Category Archives: Men

#LetsTalk Conversations with new activists #women2gether

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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’.

 

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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!

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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 😉

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

ProTip:

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.

 

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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

 

Dee

xxx

 

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#LetsTalk: Important New Procedural Information for #Womens Activists #global

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For all activists working on behalf of women everywhere, this is to share some recent global procedural changes at the International Criminal Court in the Hague in case you haven’t seen them. I suspect they could prove extremely useful to us all.

 

Background:

 

The information came to light as a result of campaigning with #women2gether – a group of British women activists who have emerged as a result of campaigns representing the needs of poor, sick and disabled under austerity.

[For seeking deeper background, the rabbithole is here:

#women2gether began with this post from my colleague, Jayne Linney:

http://jaynelinney.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/lets-talk/]

Seeing another petition to the ICC resulted in our doing this:

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/letter-to-the-icc-at-the-hague-re-potentially-criminal-breaches-of-human-rights-in-the-uk

(Please note: the examples referred to in the petition are neither exclusive or exhaustive – they were used only for illustrating the principle issue of  austerity as a crime against humanity)

 

In response, a disability activist colleague – Samuel Miller – posted this about his experiences with the ICC and UN:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1ldp1

This is my ‘reply’ to his information:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1s1llaq

 

It led me to take a further look at the ICC itself and its behaviour/decisions. This is what I found following a brief search:

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/04/24/greeks-seek-austerity-trial-at-the-hague/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-17811153

(Please note how the women’s arguments are gaslighted, derailed, distracted, silenced and otherwise victim-blamed by legal and media commentaries.  Note, too,  the general assumption that there is no alternative to austerity).

We are not the only European women with similar opinions who are acting on them:

http://occupynewsnetwork.co.uk/is-austerity-a-crime-against-humanity/

 

 

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New Information:

 

As a result, I did another brief search of the ICC itself and it is this information particularly that I am aiming to draw to the attention of  global women activists (and the men who support us):

 

Firstly; past behaviour of the court shows clear evidence that its actions and decisions are  systemically and institutionally racist. Take a look at this:

http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/Pages/situations%20and%20cases.aspx

There is no way anyone can convince me that crimes against humanity on this planet occur only in Africa. So the assumption that all other world governments – especially those led by white men – can be assumed to behave lawfully is clearly unsafe because it’s not supported by evidence. However…

 

Secondly: The ICC has a very interesting new Chief Prosecutor: Mrs Fatou Bensouda, of The Gambia, who took up her appointment on 15 June 2012. It is reasonable to assume that Mrs. Bensouda was not in overall charge of the case management of  Greek austerity, because the case was already up and running when she was appointed.

 

Thirdly:  Since her arrival in office, the ICC has published TWO new protocols – one applied and one in draft:

Code of Conduct for the office of the Prosecutor.pdf  (effective from 5th September 2013)

and

DRAFT Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes, February 2014 – OTP-draft-policy-paper-February2014-Eng.pdf

 

I’m not a lawyer so I don’t know the finer points of all this, but when we apply general Human Rights principles – which the Court exists to uphold – using the measures contained in both the Prosecutors’ Code and the Draft Policy, the problems we know are there become very apparent.

 

Activist Observations:

 

I’ve only perused these briefly as potential working tools for activists but I’m already impressed and see a number of very worthwhile opportunities worth testing. Personally, I would like to see ‘test-runs’ of BOTH procedures to check if they actually work for women.

 

I can also see opportunities to accuse the Court itself of gender crimes against humanity because, in their Greek austerity ruling, the following occurred:

1. The ICC only considered a very limited male view of the economic situation as ‘legitimate’. Women’s experience and evidence was ‘overlooked’ in favour of a very small but extremely wealthy interest-group who have vested interests in the case of austerity’s impact on women remaining unheard, despite incontrovertible evidence that the cumulative  impact is systemically lethal to both us and our children.

2. The ICC failed to address the serious economic inequalities of the presenting protagonists and take these into account. It did nothing to equalize this discrepancy in representation:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/k7lk42 < (Women ought to recognise this situation only too well)

The  derogation of  the Court’s duty to ensure equality of resources for the legal representation of women cannot but result in anything other than an unsafe judgement. These were economically-deprived-by-intent non-legal professional women presenting legal arguments against well-trained and richly-rewarded lawyers aiming to excuse the ‘accused’ from their social duties and responsibilities towards women in their political and economic decision-making.  Under Human Rights standards, there is no way this could ever be regarded as a ‘fair’ hearing.

3. In only ‘recognising’ the men’s legal arguments around austerity  – already known to be deeply prejudiced against women in Britain alone – the Court excluded and silenced our voices and experiences, at a time when we can be shown to be carrying the greatest consequences, up to and including the violation of ALL our human rights.

If my interpretation is correct, this then renders the Court culpable in aiding and abetting economic gender-based crimes against humanity. The evidence shouldn’t be hard to find in events since this ruling was made.

4. In doing all of the above, as well as additionally and apparently participating in the gaslighting and legal mockery of the Greek women appellants, the Court took it’s eye off the ball of “Crimes Against Humanity” and colluded with silencing the viewpoint and experience of women,  derailing it into a legal cul-de-sac, where more general lawful principles of whether imposed economic austerity constitutes a crime against the majority of humanity was sidelined and silenced too. These principles – which the Court exists to uphold – appear to have been discounted in favour of legalistic arguments aimed apportioning blame and relieving government officials of their public duties or responsibilities to ALL the nationals they are answerable to. This is particularly the case in Europe, when ECHR lays these requirements down on those national governments forming a part of the EEC.

5. If my activist arguments have any traction, none of the above will accord with the Articles of Rome, which intends for women to have an equal voice in what constitutes crimes against humanity. Again, if my assessment is at all accurate, we ought to have tangible legal evidence pouring out of every orifice!

As both a woman and an activist, my own response is that can fuck off back wherever it came from, together with the corruption it rode in on.

 

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From my own perspective, I can see any number of possible new opportunities for women in these developments, not just locally but globally. Additionally, it seems as though the ICC prosecutor is seeing exactly the same issues. Whilst us Brits will pursue our own activities, since this is a global problem we’re all experiencing, I believe it’s vital to share this.

 

When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975

When 90 percent of Iceland’s women went on strike in 1975

 

Final thought:

 

One small thought about how the global women’s  situation might be resolved…

 

In the case of economic austerity, there does seem to be one simple solution in redressing the crimes against women and children. It particularly appeals to me because I can just imagine the reaction from the very small minority affected by it:

Economic inequality is very well recorded; the difference between the wealth of, literally, a handful of men and most women – globally – is so great as to be hard to actually conceive, even in the face of the evidence.

 

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If we can prove there are gender crimes against humanity and have this ruled in the ICC, we’d have to consider arguments as to how it could be resolved. Taking a look at existing evidence, I’d say fifty-percent of  all humanity’s global wealth presently in the control of private interests was stolen from women… and we want it back. If men want to play hierarchies with their part of economy that’s their business – impoverished women have our own, very different, priorities that urgently need tending to.

If the ICC ruled in favour of women’s equality of resources, even just for legal preparation and investigations, it would begin the process of returning women’s economic resources to equal standards and enable us to begin undoing the lethal and cruel damage this entire system has crushed down upon women, and our children, everywhere…

And if these obscenely-rich and mainly white men refuse? That ought to be fascinating to watch… and record!

 

Whether any of this has any traction is for you to decide – I’ve simply see a realistic opportunity for all of us that’s worth sharing.

 

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#DearCJSprofessionals We seem to have a very serious problem

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A few weeks ago, I had this idea about tweeting #DearDVPolice as a social media exercise in communication between police and public on the difficult subject of domestic violence. As you can see, from this blogpost (only just now un-password protected), I took the matter further because I have an interest in improving understanding between problem-solvers and those experiencing problems. The idea took off but soon belly-flopped when it got to @CollegeOfPolice, who leaped from huge enthusiasm to complete silence within a single afternoon. This was probably attributable to one of the many negative social labels I carry. Still, I gave them a couple of weeks to see if they’d get their act together and then said I was thinking of unprotecting the blog. “Go ahead” came the response “we welcome all kinds of ideas” as if they had never heard from me before. I felt as though I was dealing with “Dumb and dumber” because this behaviour lacked any real insight into the way women use the social media. It’s worth exploring this possibility again simply because results elsewhere have shown them to be effective.

From my CJS perspective, as a desister, there seem to be two schools of thought within the system at the moment. The first one – the school to which I belong – seeks to improve CJS ‘community relations’ from all sides. This includes identifying the problems, which leads to problem-solving whatever (or whoever) is getting in the way of effective lawful social solutions. For the purposes of this blog, I would confirm the existence of highly competent professionals across the entire CJS who adopt a similar approach. I’ve met them. They rarely have a problem with my desistance perspective because my intention is for the community to benefit. They are the most refreshing people you could wish to meet even though most say there is little they can do personally but tend to forget how powerful just listening can be.

The second learning mindset – this “School for Dumb and Dumber” – is the catalyst for this blog because it’s short-sighted approach is raising some very serious moral and ethical issues for the whole CJS, particularly in its attitudes to women. Bringing these out into the open where everyone can see them does, at the very least, define the problem because victims have the experience of how this system either failed or succeeded for them.

