Thursday, 19 July 2012

part four

shape-shifting for healing


She reminded me of Stella.  I guess that was why I was attracted to her.  Maybe I was just on the rebound.  They could have been sisters.  I don’t normally chat people up in Art Galleries.  I haven’t chatted anyone up at all since college so I’m out of practice anyway.  We were both looking at Botticelli’s Mars and Venus, on loan to the Uffizi in Florence from our National Gallery...  Mars, God of war is sleeping. 

“Look how calmly Venus, Love, watches over him,” she said, turning towards me.

“She knows that as long as he is safe with her she will triumph in the world and they will make love not war.”  She laughed, not in a flirtatious way but with pleasure at the idea it seemed to me. 

“Long may he sleep?” I said.  “It looks very inviting - I haven’t been sleeping well recently.”  She looked concerned. 

“Is it those noisy vespas keeping you awake?  They never seem to leave the streets do they?”

“No, a broken heart” I blurted.  She had that listening look and my story wanted hearing.

“Sorry” I said, “Bit heavy.”

“You are in good company here,” she said.  “Look at these stories - Sampson here, deceived by Delilah, throwing the stone columns down in his anger - Agamemnon chasing his lost Helen, landing his fleet at Troy, furious, jilted, jealous, avenging.  You see love and war are never far from each other.

“Which is your favourite painting?” I asked.  I wanted her to keep talking to cover my embarrassment with her melodic voice - that accent - was it Welsh?  No, a bit edgier, not Scots, must be North West lilt - Stella’s part of the world.  I had come to Italy for a break and wham, the same voice greets me. 

She was walking over to the early renaissance section.  “Renaissance means birth, rebirth,” she said.  “I’m looking forward to that.  In fact, I try to be reborn every day.  There’s always something new about the world to fall in love with.  Now, here it is.” 

The painting was of an angel… beautiful wings… and a girl who looks overcome… either the early renaissance weren’t very good at arrested movement yet, or maybe it was one of those rare moments in life which is of such overwhelming importance that it seems to go on forever. 

“The annunciation by Fra Angelico” she said.

Wistfully I thought that, she, Mary, has just been told that she is about to get, without even trying, the life experience that Stella and I had been searching for a way to make possible all this time, with the result that in wanting to take our relationship to the level of sharing parenthood we had stopped being able to share – each isolated by grief and obsession.

“Mary” she said, “the most important woman in the destiny of the world since Eve, but whereas Eve is all about temptation and mortality, Mary is about innocence, virtue and immortality.  But their roles are very similar: To saddle a man with a heavy responsibility - procreation. 

As a bloke who had rejected the idea of family as way too much heavy responsibility, and then, being up for trying, felt destroyed – not by failing, but by not being able to take the pain of failing away from Stella, this was a lot to take in.  I could see in Mary’s face what I saw in Stella’s when she was going through the IVF - hope, fear, and so much intensity I found it frightening and retreated from the subject so that we could no longer share the pain and so it sent her mad. 

“Would you like a cappuccino, um, or an ice cream?” was all I could manage.  She looked as though the painting was giving her, too, more thoughts than she could handle.

“Yeah, lets do that café thing!” she said and we walked out into the sun together.

We spent the rest of the day walking the cobbled streets together.  She came to Florence often when she was in the rag trade she said, and knew some cool hidden places - a little courtyard inside a side-street hotel with the most beautiful garden, a perfect, classical pool and fountain, and great
tortellini - and a flea market where she found, after rummaging and bargaining, a copper chandelier dripping crystal tears.  “I’ll hang it in the garden at home”, she said.  “Very Miss Haversham.  That way the copper will turn that beautiful verigris green.”  She savoured small pleasures like a cat, I thought, and had the same self sufficient and slightly distant air, especially when, after prosecco and wine with dinner I tried to kiss her as we looked down at the Duomo and the river from where David stands, arrogant and vulnerable in his naked beauty.

“Oh, you’re nice”, she said, “but I make it a rule to kiss and tell that I don’t do relationships, not sexual ones - too complicated, too second chakra darling!”  She laughed.  “I’m trying to energise my higher centres - use my time and energy to just be.  I like you.  I don’t mind just being with you.  It’s a pleasurable meditation but if we bring things down to sex - well”, she sighed, “all that stuff about love and lust and commitment and babies”, and here she choked, “I still can’t say that word, you see I’m infertile and I find that again and again that throws me on my own outside so many people’s hopes and dreams and passions and so I find it less painful not to go there.”

She laid her head on my shoulder and we sat together in a moonlight meditation on dreams, hopeless or otherwise, and I realised that what hurt her so much not to have the chance of - I had had the chance of - and through fear - let go.  “Thank you, Luna, for sharing your secret with me.  I think I’m going to find a girl - she’s like you a lot - and get down and dirty doing some second chakra stuff with her - love and lust and if possible babies.  I don’t want to be alone.  I’m not strong and secure in myself as you.  I need a companion and I’m going to grow up enough to try to be there, all there, for someone I love.”  She squeezed my hand.  “Well done you”, and tears welled in her eyes, “perhaps I could stop escaping as well and find out how I’m going to play this hand I have.  As an artist I find meditation appealing in its solitude but I can’t stay dreaming on the mountain.  I want to come down and change the world - redesign it.  And for that you have to interact.  Trouble is, the way most women do that is not available for me.  I need another way to affect the next generation than giving them boiled egg and soldiers.”

“You are a healer”, I said, “You have shown me things today.  How to look, how to share -  You go on just being.  You are a gift to the world in yourself.  Don’t hide your light - switch on that chandelier in a special place and invite people in to see what you see.  That’s what artists do - it’s a vision thing.”

“I just reflect”, she said, “I hold up a mirror for you to see, reflected back what is already inside you.  That’s what artists do - provide an image for you to reflect on.  You bring your eyes, your heart, your experience to it.  You bring it alive when you pay attention to it.  The observer does affect the experiment.  I am Luna.  I have no light of my own.  That silvery moonlight as we call it, is sunlight, second-hand.  The moon is a cold thing, waxing and waning in borrowed light, and a satellite, destined to move round and round orbiting another body - and - do you realise - slowly getting further away, as the universe expands, that moon goddess who controls all our tidal surgings is leaving us.  It’s symbolic of the increasing distance in relationships, as our universe gets older and colder.”  She shivered and I pulled her close and put my mouth on hers and this time she kissed me warmly and we shared the connection of breath and moisture and being, for a moment in time.


Dirk returned thoughtful and in agreement.  We are so lucky that we have been travelling at the same pace through all of this.  I have been supported every step of the way, and grieved with.  The one time I did conceive for six weeks, I saw from the tears rolling down his face as he looked at the monitor to see whether one or two hearts were beating and saw none - I knew it was over, and loved him more than ever for minding as much as I did.

We lie wound up in each other and in a quilt covered with hair from the snoring dog who lies across our feet.  We are talking about a Vietnamese film we watched last night and about the Buddist belief in karma.

“What is my lesson, that it was written so clear on my biology from day one that I had no eggs?  That has to be destiny.”  His eyes, six inches from mine smile love.  “It is so you can look after other people.  You do.  You help so many people.  She’s a nice girl.”

I felt lousy with the hot flushes, tried HRT, felt worse.


Dr Jean and I were suspicious of this factory approach to hormones – first the Pill, then HRT, all synthetic hormones dominating this very finely tuned system of the female body – what was this doing to Stella’s health and emotions?

Dr Jean Foster.

Chapter 3.2. How does this feel for the individual?

“- Pressure of a personality or group on an individual; a dominant or possessive parent, friend or marriage partner; and certainly where there is intolerant religious dominance.

 - Pressure of circumstance or work such as that suffered by people who have worked to exhaustion point over a period of time, and seem to be incapable of recuperation,

 - Pressure in adults of continued ill health or slow recovery after recurrent or severe infection... glandular fever... post viral syndrome... I always start by using Carcinosin, but add Folliculinum if... (Carcinosin) does not achieve a lasting response.’ (Dorothy Cooper[1]).”

There are parallels between adolescence and menopause; they are both time of redefining our selves and times of major hormonal changes. The way our selves are tied up with our hormones and vice-a-versa can bring us challenges all through our adult lives. I feel as women our flexibility, our ability to operate on many different levels is due to the flexibility born of dealing with constantly shifting hormones which directly relate to the way we experience the world. Puberty and menopause mark two of the biggest transitions. They may appear similar in display and lead to different places. ‘Emotional displays, anxiety, tears, depression, sexual problems, instability and loss of concentration: at the menopause, many women find these long forgotten echoes of their adolescent selves. At both times, these problems are created by the dramatic change in hormone production. Yet unlike the adolescent who anticipates a rewarding womanhood, the menopausal woman sees only the inevitability of old age waiting her...[2]’ as one author mused gloomily. This may be your truth, it may be society’s view, and these are issues we women have to wrestle with as our role is still so closely defined in the context of our biology.

At the time when we start producing sex hormones we are receiving conflicting messages around our sexuality and relationships. Natural urges to find a mate and reproduce the species are strong. Our biological blueprint for our species is to mate within committed relationships, yet children are maturing physically at a young age within a society which does not encourage early marriage but approves other choices like education and career, and indeed these young people have not yet gained the emotional maturity to make a commitment. Sex is seen as inevitable, so schools provide education on the biology and on contraception, and the state pays for contraception, eager to guard against teenage pregnancy and venereal disease. This process does not include learning about the emotional impact of becoming sexually active.

Mixed messages can also be given on contraception; my biology teacher clearly thought it was a dirty word, along with VD and sex in general. Contraception has historically been a difficult issue for the authorities; in 1873 Congress passed a law prohibiting the mailing across state frontiers of obscene material - birth control information and devices were specifically defined as ‘obscene’. In 1962 it was still forbidden in the UK to advertise local authority family planning clinics. Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland. Add to these confusing messages from authority figures the question of religion; the Catholic Church opposes the pill and abortion. This confused situation leads to at the end of the 20th century, a church supporting a 12 year old having a child. Other countries have designed special chemical solutions to their cultural issues with fertility: the ‘tricycle’ Pill reduces the frequency of menstruation (still considered unclean in many parts of the world) to four times a year. There are injections with a six month contraceptive effect, not considered safe by most European countries; they have been in large scale use in Thailand for more than 10 years.

So we grow up among conflicting messages, we are old enough to have sex, but not to form lasting relationships. The permissive society is the norm. A girl may have several sexual relationships and experience emotional pain. She may resolve this dilemma by retaining the sex but avoiding the intimacy. Her attitude may become harder, more promiscuous, more masculine and aggressive in nature. Acceptance of a situation which causes emotional pain can lead to loss of self-esteem and greater dependence on peer approval. Problems like anorexia and drug addiction can arise. Illnesses like Glandular Fever and ME can provide an escape route by making that dependency real and allowing a return to a childlike state. The periods may stop or become very painful reflecting the young woman’s fear and anxiety around her developing maturity. Cysts may develop manifesting deep hurt and pain.

A girl may be prescribed the pill at the onset of her periods, as a contraceptive, or even to ‘help’ with painful or profuse periods, so at a time when their bodies often have difficulty adjusting to the onset of adult hormones a girl may be rushed through her own body’s chosen pace of ripening, and on to synthetic hormones which may cause problems especially at this age of susceptibility to dis-ease.

‘Depression can be a fatal side effect of the pill.[3]’ Research workers report dramatic rises in self-injury with the greatest increases occurring in females aged between 15 and 30, with the steepest increases in the 15 to 19 age group. Girls in this group have been pressurised into taking the pill for its reliability and convenience. The Oxford FPA study found pill users were four times more likely to be admitted to hospital for attempting suicide than women who used the diaphragm. In England and Wales accidental poisonings and undetermined deaths increased 11 fold among males aged 15 to 19 but 22 times in young women since 1960. I am not suggesting that the only difference between these two groups is that young women often take the pill, these statistics are indicative of the tremendous social pressures on young people and particularly young women.

