Bedside manner

A woman had to see the cardiologist. The first thing he said to her was that she had to give up smoking. So she did, just like that: it was her health, she knew she had to, she did. She saw him again a month later, and expected a little stroking: did you? Oh well done, that is difficult, congratulations, it will make you feel so much better etc. Instead he said, “You’re far too fat. You need to lose a stone”. She left the room wanting nothing so much as a fag and a creamcake.

I saw one unsympathetic specialist, and could not bear to see him again, though I needed what he only could prescribe. I went private.

I find that if people tell me their woes, and I show my respect and sympathy, they feel better for it. I feel as if I am a wire, earthing distress. I can generally shed any distress I feel from the story quite quickly, though in the case of a schizophrenic woman it took two hours, and I had to talk to a friend to do it. She told me things which were true- she had problems at work, then got sacked; or clearly false- there was a radio transmitter in her head, which transmitted her thoughts to the Government; but it was the things which were in between, not clearly either, that most messed with my head.

And I have heard people who seem to have a bottomless pit of distress, and can pour it out to me yet have an infinite amount more. I feel ill after, and feel I have given no benefit. It is the sense that I give a benefit that makes the experience worthwhile for me.


“Just noticing life, humanity and such”. I am rather enjoying the blog “Elise on Life”. She wrote of finding the blessing in an irritation, and I asked how to know whether one was merely suppressing the negative emotion. She suggests I observe my responses objectively, either assessing after, or watching at the time.

This particularly interests me, as I have not been happy with my observer. I was most conscious of her recently, looking over my shoulder and judging how I responded in the sweat lodge. Whereas I knew I wished to channel spirit and respond in the moment spontaneously, rather than try to judge how I am responding based on my fantasies of how people will react to me.

I suppose the good news here is that I can be in the moment, responding spontaneously- angry swearing is a good example- and I can also stand beside myself, and observe. What I seek is to notice both, and to choose which fits my purpose; and see if I may sense moving between the two ways of being, or influence it. I also seek to perceive reality rather than my fantasies: this is an ongoing project.

Please do have a look at my updated photos page, Snap snap, grin grin.

Was it only last week?

Was it only last week
that the sun warmed me through a thin sweater
and the last of the blackberries delighted my mouth?
Now gales from Rockall sing in the heart of England
and in the first frost, the blackberries are withered on the vine.
Still warm in coat and gloves,
I know that this withdrawing
is not a loss, but preparation:
the death which brings the necessary change.
Trust the potential in unknowing.
See the beauty in what is.
Watch for the growth which is coming.

What do people think?

I met a man who had a weeping birthmark covering half his head. He told me that as he passed two teenage girls in the street, they stared at him, then¬†one turned to the other and said, “Yeughh”. Appearance matters.

Then again, what is my reaction, to, say, a woman who has lost her hair through recent chemotherapy? I am trying to cut down on pity, and replace it with respect and equality: pity looks down on someone, takes control, and says I want to help in my way, now, where in my own loss I want only the help I want, whether it be listening, practical help, or a distraction. I seek to show respect and hope my first impression can take in more than hair loss.

I think this respect reaction is commoner than the judging reaction. What do people think? They do not look down on me, not usually. Perhaps they take me at my own estimation.

As you know, we are “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous” (this attribution informs me¬†the quote has¬†nothing to do with Nelson Mandela). I feel that if I can walk in my own dignity, my carriage showing that dignity, then I can go with my head bare. And, in public, I cannot, yet, not without a hat at least, usually a wig. I need the prop. I will still be afraid when I see the son of the living one. I still have something to hide.

What will people think?

In August, eating al fresco with my father in the Grassmarket, I took my wig off, and the world did not end.

It is a noble cobbled plaza just to the south-east of the volcanic plug crowned by the castle. The high tenements have architectural frolics, like that conical cap to a turret down Cowgate. It brings to mind the cheery rhyme,

up the Grassmarket
and up the West Bow
Up the long ladder
and down the little tow

because public executions were held here until 1864. But that day, the world did not end, I did not find myself at the centre of an HM Bateman cartoon. Even my father, circumspect in his advice when the heat is in me, said nothing untoward.

At camp in the Summer, I wandered around with my wig off, and that was alright. I have done it while touristing, in a sun hat with a wider brim, and a long, loose cotton skirt, something unambiguously to show that I am female. It is too hot in the Dordogne in August, for a Scot in a wig.