With regard to the issue of on-line abuse of women, the ‘second school’ is now making its attitudes very plain. What ‘Dumb and Dumber’ forget is that their ‘public policy’ now sets a social ‘standard’ of what is acceptable in the eyes of their ‘law’. The consequence produces a ‘virtual’ social sanction which permits the social-media abuse of women, both individually and collectively, and which completely ignores any evidence of the harm this ‘policy’ is actually causing the victims. In the matter of on-line bullying and stalking, the School of Dumb and Dumber transform the UK social media into a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to graphically abuse women until they are ‘dead’ or in hiding and to collude with blaming victims who object to it. Please bear in mind that the distinctions between on-line and real death are now extremely blurred – we already have a death count for this stuff. Whilst the prohibition of psychological torture is recognised as absolute in human rights law, its standard is not being applied by those responsible for UK law enforcement within the social media. With each failure to contain the problem, the danger of lethal violence towards women grows in real life with the end result of this ‘public policy’ can be measured by the death toll.

There are people in the CJS who understand this but I’m not sure you quite ‘get’ just how serious it has become – not yet, anyway. This ‘blockage’ seeks to systematically silence the abused whilst letting the abusers off the hook. The way around the problem is to remove it for the victims by enabling them to talk to you directly. Some stuff will be uncomfortable to hear; some may leave professionals feeling defensive but if we’re willing to give it a try I think we all might learn a very great deal in the process, particularly as to whether some CJS policy decisions can be reasonably regarded at lawful.

I’d like us to start having a conversation about what we can do to put a stop to what is going on here because I suspect this School of Dumb and Dumber are now way over a legal line they were never supposed to cross.

Desistance and the Path of Blame

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A Female Whirling Dervish In Capadocia by RicardMN Photography

A Female Whirling Dervish In Capadocia
by RicardMN Photography

 

Hazrat Alim Azimi made me irritated, which caused me to examine my irritation, to trace its source. Alim Azimi made me angry, so that I could feel and transform my anger. Alim Azimi allowed himself to be attacked, so that people could see the bestiality of his attackers and not join with them. He showed us the strange, so that the strange became commonplace and we could realise what it really is.

Idries Shah: “The Dermis Probe”

Some forty years ago, when I was learning how to use my intellect, a woman friend told me I thought backwards. It’s a very strange thing to hear when we’re only nineteen and I’m grateful she elaborated on her opinion. She said that when a question is asked, I appeared to know the answer in an instant but I had to think backwards to the question to find out how I got there. In the intervening years, her insight has served me well because it is quite true and describes my intuitive experience of being Sagittarian.

Some years later, when I was learning to become a psychotherapist, I discovered there was another way to gain knowledge and understanding. Mostly, in contemporary society, learning is thought to come from without, to be ‘taken-in’ by the mind – our ‘upside-down’ education system is a very good example of this model. However, I was learning the language of the emotions. In this model, it is the feeling that arrives first, thought comes afterwards. It is only once we have explored these feelings that the knowledge and wisdom contained within them makes itself understood to the mind. In ordinary life, more often than not, emerging feelings are judged as mad, bad and dangerous by minds afraid of learning from the unknown, yet the lessons gained are worth every discomfort. I can attest to the truth of this wisdom because it well describes my Water-ruled birthchart.

The last lesson I learned, when starting out on my shamanic path, was to trust the promptings of my heart in any given situation and act on them, no matter how mad, bad or dangerous those actions might appear to be to either myself or others. What I discovered, when I did this, was that the spiritual wisdom suffusing my actions came later. It’s a very slow way of learning – this experiential path – but once the lesson is learned it becomes a part of me that I can trust deeply in any future situation. This methodology is described by my Moon in Taurus on 11th/12th house cusp.

In a world where many do not understand these processes, these lessons helped me realise that I have always educated myself this way. My thoughts, feelings and deeds have nearly always got me into trouble in one way or another. I suspect that it was only as a result of being with people who, in their own way, understood me that I didn’t wind up in prison sooner. With my backwards, downside-up, experiential, feminine personal reality dwelling within a forwards, upside-down masculine world insisting that I fit into its ideas of me, becoming ‘criminal’ seems almost inevitable. I am reminded of Faith Whittlesea’s remark: “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels.”

It was whilst in prison that I discovered there was a ‘school’ of spiritual wisdom that used a similar technique which could also explain my actions. It comes from the Sufi and is called “The Malamati Technique“. This is how Idries Shah describes it in his book, “The Dermis Probe”:

  • to allow oneself to be attacked to dramatise the situation.
  • to incur reproach to illustrate its absurdity, or the shallowness of the attacker, or the superficiality of the assumptions of the audience
  • to incur blame for a higher purpose.

I am not Sufi and this blog is not a Sufi teaching. I am a contemporary, white-western-cultured shaman who is walking my own path and, needs must, am dependent upon existing spiritual world knowledge to correct my mistakes. This shaman deeply grateful to Sufism for sharing their wisdom because the understanding I have drawn from their lessons has proven to be a reliable anchor during storms at sea. My deep gratitude, too, to the Sufis who thought to share this wisdom freely with prisoners by placing it in prison libraries.The following is an example of how I put my understanding into practice:-

 

Recently, I was asked to help in a difficult situation and engaged the Malamati Technique in order to deal with the behaviour of this man. I was seeking to elicit the upside-down ideas pertaining to a deeply emotional situation and I gather the twitter results were as informative as I had hoped for. Having been supported to work through some the feelings I was expressing in order to understand them (downside-up learning), I am better able to return to this lesson in desistance and perhaps take it to its next stage. But first, it is important for me to reflect upon my actions so far.

 

If I view my blogpost “Attitudes towards Women in the Criminal Justice System” from the upside-down view, I probably look like a crazy, emotionally-manipulative female whining about something only real men understand. The judgment will be made about the ‘sorry-for-myself’ complaints and it is likely the suicidal ideation will be seen as a made-up story that does not hold any truth to it. “People who don’t know you may get the wrong impression” said some feedback, which was filed under ‘extremely useful’, alongside the implied threat of libel. I can live with this because the conclusions are based on a false premise. It’s false because there were some things I chose to leave out of the blog at the time. These were excluded because I was concerned that my actual confrontation might be harmful to innocent others and I wanted to make sure that those responsible for public protection were aware of the problem. As a desister, I have a social responsibility to ensure that my actions are not harmful to witnesses and we were already in a harmful situation. In addition, those who believe my suicidal ideations are manipulative need to take a look at my deeper reasons because these are not as they first appear either.

 

 

This blog is a lesson in desistance. True desistance is transparent. We don’t hide anything we do unless there is good reason, yet there comes a time when we must come clean. So here is the unedited exchange of tweets between @Prison_Screw and myself.

 

FireShot Screen Capture #074 - 'Twitter _ Prison_Screw_ @wildwalkerwoman hello my twitter ___' - twitter_com_Prison_Screw_status_372487098898857984

There is always a very grave danger in thinking our personal beliefs about ourselves or others is accurate. Unless we test our beliefs for veracity, they can sometimes come back to bite us.

To make us invisible for, to the man of the world, ‘visibility’ means that you are looking like something or someone he expects you to resemble. If you look different, your true nature becomes invisible to him.”

                                                               Idries Shah: “The Dermis Probe”

To understand desistance is to understand that there are some behaviours a true desister simply does not do – it’s an essence that belongs to the decision to desist, no matter how imperfect that individual might be. To be a desister is to trust that ours is always going to be backwards, downside-up and experiental world because it’s the only way we learn about compassion, mercy, kindness, humility and the need, on occasions, to put ourselves in danger for the sake and safety of endangered others.

If my reading of this man is correct, the information in this blog-post will be new to him, so his reaction will be fresh. What he does is of no interest to me whatsoever – this is about teaching the essence of desistance. For those who wish to observe, it is important to remember that this particular confrontation occurred several days ago in my reality. Although I’m not certain how my heart might react (my physical body seems fully aware of the danger given the number of times I’m having to use the Glyceril Trinitrate spray for my heart pains), my emotional responses are well worked through and my intuition says that if the Spirit I Serve wants me to stay alive, I will. Issues of life and death belong to ‘God’ – my issue is how I live the life I have and this seems to be as good a reason to die as any I’ve come across so far. Desisters learn from their knowledge and experience and I’m clearly still on my own path to learning, as well as taking up my responsibilities as a teacher of desistance. Let the avenues of learning unfold as they may.

For those wishing to observer, consider the following question: how well is this man practicing his knowledge of peace and reconciliation.

The transformation of Gunn – nicknamed Ben many years ago when he had a long beard – to a balding, middle-aged man has been captured in a portrait recently drawn by a fellow prisoner and sent out in the mail. The scholarly air is heightened by a short beard and Gandhi-style glasses. No surprise, then, to hear that he has used his time in prison to gain a BSc (Hons) and a master’s degree in peace and reconciliation. Gunn’s dedication to the cause of peace stems, he says, from the need to explore “why I had done the terrible thing that brought me to prison, and to repair the parts of my personality that had clearly broken down”. His soft vocal tones still carry a hint of his Welsh upbringing.

