To start I want to set one thing straight: I didn’t grow up ‘spiritual’.
My parents were refugees from the Vietnam war. They bribed policemen to board repurposed fishing boats in the middle of the night, sailed for a week trying to avoid pirates (more sinister than you might think) and arrived at camps on remote Indonesian islands only to build huts, fish with spears and wait to find out where (if) they’d be relocated. Nine months later my parents arrived on Australian shores in 1980 and actually met each other at an English class here. They had their hands full learning new skills to get jobs and earn money so I have no idea why they thought popping out 3 kids was a good idea. Also back then my grandpa helped establish one of the early buddhist temples in Sydney but my parents chose not to practice so my brother, sister and I were raised atheist by default.
I was one of few non-christians that attended a private catholic high school out in the suburbs (I begged my mum to apply because my best friends from primary were going there). Despite feeling guilty about the school fees it was a relatively compassionate environment to navigate teenage life, but I didn’t engage with the Church outside of school hours so was more an observer than worshipper. Oh and I remember being pretty sceptical about astrology; I’d reread the Sunday newspaper horoscopes a week later just to prove they were wrong.
The way I felt connected to something bigger was through drawing. As a kid I would fill notebooks with made-up cartoon characters and think, “Where do these guys even come from?” I wondered if anyone else asked the same question, like musicians when they write a song or rappers when they spit off the dome. So I parked it and settled on the conclusion that this type of magic must come from somewhere otherworldly.