Insofaras I can say that there is any constant I among my changing thought and morality, it is that I am Female. If there is any constant desire it is to express myself female and be seen as female. In 2002 I put on my wig and padding and painted my face, and took off my pretense, the strain of acting male. I could just be.

But my head, with terribly sparse hair at the front, none on the crown and thick round the sides so that, shaved, it produces a mannish shadow, gives this the lie. It proclaims I am male, which I cannot bear. I almost do not care what others think, whether they see me as a person, or see my character and personality truly and so still see this aspect of my physical being as feminine, it proclaims maleness to me, so I hide it. Someone I met wore a wig in bed, she was so upset by her baldness.


There is delight everywhere. Seize it and make it yours.

A single grape. Pay it your entire attention, and feel its sweetness explode in your mouth.

Can you see a plant? A tree or a blade of grass, go to it and see its beauty. Say hello.

In places where there are no plants, human beings still like to create and possess things which have no purpose except beauty. If you can see it, in that moment it is yours. Its beauty enriches you, and if you turn away from it you hardly need the memory, there are so many new beautiful things to see and take in.

Consider the wonder you can see where you are. The electric light, the connection of your phone or computer, the ordered way in which strangers meet and pass in the street. What we have made together.

Consider the wonder in you, muscle and bone and sinew, perception intellection and decision, movement and repose. Look at the back of your hand, how perfect it is.

All things are a source of joy. Beauty and wonder and delight are everywhere, there, at all times and in all places, only needing to be noticed.

This post started as a comment on VerVitae, and grew from there. An astrologer inspired it.

Thanks to Gneiss Moon and Carlene O’Conner for educating me on¬†astrology. However, I have made¬†a decision on synastry: while astrologers should look to Venus and Mars for males and females, they should look to Mercury for Gynandrous or Neutrois people. That is, if it says¬† the relationship I want is going to go well.

Another astrological report

Being still unaware what was in my ascendant, I tried again. This time a search for Astrological Chart brought me to Chaos Astrology. They state,

Everything – from atom to galaxy – is rooted in the same universal and all-pervasive reality. And this reality reveals itself in the purposeful, ordered and meaningful processes of nature, as well as in the deepest recesses of the human mind and spirit.

Fair enough. I have read a little of the wonders of quantum physics and the butterfly effect, and I agree with all that the report says about them, apart from the link to Astrology. “As above, so below”- a beautifully elegant quote, so expressive, and so completely wrongheaded. I love the acronym Great Organising Dynamic, even if I am not sure I agree, and find the expression attractive- even persuasive, had it been about anything else. The report says¬†I belong to God: many Quakers actually put that into practice, but would disagree that God’s Will is expressed in an astrological chart. It states it is up to me: a Jupiter-Sun conjunct (where they appear close together) means optimism and vitality, but I have to realise them in my own life. Here, I begin to see a value in all this. I read good things about myself, feel better because of it, and then am told to go out and make them true.¬†

From my sun sign, conjuncts, moon sign, and one sesquiquadrate, I have apparently every good quality it is possible to have. I am ambitious with drive, and creative. I have charm and magnetism. I am down to Earth. I am purposeful, focused and efficient with good organisational skills. Quite a lot for me to go out into the World and manifest. I am nurturing, empathetic and sensitive, and Sun conjunct Mars fosters heroism and valour.

There is some good advice: don’t waste energy on painful and unproductive distractions of the past. Well yes. It is not a good thing to do, and I do it, along with most of the population.

Finally it tells me. Leo is my ascendant. But that is just the constellation: there are no planets in it! Perhaps my Ascendant is The Void, and I will attain Enlightenment.

And no mention at all of this great Transit. Had I come here first, I might never have heard of it, and so missed all its opportunities! Is this actionable negligence? There would be some difficulty proving loss.

Updated: here is my chart from astrodienst.

A personal astrological study

What I loathe more than anything about the personal, astrological study I received is its attempt to simulate relationship. In a personal consultation, an astrologer might mention gods and the effects of those gods to a client, and notice (perhaps subconsciously) how the client reacts, and do this more or less exploitatively or lovingly. Done lovingly, it might actually be healing for the client, though an astrologer with an unwise idea of how the client should move might do harm.