In a woman younger than 40 problems with menstruation, cramps, and PMS are classic indications that she is in some kind of conflict with being a woman, with her role in the tribe, and with tribal expectations of her. Most problems with bleeding and irregular periods frequently come from having too much emotional stress combined with the belief that one has no power over one’s life choices, that one’s choices are controlled by others. Bleeding abnormalities are often exacerbated when a woman internalises confusing signals from her family or society about her own sexual pleasure and sexual needs. For instance, a woman may desire sexual pleasure but feel guilty about it or be unable to ask directly for it. She may not even be conscious of this inner conflict. Tubal problems and problems with fertility are centred on a woman’s “inner child”, while the tubes themselves are representative of unhealed childhood wounds or unused energy. The flow of eggs can be blocked because (she feels) not old or nurtured enough... one part of a woman may remain in pre-puberty due to her own unconscious indecision about her readiness to produce life, if on some level, she’s not out of the egg herself.’’

PMS is considered by some feminists as the only socially acceptable expression of the anger that many women feel. The monthly cycle brings these women around repeatedly to a point where they discharge their anger and emotions, often demonstrating physically how angry they feel. Is this hormonal in-balance, requiring treatment with progesterone, hysterical behaviour requiring removal of the ‘hyster’ the womb, or our hormones trying to create balance by exhibiting the dark side which is an unacceptable side of woman in society. Nature may try to redress a drought with a flood; indeed she is increasingly doing so. What happens to these women when their feelings are buried with Prozac? Women can be turned into what society terms ‘lunatics’ at a phase of their monthly cycle, as they wax and wane in time with the moon, and monthly turn their dark side to face the world. At this time their husbands cannot understand them nor they he as he is personified in the male god the sun, from whom their face is turned away, as they look inside themselves and see their anger and their hurt. This wilder side lives on through the month in their psyche and is lived through their dreams; vivid, intense, disturbing, amorous, euphoric...

This picture is reminiscent of the virgin huntress goddess Artemis who was the twin sister of Apollo, a sun God; ‘Antiquity explained Artemis as a personification of the Moon which roams in the mountains... Her most famous shrine in the Greek world was the one at Ephesus, where she was integrated with a very ancient Asiatic fertility goddess.[4]’ In ‘Luna: a proving’ King and Lawrence discuss the legend her setting her dogs on Actaeon who saw her naked; ‘One can... see in this allegory how the moon guides the powerful forces of nature where they are well regulated and can be seen as amoral in the kingdoms of nature (the rugged and wild home of Artemis), but that when the human being is exposed to these forces within himself in an unmodified and unsuppressed fashion, their power can over-rule his as yet immature faculties of reason and mortality. Strong lunar forces in the psyche, untempered by social morality and reason, can be seen as socially destructive, a theme which is also suggested in the were-wolf stories.’

The Moon is associated with the water element[5] and therefore to the person who experiences life through feeling as opposed to intellect, intuition or sensation. Such an individual has to suppress their instinctive behaviour to survive in our society and at certain times of the cycle this feeling flows out like a tide, often accompanied by a flood of tears.

The moon is a strong force; beings as yet unborn respond to its energy, as midwife and homoeopath Ms Tibble observed that clusters of births happen around the full and new moon. Think of the individual who drowns them self in hurtful protest, looses energy and slides into apathy and total detachment from the world, replacing the creative side of the fertility cycle (the new moon) with a total blank (the shadow moon)....  “feeling a silence between me and the outside world... like looking through a telescope and seeing what I’m focusing on, not worrying about anything else.” - To me that is like an image of a ray of moonlight, a cool small pool of light… ‘we don’t grieve until it is all gone, we grieve until we’ve satisfied a need to discharge an energy, then we are free to turn away from the place inside us that houses grief’; the bleed in tune with the moon’s cycle as we shed an un-incarnated ovum is the physical manifestation of the natural discharge of this grief. Lawrence and King concluded that there was a theme of inner sensitivity with a deficiency of environmental awareness; it evokes for me a heightened inner seeing like I feel in the dark; a compensating for being out of self-balance by turning away from the male sun god’s world towards a hidden feminine life[6] with a resulting sensation of disorientation when the light is switched on.

The danger of HRT, the Pill or tranquilisers as a solution to our problems is that these drugs suppress the language of our bodies as they spell out to us that we need to change something in our lives to regain a healthy equilibrium. For example there may be aspects of a mid-life woman’s reality that do need changing, an unhappy relationship, boredom with her role in the family or in her work; this can be a time of creative solutions which will resolve her problem, but if she is diverted by society and by medicine in particular to thinking her dissatisfaction is a symptom of the menopause she may not take the right action, just pills. Dr Grant likens HRT which delivers a constant level of oestrogen is like having a car stuck in a single gear, when our bodies are designed to adjust our hormone levels constantly to support our needs at any moment. The symptoms are there for a reason; for example hot flushes at the menopause are suggested by some to be releases of sexual energy, hence their other name of power surges. Does a woman on HRT experience post-menopausal zest - the energy that comes from being released from some of adulthood’s burdens and enjoying living in today, or does the artificial continuation of the monthly bleed leave her stuck in the mind-set of mid-life, unable to let go and progress ?

Women are physical examples of the on-going life pattern becoming matter... women’s life cycle expresses a natural progression of sexual energy. For most women... kundalini, or sexual-spiritual energy, begins to rise naturally around the age of forty. As it rises it activates the chakras through which it passes. Any unfinished business residing in the lower chakras will make itself known during the pre-menopausal and menopausal years. .. blocked kundalini energy or unused sexual juice, unused creative energy or creative conflicts may also be expressed as hot flashes.


There is only my voice now.

Stella is gone - she couldn't face going on. Oh, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

At least I got to meet her, to know her, even to help her, in some way to make up for some of the damage I had done with my obsessive need to have her procreate, to give me another route out into the world. That was important for me.

When I said good bye to Dirk in Florence he took my business card.

Luna Body


He needed to be with her and accepted that she was still grieving for the incomplete family she felt they were. He was concerned that trying and failing had nearly destroyed her, but he wanted to be with her and she was fixed in this grief for being a mother and in some way this was what he wanted too, to be with Stella and try to make it right . He told me this over the phone when he rang to explain that although they had decided to make things work and put themselves first Stella was constantly feeling nauseous and the HRT seemed to be causing a lot of anger and violent mood swings. Could homeopathy help? Could I see Stella and help support her body? He asked - Dirk felt that Stella was physically and emotionally exhausted.

I said I would love to see her, I was sure homeopathy could help, I had had good results helping other women get their hormones balanced. You see it’s not just about chemicals. What makes the body's juices flow if not the heart?

So Stella rings the doorbell of my practice. I run down the stairs past Dr Foster’s door where I hire this upstairs room 3 days a week. my mobile phone is still jammed to my ear - someone's kid is teething - as I open the door, there am I standing on the doorstep - looking at myself, another version of me, someone with the same biological challenges I have been working with for all my life - for God knows how many lives - trying to work out the karma of being a woman who can't create life. I smile and beckon, advise Chamomilla to the mother with the angry teethy baby on the phone and walk up the stairs with Stella thinking that if like does heal like she could have come nowhere better than to me.

How can I help? I ask - I don't know how much she knows I know and I want to hear from her in her own words anyhow - that's how I work my art - spotting patterns in how she feels and behaves which are similar to a life pattern as expressed by another living thing - a plant, an animal, a disease organism, a mineral - yes I have come to believe that our whole universe is intelligent in the way it creates form and energy - and so in some way alive.

She talks about how she is feeling now. The awful dreams of these skinny embryos, all arms and transparent jelly like eggs who she sees drying under the hot lights of a room which I feel she has constructed from her unconscious experience of an operating theatre. Her anxiety about the embryos who are in the freezer - what that does to something which may live to be in a dark desiccating cold. She is in a state of terror, her imagination running riot I see, her creative imagination feeding on these images in a way which is destructive for her energy which is being burnt up furiously. She needs some walls around her self - some boundaries to stop her feeling so acutely the energy of these babies she has lost. What element - I reflect - to myself has this capacity to inhabit any space, any situation, without protecting itself so that it becomes diffuse and exhausted as the imagination continues to burn so bright it sears. I sent her away promising to send a remedy within the week, made an appointment to see her again in a few weeks and switched my computer on to research my favourite materia medicas to check my intuition that some Phosphorus would help calm and centre her.

When I saw Stella a few weeks later the nightmares had gone and she had lost that look like she wasn't of this world - like you could look through her, she had more colour and her energy seemed more solid.

“How can I help?” I asked once we had established that she felt better.

Stella flushed…

Explained that she was angry with her body

That it had failed her

Stopped her being a proper woman

Made her feel an outsider

Not able to fit with the feminine image which was her ideal

Her hopes of being a whole, giving mother like her own mum

So she felt a shell

With nothing real inside, a lie

It was important to her to look like a woman, dress attractively like one of those yummy mummies - but they glowed with energy and purpose, she said, whereas she had nothing inside her now

Just something broken

An ache where love used to be

She felt so tired, everything took her so long, and she was doing very little

She felt unable to do anything except alternately grieve and hope for her dream, she still had an impossible fantasy of falling pregnant.

She felt lonely for the person she used to be

The person she looked for in the mirror and couldn't find.

I asked how she spent her days…

She had been asked to contribute some work to a friend's exhibition, using their paper made from plants

She had been trying to make some papier-mâché bowls, but she kept dropping them and the glass bowls she had been using as moulds had smashed.

She showed me a splinter in her finger and described how Dirk had come home last night from work to find her crawling around the floor obsessing about picking up every little shard and sparkle of glass in case it should hurt the baby, her fingers bleeding from sweeping the floor with her hands.

Dirk had got the Hoover out and reminded her there was no immediate worry about a baby, while she pretended that she had only broken one of the bowls they had had as wedding presents while she knew she had smashed 3.

“I don't know why I tell these silly lies - I just don't want to be seen as a complete waste of time when I’ve failed to do anything useful like make dinner, and also failed to do the creative work I feel could help me feel better about myself if only I could get it done, which I can't seem able to. I want to be seen as a capable person, a worker, wife, lover and mother.”

My heart went out to Stella, she did want to move forward but she was really stuck in this place she had been in far too long, she needed a constitutional remedy. I said I’d send something via the homeopathic pharmacy and arranged to speak with her in 2 weeks.

Looking at my books that night I was struck by how slow and fragile Stella's energy felt and how the image of the glass bowl seemed to sum up so many things about her. She seemed shattered and broken, unable to get her energy back together. She was using the little energy she had to reflect an image of attractiveness while she was looking for her self in the glass and not finding what she had lost. She was inflexible like glass - sticking to a fixed idea about her future and unable to be flexible. she was very clearly hurting herself, even physically with the splinter, in her fixity about the dream of the baby, obsessing about details with a gritty determination rather than feeding herself with what she needed.

The rubrics I chose in my repertory were:

fixed ideas

hunts for pins


As these seemed to sum up the shell her energy was engaged in creating around herself which was intended to protect her but was stopping her moving on.

I looked in the materia medica at what homeopaths had to say about Silica, which came up in all the rubrics.

I had found Silica a useful remedy for my friends from the fashion world who put so much energy into their image as it has so many states, many of which reflect and present a beautiful image - quartz, glass, silicone

It is hard and brittle; flint, given to splitting and forming 2sided structures, glass again, or small strong structures, sand, grit… silica is one of the most plentiful minerals available to life but has been little used by life forms as it is slow forming and inflexible, although some plants and insects use it's strength it makes a restrictive exoskeleton not useful for fast-growing flexible mammals, birds, reptiles.

Many remedy states lose sight of their destiny and become fixed, but the depression of silica has been analysed as loneliness for the self itself, like an outgrown exoskeleton the body and mind is left knowing that the soul has gone, and unless it can be found, life is over.

When Stella rang me 2 weeks later it was to say she was feeling better - she had had a rotten flu (a detox I thought) but was making some cards from the plant papers with pressed snowdrops as part of the images.

Snowdrops - the first sign of new life after the winter and a plant that uses a lot of silica to give it the rigidity and strength to push its leaves through the frozen ground.

