From an early age I pencil-sketched reams of pictures whenever I could, quite naturally discovered ‘art as meditation’, cherished quiet moments in my parents’ East End council house garden, ran energetically around with friends and my family’s dog in local grassland parks and nearby exquisite densely wooded regions of Epping Forest, and enjoyed family outings to the sea or countryside. I would lose myself for hours drawing, being in amazing and magical green spaces, creating, playing music when I took up bass guitar at 13, or simply staring wondrously at the shapes of mesmerising morphing clouds and the gyrating activity of bees hopping from flower to flower while they made intriguing buzzsaw-like sounds. Back then I hadn’t discovered how different facets of life, creativity, Nature, and transpersonal experiences could come together and be seen as integral facets of important Earth-centred spiritualities that radically address the needs of our current age.
My time in various semi-known rock bands from the late 60s to late 70s brought me into contact with an older musician who had an interest in Eastern spirituality and meditation practices. It wasn’t long before I experienced expanded states of awareness that opened me to new ways of being, and to a life-changing vivid peak experience at 19 while meditating alone in my parents’ backroom, which overlooked the garden. Things happened unexpectedly one summer’s afternoon when I became conscious of a sacred presence, of which the ticking of a clock in the room, the singing of birds outside, the silence of the house, what felt like another mind widening, communing and blending with mine, and a clear awareness of both my physical body and being more than it, all became intertwined facets of one another. The experience has never left me and led me to explore various spiritual paths such as Yogic wisdom, Buddhist teachings, and the creation-centred works of Matthew Fox (not to be confused with ‘Creationism’ that denies the insights of contemporary science).
When I looked deeply into the mystical traditions of India and Christianity, I discovered teachings that struck deep chords within me. But before I became aware of various influential ecospiritual prophets such as Thomas Berry, I became best friends with the late world-renowned contemporary teacher, medium, and former Benedictine monk Glyn Edwards, who found being amongst Nature an essential part of his spiritual life. He was the first person I came across to have read so widely and taken keen interest in an array of essential teachings. Meeting him helped me to be aware of important contemporaries such as the French palaeontologist, priest and mystic Teilhard de Chardin. Around this period (late 1980s and early 90s) I began to investigate the benefits of spiritual retreats at different centres. One modest small community had 80 acres of wild forest surrounding it. It was there while on a regular morning walk under a cathedral-like ceiling of tree branches stretching over a mottled light-grey and brown stony forest path that I realised I was finding a deeper serenity and spirituality amongst Mother Nature than in many communities’ chapels. This wasn’t to say that creative rituals that looked for deeper ways to touch life profoundly didn’t have value. But somehow the natural world was calling me to another mystery that I felt was absent from some of the most moving church and temple services. Before this, I became a graphic designer in my 20s. I later studied world religions, religious education, and some aspects of Buddhist, Jungian, and educational psychology at university in my early-40s, did several year-long courses in psychosynthesis, and co-wrote books with my long-time close friend Glyn and a renowned English Swami, who both approached me to write books with them.
Synchronicity also played a part in helping me to find people of like-minds in GreenSpirit with whom I could safely share some of my abilities, deepest thoughts, feelings and concerns about life and spirituality. Through such avenues, along with periods spent in places of natural beauty, I have begun to see how creativity is written into the Universe, into Nature, into the ways they are continually unfolding, how all life is interrelated, and by creating with wholesome intentions we become co-creators with the creative powers of the Cosmos and the Divine. Since seeing spirituality this way, I’ve realised that we are all parts of one family from one original creative sacred divine source and share an individual and collective responsibility for all life, including the welfare of Mother Earth of which we are wondrous parts. As a Londoner, I often feel the need to be quiet and spend time in places of great beauty such as Kew Gardens and Epping Forest, which are on the outskirts of London, when the pressures of life make my heart feel heavy. Recently, I completed the OneSpirit Interfaith ministry course, which includes a Nature-focused unit and has Marian Van Eyk McCain’s GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness on its reading list, and I’ve started further courses in psychosynthesis counseling because it values creativity and has strong connections to Yoga psychology.
What has especially drawn me to GreenSpirit is its progressive vision and wide inclusiveness – how the prophetic voices of poets, artists, and mystics are cherished and central to many members’ living wisdom of ecospirituality – which are key reasons why I have remained an active member, as GreenSpirit is one of only a few spiritual communities I know that embraces, encourages and understands the creative process, artists and deeper mysteries of creativity.
First photo: Seven-year-old Stephen on a day trip with older siblings to Clacton-on-Sea.
Second photo: Stephen playing bass guitar at an early gig of the Punk band The Wasps, the Bridge House, Canning Town, 1976.
Last photo: One-day event on Creation Spirituality, organised by Stephen in 2010. Left to right: Glyn Edwards chairing the day with Cosmologist Chris Clarke, GreenSpirit coordinator Ian Mowll, and Stephen.
Home page photo: Taken in 2019 at an Extinction Rebellion and Climate Change march that started in Parliament Square.
Stephen’s story is a compilation of extracts from three works by him: ‘Rivers of Green Wisdom‘ (title No. 4 in the GreenSpirit Book Series); ‘From Punk Rock to Green Spirituality‘ (pdf link, GreenSpirit magazine, Winter 2013); and ‘Walking a Razor’s Edge‘ (pdf link, GreenSpirit magazine, Spring 2013). The two Greenpirit articles are also included in an anthology of articles by Stephen, published under his Yoga name Santoshan in 2021 (Amazon link to printed and eBook editions). Plus, an expanded version of ‘Walking a Razor’s Edge’ is a chapter in ‘Dark Nights of the Green Soul‘ (title No. 8 in the GreenSpirit Book Series).