“I try to think”: Exploring ‘personal’ criticism


You can see me

Last month, this comment appeared in the comments of “Extremist: my governments new name for me”:

Are you a disability campaigner or a prophet who understands the universe more than anyone else?. If I was in the government, you would be last person I would consult with. You have no limits, your blog is made up of incessant blatherings and you build nothing. With your “powerful feelings” who else can get an idea edgewise to you?

I try to think

As with any blog, as the account holder I have the choice whether to publish the comment or not; I chose to publish for two reasons. Firstly, there’s a suggestion in the comment that I am unable to hear the ideas of others, even if presented edgewise; secondly, there are some very useful teaching points around personal criticism contained within it and; thirdly; given my present interest in the power of narrative, it would be a shame to pass on such an opportunity.

For clarity, let me first say that  the commenter, “I try to think“, is not known to me as far as I am aware. This means that my observations relate to the comment itself and what it reveals about ‘I try to think‘ at the time of posting. I would like to allow the person themselves the freedom to learn, grow or alter their opinion. If my response was personal, then ‘I try to think‘ is deprived of these opportunities. This is important because one point in the comment alleges I have no limits – separating the comment’s author from the comment itself points to boundaries or limits to my response, thereby demonstrating that this allegation may be untrue, in whole or in part, and leads neatly into matters of projection:

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by denying their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others.[1] For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.

According to some research, the projection of one’s negative qualities onto others is a common process in everyday life

Projection occurs in the absence of fact or where what is being expressed threatens an individual’s understanding of their reality. Whilst there is always an element of truth to ‘fix’ the projection in place, what is subsequently extrapolated from that truth belongs to the projector and has little to do with the ‘projected-upon’. According to this hypothesis, “I try to think” can only be talking about himself – I’m going to ‘project’ that he is male based upon my life experience. Whilst there are women who express such attitudes, they are rare beasts and they use different weapons; the privileges and assumptions contained within the comment seem to be typical of a certain kind of man:

If I was in the government, you would be last person I would consult with.

Firstly, it is not common for women to imagine themselves in government, yet “I try to think” has no difficulty seeing himself in that role. Additionally, he exercises his imaginary authority by excluding me from any and all consultation, which would effectively disenfranchise my reality from government. His form of ‘rule’ depends upon my exclusion, which points to an assumed privilege that allows him to exclude that which he either doesn’t like or, more importantly, what he doesn’t understand. The comment makes it very clear his lack of understanding:

With your “powerful feelings” who else can get an idea edgewise to you?

This is a clear indicator that issues of emotional intelligence are as excluded as my opinions and points to the reasonable assumption that if he cannot cope with my feelings, he is unlikely to cope with his own. If he had any awareness of his own emotions, he would understand that feelings are responsive; they emerge in response to events around us and are coping mechanisms for human experience. Their ‘size’ depends on either the size of the event or growth in response to repeated events. The powerful feelings expressed in my ‘Extremist’ blog were certainly accumulated – they built up as a result of repeated refusals from those who, like “I try to think“, sought to exclude me from society or community. Expressing these powerful feelings through my blog was a way of respecting and defusing their charge so they didn’t undermine my ability to think. My deepest gratitude to all the other commenters on the blog who actually did understand what I was expressing from their own experience and perspective.

So, “I try to think“, the blog you complain about was actually written to enable new ideas to reach me by defusing those powerful emotions that could, if unexpressed, have prevented this occurring. Emotional intelligence understands that trying to teach someone in excruciating pain is impossible – the pain needs to be addressed first. I note that your ‘critique’ does nothing to contribute to pain-reduction; in fact, you add to it which, in an already painful situation, is likely to do what? Did you think about what you wanted to achieve before you posted it? Does adding more pain to already powerful painful feelings get you where you want to be?

The excising of human feelings is as absolute as my exclusion is from political discourse. Whilst I wouldn’t describe myself exclusively as a disability campaigner, I would suggest that “I try to think” is, excepting that his campaign apparently seeks to disable the disabled even further by excluding us from not only the political but from our emotions as well. In doing so, he actually becomes the ‘prophet who understands the universe more than anyone else’ he accuses me of being far more effectively than I could ever aspire to, although his universe is a place where I would not be permitted to exist.

You have no limits, your blog is made up of incessant blatherings and you build nothing.

He places no limits on who he would exclude because he not only shuts me out of politics, he dismisses me because I fail to be as emotionless as he believes I ‘ought’ to be. Emotions become ‘incessant blatherings’ and I am accused, by his measures, of ‘building nothing’. It is reasonable to conclude that these allegations would apply to anyone – particularly any woman – with powerful feelings. Yet his remarks are filled with his feelings, even if he doesn’t recognise them in himself. His feelings are powerful enough to fully exclude another human being from participating in their community on the grounds that they have blatherings, not feelings – a value judgement if ever there was one – about being excluded from society. If anything is being built here, it’s peoples’ emotional responses to exclusion. “I try to think” contributes only destruction to any creative process that may be occurring on the grounds that it ‘builds nothing’ in his intellectually-excluding reality because he places no limits on his ‘right’ to exclude, up to and including violating my human right to participate in my society on my own terms. My participation is only permitted only through the very narrow aperture of his awareness which judges and excises aspects of self that I consider as being of immense creative value. I may be permitted to ‘build’ only, but on his terms.

In psychotherapeutic discourse, it is understood that whatever someone does to others, they are likely to be doing to themselves too. In this case, “I like to think” could be seen as repressing his feelings to the point of unconsciousness. His comment is about how he feels about his own emotions. If it’s permissible to repress his own feelings, then it follows that it is permissible to repress the feelings of others too in his reality. However, the ‘reality’ of the world is made up of a great deal more than simply that of one man and denying that truth is not regarded mentally healthy.

So, in reflecting on his comment, I find this is my reasoned response, expressed in blog so I don’t need to act it out in practice. This is what I think “I try to think” was ‘building’ in the feeling realms of human nature, whether he was aware of it or not. If he ever reads it (which I doubt), I hope this might enable him to really think, instead of just trying.


Veronica Marsden Remembered

Veronica 072

Veronica Marsden 1 December 1946 – 23 March 2012

Tonight is Samhain, the Celtic New Year, when the veils between the worlds of the living and spirit are believed to thin. It is a good time to remember those who have crossed over.

There are people in this world who have the ability to create real and positive change the lives of others; in my own life, Veronica Marsden was such a woman. It’s difficult to write an obituary for her, not least because she died over two years ago… and I didn’t find out until earlier this month. Whilst there are understandable reasons for this delay, the passing of real time both conflicts with and informs the immediacy of my own grief. It is comforting that such emotional conflicts were the bread and butter of my relationship with Veronica and we always managed to survive them; I see no reason why we cannot survive them now.

I first met Veronica in 1984. My own life had collapsed into a heap of feelings I had no idea how to manage and I’d entered counselling in order to learn. She was part of the Gestalt Studio and the therapist I had met at the counselling centre I was attending was her work partner. Both were graduates of the Gestalt Centre (London) and were embarking on their psychotherapeutic career. They’d created a women’s weekend to which I was invited. Little did I know then that it was the beginning of a relationship that continues to this day, even in grief. What I experienced that weekend led me to enter group therapy, train with the Studio and eventually practice as a Gestalt Therapist myself. The journey lasted 17 years and Veronica was a true companion the entire time. As an exploration of individual and collective emotional dimensions, it was a white-knuckle ride for all of us and finding true companions over such a long haul is rare and precious. Veronica became such a person for me.

Gestalt therapy is one of those psychotherapeutic tools that frequently get maligned within the profession. It’s considered crude in more sophisticated circles and it was being subject to the ‘civilising’ influences of accreditation when I entered it. All these reasons are probably why I found Gestalt suited me best – it was direct; I didn’t have to fit myself into intellectual structures in order to express my deeper feelings; and I could dive as deep as my emotions allowed in order to find a way through the obstructions that beset me. Each time I dived, I came out cleaner, wiser and better able to manage my interpersonal relationships in ways I have yet to find in other psychotherapeutic models even today. What got judged as crude was, in my opinion, simple honesty; what later got condemned as unacceptable was a requirement laid on Gestalt Therapists to be authentic; and what Gestalt eventually taught me was how to be authentically and honestly human, warts and all.

The two trainings created by the Gestalt Studio partners in 1980/90’s were informed by Veronica’s prior experience as a management trainer – she already knew how to devise professional training programmes – and both Studio trainings included unusual additions to the psychotherapeutic at that time. For example: the trainings included learning how to run the business side of private practice. They were also responsive to trainee needs emerging through the process and if the needed response was missing from existing professional expertise, the Studio sought to create it for us. The measures for qualifying were clear and attainable… providing the trainee did the work and because it was Gestalt Therapy, that work was experiential and challenging, sometimes to the point of being absolutely hellish for all of us, trainers and trainees alike.