                                                                Eric Allison – 2009

“We may think we are wise, but nothing can be put into a full pot”: Saadi

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Attitudes towards Women within the Criminal Justice System

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Warning: Suicide and other PTSD triggers

 

When I was a prisoner, there were times when the atmosphere on the wing – or sometimes even throughout the entire prison itself – would become so toxic that I’d bang myself in my pad. There were times when I actually asked wing staff to bang me in so I could get away from it. I may be a battler but there are times when all I want to do is get away because my own mental health can’t take anymore. This worked but only to a certain extent.

 

A toxic atmosphere in prison as always very loud and nearly always violent. These are the times when the riot bell keeps going off until I no longer have to ask to be banged in – we all end up on lock-down because it’s the only way the staff can cope. Whilst there are always ‘screws’ in prisons, I was always grateful to the authentic professionals because they dealt with the worst kind of behaviour human beings can display. It may have taken time but it got sorted and those of us who simply wanted to get on with doing our time were able to with some degree of civilisation.

 

Mind you, there were times when even lock-down was a nightmare. Prisoners can still be loud and violent, even if they’re alone in their own pad. Flooding the cell, smashing up the fixtures and fittings, smashing TV’s, playing loud music, shouting at other prisoners, shouting at the staff and simply just shouting. The violence in the atmosphere would trigger self-harming and suicidal ideation amongst those of us with mental health problems, which meant that the pressure doubled on the staff. It could take days to sort out, which meant that if I was feeling suicidal or in need of support, I often had to wait as long for assistance to arrive. I often found myself caught between my own needs and the needs of those who were resolving the problem, simply because I was grateful that they were. My crimes had occurred because no-one stepped in to stop what was happening. I learned, in prison, the behaviour that would set the riot bell off. I learned that, in a healthy community, there were some attitudes that were simply not tolerated and which would incur sanctions if the individual persisted. Through the complaints procedures, I made certain this was applied to both prisoner or staff which was not difficult – staff are lawfully obliged, under Prison Rules, to set a good example too. All I wanted, when the prisoners went FUBAR, was for the Prison Rules to be applied fairly and equally to everyone. That’s not because I want to be particularly authoritarian because I believe some rules need to be broken; I wanted the Rules applied because, when they were, peace broke out. It meant we could get on with making life bearable. I lived on long-term sentence wings for the most part and, in peace-time, we could get our chores done – cleaning, washing, cooking and hanging out together. In peace-time, the staff were able to have conversations with their ‘no-bother’ prisoners that weren’t just about the emotional fall-out living with ‘prisoners-at-war’. We could remember we were human beings together instead of ‘just-doings’.

 

The reason I tell this story is because I’ve just come through a prisoner-inspired shitstorm. This one I wasn’t able to step away from, so I ended up doing exactly what I did in prison. I reported what I was seeing to those who hold positions of ‘authority’, both prisoners and ‘staff’. Because this kicked off outside prison, ‘staff’ in this instance were people who know what it is to hold authority within the criminal justice system that happen to be part of my twitter community, and particularly who have responsibility for enforcing either rules or law in person. I ‘spoke’ to both prison and police officers, together with one leader outside enforcement – none of them had any personal authority to act but they do know how to listen and I needed someone to hear me. In prison parlance, my counsellor put me on an ACTT last Friday. I hadn’t realised that this benefits torture stuff I’m experiencing had gone so deep but I’m way inside my Red Zone and the meter is still rising. I know about the ACTT because she did something afterwards that showed her concern for me and I’m very grateful to her for that. It validates how I’m feeling. The only other time I’ve experienced this has been in prison. An ACTT, for those who don’t know what I mean, is a suicide watch, which can range from four times a day to constant observation – I’ve been on every scale. What the procedure did, in my experience – (I think I’d probably be on around 15 min obs if this was an ACTT) – was to ‘concern’ the professional officers and, again, it showed in what they did.

 

I am so grateful that in this latter-day woman’s jail I find myself in, on an ACTT, the ‘procedure’ still seems work.

 

FireShot Screen Capture #074 - 'Twitter _ Prison_Screw_ @wildwalkerwoman hello my twitter ___' - twitter_com_Prison_Screw_status_372487098898857984

 

That kind of brief check brings a visit afterwards because I’m not only feeling suicidal, I’m expressing fear too. Fear usually comes after I’ve done something that challenges the thinking process of so-called ‘authority’ and attracted some inappropriate or unprofessional comment from a ‘screw’. The screws learned, the hard way, to treat me with respect but there are always those who don’t want to learn. Someone has to stop them but it comes at a very hard price for those who try – ask a prison officer. It means they can hear me when I say I just can’t take anymore and unless this energy stops, women are going to start dying. We’re already cutting up.

 

My friends are expressing concern for me but I appear to have fallen out with quite a few people who didn’t quite appreciate that I really do make up our my mind and reserve my right to strongly disagree with them. They are disagreeing with my conscience and, if their behaviour is being socially condoned, being behind my door seems like a wise place to be. I need to talk because this is how women work through their problems and I am a woman. I refuse to be silenced when, as a desister, I see a very serious problem concerning public protection that isn’t being dealt with.

 

If trigger behaviour like that of Ben Gunn (which involved these women – here, here and was complicated by this ) had occurred in prison, we’d all be heading into deep shit because, in the words of my bestest prison officer friend IRL, ‘the lunatics are running the asylum’. I’ve been told to leave this bloke alone by a number of people but, you know what, they can fuck off now. I’m not going to play this game even if it kills me!

 

As a desister, I want to register a formal complaint with the entire Criminal Justice system about this! Why isn’t his behaviour being reined in? It wouldn’t be permitted on the wings! This is deliberately provocative behaviour and I’m appalled that anyone is colluding with it! Could we please remember what often happens to these so-called ‘predatory’ 13 year olds after a middle-aged man has finished with his statutory-rape fantasies about her! Let’s have some fucking reality in here!!!

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/mar/30/prisonsandprobation.mentalhealth

http://www.newstatesman.com/alan-white/2012/11/women-are-suffering-prison

http://www.howardleague.org/francescrookblog/women-and-the-criminal-justice-system

 

What is this? I hear a great deal about his ‘rights’ but whatever they consist of, they are inhuman to women like me. The Criminal Justice system has been told about this time and time again, and you are still not listening! Let’s have a discussion about who actually HAS any Human Rights in this situation. I haven’t ‘spoken’ to a single woman who agrees with his views about us. When we step out to object to his deeply disrespectful and offensive behaviour, we are subjected to the most appalling responses. Any woman who approves of what he’s been doing is in an absolute minority – we’ve all told him and I bet he’s still not listening (don’t tell me, I don’t want to know – I’m just dealing with the impact this is having on me – I’m on an ACTT, remember).

 

Do you know the thing that worries me the most? It’s this: I’m being told that there are political reasons why this “*removed under threat of libel*” ** seems to be untouchable – I question the standards of anyone involved in such an arrangement and I question them as a desister. I have no doubt that the man has buried himself deeply into the CJS changes going on at the moment and, as a woman, I have the strongest objections possible to that continuing. Not after this. Given his publicly proclaimed ideas about my ENTIRE GENDER his contribution could only worsen conditions for women prisoners. This is why I object so strongly and will not be silenced. Aren’t the women already in the CJS, or caught the aftermath in this concentration camp of a society, suffering enough for you already? How dare any of you point to this criminal as some kind of model of rehabilitation! I don’t give a fuck if he ‘doesn’t know any better ‘cos its environmental damage’. That’s absolute bollocks! I know ex-cons from far more hardened criminal backgrounds who do desistance – they wouldn’t dream of treating me this way. Neither would any of the other authentic CJS professionals! We treat each other with respect even if we can’t stand each other to begin with. I much prefer respect because it continues working in the worst kind of places.

 

In a place like this, the very best staff listened and made up their own minds – we were allowed to tell it like it is, not have to spout some misogynist fantasy. Ben makes out this is the old sex war stuff and what a hero he is. Bollocks! What kind of hero sides with a convicted rapist? Every hero or heroine I’ve ever met is looking out for the victim but is willing, with conditions, to allow sinners to repent – which is desistance in a nutshell. And every quality prison officer knows the procedure for dealing with bigots and bullies – which does not include staying on normal location. Not unless the lunatics are running the asylum.

 

I know I’m going to be hated for this but you know what? Each time I’ve done something like this in the past, the people I wanted to help often told me how grateful they were that I did. I know exactly what kind of prisoner I’m dealing with in this man – he likes hurting people – they come in all genders and they are the ‘few’ women that need to remain in prison as a matter of public protection. I’m not involved in a sex war – I go after women who do this too. He won’t change because he doesn’t want to – he’ll always hold these opinions – and this is the man ‘politics’ is making untouchable? Whoever is involved with this has no business in the Criminal Justice system unless they can wake up and see whats going on here. How dare this man have any traction or influence within the CJS? And exactly what else is being condoned because, one thing is for certain, its got nothing to do with public protection! Not if half the population have to tolerate this level of disrespect and no behavioural sanctions are being imposed!

 

Perhaps it might be worth remembering that the UK is being told – by EVERYONE – that it’s treatment of women is already breaking Human Rights law. This is how it is done – by giving abusers the power to abuse and not stopping them. I think what is occurring here is hate crime.