Stella’s recovery had a surprising outcome, I never know what to expect from healing as health means movement and can take your patients away in unexpected directions... this is not a job where you expect satisfied customers to come back - they are too busy getting on with their lives. In Stella’s case her energy took her to a retreat; she accepted that a baby wasn't going to happen for her and felt the answer was to study Buddhism to try to come to terms with not needing to leave the self in the world in some way either as a mother or as an artist. She loved Dirk, she told me, but felt he needed the right to be a father and as that could not happen with her she was leaving him and - under the rules of the Buddhist retreat could not be contacted - would renounce her ties to the world.

As Stella moved on to a more spiritual state, scarcely present in the space she found it too painful to inhabit, my energy grew more physical... I noticed subtle changes in our body… the breasts flattened, waist widened, hairs grew in new places on legs and around nipples which I found fascinating as I spread out and occupied my space.

Stella reflects

Like heals like.  Nature is there.  She speaks her language in all of us.  We are all patterns.  She makes us show our nature in every growth of our body.  Truth will out.

In the moment I took the Pill I doubled: Luna thought I had stopped listening to her but in truth she went from being a part of me to become an outside voice – trapped in my own reality I could hear her like a mysterious conversation on a crossed line, she was not making sense to me and I tuned out.   Read your Steven Hawkins for the background.  In a void energy is borrowed from the future to create matter and anti-matter which appear in the vacuum for an instant – and spontaneously destruct. Glimpses of our future self, our doppelganger, karma, destiny… division and creation, reproduction and population - or fusing to one, one self, one soul, Gaia, one planet.

Womb-twins, each one alone, lonely for our soul-mate. Observing the world which is other.  Everything is made from quarks and electrons, we are patterns of energy. When I stand on this mountain we have the same building blocks. Energy has made a mountain and an intelligent being to observe the mountain. We move in different time frames. A mountain’s glaciers move slowly. To his granite and ice and gnarled old trees my life is as brief as the storms which rage around him for a winter’s night then disappear with the dawn.

My destiny; biology is destiny – see the seed and you know the tree… the tree shows its pattern in every leaf it grows, patterns of energy, everything dances. A scientist said, when we describe the atom language is poetry;

The heart is a foxglove to embrace the bee, digitalis, makes your heart stop…

The womb is a daisy letting fall seed to grow a child, bellis perenis for our deep hurt in our soft insides.

Energy medicine.

The Pill…  Designed to free the flower people for free love, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, in my polluted self the drug tricks my body into believing I am permanently pregnant.  My moon side comes to the fore.  The planet, which governs our fertile tides, gets all confused.  My moon sign is Taurus; the cow locked in a stall and fed oestrogen to fatten her up.  Her milk made available for man artificially.  The sweetness of sac-lac - milk-sugar - the coffee creamer in a plastic UHT pot, in the free cup at the Mercedes garage.  The pliant blonde in the cabriolet.  Bridget Jones with Hugh Grant eternally available.  Sense has gone out of the window and passion rises.  The cow is put out to grass in the field.  The udders grow heavy and unappealing but feed the world.  Still the family dream is unavailable.  The cow calls for her calf castrated, aborted or killed before it can reproduce.  Kept in a box for blonde veal, while she lows with pain in her field with the pain of nipples which are no longer sucked, now udders to feed the milk mountain which Africa can’t drink from or our men will miss out on the prison of company life/unemployment handouts/handouts from Oxfam according to the continent which bore you.  We are bored and the fat cats lap the cream. 

So my Taurean moon took me comfort shopping.  The milk round got me a job at the big corporate money machine.  So now I’m the childless rich lady who tries to entice children into her garden with pretty things. Looks like destiny wrote the script either way.  I find myself alone, broken hearted, childless and yearning in the middle of life.   My shell has been crushed under the giant foot and I feel scattered.  How do I get my pattern, my vitality, my life force back together again?  I hide in my woods or my garden, dreaming of other lives, my children’s lives.  The children I can’t have because I was born with no eggs.  It has taken me half my life to realise that the basic need in every woman has to double, triple, square her-self into seedlings to water and tend and grow.  My howling cry to the moon for children cannot be answered.  My womb is not fertile. 

But I am creative.  I can still water seedlings.    I parent my own child within.  And something does grow in my creative space.  A bowl made of torn paper when I was too angry to paint and wanted to show the world I could put my fragments of shell back together again so my ideas could once more hold water.  Then a painting of the sea, the mother of all of use - la mer, la mere - from where we crawled from our shells to find a place to breed safe from the big fish and felt the spark of electricity as we earthed with the fertile land and rooted in the soil and grew tall as trees and beautiful as flowers.  I am a flower, fragile and delicate, but strong.  I can push through anything hard as the icy ground of the big freeze and flower, my delicate scent attracting the bees out of their houses, all girls together as the snowdrop shows her cool, delicate, beauty to anyone who peers into the shadows. 

Luna - the dark side of the moon...  she is always there; completes my whole.  Man needs the earth and makes a voyage around her, only landing on the moon does he see the perfect whole of the earth bathed in sunshine.  Moon, earth, sun, a perfectly balanced dance.  Man, woman, god, a triad made in heaven.  An eternal dance but one that is changing.  The moon is moving away from the earth by inches every year.  Women don’t want just to orbit their man.  They want to travel.  To see the universe for themselves.  But that fragile moon keeps our tides washing the earth.  Lapping the feet of Manhattan, man-hat-on.  Washing the air of Liverpool - a pool to live by.  Cleaning with rain the chimneys of Tate’s and energizing with ozone the dreams of Lennon, Bainbridge and the baby boomers.  That’s me.  The babies of the baby boom who find ourselves so fucked by the world that our fucking is sterile.  That our fathers so fucked the world that it already heaves with children, unwanted, women poor and abused, and working.  To husband means to care for and protect, or to farm and propagate this land with her produce, which now sucks her udders dry until she will wash us away with her tears. 

The rainbow was God’s promise- never again the flood, but God is only as good as any healer (doctors practice and patients are patient) and in the end the physician has to heal herself.  And we all need to see the shadow side to be whole again.  We can’t just seek the light, the blonde, the fair, the just; we also have the fallen angel, who was too proud, and fell to earth, the seedling, man, from whose rib woman came, to nag him, prodding in the ribs, and tickle his ribs to laughter and ecstasy of companionship, love and sex.  Woman, the lioness, to hunt, butcher, and suckle and play with the cubs while the sleepy lion on a full belly and tired loins keeps one eye open on his pride.  Pride comes before a fall and I’ll be the man who fell to earth. 

Despite all the days of wishing myself dead in my sleep I will delight when the sun dawns on this windy night when I am howling for my Luna moon;  Auntie Barking - at the blue moon.  I haven’t gone away. I am hiding in a secret space inside Luna, in my old body. I love this place.  I’m healing my broken heart with that love.  I have the perception to see the vision of a world which gives peace a chance and I am making peace with myself. Luna sleeps tonight.  Sleep then - jump!


“In other words she might as well be dead,” said Dirk who had come to see me clearly sad and furious with me at my part, as he saw it, in Stella leaving after he had been through so much crap to give her what she wanted.

This was no basis to start a therapeutic relationship - I was too much involved and felt that involvement sticking to me like something I needed.

It is a lonely job being a homeopath…

although you learn lessons all the time about yourself from your practice, from the patient's point of view it is all about them so it's not a place to make friends or lovers in the consulting room and a lonely Dirk was something I had found very attractive in Italy all that time ago. I said I couldn’t see him again as a therapist, said goodbye and suggested a colleague for Dirk to get support from if he was looking for that, then, my conscience clear at last caught my courage to ask - could we meet for a drink?



The two bodies were specks on the landscape; moving along on parallel lines, occasionally coming together to support each other over a rock, a fallen tree.  At last they stood on the summit.  They looked down towards the sea in the distance.  She knotted a silk scarf against the wind, at her throat; he moved behind her and crossed his arms encircling her.  “Look, you can see right back to where we started...  how far we’ve come.”

And I watched from inside the skin I’d traded for an interior space, relieved from passion, want, need, hunger, hormones, ego, visibility, love and pain.

[1] Dorothy Cooper, British Homoeopathic Journal, April 1990.
[2] Modern Medicine, 1976.
[3] Grant, The Bitter Pill, 1985.
[4] Grimal, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, 1996.
[5] In the King/Lawrence study women  experienced dryness of normal discharges.
[6] There was a masculine feminine issue - the males experiencing more apathy/disconnected (perhaps these were not unusual feelings for the women), and the women alone experiencing the sensitivity and tears (do men not have this susceptibility?).

Friday, 2 March 2012

part three

silent spring


At first I loved being at home, home-making, fixing things up for the family we were planning.  Sasha had moved out of London in search of better schools for her children and clean air for her asthma as she suffocated in the school run grid lock of North London so we met up weekly.   In the summer we sat at the check tablecloth under my apple tree and talked while her little girl chased my chickens round the garden.  Here I was in gingham shirt and baggy shorts, doing the good life bit, digging up my garden quicker than the rabbits that ate all my veggies.  But I was as happy as a child in a sandpit, turning up those strange beetles which live underground, and collecting the windfalls for apple cake. 

My uncle the plumber came to help us take down the Formica bathroom from the half timbered hall and scrape the dark wood effect sticky back plastic from the walls of our place, last decorated in the 70s: think lime green nylon carpets and orange kitchen tiles with purple plastic cupboards - country cottage.  My aunt sat in the old rocking chair we had inherited from a sojourn in Scandinavia by some family member, and hourly ironically enquired of Unkie - so named by my niece - whether he had finished that job yet.  “Aren’t you lonely in the sticks?”she asked.  How could I be?  There was the original Mr McGregor next door, whose hobby I discovered the first day I opened my curtains to a beautiful spring morning, to hear a shot whiz past my nose, and see a rabbit keel over dead on our drive.  You could always enjoy a tea with Mr Mc G as he kept up his gun watch under the elder tree on his veggie patch, or sit quietly with him and watch the garden grow.  ‘What is this life if full of care we have no time to stop and stare?’

There was the Cancer Research Campaign committee which I had been hand bagged into joining by the fierce lady who seemed to run everything in the village - charity, conservatives, canvassing, country foot path maintenance, cake stalls, council objections to green belt planning - all run from the little house on the Green from which her world was under he watchful eye.  I rang Sasha - “What do you wear to a Cancer Research Committee meeting?”  “Don’t” she said, “don’t go there.  You’ll be delivering guilt-inducing mail shots by hand and shaking cans outside Tesco before I can tell you to save yourself.”  Good advice, but I had not got my silver cross badge in Bible study for nothing, so my conscience sent me to Oxfam where I found an Aquascutum tweed skirt in which I could disguise myself - still desperate to fit in as a village lady.  Any of the other committee members could have been my grandmother and the meetings were far too long as most enjoyed a little sleep at some point on the agenda.  But they achieved a lot.  No local retailer would dare refuse the request of tombola prize from the blued suited and blue rinsed ladies, and the Christmas card committee put most retail ops teams I had worked with to shame.  They had the counties covered for orders of robins on twigs by August. 

 And they were kind to me, who was lonely for a peer group in this village, which seemed to be God’s waiting room.  I was given cuttings for my garden and secret recipes for simnel cake.  Ever a fashion victim I was soon sucked in to the twinset and pearls which was smart and flexible for the county show.  My other disguise, chameleon that I am, was the ubiquitous fleece, jeans and green wellies as I struggle in and out of the obstacle course of our cottage over the cement mixer, planks of assorted sizes, paint splashed stereo, shingle and mud which now filled our kitchen as we had the builders in.  When not in court shoes as a charity worker I was a welly-booted full time project manager, making tea and deciding on where walls, lights, cookers and basins would be, when we again possessed such luxuries… as that winter I was reduced to washing carrots in the washbasin and making delicious but same-tasting stir fries in an electric frying pan on the floor of the dining room.  It was a cold winter and the dining room had a temporary door shored up with pages of the builder’s Sun scrunched into insulation.  The fridge remained outside this door and we soon abandoned it as a carrier bag just outside the door in what used to be our living room was just as cold.  We were roofless in December for the mulled wine and mince pies I made for the builders and it rained on the Christmas tree I had put in the living room to cheer myself up.