In the years since my own psychotherapeutic career ended, I have had occasion to walk through a number of real life hells. The training created by the Studio enabled me to emerge as unscathed as any person can be under such circumstances. Veronica and the Studio enabled me to learn the kind of courage needed to survive in hell with my integrity intact. They taught me how to fight fair; how to hold my fire whilst people around me learned the wisdom I’d been taught through their own experience; they taught me how to examine the emotional content of what I was experiencing for factual evidence and respond, rather than react. The Gestalt Studio and Veronica Marsden taught me the survival skills necessary to walk through the hells we make for each other competently, professionally and as an authentic human being. If there is a measure of their training’s effectiveness, it is this: I learned to survive five years in prison without ever breaching disciplinary rules by adhering to the very high standards of ethical conduct they taught me. I have grave doubts that any psychotherapy training today is capable of teaching such skills. Given the very high levels of socially-sanctioned abuse in society today, this failing raises questions about the ability of counselling and psychotherapy to authentically support those targeted for such abuse and leaves me wondering about the purpose of such a ‘qualified’ existence.

The ‘hells’ of our training eventually resulted in formal complaints about my trainers from some of my peers and which were never satisfactorily resolved for Veronica. Notwithstanding this, she never stopped sticking up for her graduates. At the time, the psychotherapy ‘trade’ was in the business of seeking social respectability as a profession; membership of the UKCP being the desired status (which, for Gestalt therapists, required individuals to be professionally accredited by those the AHPP approved of) – whilst Veronica’s own standing was being subjected to investigation, she argued that the faults of the trainer should not be visited upon the graduates. To meet the professional demands of the AHPP, and with two other Gestalt training organisations, she created the Association for the Accreditation of Gestalt Psychotherapists (AAGP). These were the women who accredited me and the way the AAGP was treated by the AHPP was, in my professional opinion, an absolute disgrace. Eventually we all had enough of the abusive avoidances, evasions and behind-the-scenes manipulations, and told the AHPP we no longer wished to be a part of any professional organisation which behaved that way. It was not a case of our failing to meet their measures (whose goalposts kept moving whenever we did meet them); it was a case that they didn’t meet our standards. I still believe it was one of the very best professional decisions we ever made together. Nevertheless, the whole process came with a price tag.

One director of the AAGP, Flora, was diagnosed with cancer soon after we reached that decision. This was followed by Veronica suffering a subarachnoid haemorrhage so severe that she pronounced dead at one point, even though she did survive. When I google the name of the third director, her information is as scant as Flora’s and Veronica’s, which suggests Freda probably experienced something equally life-threatening. Biodynamically speaking, that two out of the three are known to have subsequently faced lethal health consequences speaks to the emotional content of the professional issues they tried to address on my behalf. If Freda went through similar then the AHPP could regard its ‘triumph’ over those they considered professionally ‘undesirable’ as complete, although what it says about the behaviour of so-called ‘humanistic’ psychotherapists is extremely telling.

The stroke ended Veronica’s career in psychotherapy; it also left her childlike and vulnerable. She’d lost none of her wisdom Veronica 075and knowledge but the psychological shields needed to survive the darker aspects of therapy were missing. It was at this point that my own health failed too and I retired into my new journeys through the hells we create for the ‘othered’ in our society. Because I sensed her vulnerability, I withdrew contact from Veronica whilst I was going through them but we spoke to each other before she died.

Veronica hadn’t known I’d been in prison but she didn’t let me down after I told her. I was still someone worth relating to even after I’d shared most of my dark secrets. The only reason she didn’t hear it all was down to my own protectiveness of the defenceless and vulnerable woman I sensed she had become. Eventually, I found a way to address the problems without pulling her into them and it was acting on this was how I learned she had died in 2012.

When someone is living, there is always the chance that our relationship with them can be subject to harm. When someone dies, that relationship transforms to a place where it cannot be touched because it is complete. There are no earthly obstacles that can harm Veronica now no matter how hard some might try. Nor can anyone take my relationship to her away from me. She wasn’t perfect because no-one is and Veronica is just as entitled to her version of 50% ‘shadow’ the rest of us… but she is also entitled to her Light. The human being who was Veronica Marsden had a great deal of Light. It takes Light to not only teach someone how to walk through the experiences of Hell but also how emerge from them. Veronica was someone blessed with a deep capacity for empathy, kindness, compassion, sensitivity and forgiveness, especially for the abused. Her own journeys through the dark side of human experience enabled her to teach me the skills of honourable and ethical survival. The boundaries she enabled me to learn have proved their worth many times over and the theories of Gestalt she taught inform even now but of all the skills and qualities I learned from Veronica, the greatest is gratitude. I am so very grateful to have known her so well for so long. It was one hell of a ride we shared together… and I don’t regret a single moment. The training I received from her and the Gestalt Studio was everything it promised it would be and more because it was authentic, honest, truthful and courageous – just like those who delivered it. Veronica Marsden was one of those women. The professional qualifications I achieved as the result of her efforts are among some of my most valued accomplishments and her friendship is one of my deepest and most honest.

Veronica once talked about her beliefs around death – she believed we were healed of our earthly wounds after death; that we returned to our original wholeness. May it be true for her for she surely earned it here on earth.

So, tonight, I send a message through the veils to a friend

“I love you, Veronica Marsden – always did and always will. Hope your Heaven has turned out to be everything you ever wished it to be… and more.”

#Inequality: Reframing the Narratives of Spirit #BlogActionDay #Oct16 #BlogAction14 #BAD14


This is my offering for Blog Action Day – My hope is I don’t let my fellow bloggers down. This subject is too important.

Blog Action Day

FireShot Screen Capture #1395 - 'Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report I Business I The Guardian' - www_theguardian_com_business_2014_oct_14_richest-1percent-half-global-wealt

Click pic for related article

This is likely to be a long blog, so I invite any new visitors to go make a favourite beverage, tune out the world and settle down for a journey through the different dimensions of equality/inequality. I don’t know all of them simply because I am limited by my individuality and these are global-size dimensions. However, within the framework of Blog Action Day, I can contribute my own unique perspective around the subject of inequality. To get a grasp of how ‘unboundaried’ global inequality has become, please read the Guardian link above. We have to start somewhere… it might just as well be at the top. If anything fits my definition of obscene, it is this. Half our global resources in the hands of the most selfish, egotistical, callous, soul-less criminals the human world has ever seen. In the subjective realms of such unboundaried behaviour, it is important to ‘place’ the perspective of the individual you are listening to – in this space, that’s me

By contributing a global discussion about inequality, it is important to know where to ‘place’ me in this ‘inequality’ hierarchy we all currently ‘assume’ as ‘normal’ for reality. It is important to know that as a 60-year-old white woman living in poverty in Britain, some of my comments, attitudes and viewpoints will be saturated with white privilege. I hope I use it as wisely and usefully here as I did when a psychiatric patient and a prisoner; a woman now forever ‘criminal’ in the eyes of the world according to the UK state and therefore beyond redemption. My psychotherapy Bullingdontrainers told me it was useful to know my place in the hierarchy. Being ‘beyond redemption’ is a class as well as economic aspect of inequality in the UK – where impoverished British people are rendered soulless; of no social worth; a ‘drain’ on society; value limited to toil filling the coffers of the elite; untermenschen; ‘useless eaters'; better off dead. This, highly material, dimension of inequality IRL is assumed as normal, acceptable and desirable within our global mainstream media – the mouthpiece of this predominately white, filthy-rich, male elite. This is the narrative we are forced to live within. It is a narrative of polarity – of haves and have-nots.

In polarity narratives, however, it is important to remember that it is not possible to see the ‘bigger picture’ without hearing from the other end of it.  In polarised dimensions, one side cannot exist without the other: the wisdom of the Tao.

Economic inequality resembles a monetary iceberg in my mind – measuring who lives above the monetary waterline and who does not. There are so few clinging to the top that the slither-down routes are infinite – where our own lives manifest depends on where the hook of life catches you. I’m fortunate I’ve lived at the waters edge for a while – I got the chance to find out what this life of privilege is like. When my failing health and mental health‘ melted my ‘hold’, I slipped below the waterline and into a looking-glass ‘Otherworld’ where everything is turned upside down. What is it actually like to live this ‘side’ of the waterline?  Read what other bloggers are saying about global inequality today. We can slice and dice this stuff so finely – individuals are very good at that sort of thing – until it cuts into questioning our right to the existence. When we enact ideas of inequality to existence itself, we enter the realms of the sacred in my understanding of matters divine.

This is the blog of a spiritual woman; the realms of the sacred are of deep and abiding interest to me and always have been. These dimensions hold great importance and, from my perspective, the soulless quality of the rich elite end of inequality suggests an active presence of matters sacred at the other. With extreme material inequality, there is remarkable unanimity amongst global spiritual wisdom about where the sacred is likely to be found, even if structures take different forms. For example: the only ‘religion’ that specifically excludes all human manifestations of ‘Love’ (however inequality might define it) is that of the global elite – we can see evidence in the policies being inflicted upon us.. Those who do understand that soulful life includes compassion, kindness, humility and other infinite expressions of the sacred human. Here all souls are equal in the eyes of existence; we are measured by our behaviour towards others.

