship to the aptly named ‘spiritual sun.’
Indeed, it was an intuitive challenge that first led me to this location to watch the sun’s daybreak ascent, and it was inner navigation, separate from the analytical mind, that led me to behold this archetypal spectacle. At a time when the binary between human meaning and the natural world has never seemed so pronounced, what better rebellion from our artificially prescribed ‘otherness’ than to simply watch the sunrise? Where better place to start an identity quest than with the dictation of inner direction?
The intuitive challenge I was faced with involved waking before dawn to watch the sunrise ten times. This meant ignoring the analytical mind’s bartering process about the reward of further sleep in my warm bed and its complaints surrounding the 6:30am venture in the December cold. Luckily, the challenge was richly rewarded each morning by the awe-inspiring sight when the sun would gradually illuminate everything in its ascent and cast a natural morning glow over both myself and my surroundings. It was fascinating to watch the birds flock in large groups to bathe in the sunlight, with well synchronised flight from different areas of the park as the light gradually increased. It was also wonderful food for developing thought as to what relationship we truly had with one another, the birds and me!
Dawn can be defined as both ‘to begin to grow light in the morning’ and ‘to begin to open or develop,’ which is interesting when we consider the link between developing the intuitive sense and the expansion of light, so often synonymous with the concept of realisation. As is often the case with intuitive direction, I was not fully conscious of how this experience might be beneficial to me; however, upon completion I was able to see the fruits of my journey.
For me, the experience came to stand for a necessary reconnection with the basics of what it means to be energetically responsive to ‘natural’ forces and to my intuitive sense, both often seconded to the culturally prescribed demands and abstractions of contemporary society. In my search for wholistic truth, it seemed nature would not be dismissed, and a long-awaited call for re-enchantment was necessary. Maintaining a university schedule and the pressures of finding a career to support us can easily overwhelm and detract from our authentic expression in the world. It is in this sense I would argue that by following my intuition, I entered dialogue with the spiritual sun, looking for my authentic self in the process.
To be in dialogue with the spiritual sun may also refer to the marriage of our inner and outer senses, or, as Bede Griffith’s describes in his book ‘The Marriage of East and West’, the combination of our rational and intuitive senses. In Western society, at the risk of generalising, it seems that one has always had a monopoly over the other; the rational domain of science and mathematics having taken precedence, often problematically, at the expense of subtler ways of knowing.
Living in a city, let alone a tech hub such as London, can easily take us out of our natural rhythm and find us living in the abstract, with technologically and financially dependent lives detached from our true source of systemic living. The seeking has led me to a more profound sense of interconnection between mind and matter and has awakened an intellectual interest in transpersonal ecopsychology. That which is transpersonal goes beyond popular understanding, including the dominant paradigm of the atomised universe, and tries to transform the binary of human ‘otherness’ to nature through an ecological re-evaluation of our relationship to the environment, with the inclusion of our inner worlds.
With the celebration of the New Year upon us and its associations with the potentiality for change, as reflected in the tradition of resolutions, I will be taking this year as an opportunity to subvert tradition and reflect upon what has remained the same. Was the rising sun I bore witness to the same spiritual sun of which the 19th Century artist William Blake alluded to? If so, can the New Year be taken as an opportunity for natural reintegration?
To conclude, I’d like to turn to an often-quoted quatrain by William Blake reflecting upon metaphysical and temporal considerations that seem right for the New Year:
‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.’
Edited by Faye Elder, London and Beyond Editor