 

If you could see a way out of this – my fucking ‘reality’ – do let me know because I’m damned if I choose to live with this. And that’s my own moral and ethical judgment as a desister. And I choose to be ‘banged-in’ about it because that’s what desistance is all about.

 

And the biggest thank you to every prison officer who ever caught me in this frame of mind and managed to get me laughing after I’d ranted and so I could remember to cry. This stuff is so hard on every single dimension. It hits me physically, emotionally and instinctively. It makes me hyper-sensitive, touchy, with very sharp claws that I have to use very wisely – in the face of abuse and abusers, we have to be so fucking perfect because they’re so fucking not.

 

Oh, and if anyone wants to check if Ben Gunn’s knowledge about women is reality-based or merely carved out of a bar of prison soap, get him to write about me. He knows exactly who I am. Get him to tell you about this woman and then you can really get to choose which reality you want to live in.

 

Oh, and I’ve already bagsed the Lawful one in the name of desisters everywhere!

 

 

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**

I notice how quickly the world comes in to edit me. As a woman, I believe I can justify the phrase I used in fact, which then makes it fair comment. As a desister, I will take the advice as a way of demonstrating my ability to learn and correct my behaviour. I’m sure I am as regretful, in this instance, as the man is himself – I would suggest he be very careful with his thoughts though. They can kill.

 

#PersonalView: Richard Dawkins and understanding Religion

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As anyone who has come to know me well will be aware of, one of the central themes of my actions grows from my personal spiritual faith. The structure I use is shamanic because it contains the possibility to express my greatest potential as a spiritual being as well as a human one. The shamanic structure I have created for my own personal experience of the spiritual contains the heart of every religion but I will stand alongside atheists when they point to hypocrisy too. My spiritual structure has an honoured place for atheists – every idea about the potential of the spirit world has a place in the mystery of the unknown, especially when it comes to human consciousness. As a result of this understanding, I pay particular attention to the outcomes of ideas emerging into manifestation by way of human behaviour – especially in our contemporary world.

 

Since I began to understand how spiritual energy is translated into manifest form – and science is being remarkably helpful about this at the moment – I have found myself adopting behaviours associated with different religious spiritualities. This is not because I have become particularly religious but because the discipline required manifests a very particular result and one I want to actively contribute towards. At the heart of every religion, bar one, are spiritual disciplines of Love. That’s how it works in my Otherworld. These are my personal perceptions. Nevertheless, I also respond to my perceptions/experience of the world around me too. It seems to me that I am being required to make a very clear choice about the thought-forms on offer. It is reassuring to know that I don’t appear to be alone in this experience.

 

Whilst the experiences I am presently undergoing, courtesy of my government, are undoubtedly grueling and the challenges to my human need for personal growth seem overwhelming, the constant choices between life and death seem never-ending. For example: the reason my spirituality is so structured comes from a visceral knowledge that life can be eternal if I choose it. I want to be a part of that possibility. As a result, this means I must answer challenges and step into new places.This is the Spirit Ground I do my best to stand upon. I do not hide my humanness, nor do I deny the Truth of my Soul, however flawed my understanding of it might be.

 

Today, I will deal with this example of the kind of ‘battle’ so many of us seem to be having to deal with. This behaviour aroused my shamanic passion and I will not let it go unanswered:-

 

 

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As a white feminist, I regard this as the most perfect example of the cruel-white-man-on-cloud religion if ever I saw one. As a shaman, I ask ‘what do these thoughts produce?’. Is this ethical, moral, tolerant behaviour? I know my own answer. This ‘meme’ of Dawkins is the religious face of atheism – more guilty than those at whom it points its finger of hatred. Where is the space for my Muslim friends to become who they truly are? This is the behaviour of all religious thinking – it’s aim is to seize power over others in order to destroy them. Every single faith I have ever come to love has a name for this behaviour.

 

IBSBT3EFCEAEJF5nn psychotherapeutic terms, this is projection. What we perceive in others is merely a reflection of ourselves. I have wondered at my own ability to see this element of human behaviour – it must be in me too. It is – I keep it as a reminder that I am no better than anyone else. Whether I am worse or not depends upon my behaviour and the choices I make. This is how I judge myself and it helps keep me balanced in unbalanced situations. I share these things because I believe other people of spiritual faith, regardless of how they construct it within themselves, will recognise the experience of what I am saying.

 

I know what it is to be regarded in this arrogant and distainful manner and I will not consent to silence. These words are ‘spoken’ to increase hatred in the world and I will not be a part of it. I have met Islam in my Otherworld and She consists of Love, Tolerance, Intelligence, Beauty, Truth and Kindness. This is the same energy that constructs my own experience of Spirituality and I experience it at the heart of every true Faith. It is a spiritual discipline that requires utmost respect for our individual differences and a deep passion for the fruits of our faith-in-action behaviour. There is no evidence of this in the above.

 

IBSJuRv7CUAAEwW7t is my ‘scientific’ opinion that these two atheist priests have decided that Schroedinger’s Cat is dead. As a shaman, I point to the choices made by both and say that this is murder-by-thought. I would highly recommend the belief that the cat is very much alive, however you may care to structure this.

 

It is quite plain that these men are pontificating upon an experience they refuse to have. In which case, anything they say is theory only. Please notice the invitation to ‘believe’ these theories as fact. The ‘facts’ presented are as unbalanced as the minds presenting them. It follows – in the laws of manifestation – that any actions resulting from their ideas will also contain the same imbalance, thereby producing imbalanced consequences. I see no benefit to the world in the manifestation of such ideas because it always results in the death of Innocence. It is the Road of the Guilty and I reject it.

 

Islam does not have to prove Her Heart to me. She is an integral part of my Otherworld and is filled with the mysteries of Truth I have yet to learn. Muslims and I do not always agree but we always learn together. This is my reality and it is how I Love – in thought, emotion and action. This the reality I choose to manifest and I believe the spiritual pathways I utilize are being identified by science, particularly in quantum mechanics and physics. The link between these worlds – as experienced by human consciousness – works through the thoughts and feelings we choose to act upon because they collapse potential and translate it into energy. Each time we make a choice, we strengthen the energy we are choosing.

 

BSSV9QzIYAAyO6LThis is why we must be careful, not only with our actions but with our feelings and thoughts as well, especially if we want to create a world we want to live in… and not have to die for. By all means examine the evidence that comes into our realities but be careful of whom we listen to. Such voices from white male high priests, from whatever ‘religious’ fervour grips their cruel minds, are designed to kill that which is Sacred to Love. This is my understanding and I share it only for comparative purposes. My Truth only.

 

As a friend, I would counsel this: if you experience this type of energy coming into your reality, please be extra careful of yourself afterwards. We are all capable of such behaviour – my awareness of this helps to remind me how I felt the last time I realised I was guilty of doing it and the promises I made to myself afterwards of how I would behave in the future. When we remember these aspects of ourself, we remain balanced.

 

This is a part of my own ‘penance’ – to never be a bystander when my Sacred is attacked.

 

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Evolving Peoples of Difference

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Regrettably not satire

Regrettably not satire

A strong woman is a woman at work

cleaning out the cesspool of the ages,

and while she shovels, she talks about

how she doesn’t mind crying, it opens

the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up

develops the stomach muscles, and

she goes on shoveling with tears

in her nose…

A strong woman is a woman in whose head

a voice is repeating,  I told you so,

ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,

ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back…

                                      Marge Piercy – “For Strong Women”

As a child, I grew up in the ‘safety’ of white suburbia. Feminism was not even a word and women activists appeared only as historical figures, dismissed and derided as harridans. Whilst I rejected the ‘womanly ambitions’ being imposed on me by my deeply unenlightened school – marriage and motherhood – there seemed to be few other alternatives available. It wasn’t until my twenties that these possibilities came into view and, for those, I must give thanks to my mother.

I’d already started breaking free of the powerful conditioning I’d been unknowingly subjected to by becoming involved in trade unionism. The freedom to challenge the status quo, even in small ways, had been a personal epiphany and during these changes, sometime in 1979/80, that my mother handed me a fat red-covered book and said “Read this.” The book was “Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism” by Mary Daly. At the risk of sounding trite, it changed my life and I have never forgotten the transformational impact the book had on me. When I identify myself as a feminist, this is the source and well-spring my feminism emerges from.

“There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so.”

Mary Daly (1995)

One impact of Daly’s book triggered my interest in the hidden histories of women. I’m deeply grateful to the likes of Dale Spender for showing me – even in part – how knowledge of women had been systematically buried or disguised. I remember well both Daly and Spender’s astonishment when Matilda Joslyn Gage stepped out the shadows and took her rightful place alongside Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. All these women taught me how our history gets buried within patriachal systems and my experience since then points to how little this process has changed.

Feminists who have been struggling to build Women’s Studies course and programmes speak to each other of this eerie experience, seeking confirmation of our own clear memories: “It’s like beginning from square-one.” “It’s like re-inventing the wheel.” “It’s as if nothing had ever happened.” “They seem lobotomised.” “We should have forseen this.”