I can cover an awful lot of ground when exploring different narratives around inequality – some will resonate with you, some won’t and others will sound like gobbledook. The narratives that don’t resonate are there for others, not you – or maybe more accurately – not you, not now. They may become useful later on.  I’ve experienced gobbledook turning into perfect sense before now – it’s a matter of experience. It’s also a matter of Gestalt.

Gestalt involves the idea that seemly separated, individual fragments can, when seen from a different perspective or dimension, form surprising and unexpected patterns, or forms – a murmuration of starlings is an example of a living Gesalt. The internal structures of our humanity are also a gestalt – we see this in astrology with the kaleidoscopic symmetries as each individual birthchart presents a unique map of how we plug into the universe by accessing the same energies in unique patterns. We are fractal; a gestalt.

Where we encounter each other is also fractal – where we ‘meet’ will represent the meeting of aspects of self – they cannot, nor should not, be regarded as representative of the individual within until other aspects are permitted to emerge too.

I’ll contribute what I’ve got… your response is your own business.

The thing I like most about Gestalt is its ideas work collectively too: Blog Day Action is likely to be a prime example of this.  I anticipate ‘unexpected’ patterns emerging on the issue of inequality that won’t have been seen before for reasons astrological: Uranus in Aries (collective creative sparking point); Pluto in Capricorn (clearing out the old to create anew); Neptune in Pisces (letting go the spiritually outworn); with these three alone, there are astrological explanations aplenty. The thing is, we’ve manifested the actions of these planets on earth. Those narratives are known. I’m talking about something new, astrologically speaking.

When we talk about global inequality now, the edges of our astrological collective awareness  are no longer governed by Pluto – that power is now in the actions of Sedna (discovered 2003) and her yet-to-be-named companions. The sacred awareness of abused and violated Indigenous women is now firmly in charge of our collective global boundaries. Given the size of this “consciousness” upgrade – Sedna’s orbit takes 11k years, Pluto’s is only 250 – I’d suggest that there is room to include planetary awareness too. I’m speculating – the folk most likely to know the answer to that identify as ‘millennial’. If I have a hope for Blog Action Day on inequality, it’s that this new awareness reveal its presence.

With Sedna, we  exclude the voices of the violated and abused Indigenous women of our planet at our own peril – she is not a goddess to be trifled with lightly. Additionally, being an Inuit Sea Goddess, Sedna falls outside the Greek/Roman pantheon. This points to collective shifts in the collective Water element which allow for complete restructuring of feeling element using different narratives. I hope to see signs of this too with #BAD14. Millennials might be well advised to use some of their heightened awareness when naming Sedna’s new companions – I suggest inviting non-Greek/Roman healing and creation goddesses if humanity is going to stand any chance of surviving but that is for them to decipher; my generation’s expertise ends with Pluto.

This is some of what I know about dimensions of inequality; note that included in those narratives are potential solutions requiring a longer view from an 11k year perspective. If we truly want to transform this present human barbarity that passes for life  into a narrative where the seventh generation of our children is on the right road to knowing our true place on planet earth – one precious aspect of a far greater and more complex gestalt – then we need to start putting those foundations in place now.

The narratives we tell ourselves; the narratives we choose to believe in matters of inequality are not just matters of life and death – they relate to our very existence. The narratives of the elite about those they regard as ‘less than equal’ now involve matters of existence, which in turn relate to creation and destruction. If we look at the energetic effect of the elite end of inequality, the results are destruction – if we fail to shift this collective pattern, we will all die. Simple. We’re well down that road already.

Thanks to Julienne for this picture.

Thanks to Julienne for this picture.

To dissolve and create a truly balanced and sustainable economic paradigm out of the obscenity we are forced to dwell in now, is going to require huge manifestations of  creativity – tuned to planetary wavelengths and sacred to women because these are the deepest sources of creativity we can access on a global level. Our planet is ‘gendered’ to female creative power; the narratives of Sedna and her companions will indicate the healthy route out of this global nightmare. That’s my astrological opinion based upon the patterns linked with Sedna but it is also supported by the Anishabe Prophecy of the 8th Fire.

This is, however, a matter for the Indigenous women to comment upon, not me. I do note the synchronicity.

As a poor woman listening to the UK’s political bickering over my existential social status and value using the elites’ inequality measures, I am already annihilated by  the absence of any compassion for either my peers or myself. The UK’s mainstream media conspires to exclude political narratives that fall outside its very limited perception of reality – nowhere do I see myself represented except as someone to be judged, condemned, controlled and ‘eliminated’ from the welfare statistics preferably through death. In all other respects, I am invisible, ‘unmentionable’, like millions (yes, millions) of others.

Today, we are visible – go have a look at us. See what we really look like; find out who we really are!

FireShot Screen Capture #1378 - 'susie orbach on Twitter_ _At Tory Party Conference to argue for spend on Mental Health_ Ask what they will do about the homeless_ Fuck the homeless is the reply__' - twitte

Turning the world upside-down


one of those days

Earlier this week, I had a twitter conversation with an active member of the Labour Party. I like the woman, even though my cynicism around Labour is running at an all-time high. When she invited feedback, I gave her my honest opinion which, as regular readers of this blog will know, tends to be extremely upfront with both barrels. Bev is the kind of person who values this and I was invited to contribute further. It was at this point I did something that interests me, although I’m sure all traditional advice would have counseled against it. At the time of writing, she has yet to respond, so I thought I’d share my action to see what others might make of it.

In my current society, the ‘norm’ for introducing oneself to others favours the good: a CV will, for example, promote our successes whilst seeking to minimise our failures and failings. Well, whatever the prevailing norms, I have never been able to fit them no matter how hard I’ve tried. When I have tried, I’ve always felt as though I am something of a fraud. It’s not that I don’t have good qualities – I have them in probably the same proportion as any other human being which, if we’re being balanced about it, check in at 50:50 good versus ‘bad’. Whenever I’ve tried to accentuate the positive, the negative in my shadow usually sabotages my efforts, so these days I’ve learned to keep both in view when engaging with others. But Bev was seeking information without the benefit of knowing my ‘history’ and this concerned me. So what did I do? I turned the CV ‘rules’ upside-down.

One of my complaints about Labour is its total failure to engage with our ever-growing population of British outlaws and social exiles. As a member of this ‘class’ for the past 13 years – now fully qualified and accredited – it seemed only fair to her to give her all the reasons why she shouldn’t talk to me in order of importance. My upside-down CV looked like this:

Firstly, I’m a criminal.

Secondly, there are outstanding questions about my past professional conduct.

Thirdly, I’m a benefit scrounger/skiver.

Any one of those qualifies for social rejection in our current political climate and, no doubt, it becomes more alarming to the socially-accepted that I have three. Certainly, its enough to spook the horses! The more I’ve reflected on my actions, however, the happier I’ve become. Here’s why.

Firstly, poor people are more likely to acquire criminal records and I was certainly poor when I got mine. Our present social structures FireShot Screen Capture #1372 - 'Unlike people charged with criminal___ - Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights' - www_facebook_com_blacktriangle11_posts_826517220703586vilify anyone with a criminal record and impose penalties on the poor for being… well… poor. There’s no escaping it. Society has a great deal of ‘understanding’ and compassion for the socially-acceptable (ie: rich) whilst delegating blame, responsibility and criminality downwards. It has to land somewhere and I happen to be someone it landed upon. My peers-in-poverty can expect the same absence of understanding and compassion should they ever transgress the ever increasing number of rules designed to keep us in our place: silent, obedient and invisible.

The general thrust of this style of political social ‘management’ is to judge and shame us. Instead of a balanced 50:50 good and bad, we end up carrying the bulk of the bad and are regarded as having no good in us worth mentioning. Whilst it’s neither true nor factual, we live at a time where truth and fact seem to be firmly gagged and tied-up in the boot of British politics by our so-called social ‘betters’. If someone like me is being invited to share, a ‘negative’ CV like mine is likely to be the norm rather than the exception. Since I happen to value factual truth more than propaganda, it’s actually a relief to be so open.

The other point worth making here is that of management. The accepted way of highlighting our ‘good’ history and minimising or disguising our ‘bad’ leaves those dealing with us at a serious disadvantage. The only way they get to find out about the human messes we are capable of is through bitter experience. When I taught this stuff as a management trainer, I encouraged participants to be upfront about mistakes because they are actually easier to manage. If we know what the problems are, we can deal with them; management decisions are informed and can contain the problem. It’s far more difficult to resolve fuck-ups if everyone is hiding or evading the truth. At least Bev knows what she’s getting into with me – how much more difficult might it be if she had to learn as she went along. My upside-down CV gives her the facts she needs to make educated choices.

The next advantage I identified dealt with what I describe as ‘whispering campaigns’. There’s little or nothing the subject of such campaigns can do because the whispering goes on behind their back and it requires considerable trust between the

Click for original article

Click pic for link to original article

‘whispered-to’ and the ‘whispered-about’ in order to manage it. Such trust rarely exists in new working relationships… unless, like me, you’ve submitted an upside-down CV.

