Monthly Archives: January 2023

Reimagining Crisis Support: Matrix, Roadmap and Policy (a book)… for readers of this blog

For readers of this blog, I’d like to share a link to a book I’ve written that takes abolition of forced psychiatry as a starting point and reimagines crisis support within a social model, outside of mental health jargon that has taken away our power to define ourselves.

(Having written that last, I’m reminded of my thoughts on identities – what I mean here, is not that our self-definition should have power to dominate others, but that we evolve our own lives from our own center of consciousness and conscience.)

If you have been a victim of the mental health system yourself, if you have gone mad, if you struggle with isolation in lesbian/feminist community not just about madness but about the deep trauma of forced psychiatry; if you want to think about how we connect in lesbian community and repair the harms among us rather than using psychiatry against women who are struggling – read the book, and let me know what you think.

The book was, among other things, a way to concretize some of the intersectional work I’ve been doing on this blog, moving it into human rights theory and practice. I could not talk about crisis support without bringing in my life experience of community and healing and self-healing, or my views related to wider themes beyond the strict outlines of human rights norms that impact the creation of community and our capability to move with each other in difficult times. If the society around us is structurally violent – economically, sexually, environmentally, bureaucratically – if it is organized to be violent against us, we can’t ignore that context and appeal to the same violent institutions to implement crisis support.

Ultimately, this refers not only to the mental health system as a social institution but also to problematizing the state, capitalist economy, male domination and colonialism as considerations in looking at the kind of communities we want to build and strengthen. So, where do we personally and collectively choose to build and strengthen community?

I’ve been on a journey (am still winding my way towards home) visiting some lesbian lands and exploring my personal ‘inner pilgrimage’ along with this outer one – following a trip with the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete this past October. A goddess consciousness – an awareness experientially of this female source of life, return and connection and renewal, with and among other women and in my relationship with the sun, sea, sky, earth, rivers, mountains, moon and stars – feels like the grounding point and center for me to be able to give out and share what I know and believe. It doesn’t mean you, readers, or any of my colleagues in the human rights world, have to agree with me – but it is my own source and has to be acknowledged in my life and given space.

That might not be news to you readers…. I suppose what I’m saying now is that I’m affirming this consciousness in the world directly and not pushing it to the margins.

Demeter – a solstice poem

sadness and turning away
Demeter losing
all she loves
does she know what it is?
who will come and love her when she’s grieving
not giving
ugly tears
the sisters will come and dance but they also are

the underworld is pushing up,
claiming something
and she fights desperately to hold on
to not let the lights go out
should she give in?
when she does for a moment, when she yields to the song it
takes her over completely
for a while
until her mind remembers
and still
picks over the bones

only her love restored, only the proper place of all its in place,
child at home
at her knee, will restore
she wonders if she is too possessive
too unimaginative to love otherwise
she broods
then leaves
up in a rush of feathers
she gets up flies off the nest
goes somewhere
like Lilith to the hoopoe tree
she flies over the world like Inanna checking on her lands
she can’t stop being a mother

she is wondering,
do they miss me?
the crown of winter is upon the earth
and it’s fitful,
not a peaceful blanketing of time
really it is a disruption, the arctic freezes wildly rocking
poles shifting under her, her own
magnetism unsettled
heya hey, she’s becoming
a wisewoman planet*

where are we now
sisters of the sacred, are we holding space for this?
are our drums and dancing feet
enough to keep this going?

are we laughing sacred laughter and dreaming
sacred dreams
through this, is the ancient
wolf cry
the howl of all the suffering alone and in company,
do we believe in evil?

in ourselves the horror to be faced
needs to be remedied,

this time
is sacred to find
every day
the thread to the next or the one before or
my heart

a lake to contemplate
is this peace?
so much sadness and absence and rejection, refusal,
to leave home
to leave my bed and my fire

what made me do it was
a need like Inanna’s maybe?
an itch,
something not right, need to be dissolved
and reborn

and if I fail?
can’t think that but every time
there’s a sense of resolution,
peace or acceptance, the two sides of myself meeting or just all of myself
meeting myself and saying yes

and then a goddess peace and love answer coming to me through sisters
overwhelming me and calling into question
my self-sufficiency

frustration then not knowing where this takes me, if it is coming to me
what does it mean?
how do i move with it in my life, pursue it
or just let it be or
let it go and regret

that is what set me in motion to begin with

and i’m no closer to an answer
though Diana** has gotten free time to do stuff at home which she wanted
that makes me glum my absence a gift to her

and wondering
am I ever going to find love and peace in the world, or
accept the world without it,
absence and pain no different here but anesthetized
with difference, motion

not helping
only giving me time and space alone

and I did want the movement towards warmth
but i don’t really find it, not summer in the northern hemisphere as far south as i might go
it’s still cold and dark

the light starts to return today,
am i ready?

I can only hope no matter what,
my impurities,
my low vibrations,
something will lift me
the energy of the goddess regenerating herself
will find itself in me

will know how to move when I don’t
will energize my mind and spirit and body and heart, emotions and gut and sex

and eventually I will accept, I will understand and live
peacefully with my sisters
my rebellious nature somehow moved or shifted

put aside
let be and let grieve

let alone

if Demeter is a lioness she takes her courage
and moves
her life through the world
accepting her cycle with the rage as sea and storm
eruptions of fire-earth and
these are her cycles
she does not apologize and her sisters if afraid take their own courage and join
her in the dance,
singing heya hey

she moves in her own sacred way
keeping strength with
what she knows to be real

no matter who moves against her
she is rock and magma,
waterfall and lakes, springs and salt and marsh
the world does not end, the stars revolve

*referring to Paula Gunn Allen’s essay ‘The Woman I Love is a Planet, the Planet I Love is a Tree’.
**referring to the poet’s wife Diana Signe Kline. the poem interweaves personal life with archetypal and cosmic concerns.