When I come across a new bit of New Age stuff, such as, attracting what you want to yourself from the Universe through your vibrations, I set my inner rationalist on it. And in this case, my rationalist says something which my inner toddler translates as, “NAWB alert! NAWB alert!”

But I have other tools. What of the basic Sea of Faith understanding that religion is Metaphor, that even if the doctrine does not literally describe reality it is the product of human experience and may be useful: so to a SoFty, the Resurrection did not happen, but it is True. Then there is de Bono’s idea of a Po, a poetic or provocative utterance: what matters is not whether it is true, but whether it provokes useful thought.

My other tool is to take it a bit at a time. It may not be that by “vibrating” I can attract things I want, but it is possible that by vibrating I may drive them away. How am I vibrating? Can I at least cease driving things away?

A habit which I might reduce is the use of a new concept as a new rod for my back: not vibrating right becomes not vibrating right yet. A habit which I might increase is, taking responsibility. Am I responsible for my life so far? Yes.


I am really enjoying doing Yoga badly. Alice puts one arm round something and through something else, and miraculously her hands meet. My hands are a yard apart still, and that is quite alright. Put your head on the mat- use a block if you need to- oh well, three blocks. “Don’t fight the pose” is a useful tip, rather than straining to go further with muscular control, just relax into it, go further. So I get better. My PE teacher said that if we practised, we could do the splits after about ten weeks. That was thirty years ago, but I am sure the principle still holds. I will get better, I will go further, if I do this. It is beautiful, and its beauty will increase for me.

The hall where I do it is in a village which seems Mediaeval: manor house at one end, church at the other, street of houses in between with one cross-street by the church. No pedlars, as far as I am aware. It is in the Domesday Book.

I am enjoying doing it badly, because I still get harsh on myself for doing things badly, and then next time stop trying. Yes, that is childish. Yes, I have noticed and am finding myself able to avoid that.

I will make no undertakings or promises about the future, because I get all insh-Allah-y about such things, but I notice that I want grace in my carriage and deportment, and notice that yoga may help with this aim. Such Edwardian words- grace in deportment! Out of fashion because they were made a chore, the concept seems to me a joy.

Mistakes and disorders

My lot are not the only women who get mistaken for men. If you are over 5’6″ or your hip to waist ratio is less than 1.4, it has probably happened to you at least once; but we are the only ones who, when we politely explain there is a mistake, are regularly disbelieved.

Once, oh happy memory, I was reverse-read. There I was in jacket and tie and trench coat, going to the other office. As I left the bus, I sang out “thank you” in a light voice, and the busdriver said “Orright Love” then looked round and said, “Sorry, mate”. I walked off floating on air. And once, when presenting male, I visited a friend, and afterwards her ten year old son asked her, “Was that a woman?”

Today, four women were talking loudly about wigs. This did not necessarily refer to me, but it might have done. My friend thought this showed success: if they comment on your wig, they would comment on your being T if they noticed it. And I do not think it meant they would have noticed it was a wig, but for the fact that they saw me leaving the wig shop. I would rather be able to grow my own hair, but feel less moved to whinge about my wigs than some people whinge about their hair, so am happy enough with wearing wigs. I liked the new one when I put it on, and it’s really growing (!) on me.

I am delighted that the World Professional Association for Transgender Health has decided that gender non-conformity is not a “disorder”. It is just part of the natural diversity of human beings. Their new standards of care are discussed and excerpted here. I have known that I am not mad for years, but I am glad the professionals have at last admitted it.


This is the first Madonna and child I acquired. I bought it in Florence, after being in the Uffizi, and seeing all those scores of Annunciations, Gabriel and Mary in every conceivable relationship, Mary with every conceivable expression, one story used to express so many different ideas. It is a simple thing, printed onto the wood, and its colours seem a little dull. They need candlelight to come into their own.

It is full of symbolism, such as the crown of thorns around the child’s left wrist, but at heart it is a young woman and her child, a far more naturally baby-like child than in Orthodox icons with a baby’s proportions. The consciousness in the child’s face is also naturalistic: I have a photograph of my sister bathing her son in a basin (which he would not wish to be published, I think). They have eye contact, and the consciousness and trust expressed on his face are beautiful. I know little of photography, but I do know that one of my favourite subjects is people in eye contact.

It is something I have lived with, and living with a beautiful thing I get to know it, and see more and more detail in it; and then pass it, and notice it briefly, so that its beauty continually enriches me.

Men kissing

I love the art gallery in Oldham. I know the Turbine Hall, say, is a wonderful space, and they do good stuff in it, but I used to love when walking along Union St looking up at that third floor gallery, north and south walls all glass. The twenty-foot steel dandelion seeds in particular were visible from the street. There has been an art gallery over the library for decades. They get out their Turner and their Gainsborough occasionally or their collection of Chartist or Suffragette memorabilia and show impressive and beautiful touring exhibitions, and there was a large expansion in the 1990s.

When the BNP were doing their worst in Oldham, seeking to foment support by building suspicion and self-pity and resentment (they never got a single councillor) and people expressed to me their misery and anger- “They come here and They get everything and we get nothing”- the Gallery helped sustain my hope. The one single art work which did this more than any other was a picture of two men kissing, and as I looked at this celebration I felt my own queerness might have a place in the World.

