Here’ I’d like to share some of my personal history- key events that shaped the way my life has evolved – all of which have fed into or sprung out of my art and creativity.
The exact ages may vary slightly by anything from a few months to a year- well, it has been a long time, and memory does dance a bit after the age of 40. (There was a time, around about the age of 36, I lived through a whole year thinking I was 36, and then realized I had only been 35).
Racial Violence in Sri Lanka has played a major role in shaping not just mine, but several hundred thousand Tamil people! It’s an age old issue of seeking more independence hat stems from 1979 to modern day, where Tamil people have been so persecuted by Sinhalese people and the government army, that Tamils have had to take up arms and fight a guerilla war! (Ypu may have heard of the `Tamil Tigers’ ). Our family was one that got caught up in all that, and we eventually came to the Uk in fear of our lives. We were the lucky ones, for many thousand Tamils have been killed since 1985.
A personal attack on me – a day light mugging after school, at the age of 17yrs colored the way I began to see the world around me in London- something I had thought was going to be better than Sri Lanka. The attack on me broke my right shoulder, and though it healed, it has become a recurring physical problem (not to mention getting mugged again few years ago in a bus and getting my right shoulder dislocated for the 4th time!). It prevents me from doing contact sports, but has squeezed me into other paths- such as aerobics, fitness, walking, exploring the country, mind-powers (when the body fails) and so on.
Death of my father (Navasothy) few days after the new year of 1990 also changed my life in a big way. It is in one sense equivalent to a naive crown prince being thrust onto the throne and expected to rule the kingdom (family & cultural responsibilities of asian male!) But on the other hand, it was also very much a door of darkness opening beneath my feet and falling into a chasm of delayed psychological trauma! I believe it took a few years before the full force of his sudden death hit me- which spun me into an exploration of death, brain, mind, and transformation. It saw me become faith-less, and rise again with pagan spirituality empowering me and enlightening me with some mysteries.
Paganism & Ritual Magic is a spiritual path of empowerment that includes nature worship. No middleman is needed between me and the god or goddess! This spirituality is nothing new to me- as it has highly similar facets to Hinduism that I was brought up with (which after all is an eastern form of paganism). However there are differences- the lack of physically built temples, the strong emphasis on lunar & solar cycles, the exploration of natural land and features all around us as a place of divine- all help very much to empower me! Not just that, even the Stars out there, and galaxies, and exploding Supernovae and black holes.. are all of the mysteries.. that I am fascinated by as a Scientist, admire as an artist, and worship and honor as a Pagan!
My Time Life
Age 12: Begins drawing own comic books.
Age 13-15: Overnight train gets attacked. Mani & family have a narrow escape (1983).. Racial violence errupts in Sri Lanka (Tamils attacked by Sinhalese). With 2 years, a 2nd nationwide racial violence occurs. Mani & Sisters do roof-top hiding from mob;
Age 15: Father in Australia on Government Scholarship; 3rd major racial violence in country in Mani’s time; Arrives in Uk with mother & 2 sisters, claiming political asylum. Struggles to speak english at airport. Lives for 1 year in St.Albans (Hertforshire). Due to english speaking difficulties, put back by 1 year in school when schooling starts in UK.
Age 16: Father arrives directly from Australia, and claims asylum. Family moves to Tooting, SW London. Interest in Dr.Who & reading novels begins. Interests Science, Astrology, Hypnosis & Mind Powers.
Age 19-25: Starts University in London, studying Physics B.Sc. Moves to halls of residence. Within 3 months, father dies in road accident. Mani moves back home to be with mother & 2 younger sisters. 1st & 2nd year goes well. Makes close friends in Malaysian & Singaporean Society. Grades slip in Year 3. Aerobic Society, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society, obsessive fitness regimes (weight training) in Union Gym. Resist for exams. Moves to part time in Birkbeck College and completes Physics Studies (B.Sc).
Age 26-27: Interest in Paganism & Magic develops; Starts Wicca Study. Becomes initiated into a Wiccan Coven in London. Develops further interest in Environmental issues & animal rights campaigns.
Age 28-35: Starts Teacher Training as a Physics Teacher (secondary school) but withdraws due to class room difficulties in the 11th month; Starts temp work in Home Office (Immigration & Nationality); Slow progression to Executive level after 6 years. Works as elected Union Officer, and becomes serious about staff welfare! Resigns after suffering bullying and harassment and case being long drawn out. Also during this period, becomes High Priest of Wicca.
Age 35-40: Develops strong links to Pagan Federation London, and takes up volunteer position as Events Manager, running rituals, conventions, mask balls for pagans in London; Also starts own outdoor ritual group `Hern’s Tribe’ (with ideals of Hern & Robin Hood). Meets future-wife April in a pagan social; April joins Hern’s Tribe and becomes close. Works as Employment Project Coordinator for a Tamil Charity for 3+ years. Begins running Wicca courses with April.
Age 40 onwards: Handfasting (pagan marriage ceremony) to April in Epping Forest, London; Starts `Gaian Times’ (Ltd) – a registered not-for-profit Company with objectives of Environmental protection, exploration of nature-based spirituality, and publishing free science-psychology based online magazine. Begins serious work on several pagan teaching books, novels and other creative projects. ….
Faces of Mani