Many visits to the doctor later, I was still feeling lousy, “Can builder induced stress stop your periods?” I asked him.  He sent me off for a blood test for glandular fever as I seemed to have less energy and I was sure my brains had given up working altogether.  I was more miserable when I got a dodgy smear test result and as we regarded the computer print out together, me worrying whether it was even be right to try and fall pregnant (difficult with total absence of periods to judge whether it had ever happened) when sure to fall to cervical cancer. Dirk put his arms around my shoulder and standing in a muddy kitchen-to-be suggested we should sort that wedding.  So we hired a marquee and after a month of sunny days had dried up the mud enough to persuade me to risk decorating the entrance with dried hops.  Their delicate beauty was swept away by a rainstorm overnight and we danced the next day away in the puddles on the happiest day of my life.

That was the Saturday.  On the Monday we had an appointment at some BUPA hospital with a very smart white coated consultant to review the results of my blood test.  He called me in by my married name which just didn’t connect yet.  I laughingly told him we had only been married two days. “Then I’m sorry to tell you” he said to my husband - as they never seem to think women talk their language - that your wife is menopausal.  Menopausal - in my 30s!  My dreams crashed around my ears as I remembered the hot flushes in my teens. “A bit early” my Nana laughed, and no one had thought any more of it.  Glandular fever had taken a couple of stones off me as a teenager and my absence of periods was felt to be ‘ballet dancer syndrome’.  All those years I had worried about getting pregnant and ruining my perfect career when according to this guy I had probably never had any eggs.

I was confident in the miracles of modern medicine though.  “How then can we have a child?”  That, the consultant informed me, was not his department.  But he knew a man who can, so a letter was written and we found ourselves in his friend’s office weeks later.  Now, I have always wondered about guys who choose to be a gynaecologist.  When I had a few dodgy cells on my cervix in my 20s I had nipped out in my lunch hour for a biopsy from a guy who had his ceiling covered with cartoons - his own - of self-portraits of himself disappearing between the legs of luscious ladies.  This troubled me slightly and I was glad to need no follow ups from the man after a blast from his laser ‘sorted it’ he informed me.

This guy was the silent type.  He had the camera at my cervix before I could even get the words “Good morning” out as I tried to remember that opening your jaw was supposed to have a similar effect on your pelvis.  When it came time to put the embryos back in my pink cosy visualisation was interrupted by him: “Hey, your cervix has really been fried”.  For the second time, with frozen embryos, I suggested to his secretary it might feel a more positive experience for me if he didn’t mention my fried cervix.  I was lying holding my husband’s hands and thinking happy thoughts when he entered all gowned up.  “I hear you don’t want me to mention your cervix”. He said. 

Afterwards the two weeks of not knowing whether the emotional roller coaster ride you felt you were on was induced by pregnancy creating hormones, or just the stress of anticipating another window without a blue line in another pregnancy testing kit - I should get shares in those things.  Then the moment you follow the white coat up the corridor into a private office to be told it hasn’t worked again and be offered tea, that very British medicine for every eventuality.


There is no wealth but life

Truly seeing and sharing that seeing with others

It’s a vision thing baby

I remember that day when the Doctor told Stella that the fertility treatment hadn't worked - I could not believe it - I had not even thought it could fail... I had waited for twenty years for Stella to get round to having a baby, had known for ten of those years what she did not - that she was going to need a lot of medical help to do that - but I was so convinced it would work. I had great plans for that baby - I would gently shape-shift into a new being who I could shape and share all my experience with. But now - failure - I could not see anything of how Stella was coping, I was lost in my dark side, gone out of orbit, being sucked towards my own personal black hole – no really madam, no matter how shit your own personal hell is, you have life - beautiful as Disney Lion King, lump in the throat, circle of life - and you can see your own progeny, getting your own tribes genetic pool’s end up… lets go round again, maybe we’ll turn back the hands of time, lets go round again one more time…

What is it all about? It depends if you see life as one of those etch-a-sketch where you strive to write your story, create your image, before the divine hand of fate, Thomas Hardy style reaches for the plastic-easy-facile button linked to the wire-noose-line and wipes the slate;  

or whether you buy in to that Old Testament style begetting that creates tribes who can part rivers, or at least build hydroelectric dams to harness their power – progress;

or maybe you’re a Pharaoh-artist saying I am dust which returns to dust but in the mean time I’m going to make a bloody big mark on the landscape, move my own mountain to show nature I’m a creator too;

or do you believe in the life as an investment trust, build your collateral with God, don’t get caught without saying sorry Catholic style, submit to a greater power and hope he’s got a soft spot for you – he knows best but you can argue about the rule set in the tome in the Temple as well as the next man and my son’s a lawyer he’ll be here soon etc.;

or do you accept you are in a permanent dress rehearsal acting your socks off to get a better script next time and wondering if spiritual progress is towards being prime minister or is life as a radish a higher state - a brief life with the sun in your leaves before a gardener’s bite sends your spirit energy through a star trek like device to transubstantiate as a bean sprout?;

or do we just never go away are we in limbo, a ‘field of dreams’ style invisible crowd on the side-lines of life/death rooting for our team….

but what if you do your best but don’t see providence on your side, don’t get the hand genetic chance has dealt you, don't get begot, then can’t beget – why me - and then some bastard or some trick of the chemical balance in your brain puts you in the pit where getting out of bed is awful, you are not touched by anything, not beauty you can’t draw, not love you can’t feel can’t even have a conversation with your husband, not humour you can’t smile, for fuck’s sake (we need some new swear words, surely post Tarantino it’s death not sex violence or the church which is scary, unmentionable in polite company) you can’t even cry anymore you are a dried up leaf dropped from the tree, worse than that you are a dependant but you insist on staying alive and you can’t contribute can’t show your worth in any way – can’t reach anyone can’t reach yourself. You are a pet, a cat who walks alone, can’t give or receive kill the bird take a bite and leave it eat your dry biscuit and a sip of water, sleep, nature gone crazy.

What do you believe then – believe nothing- seek unconsciousness, hope tomorrow never comes and you don’t have to start being baffled all over again – why am I still here when I don’t want to be it must be time for something -chance to press delete, wipe my etch-a-sketch.


You have to go on- say ok - better than last winter, phone Mum on Sundays say you love her cos she deserves to hear it though you don’t love don’t hate feel nothing.

This is a bit heavy, anyhow they think it’s a happy ending- for now-  not a silent spring – yet- don’t get started on that – what they want is to read the story- your etch a sketch is still available to read, some people might want to know why you’re still here and what was so bloody awful in the first place.

Ok. It starts here, not with Stella but with her grandfather…

So you do think it’s something about tribes?

Well all I have is my heritage, and it’s a good enough story, as is your story – but hey - I’m writing and you’re still reading, I’m exhibiting and you are seeing,  so let’s share…lives.

Cast list

Grandpa, aran cardi, troubled by his past but capable of loving, a really nice guy

Our Dad, his son, man of the sea, a traveller, a good dad sometimes absent, an inspiration when he’s around - in fact like the sea -laughter on a calm day, stormy when rocked by the wind, you’re never sure when the tide will turn

What you want to know is the story; ok I’ll start with what I know about Grandpa, what I’ve unlocked from my dad’s sea chest…

I remember him buying us Twinkle when we were little girls, shown off on a Sunday, but he went to live down south for his arthritis, away from the rainy north west, ironic considering the flood plains of the sunny south started being deluged and we found him in his mobile home in a large puddle like Noah in his arc with his photos and his memories and the drowned cabbages he had rescued from his allotment, served steaming with good Somerset butter and a cake from the lady next door for the two little blonde girls thick as thieves who ran through the puddles and made her well up as she remembered her own siblings- one of 7 you know- all dead now- I’m the eldest, raised them all and watched them all go – so much need to be loved in  a victoria sponge you could hardly eat a whole slice, the jam was so sweet it made your teeth ache.

Grandpa trusted my dad on everything, although we had driven 250 miles if dad said he’d be there at 3 the Princess would pull up outside at 3 as the tea cosy was slipped on, though we’d parked in a puddle up the road to wait for 23 minutes, and pee with our wellies on under a tree. The little mobile home was so hot and we girls had to sit on a cushion on the radiator so we could all sit down to eat together – that most painful and most healing ritual of British families – roast meat and three vegetables. The tiny dwelling like a glass house, the oven full blast, steam from 3 pans and the gravy tin, the radiator which threatened to brand our buttocks when squirming in the tension you could cut like a victoria sponge, seen but not heard, peas eaten from the back of the fork  please, the sweat on my father’s frown. Afterwards escape to the allotment, dance among the prize winning sweet peas my favourite - so fragrant and no necessity to put them anywhere near the back of a fork.

The aran was in place good for a hug, the central toasty, and the advice consistent, we’ll be alright if we eat enough.

And we passed the hours in time travel tales of sea voyages to lumberjack in Canada and war in Africa, road movie tales of long drives as a chauffeur in sleek fast motors, violent tales of working as a bailiff in Birkenhead, collecting the rent from the dock workers mutinous comedians every last jack, mike, mick, shaun, paddy of them, oh the laughs and the fights we had lads, and the heart core hard core story the one in the middle of all this the one that matters most eats you up inside on these lonely wet winter days, the love story.


I want to come in here, I might be dead already, but these are my stories, tender true rib tickling finger licking heartrending…     

You were the first child I saw growing up.  I am your grandfather.  Your grandmother was the girl next door, always my playmate, my confidant, my best friend.  We were adolescents together in the Blitz of a Liverpool which traded sugar and soldiers with a crumbling Commonwealth.  I got a job loading at the docks and unloaded some beer one day, courtesy of some GIs coming in to port and feeling charitable as they left sea sickness behind them on that ‘smelly old ship’.  So our street partied that night and your grandmother and I walked late in the woods and watched the wind blow a mist in over the Mersey.

 Inside the white of the mist we felt there was no one else, just us two, and we shared the ultimate intimacy that can be shared between a man and a woman.  When next day the mist had gone we both saw in each other a good and trusted friend and nothing more, and we agreed to  tell no one of what had happened between us that night by the moonlit Mersey.  We joked that it had a been a magic mist full of fairies which had turned us mad for each other that night; that or the American beer.

 I got a chance of a passage to Canada, via Ireland.  We would be taking on some cargo in Dublin and dropping off a few passengers.  I saw one of the passengers on deck that evening.  We were both leaning on the rail and watching Liverpool swim into the distance.  I turned to watch her as she gazed out to sea.  She was elegant, hatted and in a long black woollen coat. She noticed me looking and turned on me the biggest brownest eyes I ever saw. 

Now this is doing to make me sound like a real womaniser, but I fell for her then, and I have never looked at any other girl since then.  We got talking.  She was a singer.  She had been off singing for the troops, all over.  Hard work she said, travelling in awful conditions.  Now she was going home for a rest with her family for a bit and then she was going to London to work with a company who would tour overseas.  She was used to attention, I could tell, and easy to talk and laugh with.  She felt very compassionate for the men away from their families and “bringing some music and beauty” she flushed as she said this; “into their day” was a way she could help.  Looking back now I don’t know if she felt the same attraction as I did or whether I was another boy away from home who she was charming out of a desire to spread happiness and feminine grace in a  world which had little time to think of anything which didn’t involve the German armies. 

When we pulled into Dublin port I offered to help her ashore with her bags and the Captain said I could see her home as we had some cargo to load overnight.  I was so proud as I escorEd her through the port, all the Dockers and seamen must have envied me those eyes, deeper than the Irish sea, and much more kind. 

I watched a shadow cloud her face as we arrived at her parents’ house in a terrace on the south side of the river.  The house windows were dark with blackout blinds though it was afternoon.  Finding no answer at the door we left her bags on the step and went to call next door, just as the old neighbour was coming out.  “Oh Grace, I’m so sorry”, the old man grasped her hand; “you’ll find no one at home.  Come in and have some tea with me.”  Grace was not going to take tea anywhere until he told her where her family were, she said, and her eyes flashed.  Realising she thought the worst the old man told her he had a key for her, her mother had left it in case Grace came.  She had gone to London to stay with Grace’s sister.  Grace looked relieved and puzzled.  Why would her mother, who would not go to the other side of town to see her daughter sing, suddenly take it into her head to emigrate to London?