Mary Daly: Gyn/Ecology (1978)

This tour around my own feminist history has purpose not because it is ‘right’ for anyone else but because, for me, it defines the problems we continue to face even now. With the ability to look back over the last 30+ years, it is quite clear that the Women’s movement of the 1970’s and 80’s failed in our ambitions. Despite all that energy, all that power, the position of ordinary women is now worse than it ever was. Whilst not wanting to detract from the ‘success’ of forcing the Bank of England to keep one – one single woman – on British banknotes, this very fact illustrates our failure. If we had been successful, this contemporary issue would never have arisen because women would be occupying an equal place already. The fact that young women today have had to campaign in such a way says it all. Women haven’t progressed our place in society at – in fact, we’ve regressed.

Given the responses to Caroline Criado-Perez and her supporters’ success, it is not hard to see why.

There is a sea of boiling anger out there because men are taught from a young age that women are here to serve, and then they grow up and discover that women often elect not to do that. Some misogynists—the Rick Perrys of the world—calmly react to this realization by deciding that women’s rebellion is a temporary, feminism-induced insanity, and that the proper legislative pressure plus a good dose of condescension can return them to their natural state of servitude. Some men get a sick pleasure out of stripping away the “illusion” that women are equal and violently showing them exactly how inferior they are. The online troll population has these kinds of characters in it, but the dominant class is men who don’t get the level of sexual attention they feel entitled to from women, and therefore have concocted elaborate, dogged theories about how women are broken, because they cannot ever allow that women have a right not to like them personally. (Or that if they started acting like decent people, maybe they would actually be more likeable.) All misogynists get upset when women are given attention for their talent or skills; it violates their core belief that women are here to serve. This is why writing on the internet while female means getting everything from laughably delusional men pretending to “critique” your writing while barely concealing their rage to rape and death threats. Particularly if your writing is not upholding the opinion that women are inferior servant class.

Amanda Marcotte

As Marcotte points out, this does not apply to all men nor does this behaviour exclude women. It is, nevertheless, the prevailing view of the patriarchal system that currently runs the UK – we need only look at present government policies to see this. But the UK government is not just misogynist – it’s racist, “disablist”, homophobic, poor-hating… the examples of its collective bigotry seem never-ending. Whilst some of us have known this for a while, we can be grateful to Caroline Criado-Perez, Stella Creasey and other campaigners for piercing the ‘disguise’ so effectively that many more are starting to see the problem for who it is. If ever there was an example of the selfish gene in action in our societies, we see it clearly in the misogynistic, bigotted systems that currently pervade our human world.

So what to do? If there are certainties that have arisen from the Women’s Movements of the past, the first one is this. Silence will not work. Silencing is the working tool of the patriarchs designed to dismember our complexity, individuality and variety. Using silence will fail us all.

The second lesson I draw from the mistakes of our past is this: for as long as we try to dismember our individual experience in favour of a single cause, we will fail. Evolution favours co-operation. Co-operation does not equal control. Co-operation – to work effectively – requires difference. Without difference, there can be no co-operation. Without authentic differences between us, we will never get to truly understand the problems we face. Middle-class white women can never appreciate the experiences of working-class women of colours. The able-bodied will never understand the experiences of those who are differently-abled. Men will never understand the experience of women. Communities in one part of the world will have different needs and priorities to a community elsewhere. These are not criticisms, they are facts! It is simply not possible to produce a one-size-fits-all approach to life or living. Nor is it the case that simply because I don’t have the knowledge, wisdom or experience to overcome obstacles, others are similarly ignorant. When we respect difference in both ourselves and others, we open the door to cooperation. In opening the door to cooperation, we evolve.

Where the selfish gene is exclusive, evolutionary cooperation is inclusive. The latter requires everyone to become a part of a greater inter-connected whole where each individual is seen as valuable part of a greater whole. This is what evolution is about and it’s the path I choose. All this blog aims to do is explain the experiences that inform the reason for my own choice.

For two years of wild and sometimes dangerous adventure, I worked and fought alongside vigorous, happy, well-adjusted women who laughed instead of tittering, who walked freely instead of teetering, who could outfast Gandhi and come out with a grin and a jest. I slept on hard floors between elderly duchesses, stout cooks and young shopgirls. We were often tired, hurt and frightened. But we were content as we had ever been. We shared a joy of life that we had never known.

Ida Alexa Ross Wylie

“Stuck between Silence and Shouting”

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Sometimes words flow from me like a bubbling stream. Other times, like now, it seems as though each word is like pulling an impacted wisdom tooth that will not budge. Feeling ‘stuck’ is called an ‘Impasse’ by Gestalt psychotherapists – a recognised developmental stage of awareness which can last from a few minutes to many years. No matter how hard we try to move on, every exit seems blocked or closed to us.

For someone who has always been an activist, the impasse is about the most frustrating place to be especially when everything else seems to be in flux around me. Within the last fortnight, I’ve witnessed women and people of colour (PoC) in the UK social media respond to events from the rape and death threats directed at 1044483_388555921248582_1300936510_nwomen successful at ensuring our visibility to the unspeakable targeting of PoC by officers from the UK Border Agency. Whilst I’ve been able to share what I’ve witnessed, my ability to contribute personally has been hogtied by my personal impasse of being unable to string a sentence together I feel happy with. Regardless of how much I rail or storm against it nothing seems to change, so I’m going to describe this place instead. Like it or not, it’s where I am and real change can only occur from our true reality rather than what we would like our reality to be.

In searching for a symbolic woman’s story to describe where I am, the one that seems to speak most eloquently is that of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. The modern versions of the tale have been sanitised to suit the Western system I dwell within – with all its privileges and shackles. More ancient versions tell the story slightly differently.

It begins with the birth of a royal baby – a girl. In Jungian terms, the issue of royalty points to potential – we all have the possibility of becoming ‘royal’ but, in psychological terms, we have to earn it. The story tells of the celebrations surrounding the birth and the gifts brought by magical folk to bless this baby girl. Nevertheless, the community – wanting only the best – fail to respect the shadow aspect of the psyche which, in the form of an ‘evil’ fairy, turns up uninvited to curse her for the communities rejection. She will only live until her majority where she will prick her finger on a spindle and die. The curse is mitigated by a final gift of ‘light’ – the girl won’t die but fall asleep instead.

BQrVJ32CYAAsAFjChildren have no control over the environment we are born into. If we are born into the privilege of ‘safety’, it is a rare individual who actively chooses to face the shadow aspect of the self. Where healthy parents can, they make efforts to protect their children from the darker aspects of human nature – banning spindles, or pornography, or violence, or whatever else we deem to be threatening to their ‘innocence’. Much like the tale of Buddha’s youth (where he was ‘protected’ from knowing poverty), some children are protected from knowing the true reality that surrounds them (bearing in mind that other children encounter the dark from day one). These are both the benefits and costs of living a life of privilege. Nevertheless, the dark truths of life appear, no matter how hard parents or community try to prevent it. Spindles or the poor arrive at the ‘palace of privilege’ which, by their very novelty, sabotages the best efforts of those trying to prevent the prince or princess from awakening to the truth. The prince leaves in search of his own destiny whilst the princess pricks her finger and falls into the prophesied sleep.

In Sleeping Beauty, this ‘unconsciousness’ lasts for over a century. The sleeping palace becomes surrounded by an impenetrable thicket. Modern tales resolve the dilemma by producing a handsome prince who overcomes this problem and ‘wakes’ our dreamer with a kiss. Older tales, however, carry a darker resolution. In these stories, there is a prince but he is not quite so handsome.  He does make it through the thicket to find our sleeper but his kiss does not wake her. So he rapes her – a sleeping woman cannot give her consent to sex, remember. The rape also fails to wake our sleeper and the ‘handsome prince’ departs both scene and consequence. Nine months later, she gives birth to twins who, in seeking the comfort of the nipple, suck on the pricked finger thus removing the poison, finally awakening their mother.  Whilst the faery tale itself may end there, the story of human psychology has only just begun.

479820_342157262555115_1575246944_nNot everyone gets to live out this particular theme. There are many different paths to awakening which are reflected in legends and folk tales. Nevertheless, it is this tale that seems to hold the key to my own experience of this present impasse. The collective sense of long-term slumbering to our greater reality around us seems somehow apposite, especially when we consider what we are awakening to. If we draw on the older versions of the tale, our ‘princess’ is waking up to an environment that has remained unchanged for a long period of time. She awakens to being a raped woman now responsible for two children, surrounded by an impenetrable thorn thicket. Her ‘handsome prince’ has scarpered. Her ‘palace’ neglected and her existence forgotten. If the rest of the palace remains asleep, she is on her own – with two babies – and no education or experience in how to cope with her new situation. If the palace awakens with her, then they are all faced with trying to establish a place in the world that has long moved on to other things. She has been forgotten and remembering is going to upset all that has been established since her encounter with the spindle. If ever there was an example of my own impasse, this is as good as any so far.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a woman’s tale of initiation. It tells of the illusions that surround women. What can appear to be privileges are actually false realities because they focus only on the ‘good’. Life just isn’t that way. People are made up of both light and dark. We might try to construct a life that excludes our shadow but it cannot ever be humanly true because people are simply not made that way. If we fail to respect and accommodate our dark selves, these will – at some point – prick us into awareness. There will be that moment of pain before the curse of sleep overtakes us.