Whispering campaigns have a habit of developing a mythology of their own. For example, mythologies about me have included reports that my claims to a psychotherapeutic career were altogether untrue (but fail to mention what I was supposed to be doing instead) and, of course, there’s the myth of how that career ended. We only get to find out what mythologies are attached to us when actually someone tells us – otherwise we are entirely in the dark regarding the imagination of ‘concerned’ others. An upside-down CV is a remarkably effective remedy. It demonstrates our willingness to address problems arising from our own selves and because the conversation is already opened, it enables the ‘whispered-to’ to ask questions if its a subject I haven’t already mentioned.

I suppose my action could be regarded as ‘risky’ behaviour by those who have an investment in staying hidden, but when I consider the potential pay-offs in terms of trust and relationship, it begins to look more like insurance.

corruption and transparencyFirstly, if Bev is someone who is likely to be spooked by my actions, it saves both of us time and energy. We both learn I’m not someone she’s ever likely to feel safe-enough with. She doesn’t have to engage with someone who spooks her and I don’t have to go through the process of living within the prison of her fears. Because I start from a place of integrity, there’s no requirement for either of us to journey through disappointment and disillusion – a painful journey at the best of times and one I’ve travelled too often to want to do again if I can avoid it. All these considerations point to a win-win for both of us, even if she does decide I’m too hot to handle.

If Bev is someone who can manage these negatives – and they are my most ‘flamboyant’ – then all roads lead up, not down. Her experience of me is more likely to be one of pleasant surprise than horrible shock, which seems only fair to someone strong enough to get over a negative CV like mine. That seems to be much fairer on her than the ‘traditional’ route as someone willing to take a risk with me.

Lastly, there’s a final bonus.

Although I have traveled respectable pathways, my journey through the realms of ‘outlaw’ carry more value and worth to me than anything I did before. Certainly the professional skills I acquired whilst ‘respectable’ paid the bills but they weren’t really tested by experience. Respectability looks like a safe cocoon after the white-knuckle ride I’ve been through. The dimensions of social exile tested the theories I’d been taught and stripped them of middle-class self-delusion. When I claim to speak from the perspective of the outlaw, no-one can question my integrity. Additionally, I not only demonstrate my capacity to fuck-up but I also show how I deal with it, what I have learned, and how I managed my behaviour afterwards. My humanity is authentic and measurable.

‘Nice’ CV’s can’t do any of above, which is something that is really worth reflecting upon. So even if Bev decides I’m someone it’s wiser not to get involved with, I’ve learned something truly invaluable from our contact and I am extremely grateful to her to that.

Blessing others

My only comment on the matter


FireShot Screen Capture #1376 - 'Quotes About Envy (218 quotes)' - www_goodreads_com_quotes_tag_envy_page=2

There is an outstanding matter in my history concerning the professional side of my psychotherapeutic practice that now requires comment, particularly given I have been tweeting to a couple of the profession’s alumni today.

I have not spoken before, nor will I speak of it again after posting this blog, for a number of reasons:

1. It concerns an allegation of professional misconduct with a client.  For me to discuss professional complaints concerning a former client within any forum other than that regulated by the ethics of psychotherapeutic confidentiality is absolutely forbidden.

2. The ‘allegations’ against me are extremely serious and have resulted in pretty much total shunning from my ‘peers’, with one outstanding exception. She may wonder at my silence with her personally but this stuff is so toxic – I felt protective of her vulnerability. I’ll be sending her a copy of this because she’s earned an explanation from one of us; it might just as well be me if no-one else will tell her. Lucky for me she has a fondness for Sagittarian black sheep.

3. I can speak of the allegation itself only as it was reported to the psychiatric unit I was a patient in, in 2003. It was recorded in my ward notes and said (paraphrasing):

“Patient was a psychotherapist but she slept with a client and was drummed out of the profession”

There was no indicator who the source of this information was… possibly… I no longer care to remember but my recall of the allegation is perfectly clear.

This report is factually untrue and the evidence can be checked.

The fact is I retired from the psychotherapeutic profession on health grounds in March 2001. The events that gave rise to the ‘essence’ of this ‘complaint’ occurred in October 2001, some months after I retired with an unblemished professional record. Had the ‘drummed out of the profession’ fiction any truth to it, there would be a record somewhere. In that record would be my defense or mitigation – and since this is my one and only time comment on the matter – that can’t be proven as fact but hearsay. In a profession that claims compassion, acceptance, tolerance, understanding and forgiveness, the projections upon me are remarkably telling. This ‘peer’ group process becomes even more curious when set alongside our shared professional history and  experience. Did they learn nothing from Freda Sharpe?

This group behaviour was present in the psychotherapy profession when I worked within it – I found it in the UKCP; the psychotherapeutic ‘professional’ lynch mob there to protect the ‘sanctity’ of their self-image. There was nothing holy or ‘fair’ in their rejection of my professional accreditors: standards too stringent, was their given reason but UKCP ‘humanistic’ played dirty and responded with silence when confronted on the matter.  I know because I did the confronting.

Fortunately, this was my only contact with the gossip of my behaviour – I am supremely disinterested in knowing any more. That is a problem for those who engaged in it, not me.

A reminder for those peers involved in this ‘lynchmob’ that, as far as I was concerned at the time of this incident in 2001, I was no longer using psychotherapeutic ethics because they were proving to be unreliable in practice. I was doing my best to adhere to shamanic ethics as best I understood them. This involved making copious ‘mistakes’ and is in no way different from the ethics I learned from my psychotherapeutic trainers and accrediters. My ‘learning-through-terrible-mistakes’ was familiar behaviour during our therapeutic experience together. I was also under the impression we learned a very great deal about envy and scapegoating, or perhaps it was only me?

Since my ‘mortal sin’ in 2001, I have had contact with only one of my peers – she and her husband came to visit me when I was in prison; she’s that kind of woman. We knew each other well enough for seventeen years. She commented, during that visit, that I had the air of ‘knowing’ something she didn’t. She was right and this – my once and only comment on the matter – is what I know. I’m curious that she, too, appears to have added me to her shun list. That’s not the behaviour of the woman I knew who qualified top-of-the-class in our training together – I thought she knew better than that; to at least have asked me what I might have to say on the matter but no-one ever did.

No matter how cynical the group process became during my psychotherapeutic learning with my peers, we never lost sight of the Sacred. This ensured the presence of compassion or ‘return’ to compassion through some of our more darker journeys in the Pluto / Scorpio realms. Yet somehow a ‘permanent’ absence of compassion managed to get in and take up residence within the relationship; not so much righteous as self-righteous. As a human being, I have a right to a fair trial; not a kangaroo court set up in my absence and judging on the basis of prosecution ‘evidence’ that fails to accord with known fact. Any psychotherapist who suggests such a process acceptable within the profession requires lessons in Human Rights Law; any psychotherapist needing lessons in Human Rights law for intra-professional problems has an identified and urgent training need. If this is what such practitioners do to each other, what the hell are they doing to their clients?

Whilst I may be disappointed in my peer group, I have a continuing and deep respect for all those involved in my training, development, supervision and accreditation because they delivered on their promises where humanly possible and trusted to the Sacred when they could not. They taught me the value of leaping into the void and trusting that some of the awful situations I experienced were, above all, meaningful. The skills they shared enabled me to spend nearly five years in prison, on enhanced regime and with a clean disciplinary record throughout, all the while confronting abusive behaviour. I was a real pain in the arse, just like always, but within the professional ethical boundaries they taught me. The only time this ever changes is when I am responding to a situation without boundaries or rules. My peers knew of my shamanic activities and intentions before I retired.  The process transforms a potential shaman undergoing initiation which can sometimes look like mental illness to uninitiated eyes  – I honestly thought my peers knew better than to always accept a single narrative in matters of envy.

It is hard not to have some feelings about how things fell out, especially as we can be sure such matters will be whispered in ‘private’ if I don’t drag out those few aspects that can be examined in the cold light of day. I speak now only to depower this particular narrative’s capacity to be an obstacle to my intention. There’s something I’d like to create for the women of my adoptive community and I don’t want this so-called ‘complaint’ to sabotage my creative efforts In this situation. Given that the best defense is no defense in psychotherapeutic confrontations, I can offer facts whilst giving thanks for the ethics empowering me to keep silent in this situation.

That is all I have to say on the matter.


Transformative Power within British Politics #election15



Never cut what you can untie

“No knot unties itself – every knot what once straight rope”


Today is the New Moon in Libra, so it seems like an auspicious moment to open new discussions (new moon) about the political relationships we have in Britain at the moment.  It helps, I’ve found, to review what lessons emerged during the last moon cycle beginning in Virgo. Virgo is the sign of service to others and it concluded with some fascinating lessons in contemporary British politics in this year of 2014.  And then there’s what Pluto in Capricorn / Uranus in Aries have been doing…. but this is not intended to be an astrology blog. What I am attempting to model in this blog is my own version of Polymathic learning; this means I bring all my funded wisdom to bear on the problem. Whether you ‘believe’ in astrology or not is of supreme indifference to me; as a student of the subject for 45 years plus, my own experience informs me. Let other astrologers with an interest in the outer planets’ impact on our human collective comment on what is going on for those who are interested. For my own part, this astrological information helps me understand where we are in untying the knots of British politics when we find ourselves in mid-transformation.