The old man realised he had made the news too soft to spare her, and I saw the pain that flashed across both their faces as I watched him tell Grace that her father had been killed, not by a bomb or an army, but a silly night time fall down the stairs.  Her mother had not felt safe here on her own, the neighbour’s face made clear he felt London a lot less safe than Dublin, whether because of the blitz or the fact it was the capital city of England I didn’t know.  And Grace could find the rest of her family there when she went over to meet her company. 

Exhausted by emotion the old man pushed the key into Grace’s hand and shuffled off.  Grace watched him go silently.  I took the key out of her hand, unlocked the door and led her inside.  I opened a blind and sat her in a dusty pool of light by the window.  I fetched her bags in and got her a cup of water from the scullery.  She drank the water and sat silently, tears rolling down her cheeks.  I took the empty cup from her hand and taking out my handkerchief dried her tears.  She started to sob quietly and shiver.  I put my arm around her shoulders and stroked her sleek dark hair.  She turned towards me and held me around the waist, sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.  I bent down and put my coat over her knees and she put her hands up to my face and pulling my eyes to hers said, “Don’t’ leave me alone.  Please stay.  I can’t bear to me on my own.” And so I stayed and comforted her stroking her hands and arms, shoulders and back, until her shaking stopped and she turned and kissed me on the lips and I stroked her breasts and thighs and secret places and made love to her with tenderness and joy and sorrow until she slept.

 At dawn I woke her and said “Goodbye” and made her promise to let me know, in Canada, her address in London as soon as she got there.  

It was late afternoon when the ship left dock and after he could see Liverpool no longer Ed went down to the dining room.  The waiter directed him to the Captain’s table where Ed proceeded to eat his way through the menu.  In expansive mood he entertained his fellow diners, all older than he and amused by the swagger of this young man, ‘till he turned white and staggered across the dining room to his bunk room.  There he stayed for the five days of the voyage, reeling the darkness of his curtained room, sick ‘till his insides felt torn apart.

A more subdued Ed left the ship for the three day train journey to Winnipeg.  He was the only one to get down from the train at the station and the only man waiting on the platform, impossible to miss at 6'6'', enquired “Mr Glover?”  Ed was driven the 25 miles to the ranch in a buggy with two horses that reared straight up on their hind legs when the tall fellow touched the reins.  It was the only time he was to see the station.  The train sped through the ranch’s land, so if you tipped the driver he would slow down long enough for you to jump on or off.

The farm was 8000 head of cattle with the rest of the land laid to grain.  Ed’s first job was with the horses.  In this vast land you operated with your horse like a partner.  You had to handle him like a wife.  There were two stable boys, himself and an Italian.  He was the only English labourer he knew of all the time he was in Canada.  Everyone called him ‘that damn Englishman’.  The day began with a race with the Italian to get down to the stable. Last down mucked out the stable.  Ed could not understand how the Italian, normally slow, was always before him in the stable ‘till he realised he did not stop to lace on his ankle boots but went down in his slippers.  But one of the horses was suspicious of anyone who crept up on her.  Ed always talked to her as he approached from where she could not see him or the whites of her eyes would roll.  So one morning the Italian padded up to her in his slippers and she tossed him into the manger.  That was the end of Ed’s stint mucking out the stables. He worked with the cattle day after day, drove to the Post to pick up mail - rarely for him - how exactly had he thought Grace would get a message to him here?

I sailed out of Dublin for Canada that morning; my heart full of love and I never saw her again.  I went back to that street in Dublin many times and couldn’t find her or the old man.  I have been down to London every year and seen every new show there and in Liverpool, Manchester and many overseas.  And I never found my dark-eyed lover who taught me what pleasure and pain mean.

When I got back from Canada, after what was for me the longest passage ever made - so impatient was I to return cargo to Dublin and watch out for my Grace - when I got back home all hell let loose.  Your grandmother was three months pregnant.  Her parents and mine were mates, and they were all hopping mad with me.  I did the decent thing.  She was too good a friend for me to let her down.  I told her about Grace and that I was in love and that this was the love of my life.  I told her I would marry her, if she would have me, and then I would join the army and disappear, send money regular.  She knew she had to be married to give the child a respectable start.  So she said yes, she would cope on her own and she did.  I always got reports from my family, as I wrote home from Africa, India and occasionally, London, as I made an army career and won all those stripes.

By the time your Dad was married I felt I was never going to find my Grace again.  I had been so ashamed of dropping out of his life like that I dared not show my face.  He surprised me one day by tracking me down at the port as I was passing through.  Reckon his grandmother had tipped him off.  He was so angry that I didn’t recognise him, this proud young man, my son.  Anyhow, I got invited to the wedding.  He had found a lovely girl.  And she was the family type.  Always having me for tea and lunch and thinking of me.  So you arrived.  And your grandmother died.  My good friendship with her, her good company and all we shared I had sacrificed for the shadow of a great passion I felt for a girl I had known for one day.  I had left her to struggle with the poverty and the gossip and the hard work that comes when you have to raise a child on your how, without a husband around for support.  And now I wasn’t going to miss out on seeing a child of mine growing up for the second time.  And so I got to know you from the first day you got home.  I was waiting on the doorstep when your father fetched you and your Mum from hospital.  Your Dad didn’t know how to take it, me being around.  But your Mum said it was alright and here you are, a grown woman and visiting me in an old people’s home. 

I have on my wall a poster of Grace for a concert I missed.  You always asked me who the beautiful lady was and now you know the story.  You tell me now you want a child of your own.  Hang on to what is given to you.  In life we often yearn for what we think we want and don’t love enough what we have been given.



I now had the perfect house, three bedrooms and a big garden for children to run round in.  Would our dream ever come true?  I closed the doors on two new rooms and cried.  I was so lonely.  And then I met the third love of my life.  At an RSPCA kennel in Potters Bar.  She has the most beautiful brown eyes edged with black as though she is wearing kohl.  Her Mikado mask markings on her long forehead and nose give her a slightly oriental appearance.  Black and tan with a creamy lower half she wore a red collar the first time I saw her.  Girlie, my dog.  My protectress, sent by heaven in my hour of need. 
 My husband was unsure about her adoption until we stopped to sit on a wooden bench on the side of the field allocated for our test walk.  She climbed up beside him and put her head on his shoulder.  He was putty in her paws after that.  I scarcely breathed until we had passed the ‘are you fit to adopt a dog’ inspection.  From then on we were his girlies together.  She rubs him with her scent arching her back like a cat to lean against his thigh as he crouches to greet her after a day away at work.  If I had a blue day I would stay in bed and she would like on the duvet next to me, pressing her spine against mine.  She gave the best comfort, watched over me while I slept and worried away the hours, and dragged me out of bed for a walk in the woods.  I wore the same clothes, day after day, not having enough energy, enthusiasm or imagination to pull on anything but my mood indigo denims and layers of fleeces.  As I always felt cold, cold from the inside, depression Sasha diagnosed in her cute denim dress and sandals as I shivered in my furry boots and the anorak which she said made me look like a tourist from Yorkshire.  I didn’t care what I looked like.  I didn’t care about myself, didn’t know who I was anymore.  My self had gone away somewhere and left a shell.  I wished she would come back. 

I was as lonely for my self as I know my Dirk, my family and my friends were as I found them unreachable across the chasm of loneliness across which, isolated on the wrong side, I could get no word, no message out at all.

She’s my sister and I gave her the most precious gift money can’t buy…  Not here in this country, yet I’m glad to say…a human egg.  We have shared all our lives so it seemed right and we shared the excitement and the anticipation and the pain.  For me - the physical pain of the hormones ovary swelling actions and the needles which punctured my follicles - the emotional pain of it not working out, us not being able to raise our children together - the pain for me, whether it was because of the mess my hormones were left in, of not being able to conceive a second child for years after, so at my daughter’s school sports day when they called the big brothers and sisters race she was the only one who couldn’t join in.  We stood at the start line and she asked “When can I have a little brother?”...
Now I will be glad when my bossy sister of old organises my life again.  When for so long she has had no appetite to live her own.


The palm reader told me…

I’d like you to hold both of your hands together…you can see for yourself that you don’t have a matching pair - you may already have been aware of this but a lot of people have to have it pointed out to them.  If the palms matched it would mean you had not learned anything from your early experience and the experiences of others so you’ve come quite a long way because the differences are quite distinct. 

 This hand takes over from maturity and you are responsible for everything on this hand and if there is anything that you don’t like on this hand you can change it and lines on your palm change all of the time but so subtly that it might take 3 - 5 years for it to show in a reading.  OK?  We don’t need that hand anymore so if you rest it and give me your right...

 ……. and the island means something quite specific on this hand it’s to do with your girlie bits and it does indicate that there is a problem – you are aware of that are you, I’m glad your biology isn’t a secret from you especially for such a large island but despite whatever else you do I don’t think you can change that, it’s a very deep mark and it radiates to your love line and your head line – you are always searching for the thing you are missing here, the search splits you in two, but you do join up again here and things curve off lovely towards the end of your life. 

You have a developing line which is only to here but will ultimately finish up here and this is your line of intuition - all that wonderful psychic ability that you had as a child is and always has been with you but you didn’t listen to it for a number of years…well this is normal.  What happens in childhood…puberty…you’ve got all sorts of pressure to choose subjects that we’re going to specialise in at school, noticing the opposite sex,.. there’s so much going on at that time, not to mention the chemical changes that your body is going through there’s no time for psychic ability, for intuition and it kind of gets forgotten…ignore it for quite a while.  But when we start to listen it totally kicks in.  This line…developing…right up to here.  And I’m sure you’ve learned the hard way as we all do, that when you don’t listen to your intuition you get a kick up the bum - we don’t want a series of events where we think, O my God, I knew I should have done something about that and wish I had….now doing something about your gut feelings….if you feel it with your head it maybe contaminated with logic but that’s not  right; if you feel it in your heart it may be contaminated with emotion but if you feel it with your gut - if you get that burbly tummy, its really a message that you need to listen to.

Your head line is every bit as strong and as straight as it was on your childhood hand.  But what I have noticed is that there are two little islands that are in your past now because you’re about here actually there’s a third line which I’ll come to, which refer to times when you are distracted because you are emotionally low - depressed and depression is something which you suffer from periodically…it comes back and there is a reason for it and as every cloud has a silver lining the silver lining to the depression cloud is it is because you are a creative and open minded person.  People who aren’t don’t suffer from depression don’t allow themselves…and you see them and think it must be easy being you – everything’s black and white but in fact their life is so narrow and so limited perhaps they don’t allow themselves to be vulnerable which is what really allowing depression to happen is and unfortunately we have no control over it.  Its not reactive it happens every few years and I you go right down but you’re very  blessed to have been born at a time that you can heal yourself….there’s lots of things we can do to get through it when we understand its to do with the fact that I feel things very deeply and very passionately…. A very feeling person.  When you’re down there that makes no difference at all……and on the way back up it becomes obvious and you will find a way back - and there’s always a way to join your broken pieces back up. 

I had started to dread seeing people.  Hid from Mr Mc, who kindly left courgettes on my doorstep and a pig’s ear for Girlie.  I cried off the Cancer Research Campaign, no longer so sure of modern medicine and resentful that physical pain could be fixed.  While nothing could be offered me except Valium, I tried it.  It felt like cotton wool, less painful at the edges but more remote from reality than ever.  I still didn’t know how I would get  through the rest of my life, but I was sleeping nights now, the hot flushes were receding and the  start of each day seemed no longer like a spiteful curse of more hours of existence until I could again get some sleep - never enough -  the sleep of unconsciousness. 

I know you.  You are my granddaughter.  I have watched over you - you emerged from that cocoon of grief, of bed sheets you did not have the energy to change, I watched you change from a pupae to a moth, watched you grow, share your grief with your lovely man. Watched you grow up, little moth never mother.  Is that the only thing which we women were put here to do, to birth another generation?  I wondered that as your grandfather left me to raise your father alone and isolated, pennies in the jam jar.  Feed him and watch him grow up enough to leave me, as he too went off on a ship and, my work done, I died. 