BQfXjw3CAAA-tuMUsing the current explosion of woman power in the UK as an example, we can see how each stage of the tale is playing out. Within the collective unconsciousness of UK women – particularly white women – we can see the ‘palace of privilege’ some of us continue to dwell within. Nevertheless, the Curse of the Dark Fairy is still active and, for many women, it has not been ameliorated by the promise of sleep. Women are dying as a result of encountering the dark spindle, especially those who are old, poor, sick or disabled, the wrong colour, or because they start making their own choices. Others – like those who simply sought to have non-royal women depicted on our banknotes – are experiencing a reality that has always been present but which has been slowly disguised with illusions since the last ‘outbreak’ of feminism in the 1970’s. The rape, death and bomb threats sent to those who had successfully campaigned over banknotes (albeit in a limited way – Jane Austen is surely a woman of white privilege) has torn through the veils of illusion that claim women occupy positions of equality in my society. We don’t. That is the reality. With each and every ‘movement’ of women the pattern is the same: illusion; encounters with true realit;, followed, for many, by falling into a ‘cursed’ sleep until the next cycle of awakening. I know because I, too, fell asleep. Now I seem to find myself in a profoundly neglected environment, having been violated and with ‘babies’ swallowing poison to stir me into wakefulness. I swear I thought I was awake all this time yet the evidence clearly points how unaware I have been. The thorn thicket that has grown around me seems so dense and deep that it becomes impossible to speak, let alone act. Here is my impasse. We can forget about handsome princes – they came, raped and departed whist I was dreaming. Now all that remains are consequences.

This is being written on the day when women have divided themselves. Some have chosen to take a ‘trolliday’ from Twitter; they choose silence. Others refuse to and continue to ‘shout back’ whilst I find myself caught in my impasse. I’ve chosen not to be silent but I’ve also not been certain of what it was I want to say. Having explored where I am, this becomes clearer.

From today’s Twitter timeline, there seems to be an explosion of views about women’s issues from all sides, both positive and negative. This worries me because it feeds divisions and invites the formation of ‘gangs’, all vying for being ‘right’. Perhaps my own impasse is the result of my deep unwillingness to go down this route again. To choose one side or the other would mean I must ‘put to sleep’ personal aspects of myself or experience being attacked by one side or the other for failing to choose them. Fuck that.

I am a WHOLE woman. This means I’m a mess trying to work my way through to clarity. For everything that might be ‘developed’ within my psyche, there is a great deal more that remains ‘potential’ only. In the past, when I’ve made the kind of choices being offered between #TwitterSilence and #ShoutingBack, I have had to sever aspects of self in order to ‘belong’. No more!!! I’m sick to the back teeth of re-membering myself.

BQqr0iKCAAA4_XQThis is the problem with splitting – what parts of ourselves do we dismember in order to ‘belong’ to whatever group attracts us the most? If we split ourselves, then it’s inevitable that this continues into the group itself which, for anyone who has studied the history of human relations, is the road to war and destruction. Again! Well, I refuse to walk it! If it means I stand alone, then so be it. I refuse to knowingly dismember myself again because I’ve worked too hard for what wholeness I have been able to attain.

No, I don’t have answers to our problems because no one person does. Anyone who makes such a claim is profoundly and dangerously deluded. We all dwell in a highly complex living organism of immense size which we are only just beginning to get a true glimpse of. What I do know is that each and every one of us – regardless of anything of human origin we might believe divides us – has the potential to contribute towards greater understanding and awareness of just how vast and 486106_343164372454404_1533168654_nintricate our living planet is. I believe each and every one of us – whoever we are and wherever we are – possesses a fragment of unique and precious wisdom that could enable humanity to live in harmony with the planet. If we are dismembering the truth of ourselves for the sake of a temporary human ‘belonging’, we are causing immense harm to that wisdom. Do we honestly believe that the planet judges skin colour, or sexuality, or gender, or any other individual difference the way we humans do? She created us as we are, not as we think we or anyone else ought to be!!!

So to those who are silent because the group leaders told you to be, how about you make up your own minds instead of passing on your personal responsibility to become who you really are? And to those who are shouting, how about you turn down the volume so we can actually hear what the softer voices are saying. When we celebrate our triumphs, let’s also remember our failings, inadequacies and terrible mistakes because no-one is perfect.

And to those of you who, in my perception, are clinging to the worn out old paths that have failed us all so many times, understand that I block because I’m doing my BPlbjnzCUAAg5webest to stay awake. I don’t want another ‘go’ on this Sleeping Beauty merry-go-round. I may not like the circumstances I find myself in but at least I’m attempting to take this faery tale beyond the illusory realms of ‘happy ever after’. I may be only one woman, but I want out of this thorn-encrusted history that does so much harm. As best I can, with all my failings and talents, I’m aiming my intent towards a living, sustainable and cooperative reality with our Future, who has just woken me, yet again, by sucking the poison of illusion from my finger.

 

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How Bigotry Works: Stealing “Goodness”

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Every once in a while, I encounter bare-faced personal bigotry aimed at me.  In many ways, I am deeply privileged and fortunate – as a member of the White tribes  – to not experience this on a daily basis; a point made regularly by those who experience bigotry they cannot ‘hide’ from, with racism being a prime example. There’s an aspect of me that believes my complaints are anaemic by comparison. They probably are if we’re playing comparison ‘games‘ where we point-score to see who has the greatest claim to being the ‘victim’. This ‘victim-competition’ between groups often seems to me to contribute to the overall problem because it continues to frame us within the bigotry dynamic and it is this that I am trying to get a handle on. I want to understand, on my terms, exactly what is going on.

 

The advantage of my example is that, because there are clearly disturbing facts involved, it forces people to think about their attitudes and identifies those who refuse to. My example concerns bigotry towards criminals, particularly prisoners. When it turned up on my twitter timeline this morning, it looked like this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #053 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @Prison_Diaries @wildwalkerwoman ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358773050009219072

 

For those interested in the full exchange this tweet was contributing to, it can be found here. This ‘contributor’ brought with them a whole barrel-load of bigotry to a twitter conversation between a serving prisoner (with an illicit cellphone) and a former prisoner. The conversation focused mainly on our own experience, so this ‘new’ contribution was unsought yet shines a very clear light on how bigotry works within the UK prison system. For example: there is the contributor’s assumption of the reasons we were banged-up at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’. Despite the fact that I have no criminal convictions for murder, rape or paedophilia, here are the same old ‘charges’ because… well, you know, all prisoners are ‘bad’ so who cares about the details? In addition, the ‘contributor’ was also under the impression that s/he had been very clever in ‘outing’ us two criminals because, well, we were busy hiding our true status from our followers. S/he really ought to have checked out facts first before leaping to such conclusions, as I pointed out in my response:-

 

FireShot Screen Capture #059 - 'Twitter _ wildwalkerwoman_ _@dylanandmolly My _revelations_ ___' - twitter_com_wildwalkerwoman_status_358818656513298434

 

Whilst I may not always agree with @Prison_Diaries, one thing is for certain; neither of us disguise our status. We are upfront about our situation, so we can already begin to see the signs of bigotry from our contributor. S/he obviously thinks that s/he’s got one ‘over’ the pair of us when, in fact, the so-called ‘revelation’ is nothing new to any of our followers. In my own case, I discuss my offences and their consequences regularly because I believe these are conversations that need to occur.

 

@Prison_diaries had a longer twitter conversation with this contributor and came to the conclusion that he was probably talking to a prison screw.  ‘Screws’ are the prisoner’s pejorative term for Prison Officers who believe it is their personal mission to make our lives as miserable as possible. I’ve met quite a few on my journey through prison but I have also met those staff who are genuinely professional and have earned their title of ‘officer’. Those are the Officers who comply with Prison Rules, which clearly state the standards expected of both prisoner and officer alike:

 

Purpose of prison training and treatment

3.  The purpose of the training and treatment of convicted prisoners shall be to encourage and assist them to lead a good and useful life.

Maintenance of order and discipline

6.—(1) Order and discipline shall be maintained with firmness, but with no more restriction than is required for safe custody and well ordered community life.
(2) In the control of prisoners, officers shall seek to influence them through their own example and leadership, and to enlist their willing co-operation.
(3) At all times the treatment of prisoners shall be such as to encourage their self-respect and a sense of personal responsibility, but a prisoner shall not be employed in any disciplinary capacity.

Use of force

47.—(1) An officer in dealing with a prisoner shall not use force unnecessarily and, when the application of force to a prisoner is necessary, no more force than is necessary shall be used.
(2) No officer shall act deliberately in a manner calculated to provoke a prisoner.(my emphasis)

 

As a prisoner, I met and came to deeply respect all those Prison Officers who understood the spirit contained within these rules. With this standard of staff on duty, it was possible to meet the requirements laid upon me under Rule 6(3). With ‘screws’, however, it was not because they failed in their own responsibilities. After a while, prisoners learn to tell these staff apart because it shows up in their attitude. For example:

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #061 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike murdering bastards_ (A lot)' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778210794082305

This does not bode well for any lifer or IPP-sentenced prisoner, even though professional Prison staff are perfectly capable of treating prisoners with human understanding – as has been my own experience by the very best officers. If this contributor is actually working in the Prison estate, I wonder how s/he complies with Prison Rule 3.