Cameron on IndyRef BBC

BBC reporting David Cameron

So what does this transformation look like in real terms? The biggest indicator, last month, was the Independence referendum in Scotland. That the result came about with an almost 90% turnout of registered voters from a highly-franchised electorate is extremely telling and when coupled with the fright a potential Yes vote evoked in our London ‘leaders’, clearly something is afoot within the political relationships of Britain. The rapidly rising membership of the Scottish National Party gives credence to my astrological suspicion that any British political transformation is far from over. As a member of the English precariat, this gives me hope because there is surely none for the likes of me in present British party politics.


For example: Once all the main political parties in Westminster recovered from the shock that the Scottish people might give them the finger, their notion of “service to others” resulted in Scotland being subject to some of the worst political threats  to the collective, using false promises laden with emotional/fiscal ‘gaslighting‘, probably courtesy of Cameron’s nudge unit, that the parallels with patterns of abuse in domestic violence were hard to ignore. This was concerted and remarkably united bullying aided and abetted by ALL the British mainstream media, with a single Scottish exception amongst the papers and a handful journalists with integrity on Channel 4, and still 45% of enfranchised Scots still gave Westminster the finger.


So how long has it taken for the real reason Westminster wanted a No vote from Scotland to fall out of the dark closet of British politics? Less than a week. If you want to understand Westminster’s idea of service to others, you only have to follow the money.


The remarkable success of democracy in Scotland has not occurred in a political vacuum. Astrologically speaking, these transformations have been in progress for some time now at a UK level also; in England, the changes have been harder to see because Westminster’s control of English political narrative is ‘supreme’ within the mainstream. They can, however, be seen in the social media via those active in confronting the terrible and murderous effects Coalition austerity is having on the poor, socially-exiled and excluded within our communities. I can’t even begin to name all of them because the attacks upon us are so widespread and diverse. These attacks of government upon the population they were elected to serve have been continuous over a 5-year period. As someone who has been subjected to these systemic attacks, where my very life was in the balance, I am looking for the political will to not only end this cruelty but to also try healing it. If there were ever a time ordinary English people needed lawful representation in politics, it is now. In the past, we could look to Labour to, at the very least, try. So how is the Labour Party doing in the electorate-relationship stakes?


Lab14 01In the last few days, the Labour Party parliamentary party has set out its stall for the general election next year, presumably in exchange for certain MSM support. Amongst the ‘special offers’ is the freezing of child benefit and the removal of Cold Weather payments to our pensioners. In exchange for MSM support, Labour clearly intends continuing the ‘tough on welfare’ policies so enthusiastically pursued by our present government.


Let me just turn and ask the lasses feeding their children by foodbank what they think of that ‘special offer’ then; and let me ask our elders how they feel about Labour helping them stay cold in winter. Since the majority of our impoverished elders are women too, it seems that women are to remain economic punching-bags for the red-rosetted version UK’s austerity merchants. It would appear that Westminster merely offers a different packaging; the actual product… and its horrific consequences… remains unchanged.


It’s interesting to consider the pressure being placed upon the English electorate to return to some feudalistic nightmare of our corporate / plutocratic elite, where profit comes before human life (seriously, check out what David Hencke is saying in that link!), and where PR is more important than substance. When I refer to the next general election as a ‘Life or Death’ vote – given the unanimity of Westminster policies being foisted upon us – it is with good reason and is supported by the facts. Which, interestingly, returns the subject to Pluto and the issue of transformation.


As with every transformation within the collective, the process involves a new and creative energy challenging an old and outmoded system as the new struggles to grow and evolve. With each struggle, those involved strengthen their abilities whilst the regressive energies become more rigid and totalitarian. The experience of social activists over the last five years of Coalition rule will have informed the Yes campaign and I imagine the experience of the Indy Ref continues to open the eyes of certainly more than the 45% in Scotland as I write. Here we are seeing ‘new’ ideas about service to others that involve alleviating the harm already inflicted, even if we don’t agree with everything being suggested.


BG7TxswCQAAAkMP_jpg_largeAs a general rule, to be on the side of ‘history’ during a transformational process is to choose Life. The old ways are in their death throes because no future is left in them or, at least, no future worth living for our children and grandchildren. For people like me, the old way of Westminster politics will kill us, in my own case the timetable measured in days or weeks; whether by systemic attrition or my own hand. The ‘Life or Death Election’ is quite real to us and we face it, in our living, every single day. This means the social structure has already collapsed at the very bottom of British society. In the last five years, this collapse has risen quickly; first, for the working classes but it has now started affecting the middle-classes too.


All these guys care about is money. They don’t care about society. They certainly don’t care about jobs and they don’t care about you.

OK, you might say, but this has always been going on. But it hasn’t. This sort of utterly amoral screw-everyone capitalism has become much more prevalent in the last 15 years. Our financial elite is now totally out of control. They learned nothing from the crisis, except that the rest of us were stupid enough to give them a second chance. And, now, having plucked all the “low hanging fruit,” they’re destroying the middle classes for profit.

Our current problems have their roots in the early 80s. While much of what Reagan and Thatcher did was necessary, the trouble is that they set a deregulatory train in motion which, over the last couple of decades has dismantled so much of the legal framework that protected us from greedy scuzzballs.

The middle classes went along with it. We were sick of the Left, tired of powerful unions and, besides, very few us could remember the inequality of the 1920s that gave rise to many of these regulations in the first place. Also, vain fools that we were, we identified upwards. We thought the elite had our interests at heart. The 0.1% must have found this pretty cute. They knew the truth. We weren’t their pals, we were just at the end of the line for the financial blood-letting.

“Why aren’t the British middle-classes staging a revolution?”: Daily Telegraph

Here, at a new moon interested in the British political collective relationship,

Alice Walker on power

we now know exactly what the present incumbents intend to deliver to an electorate they think they can control. When I look as the astrology of the situation, however, I see transformation regardless of how we might feel about it, and our only choice is whether we choose Life or not.

Speaking as someone who understands this choice only too well, there is one thing I would like to see when I come to vote in the election. I want to see a candidate on my ballot paper who stands for the belief that my life has a value beyond just money, their personal career path or the inhuman interests of corporate profit. In fact, I’d like there to be a such a candidate in every single constituency in the country, so that folk like me have a genuine choice.

I’m not bothered about previous party affiliations; I’m interested in a candidates who will actually serve the folk they represent and not their own personal narcissistic interests.  I’m interested in candidates with experience of real life and not just the privileged university-manipulated politics of millionaire wannabees. Nor am I willing to listen to those who counsel ‘waiting just a little longer whilst the elite ‘catch up’ with the people'; I’ve waited far too long already and still no change.

Media lessons

My responses find a similar resonance with the Electoral Reform Society and I can’t help believing that there is an English, Welsh and Northern Irish equivalent of the Scottish 45%. Astrology suggests you exist but there needs to be a change in how we relate to each other in order to access it.

As far as I am concerned, listening to those who have been systemically excluded from political debate might be a good place to start. The existing Westminster establishment and their corporate cronies can’t hear us; the mainstream media will only tell us what the Westminster  establishment want us to believe because… owners and other ‘private’ interests. If the people of Britain really want a genuine choice of Life at the next election, we’re going to have to put it there ourselves.

To put ourselves into alignment with the astrologically transformative energies currently at work in Britain, it’s time to start learning how to ask the right questions of what is really needed by those who face this Life-or-Death-by-Government, and then LISTEN to our answers!

And if we continue to do nothing? Westminster’s present party political system offers voters a choice of  various shades of the same old tune, on a scale starting at ‘utterly horrendous’ and ending in ‘catastrophic’ for anyone who isn’t a member of a rapidly shrinking elite, and not just for Britain either. This is a global phenomenon.

Seriously, do you really want to sit around doing nothing while the world goes to hell in a handbasket in order to satisfy the infinite greed of a dangerously selfish few? Is that really what you want for your children and grandchildren? Or do you belong to the Spirit of 45?

4 levels of questions




Women Prisoners: Speaking Truth to Power

What a man is like

Sirius Black: the prisoner of Azkaban

About a week ago, Toni Wood, a Criminology PhD student, asked a twitter friend for recommendations to blogs by former women prisoners and I noticed her request as it came onto my timeline. She was wanting material to give to her students. I can resist anything but temptation so, as a former management trainer and formerly “dangerous” woman prisoner with some bitter experiences of research into women prisoners, I bit. Whilst I don’t restrict pawprintsofthesoul to prison issues, there are prison-experience blogs in my archives and one of them threw psychological research of women prisoners to a pride of hungry lions. It’s an interesting test of a criminologist’s character, that blog; how they respond tests their professional ethics on a number of different levels.

Firstly; there is a personal response. Do they believe me or do they think I’m making it up? How do they respond to a former woman prisoner speaking out the way I did in that blog? How would they feel, as a professional working inside a women’s prison if a woman prisoner spoke out that way to them personally? Toni is the kind of criminologist who says “That’s exactly what I’m looking for!” and later, when I inquired of her success in finding blogs, she invited me to guest lecture her students sometime in 2015. This is a CJS (Criminal Justice System) professional I can do business with any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I’ve said yes, providing my heart is up to it – I’ve recently experienced indicators of further heart failure and it’s around the same time of year as the last two times.  Since I can’t assume upon my earthly presence even unto next year, I might just as well start my guest lecturing now.