 But we have to travel our own path.  We’re born to be alive.  You have a gift of beauty, making beautiful the lives of those around you.  Yes it can be an obsession and can seem like a curse when you cannot rest till you have restyled my daughter-in-law’s kitchen shelf.  Bits of things you made…a clay sculpture self portrait of the brave little girl in the blue pleated pinafore, head on one side like a bird, looking up at life.  The silk cobweb like colours you dreamed in at college, draped there on the shelf next to the photo of the career girl in Singapore while your mother told her friends, “My daughter, she’s off again.  I don’t know where she gets her energy.”  The snowdrop card you made her, a brave single flower which had pushed through the frozen ground to open up to another spring.  It seemed an image of hope to you when you found your energy and lust for life almost gone.  A picture of the beloved dog who came to play with you and your partner, to remind you that life is good, the world is there for walking in, when you felt your lives were all but over, felt older than your years compared to your busy friends always chasing their children around the park, the shopping precinct, the career path to perfection.  

I cried with you this Christmas, I know it seems hard to face another children’s festival, the Christ child sent with the innocence of a baby cuts to the deep hurt you feel at not having a say in the next generation.  But you will live in the hearts of your nephews and nice nieces as Auntie Stella the dreamy moon gazing girl who covered the walls of their homes with colours and painting, who made her mark in their minds.

Without words to exorcise my feelings I took up my paintbrush.  The hardest part about not being able to be creative in the ultimate way and create life, was that it had left me exhausted of any creative feeling; always I had expressed myself in colour and image.  Now the impulse had left me.  Feeling dry and broken, unable to speak to Dirk - he encouraged me to paint the inside of my head.  It took a day to come and a pot of indigo ink.  The inside of my head was a blue whorl.  Grief and failure endlessly repeating.  A vortex of feeling blue.  Mood indigo.


I hear you.   I can help.  I know your pattern.  Silica.  All the world in a grain of sand, fragile, yet strong enough to stand the ceaseless beatings of the lunar tides on our beaches.  From the ebb and flow of the sea, la mer, la méré, mother of life.  Silica as flint fractured to form arrowheads and cutting tools to feed humanity.  Silica became glass through the alchemy of fire, to fetch water and beautify shelter.  Many evolved enough to have energy left for grooming used silica to adorn his image, quartz for jewellery, silicon for implants to change her shape.  It is the remedy of retail detail - the fashion victim hunting for confidence in herself among the racks of clothes and seeking to soften that brittle feeling with stacks of cushions.  Stubborn, yet yielding like a sand hill underfoot these children are capable of standing strong and sparkling like crystal, but then can remain broken on the beach feeling isolated from their other parts which the weather of life has scattered about.  Silica will be your medicine; will help you to be strong again my child.  Will help you be like a glass recycled to be filled to the brim once more.


I’d just managed to be brave enough to get through breakfast with Dirk.  Now I was managing lunch with Sasha again.

Groucho Marx said that wives are people who don’t dance enough.  I, Sasha, used to dance cos I feel so good I'm going to break some body's hear tonight... Now I dance with my babies in the five minutes I have to do something irresponsible every day.  As that tune from children's TV at 5 pm reminds me that another day is nearly over and it won’t be long ‘till I can open a bottle of wine.  The lap recently vacated by number three will be occupied at once by my opportunist cat, and we will curl up together and wait for our provider to get back from his client so we can down some pasta and head for bed.  Too much red wine and I won’t get to call my body by own until well after lights out.  I’ll get some sleep before number three comes crashing down the corridor to climb in next to me and affectionately drag her toenail up and down my leg until the alarm raises us for the next round.

I felt I had to do something useful.  Work was a way I had always defined myself.  I considered helping at an old people’s home.  If the classified ads in the paper were for real Hertfordshire was becoming a suburb of sheltered accommodation and nursing homes seeking more staff to help people keep their bodies clean and healthy while they wanted to leave them behind.  

“No way” said Sasha.  “I will absolutely not let you apply for ‘self destruct scheme no 4.  No way.”  And this time I listened and took a job as a classroom assistant in a special school so I could help some children I could never call my own.  The first time I took one of our wheelchair kids who had no speech, could not take food by mouth and seemed designed for a life with no fun I took him out of his chair into the pool the parents had raised money to pay for, for some physio.  As I cradled him in my arms, his thin body and his withered legs, he laughed and laughed for joy.  I hoped no one would notice the tears rolling down my cheeks and tried to cover their splashes as I swung him round and round in the water.  For the first time for four years I felt happy to be here, alive and useful and very touched by the giggles of the happy boy.  I tickled him as he swung around in his blow up chair, in his element, kicking his legs in a way he can’t when like a fish out of water.  The pool was in a cheap cover like a crop tunnel, but to cheer it up someone had painted the one wall at the end with blue mermaids.  Someone had told me about the indigo children who had chosen to come back to earth despite facing huge challenges here to heal.  With Josh, my indigo child, in the pool that day, I felt whole again, joined up and in touch with myself, deserving love in my old cossie with the lycra half gone so it threatened to disappear into my bum every time I moved I felt so good I made a promise, to myself to go shopping for a new one.  Ah life choices…now lime green one piece, or snakeskin print bikini.  I know I deserve both and years of swims with children like Josh and sunny days away on holiday to wear them out.

Of course, we wanted to give IVF another go.  It’s like an addiction when you start.  Gambling…this time my number could come up in the 15% chance of success.  We found a new holistic practice with a lovely fellow who counselled you for hours before he asked you to put your feet in the stirrups.  We thought long and hard about which of our friends we loved enough or little enough to saddle with the responsibility of our wilful teenager asking about the genetic material they donated as an egg.  We decided we could wish it on no one. 

You live in my parish.  When I married you and Dirk the church was crammed with fruit and vegetables to symbolise the fertile marriage you two wanted to have - fruitful with progeny.  My congregation tut-ted on the Sunday that it looked like harvest festival, bit I loved it.  They are a bit conservative and having a ‘lady vicar’ has been a bit of a shock for them.  It was shock for me to be called like that on the divine telephone and given the message that I should make the change from human resources (inhuman resources I felt the department should be called; all we ever seemed to do was make people redundant), so a pay cut, fancy dress on Sundays, though the rest of the week will mostly find me in gardening gear at the vicarage.  I meet a lot more of my parish over the hedge than I ever do in church!  It seems to me a woman’s job - births, marriages, deaths, they have always been women’s work, to labour, to raise children in a Christian environment, to celebrate marriage, to mourn our fathers, husbands, in wartime our sons, to pick flowers for weddings and christenings, and tend graves, to break bread and offer wine and a shoulder to cry on, all these are women’s sacraments, and I honour them as such.  I am a feminist, too busy following my education and career to ever consider marriage.  I now find myself the big fellow’s handmaiden!  He is a demanding boss, always giving me something new to think about.  Like you.

You came over the churchyard last week and spoke to me through your tears.  I started to think I had that effect on people, but it goes with the territory.  People share their dreams and sorrows with the vicar.  We are nurses of the heart.  I call in the great doctor to give me a hand with the healing.  We make a good team.  But I didn’t know how to help you.  You asked me to network on your behalf.  You were looking for a woman to donate some eggs so you could have a baby.  Could I ask around in the parish if someone could help anonymously a couple who would love the chance to be parents?  You explained it would be uncomfortable, you would not be allowed to pay.  A truly Christian act is what you were looking for - someone who could share what they had been given with someone less fortunate.  It sounded text book.  I said I would see what I could do.

My heart leapt.  What an opportunity!  I am a woman like any other.  People don’t see a woman of desires and urges with the title ‘vicar’.   I have them.  I have never married but I have loved.  Men, women - and what of children?  My biological clock is ticking.  It tells me I do not have much longer if I am to fill this need to procreate.  I could give you my cells, freely given, that is not a problem he intends you to find a way around.  Don’t ask me why.  He doesn’t provide a crystal ball.  I think that is his point.  You are supposed to work it out for yourself.  That is why we are here: to learn our lesson and be what we have the potential to be.

Einstein once asked ‘How much choice did God have in constructing the universe?’  Did he create because he is the creator?  Did he get an option on being a meditating spirit who could just be?  Was the drive to create, like my biological clock, an imperative he would struggle to ignore?  Did he make the world because he was lonely, because he saw how beautiful it could be, because he wanted it to realise its potential?  All for good reasons for wanting to have a baby.  I know you feel them all.

So here we are on an expanding universe.  The scientists tell us it is in a perpetual inflationary state which mimics my weekly bill at Waitrose.  Particles, being, stars, galaxies moving on and on through space, time.  Expanding and cooling until the end of time, or until gravity reverses the process.  As the universe expands the distances between its components increase.  With increasing distance comes separation, with separation loneliness.

When I was young the extended family was the norm.  Grandparents, aunts, cousins all local and in contact.  Then came the nuclear family and as the atom was split we not find one in 4 marriages end in divorce.  The number of single parents in my parish increases.  Some mothers and children abandoned or choosing to cope alone.  How will this end?  With units of one?  Each of us spiralling off into a cold lonely universe?  How will we have children then?  By cloning our own egos as we buy out ultimate need - ourself.  We have it all here in my parish - wealth, homes and gardens, cars and holidays.  How will our children find themselves when they have it all already and have nothing to go and look for?  How will they find a partner who will treat them like their indulgent parents do?

All this wanting and getting and having.  The beautiful lifestyle.  The cult of the individual.  With no moral code, no cultural glue, no bond strong enough to hold them together as a couple, family, community…so such thing as society.  I pray for a future in which they will still manage to commit to each other, connect, relate, and procreate.

Suffer the little children to come unto me and I will teach them that love is the kingdom of heaven - touching another’s heart and being touched.

I was invited to tea at the vicarage.  I admired her roses over a cup of Earl Grey and then she got to the point.  The Fellow on the other end of the telephone, as she put it, felt egg donation was making things more complicated than he intended.  Acceptance was a hard lesson to learn, she said.  She talked about the dark night of the soul and I stared at the roses nodding until I could go.  The funny thing was when I thought about what she had said as I drove home I felt a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  I didn’t have to keep banging my already bruised head on this particularly brick wall.  I think Dirk felt I had bought what she said because she was an authority figure - and I didn’t really know what I felt.  We wanted to give it our best shot.  To feel we had done all we could.  I wanted to pray for success but I didn’t know who to pray to.  And I’m not sure what success is anymore.

We feel very alone in this.  If you are in physical pain the State takes care of you.  But for the endless emptiness of infertility you have to find your own answers.  Success equals happy families, that was my fantasy.    I was used to being successful, getting results.  As a buyer I had learnt that with the right resources - money, expertise - you could expedite, overcome difficulties.  Now results meant a blue line on a test kit, and I couldn’t get there.  I have it all: the cottage, roses round the door, bedrooms with patchworks ready for children to grow up in a ‘country living’ fantasy.  And it is empty.  I’m on the film set waiting for the actors to enter, children playing, happy voices, tears, family dramas.  The scenes of my childhood played again with me in the leading role of mother this time around.  But the actors don’t arrive and I am left alone.  When we are not loosing ourselves in work our lives had an order and peace which would be the envy of most working parents.  We look at each other and say we feel that our lives are over.  What else will happen?  More work, more holidays, retirement.  Ultimately what is the reason for being here if we are passing time?

Not so my parent friends who discuss with me what nursery, brownie pack, primary school, secondary school, university, job, relationship is their expectation, hope, dream, fear for their child, or just the latest funny/naughty/clever thing their youngest/eldest did/was.  And I want to belong to that club where I can look forward and see a whole new life happening with me involved, and then grandchildren.  And so I, and the things I care about, would go on and on into the future.  My children would say, ‘of yes, my mum is very stylish’.  ‘She would love this’ my grandchildren would say.  ‘This dish belonged to grannie.  I remember when she used it for those delicious roast parsnips’.

The things that give me so much joy would have continuity or someone would hate them and would rebel in true teenage style and refuse to wear the cardi I’d picked out, but at least there would be energy there.  A sense of belonging.  Belonging with the exhausted mums who gulp a glass of wine in the kitchen at toddlers parties, the reliable mums who turn up for reading practice, the fun mums who teach the actions to the songs at holiday club, the bitchy mums who gossip in cliquey groups at school gates, the competitive mums who drive the horse boxes to gymkhanas, the worried mums who are in the PTA, the perfectionist mums who make the cutest Christmas stockings, the achingly proud mums who snap the prettiest daughter in her prom dress.  I’ve considered all those occasions as a design brief, organised the photo shoot, sold the perfect outfit.  A psychologist said to me when I was depressed: “so then you decided you wanted to play happy families?”  I know they are not always happy.  Some people tell me I’m lucky.  Their son/daughter is their nightmare.  In that case they are their lesson.  That’s why they’ve been sent.  That’s what I believe: a karmic connection. 