 

Then came this:

 

FireShot Screen Capture #060 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ I dislike whining whinging ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358778697874014208

 

So if this were a Prison Officer on duty and I, as a prisoner, had a genuine problem, what kind of ‘extraordinary’ job would s/he do. Even an ‘ordinary’ job might be better than anything done by someone with this attitude. But I saved the best for last:-

 

 

FireShot Screen Capture #062 - 'Twitter _ dylanandmolly_ @MuslimPrisoners fuck off and ___' - twitter_com_dylanandmolly_status_358771544211718144

I wonder, from this tweet, exactly how this ‘ordinary’ person is doing an ‘extraordinary’ job. Precisely how does this comply with Prison Rules 6 or 42(b)? In fact, as far as I am aware, the Prison Service screens-out such people from their recruitment process because these screws cause far more problems than they ever solve. It is a build-up of such attitudes within prisons that eventually result in riots.

 

If the Prison Service wants me to report the good work done by Prison Officers – often in the teeth of opposition from those who regard prisoners as worthless – I would be happy to provide chapter and verse because I met many staff who truly were extraordinary but this contributor is not one of them. S/he may well have ‘reported’ @Prison_Diaries for breaking prison discipline but let’s make sure the reporting is evenly balanced because I’m not sure it is at present. Perhaps it might be worth noting that my own prison disciplinary record in prison was spotless and I never lost my enhanced IEP status over a total period of almost five years. Somehow I doubt this ‘contributor’ could manage that themselves based upon their present behavioural standards. Indeed, from my perspective, there is little difference between the attitudes expressed above and the worst of the worst prisoners I ever came across.

 

So I can take these exchanges apart to see where the problems are occurring – if  prison staff cannot model the behaviour they are demanding, they are really not in any position to complain when prisoners break rules too. Personally, I regard this contributors behaviour as provocative, which was why I blocked them. But that is not what this blog is about. This is about ‘stealing goodness’ and I wonder if it applies to all forms of bigotry but I won’t know until I ask.

 

BPsDzGGCIAAuRIcIf we accept that human beings – regardless of individuality – are a mixture of good and bad, then what seems to occur is that bigots steal ‘goodness’  by colonizing it for themselves whilst irresponsibly dumping all their own undesirable personal aspects upon the ‘object’ of their hatred.

 

Those who are hated in this way are reduced to having ‘no good in them at all’ whilst the bigots claim all the best parts for themselves. This contributor ‘dislikes murdering bastards a lot’ – clearly this is considered ‘good’ in his/her eyes because there is no hesitation in tweeting it. S/he claims to be an ‘ordinary’ person doing an ‘extraordinary’ job – I wonder if the Muslim prisoners would agree… ah, but they are “fuck-off and die ‘retards'”. Notice how even their prayers are hijacked to bolster the self-claimed ‘goodness’ of this screw.

 

To “turn away” from the “self and/or other” destructive evil impulse within ourselves and to “turn towards” and reorient ourselves towards the good is to genuinely “repent.” Repentance is the highest expression of humanity’s capacity to choose freely – it is a manifestation of the divine in humanity. Repentance is a living manifestation of the power within us to extricate ourselves from the binding power of…  the chains of endless causality that otherwise compel us to follow a path of “no return.” As Jung points out, “The sin to be repented, of course, is unconsciousness.” From the Kabbalah’s point of view, a “sinner” who “repents” is on a higher level than the saint who has never sinned.  (link)

 

tumblr_m7f5b0Rgak1qz4d4bo1_500In a civilised society, prison is a corrective measure but in an uncivilised one, it is a tool of repression. This ‘contributor’ assumes that his/her views are acceptable – why else make such remarks or comment so negatively on a conversation between two people who were sharing personal experiences of prison? The contributor is quick to implement procedures to silence @Prison_Diaries but I do wonder where they think they got the power to silence me. My sentence was spent in 2010, I haven’t reoffended and I continue to work to desistance standards even now. Yet this possibility seems to be beyond the imagination of this contributor. Indeed, I’d put my chances of rehabilitation at zero if I were ‘managed’ in this way and from this perspective. The contributor feeds his angry, jealous, greedy, resentful and inferior ego with lies and denies those s/he despises of any joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth – despite the fact that the Prison Rules themselves point in that general direction.

 

This is bigotry and, as far as I can see, it crosses all the intersections that link universal bigotry of all descriptions. Perhaps it is rooted in inferiority – it must surely be a painful place to live if the only goodness we can ascribe to ourselves has to be stolen from those who we attack, despise and look down upon. Are these people not capable of funding their own goodness by feeding their personal Good Wolf?

 

And if they can’t, then they have no business working in the criminal justice system because, until they start locking-in their own bigotry and learning what it means to rehabilitate their own attitudes, they are unfit to do the job and consequently bring the Prison Service into disrepute. Prison staff are not exempt from discipline, no matter how much our contributor may like to think otherwise:

 

Code of discipline

68.  The Secretary of State may approve a code of discipline to have effect in relation to officers, or such classes of officers as it may specify, setting out the offences against discipline, the awards which may be made in respect of them and the procedure for dealing with charges. (Prison Rules 1999)

 

Stealing goodness from others is a lazy and incompetent way of failing to live your own life. Because this goodness is stolen from those who are willing to learn – in any number of different ways – it cannot last. Our own shadow will find us out – as it appears to have done to the contributor today. It isn’t the prisoners/former prisoners who emerge from this situation looking dishonest, but a self-proclaimed ‘extraordinary’ employee of the Prison Service.

 

And we wonder why we fail at rehabilitation in this country!

 

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“Back to the Future”

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Waterfall nebula

Waterfall Nebula

This blog begins with a complaint from the ‘future’ about the failures of the past. One of my social-media friends was tweeting his anger and frustration towards his elders – my generation who, from his perception, had used their lives to free-ride whilst bequeathing all our problems to them. As far as I know, it’s possible that every up-coming generation feels this way – I remember expressing the same anger and frustration when I was young. Now my situation is reversed and it becomes ‘my fault’ the world is now the way it is. I have a lot of empathy with that view and it was remembering my own anger that frequently prompted me to enter situations that, without it, I may have let pass me by.

There’s always been that nagging question when I’ve faced down problems or blockages I’ve found in myself or my environment; what do I say to the children when they ask me what I did to stop this occurring? I’ve always known what kind of answers I would give but, then, have always been faced with the actions I must take to ensure my responses are authentic because children deserve no less. Yesterday, my long-awaited ‘moment’ arrived and this blog is my reply.

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Artwork by Memtitued

Without doubt, the youth of today have a very valid complaint about the state of the world we are bequeathing to them. To all intents and purposes, any benefits my generation of Baby Boomers enjoyed have now been swept away and our grandchildren are facing the same poverty as was faced by my grandparents. It is as if we – and the world – have come full circle. It is not surprising that the young would criticize my generation’s apparent laziness and selfishness – we were, after all, the ‘me generation’ – because it certainly looks that way from their vantage point.  I remember feeling the same kind of grievances when I levelled equally valid criticisms at my own elders. It seems almost as if I have been preparing for this moment all my life. So here is my own answer.

On a personal basis, I have never stopped challenging the inequalities and iniquities of the social systems of the West I was born into. I fought as a shop steward in my twenties; an educator and psychotherapist in my thirties and forties; and, now, as a shaman in my fifties. My battles have ranged from the intrapersonal (with myself), through the familial, interpersonal, political, social and spiritual – and this is what I have learned along the way.

BPdgnHYCUAAopefFirstly, the social problems we are facing as a global community, are an ancient system buried deep within the pysche of humanity. Within our human community, there are very few who have remained untouched by this system and that it has caused untold harm to all life on earth – of that there can be no doubt. But how to describe this ‘Long View’ I have discovered during my travels. I tell the story in this way.

People have always drawn their deepest wisdoms from our environment and, in the West, we translated some of that wisdom into the discipline of Astrology. The astrology I learned, when I was thirteen years old, worked as a map – or guide – to the internal experience of life as ‘known’ by a particular moment in time on Earth. The moment of ‘birth’. Both astrology and psychotherapy attracted my teenager because they represented my first awakening that my human experience could be understood and, if need be, changed – I didn’t know people knew such things until then and I was so hungry to learn because I knew I had real problems I needed to deal with.

Nevertheless, the pressure of the mundane world – making a living and doing all those ‘things’ I had been socialised to do – forced these studies onto the back burner. I didn’t really start unpacking these maps until my thirties when I entered therapy, eventually becoming one of my teenage ‘dreams’ – a psychotherapist. Therapy deepened my understanding of how the planets worked in astrology, but neither study gave me the answers I was looking for. Those didn’t arrive until I realised my other teenage ‘dream’ by becoming a shaman. I discovered that by directing my intention down our least colonized pathways, I was gifted with the ability to see a compassionate tale of our human evolution despite its terrible consequences and the appalling situation we all find ourselves in now. Let’s see if I know the story well enough to tell it to my young friend now, in response to his perfectly valid criticism of my generation.

Armenia’s Stonehenge

Long, long ages past, lost within human memory but ‘known’ still deep within our souls, our experience of Earth was as if we lived in Eden because we dwelt within our natural instincts. It’s not to say that death, injury, sorrow and pain were unknown – for they surely were; these experiences have formed a part of the Life-Death-Life cycles on Earth from the very beginning. The tales are writ deep in our Great Mother’s bones. We humans live our tiny lives alongside the much longer cycles of Great Mother, She who leads the Dance of Life-Death-Life.