The second ethical test in the blog is about the kind of power Sirius Black understood in theory but struggled, like many, to put into practice especially with Kreacher. There is a very clear choice to be made in the Criminology ‘biz’, from police to probation, having passed through the courts and, in my case, almost five years of prison; can you see the human being beneath the labels or not? Are you open to learning or are you likely to be unsuited to working with women prisoners? This is a vitally important issue for women prisoners at the moment.

My imprisonment ended with sentence in 2010, just before this Coalition government came to power. The Criminal Justice System may have benefited from having Ken Clarke at the helm for a while but the ravages wrought by Grayling have turned the HMPS Mens’ Estate into a hellhole. I notice a deafening silence from the Women’s Estate (as usual) which will mean conditions are worse and will have deteriorated significantly since my departure. Google “prison conditions, England and Wales” – see for yourself. If Toni’s students have notions about working with women prisoners, let’s make it very plain what you are about to walk into. Whatever you think you know about prison, or prisoners, you don’t – unless you’ve been a woman prisoner. Every woman who has ever been held in prison has a degree-level experiential knowledge of how the CJS really works; long-term women prisoners have experiential doctorates of reality in it and black/brown/foreign national/Muslim women prisoners have the most thorough knowledge of all. They know a great deal more than I do. I hope, by sharing this information, some of my former black women prisoner friends might feel inspired to offer up their own unique dose of authentic reality in order to smash through the inevitable preconceptions people bring to the realms of feminine criminology in England and Wales in 2014.

Let’s be clear on one thing, though. As our tales unfold, perhaps you’ll begin to understand the depth of the truth reported by Baroness Corston, that 80% of women in prison in England and Wales shouldn’t be there.

You students, imprisoned by your tutor to listen to me, are the future for these women. Toni opened a door for me to speak to you. Excuse me while I widen this doorway for all my peers who have something to say too. We’re tired of your tickboxes. They’re too small to accommodate us and remain sane. Corston said the Prison Service was a system designed by men for men. Well, continuing to implement that idea lawfully is going to run out in a few months. Ten years – that’s what Jean Corston gave us to change the prison/CJS system to accommodate women prisoner’s needs. When you get a chance to visit a real prison, take a look around and check out how well you think that plan is working out. Then ask yourself: what are you entering this profession for? To uphold it… or help to transform it? This is the truth I am speaking power to – our future and what you might help us make of ours if you could only learn to be kind.

The best professional, compassionate working standard I was ever was given by one of the very best woman prison officers I ever met (that HMP Low Newton had a huge bouquet of them but there were some stunning blossoms in HMP Durham’s F-Wing and New Hall’s Segregation Unit). We were chatting about the attitude and approach different prison officers had towards prisoners and she told me she treated the lasses the way she hoped all prison officers might treat her own daughter if she wound up inside. Whilst some might bridle at the assumed maternity, remember she was speaking in a deeply patriarchally-cruel environment. We were of a similar mature age too; for me, she was a good friend in need on more than one occasion. Any ‘sins’ committed are forgiven for her simple human kindness and concern. If you are youthful students, agewise (soul-wise is an entirely different matter), you will not be able to get away with that but the women prisoners you encounter will still be in need of the kindness inherent in her intent. If you can’t find it within you to allow the worst prisoner of all at least one chance to show you who she is now, rather than the money-spinning stories you’ve been ‘colonised’ into accepting as true, then you are not fit to work with women prisoners.

We all have our ‘stories’. They are not the same as the ones you believe to be true, especially if you’ve gleaned your notions from the mainstream media. It really isn’t a good idea to put too much faith in our MSM, .especially given the absence of journalistic ethics now seemling replaced by monetary favour, coupled with a crippled and corrupted Justice system overseen by the most right-wing monetary government coup in Westminster I could have thought possible. Ethics is no longer of any particular interest as far as the reach of their intent is concerned. This type of attitude pervades the CJS especially where women prisoners are concerned.

What kind of changes do you think the CJS needs to make to remedy the harm that’s been done? Or, alternatively, you could try something original and ask the lasses themselves what they think they need. Remember, my information is five years out of date – things have changed for the much worse since then.


Oscar Wilde – convicted prisoner

Gaza: Searching for the long trail out of Hell


Silent, so silent now, Now the guns have stopped. I have survived all, I who knew I would not. But now you are not here. I shall go home alone; And must try to live life as before And hide my grief. For you, my dearest friend, who should be with me now, Not cold too soon, And in your grave, Alone. (from "The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace" by Karl Jenkins)

Silent, so silent now,
Now the guns have stopped.
I have survived all,
I who knew I would not.
But now you are not here.
I shall go home alone;
And must try to live life as before
And hide my grief.
For you, my dearest friend,
who should be with me now,
Not cold too soon,
And in your grave,
(“Now that the guns have stopped” from “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” by Karl Jenkins)


It’s a strangely human phenomenon; when, after we have stood at the very gates of Hell itself and survived, we somehow expect our lives to go back to ‘normal’, even though we know we have been changed beyond all recognition by our experiences and the evidence of that truth lies in the wreckage surrounding us. Having followed the war in Gaza on twitter from the comparative safety of my own home in the UK, now I bear witness to this strange and agonising expectation arising from the hearts of those who survived.


There is recognition that the harm inflicted on Gaza has affected people emotionally but it is usually framed in mental health terms, as if contemporary psychological theories and practices offer sufficient remedies for releasing the emotional impact of the experience. Personally, I have found such well-meaning interventions to be as effective as an elastoplast for such soul-threatening psychological injuries – I appreciate the thought but it’s simply not enough. So what might genuinely assist the journey back from our face-to-face encounter with Death? I don’t have answers; only my own experience to draw upon and this is written in the hope that there might be something useful for the friends I have made in Gaza over the last few weeks.


HealingThe experience of facing our own personal death affects us at every level; mind, emotions and soul. This is true whether the encounter is by chance or, as in Gaza, as a result of human hatred-in-action. When I speak of ‘soul’, I am referring to our existential self – the part that continues to exist after all else has been stripped away from who we are. My experiences of mainstream mental health suggest that most methodologies are unable to process these depths. In matters of soul – our existential selves – only the wisdom of Spirit has the power to heal such wounds. It doesn’t require religion, per se; it requires understanding and valuing the ‘essence’ inhabiting all Life, including our own.


So what happens to our soul when we are subject to the kind of lethal, hate-filled and devastating attacks upon our very existence, our homes, family, society and lives? The explanation that worked for me comes from indigenous wisdom: we experience a ‘shattering of the Soul’. Our souls are eternal, powerful and infinitely strong but… our soul is also fragile. Subject a soul to the kind of abuse seen in Gaza and it will shatter into tiny pieces. We experience this process as ‘shock’ – what was previously whole breaks with horror and grief. It is important to remember that this is a ‘normal’ process, as our essence strives to embrace the entirety of our experience – we become bigger than we were before as our soul seeks to grow into new understanding. The danger, however, is that if we are not careful, some of the parts of our soul fail to return to the new soul constellation we are seeking to create. This is known as ‘Soul Loss‘.


Soul loss is first and foremost an adaptive mechanism that usually serves by allowing us to cope, and in some situations survive a terrible experience, in which the dissociated soul parts depart, carrying the pain, the shock, the extreme emotion, or the memory of the trauma which may be simply unbearable to the sufferer at the time it occurs.

Symptoms of profound and ongoing soul loss frequently manifest as feelings of being fragmented, of not being all there; blocked memory or not being able to remember parts of one’s life; a sudden onset of apathy or listlessness, or a lack of joy in life; the inability to make decisions; the inability to feel love for others or receive love from another, often resulting in the sense of being emotionally flat-lined. The loss of these parts of the self is often expressed as despair, as suicidal tendencies, as addictions, or most often-as depression.

Without doubt, all those who experienced #GazaUnderAttack will be suffering from ‘Soul Shatter’. It has been only two days since the guns fell silent – the shattering within will be reaching it’s maximum as our essence defines the new size and shape of our soul-size within. We will know enough to understand that we are forever changed; that the person we were before no longer exists and all that is left is to pick up the pieces as we move on through the experience. This awareness promotes compassion as we learn to stop expecting any return to our previous ‘normal’ and begin the long journey towards creating a new norm. But how do we find the right path?


Noone is too oldThe wisdom of the Soul will not be found in standard mental health textbooks – those deal with mind and emotions only. The soul cannot be approached directly, as poets, artists, lovers, story-tellers and musicians have been showing us for millennia. Each individual soul is unique – what will be effective for one will prove useless to another because we each shatter differently, so we need to uncover and reveal as many different poems, songsstories and creativity as possible to enable each to choose what is right for us. Such creations that show us that others have also stood in that place of Death and returned to tell the tale.