We wanted to learn, to grow with our babies.

Dr Jean Foster.

How do we move forward? The next Generation.

I said in the section on synthetic hormones and cancer, and it is worth repeating that looking at this from the homoeopathic paradigm we can say that there is a miasm here, a predisposition in an individual to a pattern in susceptibility around oestrogen and cancer. For individuals with the propensity to produce a cancer picture, oestrogen may be a maintaining cause. Increasingly that sensitivity will already have been developed before birth. So why cancer, and what is the miasm? Auto-immunity – the body looses its ability to distinguish a threat, turns against itself. Goes into mass production of cells which are a danger to the body… they are all the same, do not function in a benign way, loose the human ability to respond and be flexible, become overgrown masses…

Hahnemann (founder of homeopathy) noted that it is impossible to cure fundamentally and permanently a chronic disease unless the underlying miasm is prescribed for. The miasm is an inherited or acquired weakness which predisposes the individual towards an identifiable pattern of illness. Five basic miasmatic types are recognised, each producing a tendency to manifest certain types of disease and behaviour; they are, Psora (fear), Sycosis (greed), Syphilis(self-destruct), Tuberculosis(disease of the urban poor), and Cancer.

Prescriptions are of the appropriate nosode (potentised products of the disease), or an anti-miasmatic remedy e.g. Sulphur for Psora. An active miasm may present symptoms which recur in spite of homoeopathic treatment. The active miasm may interfere with well-indicated remedies acting curatively at all or for any length of time. The appropriate nosode is given, often intercurrently with the remedy that has previously acted in order to reduce the activity of the miasm and increase the scope of the remedy prescribed so that fundamental and lasting improvement may be achieved. Another situation for use of a nosode when indicated remedies fail is when a patient lacks the vitality to throw off an acute, e.g. Clarke found Tuberculinum the best remedy to clear lingering influenza.

An exposed miasm dominates the presenting picture of the patient so that the mental state, food desires[1] etc. are characteristic of the remedy. In this situation the nosode is the indicated remedy and would be given as the sole and potentially the first remedy.

A dormant miasm may be discerned in the patient, indicated by family history or medical history[2] of the patient, but may not currently be active. Treating it with the relevant nosode may reactivate it and careful thought should be given to whether this is in the best interests of the patient, which it may be in the long term, only provided the patient has the resources to cope with it.

It came to Melissa Assilem that she may be seeing a new miasm;

‘It soon became clear that many women had symptoms between ovulation and menses, and most of them had been on the Pill at one time or another... Another amazing thing to emerge was the fact that many young women were having these problems, who had not been on the Pill but their mothers had been on the Pill before they were conceived. Remember the Pill has been available for thirty years now. At first I confused the picture with symptoms such as early sexuality, urinary infections, spaciness, etc. but as I got to know the Folliculinum (the Pill nosode) picture better, it began to dawn on me what the causation might be... [3]

We have seen the link between oestrogen and cancer, this is reflected in a link between folliculinum and Carcinosin, the breast cancer nosode, oestrogen stimulates cell growth > cancer gets stuck in cell overgrowth; both are syphilitic, self destructive. Dorothy Cooper relates that she starts by using Carcinosin but adds folliculinum if she does not get a lasting response...the remedies are so similar around overgrowth of cells, receptive, wanting to please, controlled, history of domination. Carcinosin can also be controlling, perfectionist, look like arsenicum. Folliculinum can look like lachesis, huge sensitivity, ‘excitation alternating with depression; extreme sensitiveness to tough; symptoms > discharges... folliculinum lacks the laterality, and the aggravation by sleep; folliculinum has aggravation during ovulation.’ (Julian).

What about the next generation, will they be able to choose NOT to take hormones? Look at the hormones in the beef and dairy industry. We have a new miasm, the taint of the synthetic hormones. Individuals can choose homoeopathy and acquire the knowledge, if they are lucky, to look after themselves, but as a society can we choose against the vested interests? I have come to the conclusion that we have to do it in small ways, if enough people make healthy choices the money and the media will follow. We can not go on burying our body’s symptoms with synthetic hormones, denying ageing with cosmetic surgery and HRT, trying to keep our bodies alive in a life which denies their ability to respond and move – like a fly preserved in the amber trap.


Ed’s eyes were on Grace’s photograph when he was disturbed from his musings by his door opening.  An old lady stood in front of him trembling.  “What is it”, he asked.  “I’m frightened”, she said.  “What, what do you want?  Why are you frightened?”  “I want to go to the dining room.”  “Well, go in.  Its lunchtime.”  “I’m frightened.”  “Why? Who of?”  “Them.  They won’t let me sit down.  They say it’s not my place.”  Ed took the shaking lady to the dining room.  There was a spare seat at a table where three old ladies sat.  As he approached they waved their arms at her like crows.  “Not here.  Go away.  That’s not your place.”  Ed ignored them and sat her down then raced for his own seat.  How unlike him to be late for lunch.  This anger had taken his out of his sadness.  How dare they pick on that old lady?  He remembered her as one he had seen in the corridor, eating the sand out of the plant pots.

After lunch Ed set off to find Matron, told her about the old lady who was being bullied. Oh, Lucy, said Matron, yes, those other women don't respect her cos she has no visitors - silly lot- their every sentence starts... my son the Doctor... their children give them status and identity and they can't see that Lucy has any in their world - she's better off without them. Well,  sit her with me then please, said Ed. We can swap stories, I didn't invest enough in my son so both of us missed out on parenting, Lucy and I can talk about something else.

In the hall he was distracted by the warm sunlight flooding through the open doorway.  Ed decided to take a walk.  The local shops were ten minutes walk along the road.  Ed could buy a paper and enjoy the sunshine.  He grabbed his binoculars and crunched down the gravel path and felt his spirits rise with the sense of purpose and fresh air.  He regarded the building, a two storey red brick house with a double bay window front, surrounded by gardens laid to lawn with paving paths winding around the house.  And in the shadows behind the windows he glimpsed or sensed ninety pairs of palest, steely grey eyes intent on nothing.

At the gate Ed saw there was no pavement on this side of the road and watched two cars pass then walked across the tarmac.  On the other side a hedge ran along the side of a field of Friesian cows grazing the emerald grass.  Their bulk gave them a significance and solidity.  They were everlasting life and the season themselves wherever you had been in England over the last years there had always been cows in fields.  And they would endure. Plenty of birds here...

Ed was disturbed from his thoughts by a shout from the drive opposite.  One of the young nurses was running towards him, her hat askew.  Ed walked quickly to meet her, concerned at what of import could have happened.  “You can’t do that!”  Ed realised her concern was directed at him.  “You can’t go out on your own.”  Ed stared at her in incomprehension.  “We have to supervise you at all times.  We’re responsible.  And I haven’t got time to go out walking with you.  Anyway, where are your heart pills?”  Ed reached for his pocket and brought out a small brown plastic bottle.  The nurse was not satisfied.  “Anything could have happened.  This road is very dangerous.” Seeing Ed’s face drop her voice softened.  “Come back in and soon there will be a nice cup of tea.”

Ed followed her back into the house.  All his pleasure in the still beautiful day gone.  He did not go after the nurse in the public lounge.  He turned the handle of the fourth door along the corridor and went into his room.

He sat on the chair and stared out of the window, no longer seeing the warmth and colour of the day.  So this is what it has come to, he thought.  Can’t even walk to the paper shop on my own.  Have to spend the rest of my life being supervised.  I’ve travelled all over the world.  Lived in dangerous Africa and wild Canada.  And now sunny Riverside is too dangerous for me.  Out of bounds.  Curfew.  Confined to barracks.  His sadness outweighed his anger.  He saw the full circle.  Helpless baby, cared for and cosseted; daring youth; mature adult, provider and carer, to doddering old age, supervised, waiting for God to deliver him to heaven where he would sail the skies on a cloud and cavort with a cherub girl.

We had one more try – got the hospital to place an advert for us in the local paper, trying to find the right words to ask someone who didn't even know us to go through an invasive proceedure and even pain to help us, was hard… first draft:

“Maybe you have children and would like to help a couple who long for children of their own by becoming an anonymous egg donor? If so, contact the medical secretary on….”

I don’t know you.  I answered an advert you placed via a hospital asking for an egg donor.  Your words stopped me and held me and touched my heart as I looked through the classifieds on the tube that any day morning, on a short break ashore.  Something like “Maybe you already have children and would like to help a couple who so much want to experience the joy of raising a family…”  Well, I have no children, and family rising isn’t something my tribe go in for.  We just seem to muddle through as friends, exchanging parenting to mother, daughter, and grandmother as trauma dictates.  So I kind of like the idea of some genes of mine having two whole parents… my tribe live like gypsies, we go where the work takes us.  Songbirds we call ourselves.  Grandmother, mother and daughter we sing harmonies together on cruise ships.  We appeal to three generations of punters and the cruise companies like that.  Old guys still get bewitched by my grandmother’s big brown eyes and their wives coo over the likeness with her descendants as we wear matching red silk and sequins and strut our stuff as the passengers half time drinks.

The sea, says my grandmother, Grace, is a very romantic place.  It is where she fell for my grandfather between Liverpool and Dublin, and after as he comforted her, on the saddest and happiest day of her life.  Well, I have seen the Irish Sea and I prefer the Maldives.  But he must have been a nice guy, even if men do think mostly with their willies.  The waiters we have on our cruises think exclusively with their’s.    She only met him the once.  But that was all it took to get landed with my mum, Gran says.  Seems to me it was her sister got landed with my mum as Gran hopped off on another tour to croon her love songs and moon over her lost love.  Mum repeated the tradition by learning the difference between girls and boys from one of the waiters.  And so we were three.  Don’t think I’m grumbling.  I’ve seen the world, at least three times, being brought up on ships.  And I was as cute as Shirley Temple in broderie anglaisé, the kid all the Saga tours liked to spoil as they showed Gran photos of their grandchildren.  She doesn’t do much singing now, mostly reclines on a chaise longue centre stage and smiles that sweet smile, while her still brown eyes always seem to be searching the audience.  We tease her rotten Mum and I - still searching after all these years - will you recognise him with grey hair. If he has any?  And I don’t think she would recognise him.  He is an ideal.  Ever young, tender, caring as he was then in that story we have heard over so many G & T’s.  She never had to see him drunk and leery. 

And I suppose this is what this is about.  Ideals.  This couple want to play happy families and I want to think, as I pull out of port for another escapist trip on another cruise -  Gran’s last, she say - in a few weeks time.  I want to think I’m leaving a part of me behind in rainy Blighty, to grow up - under these grey skies, in these crowded streets, horrid houses - and have a normal life.

Music, beauty, escape to sunshine and glamour.  We all want it, we want to make ourselves beautiful, have lovely lives, the forever young, and eternal.  We are our own only creations.  We want to be what we want.  We consume all these clothes, holiday, and travel; experience all these parts of our selves.  We are consumed by being consumers.  I want something more.  I want to know in my secret thoughts as I settle down in my bunk that somewhere in England a child with big brown eyes knows they have a home.

I was pregnant for six weeks and as I watched the tears roll down Dirk’s cheeks at the scan I knew it was over.

She is my daughter.  For Christmas I bought her a book ‘The Gift of Story’.  Two weeks later before Christmas she got the results of a test which were not what we all had hoped for.  The story I gave is called ‘What is enough’.

The author is one of the ‘keepers of stories’ - for her Hungarian people.  A very important role for it is their belief that stories can heal individuals and strengthen communities.

The story told very simply of a couple whose country has been ravaged by war.  They are very poor.  The two precious things they have are her beautiful head of hair which hangs almost to her feet, and his old watch passed down from his grandfather.  It is Christmas and they long to buy each other gifts. She sells her hair to buy him a watch chain and he sells his watch to buy her combs for her hair.  In the sorrow of discovering the futility of their loss they each realise the strength of the other’s love. 