The way the story was told to me was this. The last time Great Mother entered Her Great Dying, She released a Great Cry of agony and grief for the loss of all her beautiful children – the echoes of her grief are still told amongst humans to this day. To ease her grief, the Creator Spirit elected to teach some of her new children emerging from the ashes how to help heal Her Wounds and assist during the next Great Cycle of Dying and ReBirthing. Both Creator Spirit and Great Mother searched amid the ashes of her Great Dying and found the few remaining females who became all of our foremothers so long ago in Africa. Into these mothers, the Creator Spirit placed a catalyst which would eventually result in the human spirit as we know it today: the ability to think, to become ‘conscious’; to become self-aware in a whole new way.

It’s not that we were ‘unconscious’ before – we were naturally instinctive, responding to the energy streams of Great Mother as naturally as breathing – an integral part of Her Great Tapestry of Life. The catalyst that resulted in our capacity for independent thought has enabled us to grow into an understanding of this world around us – where we could shape this world to fit our needs in ways that weren’t possible before. Human civilisations emerged from this catalyst – this ability to think in new and different ways. But what was the catalyst itself? I was told it was this: Free Will.

Thus began the Great Cycle of Human Evolution. When we began our journey through the explorations of Free Will, we still lived close to our instincts and our Great Mother. Our societies were Mother-led but as Free Will worked it’s way through our consciousness, we discovered we had other choices and began to explore where these would take us. With each move we made away from Great Mother, so we ‘lost’ our innate connection to our instinctive selves and came closer to our intellectual capacities to understand the world around us. We moved from Mother-knowing to Father-understanding. With each move towards intellect, our capacity to create miracles like Stonehenge or the Pyramids dwindled and this also included our knowledge of the universe around  us.  For example; there was a time when we had known and understood our solar system and Her place in our universe but this knowledge became buried in our instincts where our minds could not reach. At the very height of our Great Separation from Great Mother, the White peoples knowledge was limited to only seven visible satellites around our Great Sun Mother/Father and, so foolish did this limited knowledge make us that we believed Great Mother was flat and that we were the centre of the universe around which all Creation circled.

envisat_karman_vortex_canarie_20100606_h1It was the catalyst of Free Will coupled with human ingenuity that created our way out of this terrible error in thinking. Humans began to be industrious in work and sciences – eschewing and dismissing old knowledge like astrology in favour of mind-based understanding. We developed learning that could test our knowledge of the world. In the 1770’s, the White peoples ‘discovered’ that there was more to reality than we realised. The discovery of Uranus not only changed perceptions of the solar system, the ‘energy’ of this planet enabled a collective shift in consciousness. This gave the ability of ordinary people to collectively change their world and gave rise to dreams of a better world than contained within earlier  limited thinking imposed upon us.

Cross-section of a Molecule

Cross-section of a Molecule

In the following centuries came more new ‘information’ which re-established conscious links between instinct and intellectual awareness with the rediscovery of Neptune and Pluto. These impacts caused further changes within collective human consciousness that resulted in, at its very best, human beings being able to show Great Mother Her Own Beauty and, it worst, the true meaning of genocide and holocaust.

Our instinctive knowledge is being returned to us now, just as we enter the Great Dying again. For those humans who remember the reason for our journey, at the beginning of the Great Cycle, the time we have been yearning for throughout this bitter and painful journey has arrived but, as with all Creation, we must let go of our past in order to move forward, with our Great Mother, into Her Future.

Neutrino tracks (copyright: Cern Laboratories)

Neutrino tracks
(copyright: Cern Laboratories)

This is where we stand today. We better understand Free Will;  our power of Choice and its consequences. Until now, true Free Choice has not been available to humanity as we worked through the consequences of our choosing. Collectively, we are already down the Road of Returning. In human terms, that path began over three hundred years ago for the Peoples of White Medicine. Returning does not mean to live past mistakes all over again, but to re-turn towards Great Mother and Her instinctive wisdom of Life gifted with the intellectual knowledge of how Creation occurs. This is what our Great Journey outwards has been about.

When Great Mother’s season moves on to Rebirth, those humans who keep choosing to Re-Turn to Her Ways will be Her Allies and Helpers. Learning how to do that wisely has been what this past adventure has been about.

And this was where my story-teller ended the Tale.

So, how does that influence what I might say to the younger generation, who are angry with mine for our irresponsibility and the mess we are leaving behind us.

QT7i8Firstly, I have seen some of this wisdom in action in my own life. As I look down the generations of women I am birthed from, both my mother and grandmother were born before Pluto’s discovery. Each, in their own way, carried the Planet’s transformational power but only on an unconscious level. In Astrological terms, this means that the access to deep transformation was blocked to them – they could only go so far and no further. As a young woman, I did not understand this and there was no-one who could explain it satisfactorily to me at the time. Perhaps now, as someone on the other end of the argument today, I might offer my version to see if it is yet satisfactory to our new ‘young’.

I am amongst the first generation who was born with the power to transform. Pluto was rediscovered when occupying the sign of Cancer – the transforming ‘Mother’. We notice the synchronicity of Mother issues – together with the highly destructive expression of ‘father’ issues within human society. The first generation to feel the full impact of Pluto upon our consciousness was my own. Pluto was in Leo – a perfect description of the ‘Me’ generation but it is also interesting in the message that seems to say ‘Before we can change the world, we must change ourselves.’ It might look like self-indulgence to those who face such enormous problems in their own future but our collective awareness didn’t finish expanding. Chiron was rediscovered in 1977 – I don’t have conscious awareness of this power unless I choose to go looking for it. For you youngsters, you were born with this gift.

BPdfJjyCUAAJb_mThe solar system I studied in Astrology some forty five years ago has altered beyond all recognition. It has become infinitely more complex. As young people, you will have access to knowledge and wisdom now that I cannot even conceive of, because I am now – like my mother and grandmother before me – a woman of my time. My conscious ability is limited in what I am able to do, not because I am stupid – far from it – but because I am wise enough to know my limitations. We are but leaves of one season on the Tree of Life – you are unfurling to your fullest abilities whilst I turn the colours of autumn and will soon nourish the Earth to nourish this Life we are a part of.

Your Elders are wise in experience but limited in their ability to see the Future because that is your skill. Your ‘limitations’ will be to deal with the consequences of our mistakes when we took a hand, not because we are the irresponsible generation but so you can see how we failed. If you look around you, you will see members of your own generation failing too. This is because we have all yet to deal with the original catalyst.

BPfOcz2CIAExCd7We all have to explore issues of Free Will ourselves and on our own terms. Humanity, as a whole, is slowly moving towards the consequences of the choices we have made – particularly in the West… what I call the White energies of the Medicine Shield. Astrologically speaking, each generation born now comes with a greater capacity for Free Will than before which means that some people have the potential to lead our White energy in our Re-Turn to Great Mother’s Medicine Shield. But we will have to leave behind our bad old ways. This cannot be done overnight. Neither yours nor my generation have that ability. All we can do is ‘grow’ ourselves towards it and our histories are like rings within the Tree of Life. Each generation is ‘bigger’ than the last. You may not feel it now but the generation behind you is already nipping at your heels, chivving you along, challenging you not to be the hypocrites you claim we are.

And your challenge… eventually? To stand in my shoes and give answer to the charge to from the young that your generation was irresponsible when you were caretakers for the planet.

To you, my young friend, my answer is that I have always done by best with what was available to me at the time. I won’t apologise for my mistakes because they taught me to be wise enough to answer you but I am sorry for them nonetheless. No human being would wish our current situation upon another. My generation were prevented from dealing with it but I know you will be able to do more than we could and I am still here to help. I haven’t stopped battling – once we learn how to exercise our Free Will for the sake of others, we know our true worth and we never give it up, no matter how much it might hurt us.

And the prize?

tumblr_lzjcjsGDXG1ro46rko1_500For me? Three times in my life I have had the chance to turn a dream into a reality. The first was political – I ran a trade union for a short while but I ‘failed’, so I turned inwards to find out if the problem was me. In doing so, I began to realise my second dream; to become a psychotherapist but I still didn’t find what I was looking for. My third dream was to become a woman of magic dedicated to healing. This was the most unattainable of all – the crazy notion of a 1950’s child of the ‘respectable’ Tory-London suburbs. Yet, this ‘dream’ is my life now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else on earth, not only for loving it so much but also because it gave me the answers I share with you now. This is what Pluto in Leo taught my generation – the power of personal transformation. I have learned that for as long as someone uses that power for personal gain rather than collective benefit, the Peoples suffer. I have learned to pay close attention to quantum mechanics, Complexity theories and other sciences because they are revealing how my magic works. These are the gifts of my generation to yours – they are the baton in our evolutionary Re-Turn relay that will eventually create the Rainbow Nation.

In our times, we are the Rainbow Warriors – acknowledging our responsibilities; accepting our limitations; and yet still leaping into the Void in pursuit of our Peoples’ dreams.

Welcome to the world of Adults, young man. I offer unconditional Respect; for you are our Future and, as both Creator Spirit and Great Mother know, we need you now.

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Thanks to Julienne for this picture.

Thanks to Julienne for this picture.