The ‘secret’ to beginning the return journey – which is frequently longer and more painful than the outward one – is creativity. To create is to choose Life. Our shattered aspects of Soul are drawn to that ‘Life Light’. As we create, so different aspects of our essence return to us with the wisdom of their journey. In my own experience of this process, each returning aspect seemed to be coated in the ‘darkness of destruction’ that shattered me and I needed to allow my emotions full expression – whether they be rage or, more often, grief – to rinse away this coating and reveal the tender wounded vulnerability beneath. I don’t quite understand how this deeper process functions but it seems that it is our very vulnerability that enables healing to occur. Failing to reach through the darkness may result in a more permanent form of Soul Loss because we fail to access these healing powers – in such instances, a practitioner in the skills of Soul Retrieval may prove effective.


"Still I'll Rise" - Maya Angelou

“Still I’ll Rise” – Maya Angelou

In dissolving and rinsing away the darkness is where mental health professionals come into their own. The emotions of our destroyed selves are deep and infinitely painful. They cannot be ordered or controlled, only contained by compassion and acceptance and greeted with unconditional loving regard. The ‘darkness’ is undifferentiated when it first emerges into our awareness – it is frequently ugly, unwanted, rejected and we may attempt to abandon it; unfortunately we abandon ourselves when we do. If we appreciate that this darkness seeks acceptance and understanding, allowing the flow of accompanying emotions full expression in a creative way, we begin a relationship with our inner being that enables us to move past the blockages to soul healing and discover the new gifts hidden within. Remember, our soul is evolving, becoming greater, growing us to be able to embrace our selves in within a new creation. Each involuntary step we took to face Death and the destruction of our lives as we knew them (I have never met anyone who made that journey voluntarily!) is mirrored during our return, where each step we means we are choosing Life.


At this extremely early stage of ‘recovery’, I am reluctant to say more. The return journey is not mine this time – this is being undertaken by a whole community. The path cannot be the same. What I am trying to express, though, is that it is a journey that can be understood. There exist ‘maps’ of these soul paths that can provide, at the very least, a guide-rope through the debris of what went before.


I have great faith in the ability of the artists and creators of Gaza because you seem to know this intuitively.


Gaza rebirth


A Beginner’s Guide to #Ethics in UK Public Life



Every so often, the UK government finds itself mired in scandals of sleaze and corruption. At present, we have a return of allegations that the UK Parliament is ‘home’ to a ‘ring’ of high-profile child sex abusers; there are lingering allegations of continued expenses fraud; and today both the Guardian and Huff Post report that the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee into Standards in Public Life  is saying “MPs should be required to undergo an induction course to teach them about the seven principles of public life that are meant to promote openness and honesty.”

For those unfamiliar with the Seven Principles of Public Life, you can find more information here.


So why are ethics so  important? From the perspective of a member of a presently socially-exiled social class, this is one HUGE reason as far as I am concerned:

Tories discuss stripping benefits claimants who refuse treatment for depression

We can be grateful to Dr. Sarah Wollaston, former GP now Conservative MP for Totnes, Brixham and the South Hams, – who clearly does understand the role of ethics in public life – to provide the appropriate professional response to the above.

FireShot Screen Capture #006 - 'Twitter _ drwollastonmp_ Presumably this complete tosh ___' - twitter_com_drwollastonmp_status_488078746042519552

She elaborates on the issue of ethics in this report.


So given that the UK has existing standards of behaviour for public and elected officials, how is it possible that the Department of Work & Pensions floats ideas in the press that are clearly and plainly professionally unethical? Well, perhaps this might explain it:


A report by the committee pointed to reports that fewer than one in five of those elected for the first time in 2010 attended even one induction session, and one on dealing with ethical dilemmas was cancelled when too few signed up….

It said it understood that the issue was “delicate” as many elected representatives saw being taught ethics as “impugning their integrity and their common sense”…





What we can be certain of, at this juncture, is that the ‘common-sense’ and ‘integrity’ of many present incumbents of public office in Westminster leaves a great deal to be desired, and this is a cross-party problem likely to be best resolved by a cross-party solution.


I believe that the casual breaching of ethics in public life by many of our parliamentarians lies at the heart of the social problems currently being created by the same. Whilst we have – as a country – tried to address this problem in the past, our attempts have clearly been unsuccessful because here we are again. The question in my mind is how do we manage the problem now?


As with any other ‘disciplinary’ problem, it is important to restate the standards likely to be applied. The Seven Standards of Public Life have been around for a while now but I wonder whether their importance has been framed correctly for our recalcitrant MP’s?

This is the frame I would use were I to be writing/delivering a training course on the topic. In addition to the reminder that those with public responsibilities are answerable to the public, I’d echo the Committee on Public Standards’ warning that those who fail to adhere to these are likely to find themselves deselected or recalled at best, or jailed at worst. Election or appointment to parliament does not come with a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card and failings in our personal public responsibility may well be punishable by the courts. In addition, those reluctant to apply the Seven Standards to their own behaviour could find themselves embarrassed by other public servants refusing to comply with orders they regard as unlawful.


Ceasar Chavez


Whilst I am certain the models used above are imperfect, they still provide a sound-enough foundation of the ethical principles that inform all professionals, whilst allowing for variations depending upon the exigencies of individual professions. When we start to see cross-professional ethical violations in matters of public political life (as with the DWP’s ‘forced therapy’ proposal which violated the ethics of both GP’s and mental health professionals), those of us who understand the issue’s importance need to ask ourselves what we intend to do about it.


Ethical violations are harmful to the point of criminality and beyond, wherever they may occur. When such violations are occurring in public life, the harm to the public will be extensive. As someone who could be personally affected by a DWP ‘forced therapy’ requirement, I have my own personal response to the Ministers of that department (past, present and future):

Forward Planning and

Atos and the Day of Judgment

Whilst the above were prepared for an impending WCA, the principles remain virtually unchanged because my response was designed to confront existing ethical violations within the DWP.  In addition, I’ve contacted and briefed my own MP on the matter because, in my own understanding of applying these principles, when we are faced with clear evidence of ethical violations, we must respond forcefully and vigorously to both correct and prevent them because they are always harmful to vulnerable others. I’m lucky my MP understands this; just as all those benefits recipients experiencing depression are fortunate to have a former GP in the House who understands ethics and abides by the Seven Standards, regardless of political hue.


This blog is for all those who want to understand the ethics involved and why they are so vital to public life, up to and including all those MP’s who missed out on their induction to public standard ethics after 2010. Perhaps those readers who think these are standards worth applying to our contemporary public life might bring them to the attention of their own MP’s. Any who persist in their failure to respect these standards, erroneously believing that ‘it doesn’t apply to me’, will still be measured by them, if not by their peers then certainly by their constituents. We don’t want them to complain they weren’t warned!


It really is time we all remembered how we are supposed to behave when faced with those whose behaviour is unethical.


What will you do?




#LetsTalk Conversations with new activists #women2gether

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades

Colorado river reaches sea for first time in decades (Image: Sonoran Institute and LightHawk)


Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison


Women2gether are attracting supporters. I’ve had wonderful twitter conversations with some of you – you have been a delight to encounter; thank you for your generosity of both self and spirit. Yet, to some extent, we might look as though we were failing at the first hurdle:  it takes some extraordinary event, like no-one at all turning up to our Sunday ‘meeting’, to illustrate it. There’s also the issue of why so few responded to Jane & Debbie’s petition – start putting the ‘gestalt’ together in that way and we might all just as well pack up our efforts and head sadly away. That’s, of course, dependent upon what kind of ‘thinking’ you are using.


I wonder if the version that leads you to this kind of mind-set bears any comparison with this?

from Halifax Herald

from Halifax Herald


Notice how self-centred and ego-ridden this viewpoint is.  In fact, it’s the same kind of thinking that led me to do this.  If we are going to challenge and confront this thinking then, in order to get a much broader perspective and arrive at more accurate assessment on the reality of where we are, we have to entertain more diverse opinions and viewpoints. “I, for one, am certainly NOT the Queen”, for example, can do wonders in moving outside this lethal box of rich white male cloudcuckooland and into our own reality.


One of the things Jayne, Debbie and I were very clear about, from the outset of women2gether, was our own physical and psychological frailty. We knew there would be times like this so, intuitively, we planned ahead with our honesty. When I get ‘news’ that our Sunday meeting was in spirit only, I don’t see this as disaster – I see it as a conversation we’ve not had yet about what we three witches mean when we talk about being ‘activists’.




A number of folk have commented on the absence of ego in the way we work together. This kind of behaviour – both practical and psychological – is a sign of an experienced activist because, at some point, we all get the ego knocked out of us. It’s based upon a set of assumptions and consequences imposed by our real-life circumstances (my version).


The first ‘rule’ of activism is that we leave other folk alone to make their own decisions. This is based on the following assumptions, whoever you are; however you are ‘packaged'; whatever internal psychic structures you use; and everything that defines you as a human being, means;

  • You know how to make up your own free mind
  • The only time you don’t is when your free mind has been tampered with by others.
  • If you want to kill the activist spirit, you tell other folk what to do and try to control their actions.
  • You know an activist by their behaviour – we don’t wait for permission if we see an opportunity to help ‘the people’.
  • Every single one of us started our activist career as absolute beginners!