But here, I can only see¬†how it can be done exploitatively, with the aim of getting the¬†schmuck to come back¬†for more, and pay more money. What I have is, after all, a series of paragraphs strung together from a word-processing program, automatically, including my name at intervals, and a name for an astrologer who has putatively created this personally for me, and repeatedly refers to herself as “Your Professional Astrologer and friend”. It tells me that there is a major¬†transit, a rare planetary motion, over the next three months, which will mark a decisive turning point in my love life and also my material wealth. However a transit can reinforce weak points, preventing growth and impeding progress, if the subject is not fully aware of their influence. This happened to me, it/”she” says, in 2008, when I was not aware of a transit, missed its opportunities, and this has caused blocks for me ever since. I need a guide I can trust.¬†How¬†wonderful that the universe has brought me to it, so it can guide me through this transit, and I will not suffer in the same way this time!

It says I am a good person, I have some psychic ability, and it will be happy to help me develop this. Whereas, there are of course opportunities for me in work and in love, and it is for me to see them and welcome them and realise them, not to fantasise at my keyboard.

By the way, it refers to this potential lover as “he”. Ha! Oppressive heteronormativity, assuming I am straight. Fail. Epic fail. How can I express my feelings?

It offers me guidance through the transit for the paltry fee of $60. Um. Further random paragraphs from a word processor. Might be worth checking the exchange rate to see if it is worth $60 to me. But then, if the exchange rate reaches ¬£1 = $100, the global financial system will have collapsed, and my internet probably won’t work anyway.

Wikipedia tells me that according to synastry¬†a certain relationship is not even semi-compatible, “as a general guideline”. This angers me. Tell me that any aspect of character, attribute or situation of the people is an issue in a relationship, and I will consider it, but- star sign–!


My friend asked me what star sign I am. Oh, not that rubbish. She asked again, and I told her. ‚ÄúWhat ascendant?‚ÄĚ I have no idea, but am a biddable soul, so went off to look it up. I had done this a few years ago, and¬†received a chart with random lines and symbols on it, and an offer to print this on parchment for a too high fee, and I thought I would get something similar. Then I could tell her my moon-sign and my Saturn-sign, if she wished.

There is value in Astrology. It can prod your thought in unexpected directions. But then so can thumbing through the Bible and picking a verse at random. In fact, that technique works for almost every publication, apart from a porn magazine. To me, astrology might be more useful if I freed these powerful Divine Archetypes from the balls of rock millions of miles away: Pluto changes constellation far too slowly. So, just pluck a major Arcanum from the deck, rather than bother with all this computation.

Astrology is also a good wind-up, best played by two in the joke. Keep asking, and then make comments¬†starting “Leos are…” and nod sagely. Stare blankly at any Rationalist refutation, until it stutters to silence, and then¬†say, “Typical Gemini”.

I put my date of birth into the first website I came across. I should have realised there was more to it when it asked me my employment status, and whether I was single, not in a relationship but in love, in a happy relationship or an unhappy relationship. Still I clicked, and sent off.

The answer said something of numerology. I decided that was rubbish when I first came across it aged 14, and saw that through different combinations of first, middle and last name, or initial letters, I could make most of the number archetypes. Today, I will be a 4, or a 9, or a 2. (It’s Clare Quintessence Flourish, since you ask.)

But the ‚Äúpersonal astrological forecast‚ÄĚ I received said nothing about my moon sign, and I am none the wiser as to what was or is in the ascendant.

Merry christmas!

I am delighted to see the christmas gifts in my local Boots. Under red and gold stars, little bottles of smellies nestle in huge cardboard and cellophane¬†packages. I am pleased, because among my hobbies are whingeing and pedantry, and I can get out my “bloody Christmas” whinge and my “It’s Advent, not ‘the Runup to Christmas,’ and it does not start until 27 November” pedantry. I have been happily moaning, and indulging my shock, since 1989 when I first saw Christmas displays in October, in Woolworth’s.

Actually, it reminds me of wandering out for dinner¬†down Republic St in Valletta in November, under tasteful and lovely decorations, in a T shirt. Desperate to drum up trade, a shop has its midwinter festival stock out while there are blackberries and butterflies in the hedges, and I do not need the heating on because my living room is 20¬įC.

I am glad that I can enjoy my pedantry, rather than getting worked up about it as I used to. The problems of life are not for solving, they are for working on, said Carl Jung.

I was away on Sunday morning, but scheduled my post in advance, telling WordPress when to publish it. There was no need to claim to have been abducted by the security services.

Update: from 18 October, the Christmas lights are up in the streets.