Please introduce yourself & give us a glimpse into your world. Where are you located? What are you currently creating?
Greetings, my name is Ash Brooks and I am a writer, musician, artist, and astrologer living in South Portland, Maine. I co-run Flower Room, a record label devoted to healing sonic odysseys, with my partner Matt LaJoie. I play music solo and in two projects with Matt: Ash & Herb, and Starbirthed.
I always have a myriad of creative projects going at any given time. I like the thrill of waking up and seeing where my energy decides to take me that day. I may have a vague idea of things that need to get done and from there I let myself be guided to what is pertinent at the moment. I used to feel strange about having so many creative interests but have come to embrace the fact that I prefer to put equal energy into several things than all of myself into one thing.
Right now I am working on a series of short fiction stories about dreams and sleep, and I am editing a longer novel I wrote entitled Dream Job that takes place in the same world. I am also working on a new solo tape, giving home to some melodies that have been dancing around my head for many months, and in some cases, years. In addition, Matt and I are working on finalizing a collaborative record we did with our friend Jeremy Hurewitz, who performs under the name Rootless. It is some of my favorite music I've ever had the pleasure to work on.
Can you tell us about a childhood experience that was profound or life changing? Or a memory that still resonates with you today?
I was a very solitary child, and didn't make a close friend outside my family until I was eight or so. My family moved around a lot, and I didn't really relate to the other kids. I wasn't shy exactly but just didn't connect with those my own age. Days on the playground were often spent at the edge of the tree line, walking through the pines and making up songs to sing. Despite my general isolation, I never felt that lonely. I am grateful for that time in my life. I felt a kinship with the animals and plants, and they were my first audience. I can remember being at recess at age seven and working on my little radio show. I had a notebook filled with bands I had created, each with an extensive discography. I came up with songs for them and then I would interview the band members. I played the role of DJ, band, and even did the little commercials in between. I also drew cartoons and magazines, and would do hand drawn "photo shoots" with my bands. I performed these songs quietly for the oaks and the birds. It's funny but my daily life is not that far removed from who I was as a child; the things I like to do are generally the same but perhaps more expanded.
What daily rituals or practices if any, connect you with the spiritual realms?
I start each day with alternate breathing and a chant that corresponds with my natal transits for the day. I have been keeping a daily dream journal for the last three years, so I will often spend some time jotting down memories of my travels through consciousness. The more complicated dreams I will record verbally, so I don't miss any details. I have received many ideas for stories, songs, and art pieces through my dream world.
Matt and I also do tarot spreads each week for the days ahead, looking for any messages that are ready to be mirrored back to us. Our favorite decks for this purpose are the Tantric Dakini, Medicine Woman, Thoth, and Prism Oracle. Maybe someday I will design my own... it's always been a dream of mine, even quite literally speaking. Over the past four years of keeping a dream journal, I find tarot cards in dreams. I feel I am collecting a deck over time, in bits and pieces, in another world.
What parts of the world do your ancestors come from? What inspires you most about your ancestral cultural background?
My ancestral heritage is 1/4 French-Canadian, 1/4 English, 1/4 Irish, 1/8 Polish, and 1/8 Dutch. I have taken on the task of being an ancestral scribe for my family. I've been able to trace my family tree back into the 1400s for almost all lines. (My Cancer Mercury is endlessly nostalgic!) I am working on a spreadsheet of everyone's names, birth places, birth and death dates, and then I will do research on all of them. There are a few intriguing people on the list: my 16th great-grandmother Lady Anne Gray, who was sent to the Tower of London for incorrectly addressing a royal, my 3rd great-grandfather Anton Schermann, the first Polish immigrant in Chicago, and my 10th great-grandfather Zacharie Cloutier, the sort of super-ancestor of Quebec that most French Canadians are related to. I find myself equally intrigued by the ancestors who I know nothing more about than their name and birth & death dates on my list. Their trail might have dried up, and they may remain mysteries forever, but I try to extend gratitude to them. When you look at a family tree of over 800 entries like I have, it is amazing to think that if just one of these people hadn't survived to become a parent, then I would not be here. How honored I am to observe their memory now.
How do you stay connected to your Ancestors?
They will sometimes come to me in dreams or in the moments between sleep and wakefulness. I like to sit in quiet meditation and see if I can imagine them somewhere back through the line of time. In moments it seems like time is not quite linear, and I can feel their energy as fully as my own.
I will sometimes see symbols around me (a repeated message, phrase, or even part of the world that gets mentioned) and then will find something in my ancestral studies that connects these signs back to a relative of mine. Ancestors talk to us through this symbolism, so it's important to remain open-minded and curious.
Where in nature do you seek inspiration / healing / refuge? In other words do you have a "spot" or an activity? Please describe.
Living in coastal Maine, the ocean is a big presence in the city and in my life. I tend to prefer to go to the beach on windy, overcast days as there are fewer people and the ocean seems to have a story to tell. From the age of 7 to 13 I lived in Old Orchard Beach in Maine, and remember walking on the dunes right before a storm. The beach would be completely empty and the sky would be an ominous shade of blue and charcoal gray. The wind would smell like saltwater and something new about to happen. That energy is still so electric to me. I love Maine because we have it all: rain and storms, wind, hot sunny days, autumns swirling with color, peaceful snowfalls, and everything in between.
Some of my favorite places in Maine include Seawall Beach (which you get to by hiking over Morse Mountain), Mackworth Island (which has a fairy village where you can build tiny homes out of natural materials for the fairies), and Evergreen Cemetery duck pond in Portland. I have spent a lot of time eating lunch or reading books by the duck pond. There are also giant turtles that come to the surface on nicer days.
What is the last good book you read?
The last book that really moved me was The Master H by Pensatia. It is a fairly mysterious, long out-of-print Rosicrucian tome penned in the 1950s. Pensatia was the spiritual name assigned to Helen Merric Bond, given to her by her interdimensional guru. The text is channeled and tells of her adventures on the cosmic green with the Master H, and the messages he imparted to her about the journey of the spiritual acolyte on a path toward Light. She wrote a whole series of books in this manner. I like to collect vintage channeled books. The guides all have different personas and ways of communicating, and the channels themselves impact the message based on their own unique frequency. And yet, the heart of many of their transmissions is the same.
Where can people find you & your work?
You can find our music at flowerroomrecords.bandcamp.com. You can follow me @starbirthed (personal) @uncloudedeye (daily astrology forecasts) on instagram.
I also have a podcast with my friend Heather Nichols called Pisces Rising (we are both Pisces Ascendants) where we chat about astrology in a more educational context. You can find that on any major podcast platform.
Thank you Ancestral Thread for offering me the space to speak! I am grateful for you and all your beautiful offerings.