Two weeks before Christmas we lost the hope of children’s laughter.  But we found out how much we each want to share this with each other.  Perhaps that is enough.


I couldn’t stay put to watch her self-destruct – I found it easy to be a spiritual healer – patients were just dimly aware of me as a presence – they were so lost in their own pain – I just let them channel it away through me… the palmist could see that Stella had the potential….

You have here medical stigmata, a very arty-farty name and it doesn’t mean you’ve got to dash out and be a doctor or a nurse.  This tells me that you’re a natural healer and that you were like that before you decided to be a homeopath.  You have the natural ability to heal people through either talking to them or listening to them.  There is something about you that makes people feel better about themselves which is what healing is about not pills and potions and bandages and sticking a plaster over something.  Its about getting to the bottom of things and you have got two healer marks and two developing healer marks which tells me that  actually you may well  be doubling your healing potential in the not too distant future because these lines are developing which heal others and through that process heal your whole self…holistic healing.

Your teacher mark is still very distinct, very deep and I want you to consider the possibility that a part of your future is to teach another so you may ….everyone’s entitled to your opinion…but I think as well this makes me think of life-coaching.  I certainly feel that you being with special needs children is right for now and it’s certainly a step on the ladder but ultimately there’s a life coaching element here as well.  I don’t mean in a corporate sense…it’s not like that at all.  It’s about redressing the balance or about helping people get balance in their lives.

Well this is a much firmer hand and I feel you have overcome your childhood inability to let things happen, let things come out, to express your feelings and your opinion and you  are now very open indeed which has to be to your benefit and if we start off with on this line it tells me there are issues in your core that to this day are unresolved and there’s only one way to resolve them and that is to drag them back and look them in the face and only you can decide if that’s going to be worth it ‘cos its going to be hard journey, you will make a sacrifice, I can see that … you need to decide just when in your life the timing is right for you…. when its appropriate for you to do that.


Through all this my energy had suffered.  I wasn’t depressed any more although ripples of grief came up like gentler and less frequent waves as they rippled away from the stone that I had felt had been cast into my very being.  I don’t know whether it is the grieving which takes so much energy, for so long, you release just as much as you can cope with.  And I was very tired.  Every time I had finished fertility treatment I got menopausal symptoms and I was able to give my friends a decade early warning on what it is to have hot flushes - handy to warm you up in winter - always dress in layers that you are forever taking off and putting on as the hot lush is followed by a cold damp feeling.  I had lost the confidence and energy to shop and spent four years in indigo jeans, layers of t shirts and a navy fleece.  I didn’t go shopping.  I hadn’t the energy to consume.  Even the supermarket bill was halved as my appetite on every level was affected.  And shopping took so much energy.  I spent hours in there, agonising over every decision - which tea, which brand, organic or not, special offer get-on-free.  Every decision tipped by fragile energy reserves into negative.  I was running on empty.

We decided to look at adoption.  We went for the course with the Social Services, were shown pictures of the sad, brave faces from break ups and the disabled or hyperactive kids whose parents couldn’t cope.  We were advised on the hoops we should jump through to get one and the level of intrusion into our lives we could expect from the lovely, hearts-of-gold, doing-it-for-the children care workers, who had to make sure we weren’t mad, bad and dangerous to know.  We accepted that as much contact as possible with the natural parents would be best for the kids, that most adoptive parent relationships don’t last beyond teens, that anger and acting out with us as the punch bag was healthy and to be hoped for. We just didn’t have the energy or emotional resilience to contemplate committing to that whole process for the next fifteen odd years. It felt like the end of a dream. 


Wasn't sure about the adoption idea - someone outside family may have boundaries that would not admit me... Or maybe I could try to shift into anyone.. mmmm - what would I choose... beauty, power.... What makes an individual? How seperate is anyone from their time, their collective subconcious? What makes a life?

Let’s go round again.  Maybe we’ll turn back the hands of time.  Let’s go round again, one more time.   Strange, rare and peculiar.  I make an exhibition of myself.  I need it.  When my energy is big I want the whole world to notice me.  When they do I want them to love me, to praise me.  I can’t take criticism, but I need to be out there.  I am a victim of myself.  I make it difficult for myself and for everyone I love.  I mix it.  I thrive on energy.  Let go.  Make it easy on yourself, baby.  Make it easy on yourself.     


The creativity markings quite contrarily…I’ve got to ask because this hand - its all backwards: mirrors and reflections, a twinning, equal and opposite - were you born naturally left-handed and somebody encouraged you to use your right hand because there’s a lot on here that should be the other way round but none-the-less… people used to do that, they don’t do it any more thank goodness if you’re left handed your going to be left handed but the creativity markings here are broken when you were maturing?  Very often on the adult hand they’ve got an ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay’ attitude and leave all the creativity behind … with the mood swings…. But you are undoubtedly a creative person.  You’re still going to have more creativity on your adult hand than your childhood hand… they’re all creative things but in terms of palmistry that would show as creative markings but there wouldn’t be more of them….. strange, it’s like a multiplication by two… perhaps you are naturally a left handed person and that you’ve been told to write with your right hand and do things with your right hand because this would originally have been your childhood hand not the other way around…

Can I ask did you get suicidal at some point in your life?  Did you actually try to take your life?……….I’m pleased to say you’re not going to be thinking about that ever again but it does show that you had those dark thoughts.   I’m very glad that you don’t have them the way you did.  It’s almost a yardstick of how strong a person you are.

Do you have any children?… because there are lots of children on this palm.  They’re not yours.  So you’re very involved and a lot of little people really matter …….there’s lots of little girls mixed in but see these two long deep vertical lines there these are boys and then there’s a series of boys and girls…they’re twice the length of girls and those are very much more strongly defined than the rest which are quite faint lines - you’re involved in their lives and come and go out of their lives..  Could be good for all of you….

There’s not a whole lot more that I can give you from the palm to be honest except you really are on the right path and I wish you well and hope you will continue with it….. your lines get joined up and the suicide thing here and the fact that its all broken up here tells me that the ordeal is no longer there and is not going to be but you are more level, probably more level than you’ve ever been in your life - there will still be swings because you have a heart…and that’s understandable, there’s nothing wrong with it.

The creativity is still there with you - I think that always will be and the other good news is your head line ends in a complete and utter dead end.  That means that even if people think you are crazy ‘cos you are different you are never going to be ……it is a comfort to know that sometimes.

A lot….expressed in your hands There are some developing lines still happening – I feel that you are gradually learning as you’ve gradually learnt how to separate matter from emotion…and it’s all good stuff.  I want you to put value on the fact that you’ve done this yourself

I’ll finish with an Angel card for you:  Adventure - life is an adventure.  Be ready for the unexpected and make the most of all opportunities.  The angel wisdom suggests you should get out of any habits in which you’re stuck.  Do things that are different and face life with a sense of wonder.  If the path seems dark do as you would if you were exploring a dark place.  Ask your angels to light up the way and watch for the signs and signals that tell you where and how to go.  Explore the new with excitement and courage.  These magnetic qualities will attract others and add zest to relationships.  The angels are inspiring you to look forward with anticipation, expectancy and hope.  Affirm to yourself and face the adventure of life eagerly.   A lovely one to finish on. 


I went to a coffee morning in the village.  It was in aid of the orphanages who take in the girl babies who are left in carrier bags on train platforms in China.  Just for being born a girl or one too many.  The anger against biology matched my own.  We had to try to help.  I was ringing agencies in America, orphanages in Kurdistan.  Everything took so long and so much effort.  I needed some clarity.  A friend told me about a medium.  Perfect.  She would be able to tell me where our child is so finding her would be quicker and easier.  There was no time or energy to waste.

She didn’t look like a witch.  Blonde, mother of two, with rabbits in a hutch outside the kitchen window and paintbrushes in the sink while she made tea on the aga.  I told her she needed to scan the globe to see where that child who was notched on my palm was waiting for us to rescue them.  She touched my shoulder and it was like an electric charge.
“It’s not for you.  All the love you feel could not be crammed into one child.  It would be a bottleneck.  If would not be best for the child and would destroy you.  Many children will come to you, as teacher, healer, you will be pivotal in their lives.  You will love them all without possessing them.  It is because you will share your energy with them without tending their every need that you will help so many. This will feed your energy.  You will thrive on it.  Give up the wanting to possess and hold that love in your heart for all those who come.”

I got back in the car in shock.  How many times did I need to be told?  You know when you know something to be true, but would I listen?  Sasha lived nearby.  I drove through my tears to find her and her three kids sitting on the sofa under a blanket with a bucket to be sick in between them.  They wouldn’t have passed the £5 test.  If a £5 note had been just out of reach they wouldn’t have moved to pick it up.  It was only as the hearing engineer was there (third time that month - such are the joys of oil central heating) that someone could answer the door.

I told an ashen Sasha what had happened, interrupted by her youngest, my adored god child throwing up on blankie, her comfort blanket which hand crocheted or not was going in the machine on cycle one directly she would let it out of her tight little fists.  Sasha agreed that this was a bit of a bummer.  She had already been sorting Helen’s old baby clothes for the impending arrival of Chinese triplets to play with her three kids, cat, 2 guinea pigs a rabbit and one lizard, being the current size of the family, and hopefully to stay that way unless the guineas turned out to have been sexed incorrectly (they did) as hubby was being sent for the snip as soon as she could book him in.  I hadn’t seen Sasha throwing up since her last pregnancy, when she did most days, long after the third month, when you are supposed to feel better, and the present experience was reminder her she wasn’t ever going to do that again.  As she was incapable of keeping her legs crossed after a bottle of red wine measures were urgently needed.

“Why me?” I sobbed, “when I have ten nephews and nieces now, why can’t I have just one of my own?”  Sasha tried to look sympathetic and just managed to look bilious.  Nausea had suspended her scepticism in this whole medium thing.  She needed to get through counselling me so she could go and shout at the central hearing engineer.  The ‘S’ had fallen off the logo on his van so it read ‘hell direct’.  He seemed to have moved in for the week as he had been there three days and the boiler was now in more pieces that a difficult jigsaw.  Sasha offered the ultimate in TLC, a cup of tea, if I could just go to make it myself, only there was no water as the system had been drained, of course.

I took myself away, promising to return with a flask of peppermint tea for her.  Dirk was slightly baffled by yet another hysterical plan, he had been supporting me for so long in this it had become our relationship… I just couldn’t see another way for us to be together, we shouted, pleaded with each other to share each other’s vision of a way forward – I took some time out at my sister's ashram to try and make sense of the voices I was having in my head like almost constant radio noise, when I came back he had gone.

Now we had had 2 tries at IVF and I wanted to try again. Dirk wasn't sure this would be good for us. The excitement of trying had gone over the last year to grief and exhaustion yet all my dreams of our future were about us and our children. I saw us again and again running into the garden together, a girl and a boy with Dirk's eyes. Dirk had started to talk gently about other futures - travelling, even emigrating, having that business I’d always wanted - a shop to sell clothes by students from the fashion colleges - to help them pay their way and learn the business. Now he had come to tell me he couldn't go on grieving again and as that was all I could think of he felt it was best if we had some time apart. He was going to stay with his parents in Holland for a bit - he could work as easily from there. He’d come back anytime I was prepared to start to move on - without knocking my head against the same brick wall. I was numb - couldn't take I what he was saying. He was looking for me to realise he was serious - that he would walk away rather than carry on as we were. I was angry - how could he abandon me when I was hurting so much, but the next day saw him get into his car and drive away. I rang Sasha - cried down the phone - where was I going to get the sperm to try again? That, said Sasha, is the least of your problems - and until you see that I think Dirk might be right to stay away.


No I can’t let you do this. I see I was wrong, I’ve tried to force you to find another life for me for far too long and now you are trying to find yourself you have lost the best thing in our life – Dirk… just a bit of shape shifting… I can get him back…

[1] Indicating the metabolism.
[2] Cancer, diabetes, mononucleosis...
[3] Assilem, Folliculinum: Mist or Miasm? The Homoeopath 11.1., 1991