And we rode on the wings of the tales of older – and more realistic – activists; not because they led us (although sometimes they did if we got lost) but to help us over the pitfalls involved.


It took us a week to organise a spontaneous walk-out

Nalgo Conference c 1980’s


Even then, speaking from experience, it can take much longer. The difference between followers and activists is followers assume failure and give up very early on in any ‘game’ that is not specifically about them  – activists keep an eye on the ball of ‘all of us’ instead. Also, notice who benefits if the ‘failure assumption’ is held to be real?


Can you begin to see how your attitudes may have been tampered with? So, how do we fix this problem? Quite simple really – do a reality check!


For example:

As a newbie activist, ask yourself these questions: who is your membership? Be specific. There are activists in all areas – what’s your specialty; who do you prioritize? Mine are women first and then all those impacted by the WCA.

This doesn’t mean I sacrifice my concern for everyone – it simply means I know where my roots are.  Once we know that, we represent the views of that group in our own activist work to ensure our voices are included when we rewrite a  Harperworld Mindset to include us as human under Human Rights law.  The consequences of adversity are as complex as the causative action is simple – we need as many voices as need to speak. There are four million people negatively affected by these undemocratic and forced economic crimes against humanity. It shouldn’t be that hard to prove now, surely?! Where are their voices?


When we know our roots – and these change with time, as do we – it’s easy to gauge the mood, especially when your ‘membership’ are restive and nothing seems to be being done about it. This trigger motivates our actions, so whenever inspiration or opportunity arrives, we say Yes to the experience of giving it a try to see if it works. That’s all it is. That’s all we do. Because we’ve said yes on so many occasions we’ve got practical experience but that doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing now, other than catching the mood of our ‘membership’ and acting on it. For example:

It was my own wider WCA membership who triggered my letter to the ICC (still no reply but I found the answers I was looking for: there is a way in). Then came Jayne and Debbie’s new petition – this is their activist spirit at work. They created and I threw my weight behind it because it represented the views of my membership. The surprising lack of numbers is as informative as our Spirit Sunday meeting ;)




The only problem I can see in the situation is a missing conversation with all of you. So that’s what this blog is about. Folk don’t seem to be talking about it much. When they do, the conversation always seems to fall flat, so – fellow activists – we either read our membership wrong or there’s a ‘blockage’ somewhere. So, let’s talk about it what we think it might be – share your experience; blog about it as part of Women2gether, especially the lads. How are you finding it so far? Writing it down actually helps your learning process and helps us understand which areas of our expertise are most useful to you. This isn’t about us; this is about all of us!




Testing current theories, at this stage, can be also useful. Given the situation is serious enough to create activists out of us…


I was thinking about this governments schadenfreude – motivation for the vindictive policies we’ve seen this past 4 years that target the most vulnerable citizens most of all. Some people believe that the policies are a consequence of a redistribution of wealth from the poorest to the wealthy rather than being malicious acts. But the tories laughed on hearing the accounts of suffering of the poor because of the bedroom tax and the food banks in parliament,for all to see.

But entertaining the idea for a moment that the inflicted suffering isn’t a motivation but a consequence, well that would make the bastards indifferent, callous and unremorseful, since they show a supreme lack of concern for the plight of those least able to defend themselves against injustice and inflicted poverty, Either way, I know evil when I see it, and this government ARE evil. The shock and anger at recognising that again just hit me afresh.

We must each be responsible and work to get rid of this evil presence, and taint on our collective history. If we remain silent and indifferent, that makes us complicit in their evil

Sue Jones


A balanced judgement weighs all the options first before coming to a decision based upon the evidence. As an activist, I ask myself, if this isn’t enough, how much more to I need? Then I ask:  ‘How serious is it?’ What do others think? Everywhere on the planet, I see women breaking the spell of the various HarperWorlds and finding genocide underneath. I see my own WCA membership heading in the ICC’s direction. Every socially-responsible free-thinking individual on my twitter-feed  seems to be treading similar paths, whatever their political hue. And some of us have tried already – such evidence supports our contention of crimes against humanity occurring in Britain have a grounding in fact.




When a bunch of us activists agree the evidence is in that we are, indeed, living in very dangerous times, we can’t afford to wait on others to decide what needs to be done. We act on our own initiative because the likelihood of HarperWorld trying to control us is extremely high. We can loosen this control on a personal level by self-determining what needs to be done and what contribution we can realistically make.


Women2gether – and then men who love us – here are our problems: Jayne, Debbie & me. We can’t tell you what to do because a volunteer is worth fifty conscripts, or so I’ve been told by a man who knew. A volunteer looks around for the places they feel happiest in and offers those – what do you think needs doing? Do you need help doing it? Is  there a particular kind of help you offer ? Do you need to set clear boundaries on what (and how) we pass on in our information and sharing? For example: None of us will tolerate bigotry in any form and particularly any type of xenophobia or misogyny. We are all unique expressions of what it is to be human. Whilst the mindset we are trying to deal with says some have more value than others, the one we are aiming for says quite the opposite and always has done – remember the river at the beginning? Has your river been ‘redirected’? You don’t need to be told what to do because you already know.




The difference between Harperworld (or what ever other fantasy the ego has power to inflict upon others) and human reality is this: Harperworld has to enforce its dictates and has no problem with the consequences so long as they do well out of it. Seek evidence of compassion and mercy in this mindset; I find none. It’s absence points to the presence of evil, a form of dualistic thinking being applied to the planet itself, let alone all the Peoples dwelling within Her. The presence of dualistic thinking – them and us – points to the existence of the opposite. It has to – that’s the Law in a dualistic world – there is always a balance.


Harperworld claims to hold the unbalanced monopoly of thought on our collective reality and, to a greater or lesser extent, we have fallen for it  because it has become the means of survival in the West. To transform and bring balance to the issue suggests we need to ‘become’ everything this polarity is not. That mindset issues orders; we don’t. Neither are we perfect; every one of us is the human expression of a living-artwork-in-progress, created by our histories, intuitions, thoughts, feelings and evidenced in the actions we take; the words we write; and our desire to protect those that we love, on every single level it seems.




We are going to make mistakes with each other. Mistakes, especially at the beginning, are learning experiences for all of us because they help us shake off the mindset we’ve been slowly shackled to by the like of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan (another ‘buffoon’ like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and, in his early days, Adolf Hitler).  That kind of mindset is Harperworld and it only ever heads in one direction. This is not the direction we go in. Nevertheless, we also need to be sensitive to the abuses we have all experienced as a result of the social exclusions we have been subjected to. These are unhealed wounds especially among women who have borne the brunt of them. This is why bigotry is forbidden among us – it’s classified as harmful to the complexity of our community. It is permitted to exclude those who disagree with our existence because they exclude themselves by their exclusivity. Simple. This ‘Law’ was established in evidence at the very outset. It also accords with human law.



There are those who, for whatever reason, choose to remain asleep. These are the people being led. The power to act therefore resides with activists – especially when voting. Getting up to vote is what the likes of UKIP thinkers and provoked sheeple will be doing. Let’s at least ask any activist (voting means you’re active) to register their opinion too, particularly for the disenfranchised amongst us, like the homeless. Let’s encourage hungry women with hungry children to vote too – give their opinion of politicians who think austerity is an excellent thing and we ought to have more of it.




Meanwhile, I’m still not well enough to go through the ICC procedures. If our women2gether activists want to go through them, that might be a good idea because they set the standards we have to work to. All the procedures are there. My thoughts, on why our last petition might have ‘failed’ is that it needed to explicitly include everyone – all ‘genders’, all issues. To get through the Prosecutor’s door, we need to do it without exclusivity. Nevertheless, our framework needs to keep everyone happy, like: we’re test-driving this new Gender policy to make sure the ICC listens to women on our terms because, if they can’t hear us, there’s a problem with the ICC.



Activists always read procedures at least once because we need to see what we’re going to be measured by. The more we know about the ‘how’, the more we understand about route, standards and evidence gathering.  Their aim is to elicit as much about what fails to achieve this as it does aiming to achieve a criminal standard of evidence from women. As we become more aware of how women’s voices have been silenced at all levels, as well as the depth of the very real consequences, we become more competent as activists. After I learned the ‘sacred’ principles underpinning ‘legal’ written procedures, the ground I stood upon as an activist became much more solid. This is could excellent learning for ‘newbies’ and anyone else interested in this stuff.



Finally, thank you for reading this far. Any ‘confusion’ in this is entirely my responsibility. As new activists, take only what is useful to you – we build our own toolbox because we’re each unique. We also know when to stop – which is why I have to have ‘stopped’. I need to do pay attention to ‘group process’ before I go any further because, as an individual, I’m already stumbling.


So I ask of you: where do you think we should go next? Think we should stop now or do we want to carry on? Perhaps this is the conversation we needed that’s been  missing. If it isn’t, what do you think might need to happen now? The harmful are included on any planning because they form the problem, solution and evidence. In fact, like our own, their existence must be included if we are to be at all balanced. We are not like them, remember – our behaviour is different. What we do have is a not-so-successful-it-seems history of ‘managing’ it and we left a few Laws behind the last time we did.

In solidarity