I have always wondered about the relatedness of things. For me this implies interconnection that is more than physical.
My enquiries about the meaning, or meanings, of our existence began in fairly typical fashion for a mid-twentieth century Australian child — in church. I took my efforts to be a good Christian seriously. Typically too, I became dissatisfied with over-simplistic answers to life’s profound questions—or no answers at all.
This led me to delve into various spiritually based philosophies and deep history ranging across ancient religions and myths to nature-based spirituality that necessarily involves care for this earth. I found universal ethical values and truths at the heart of wisdom teachings in many traditions. Yet for me a patriarchal overlay limited the full richness of meaning and led me to explore the divine feminine in her many expressions.
The arts have been a major influence in my life. From childhood I favoured creative and artistic pursuits. I spent much of my time writing stories, dancing and drawing. This led me to study visual art, although a deep love of music meant dance became the stronger pull. I enjoyed a varied and fruitful career as a performer, choreographer and teacher. In my role as a community arts worker I collaborated with musicians, actors, writers and the occasional film maker. Over the course of this multi-faceted journey the arts have become an integral part of my spiritual quest..Becoming an author was a culmination, the re-emergence of youthful talents and a new creative adventure.
The opportunity to go deeper into the spiritual opened up in 1984 when I met Mario Schoenmaker (1929–1997). He had founded the Church of the Mystic Christ with a college offering courses drawing on the esoteric philosophy of Rudolf Steiner and exploring humanity’s inner evolution across ages and cultures (just my cup of tea). The lifeblood of the community, called The Centre, was Mario’s own inspiring vision of a life lived in harmony with the spiritual aspect of self—the I AM referred to in John’s Gospel.
Mario lived the gospel. And The Centre was a place that encouraged freedom of expression and complexity rather than dogmas that confine so many human systems, religious or secular. My thirteen years in the community were personally transforming. I studied formally in the college and graduated with an honours diploma.
Subsequently, I was employed by the college and designed and taught a course The Spiritual Significance of the Arts that became the basis of my book 'Prodigal Daughters - a New Vision of Spirituality and the Inner Histories of the Arts'.
I recognise that people have an inherent spirituality, which when it comes to expression becomes a search for what Carl Jung aptly called ‘individuation’. In some way, most of us are on a journey to discover true individuality. Avoiding or rejecting that journey has ramifications for individuals and for the world—the evidence for this is all around us. In that sense, I am also a social activist with an interest in politics and world events.
The philosopher, linguist and poet Jean Gebser (1905–1973) envisaged what he named as an integral structure of consciousness, where dualistically opposed categories give way to a more holistic kind of knowing. It is happening, and in my work I explore the possibilities of such a world, where as genuine individuals we do become free of the dichotomies that bedevil all facets of society, and from the perspective of the essence of self, participate in that integral revolution.
I have two children from my marriage to theatre director and painter, the late Peter Oyston. My daughter Dominique is a classically trained singer who leads The Goddess Voice Academy and my son Ben an environmental geologist, and I have four grandchildren. I live and work in leafy and cosmopolitan urban Melbourne with my husband, writer, mathematician and spiritual scientist, Stephen Cugley. We enjoy exploring other places and regularly attend concerts and exhibitions in the rich cultural life of this city. I nurture our courtyard garden which connects me with nature. It’s an oasis where I can delight in the birds making fountains as they splash in the birdbath.