Peregrine Worsthorne writes in the Spectator that gay men kissing in public inspire revulsion, and that gay sex scenes in books might provoke a straight backlash. So I asked some straight friends, who agreed that a hetero couple making out can provoke irritation or disapproval too- Get a Room! He thinks that the kissing couple would be assaulted, were it not for “politically correct culture imposed from above”, and I think they are protected from assault by basic English courtesy and decency, as the different-sex couple are. If you want to see a British way of treating a gay couple, watch The Great British Bakeoff.

Faith can move mountains

What on Earth was Jesus on about? Was it just another way in which he was so much above us normal people, by faith making the blind see and the lame walk and the dead rise? Should I seek to construct in myself a belief that this mountain, or mole hill, is somewhere else, and, when I see it is not so, just account myself one of little faith, unable even to curse a fig tree?

Sometimes, I cannot know that I can achieve what I want to achieve, but I can see the first step I must take towards that goal. And so I take that step, even though I do not see the path ahead, and possibly it will not achieve that goal. So I have faith to take that step. Whereupon, I may see that another step is possible. Or, as my role model said, at one time she did not know that she wanted to spend the rest of her life expressing herself as female, but she did know that she wanted to investigate gender psychiatrists. So she did. She did not need, that day, to make so momentous a decision, just a comparatively small one.

Or, sometimes, I need faith to remain open to possibilities, when my goal seems impossible, and hope seems merely a painful, destructive illusion. Only if I have the faith to remain open to possibilities, will I have the ability to perceive them.

light on the stones

You know that light
where the rain is so light, it is almost mist
and the sky is a uniform Pale
and each leaf is individual, above the gravestones
and the grey stone wall
When love of God and love of people intermingles
and I am not wrong
and we are not Wrong

Everyone would be happier
freed from the anger
screaming and clutching at Fred Goodwin,
MPs flipping and Russell Brand
and the beauty of your intellect
almost convinces me we can know the Truth
even as I am fully known

Dispute- Leading- Yes

At its best, in the Quaker business method we thrash out our disagreement, and someone will be moved to propose a solution. Then the atmosphere changes, and we all unite behind that solution, in a joyous Yes. We do not shout yes- we might murmur, “hope so”, douce quiet Quakers that we are- but there is a sense in the air.

Unfortunately, things get in the way. One person may be overly attached to one particular solution: so we attempt to seek what is Good: “God’s will”, or the highest Good accessible from where we are now. We need to seek that good without attachment. We need to love and consider each person in the room. We need to allow each person to say what they feel moved to say, trusting that the process will lead us to the right decision through each of our presence, despite each of our failings; and we need to be content with unknowing, and defer a decision to another day if necessary.

I am aware of cases where we have got this spectacularly wrong, where a small clique has successfully controlled the decision making to create a decision they feel happy with, rather than the right decision. The root cause of two particular cases of this was one person being valued more highly than another. Equality is essential in a Quaker meeting: the only hierarchy is from respect, earned individually from each person, and a high baseline of respect given to everyone. And yet I know Quakerly decision making is possible, and I am committed to felicitating it.

The God Complex, part 2

How can I have faith in God, and be an adult?

The first reason is, this is my experience. Synchronicities throughout my life, moving me towards growth and healing. Every hair on my head numbered? It feels that way.

Second, it is the experience of others. Forgive me, but all that New Age stuff- the Golden Light project which I am now following and which blesses me, the Law of Attraction, a Reality Computer programmed by our thoughts, is moving towards a reality which was long before found by Quakers, Sufis, Baha’is, Franciscans.

Third, I have taken to heart a paradox. There is no God. God exists. As my psychiatrist friend said, he could help most people except the ones who vomited their problems onto his consulting room floor and said “You deal with it”. My idea of God fits my idea of Reality, my adult responsibility and all, and all my life I have received unlooked-for and unimaginable Gifts (often quite painful at the time) and Blessings.

What God is- Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, whatever- I accept as myth. I do not need to make a decision as to whether I believe in the Resurrection, for example; I am aware of the image, and I treat it with respect. It does not matter whether it happened, it only matters whether it is true.

I have faith in so many things I cannot understand, from the strange propensity of other drivers to drive on the left too, so we can all rush along at 70mph, or the amazing medical solutions to problems people I know have, the diversity of Earth and Universe, the force of Love and Life and Reality, and so I am happily Panentheist.

Oh, and I had a cliffhanger. How Doctor Who is that?

The God Complex

On Saturday, Doctor Who refuted religion. There was a monster like a Minotaur or Nimon (I recognised the reference, I am a mad keen long term fan) which terrified its victims into relying on their Faith. It then took their faith and fed on it, killing them. A gambler had faith in Fortuna, a blogger (not the most flattering portrait) had faith in his conspiracy theories. Amy had faith in The Doctor, so he had to destroy it (“I really am just a mad man in a box”) so that she could stand on her own two feet, like an adult, and the monster, cheated of its prey, died.

And I thought of the poor souls in Zone Six of Shikasta, pointlessly keening,

Save me, God,
Save me, Lord,
I love you,
You love me.
Eye of God,
Watching me,
Pay my fee,
Set me free.

And then they vanish into a whirlpool in the sand.

So. How can I have faith in God, and be an adult? Am I really just being childish, and clinging onto fantasies, avoiding responsibility?