Expect the expected. Bad shit happened. Dolores was forced to resign. Too many personal problems got in the way of her being able to properly perform her duties. A spanking new supervisor synchronously arrived as Dolores departed. Aside from Do, Dorothy was farther from Dolores than Kansas is from OZ. Dorothy, a Jewish American Princess (JAP) of the mental illness world, looked a lot better than she was. In her mid-thirties, she was petite, pretty, and shapely. Her personality was hard, cold, and phony. She was instantly disliked by patients and staff but had no clue how anyone felt. Most of us smiled to her face, turned away, made weird faces, or stuck a finger down our throats… a sadly laughable situation.
I felt nauseous as I wondered if Dorothy’s sucrose smile and pasty complexion resulted from too much institutional food and florescent lighting. Dorothy was spiteful, contrary, and a stickler for rules and regulations. She was angry that she hadn’t made it to the top of the trash heap yet. She had also failed after many attempts at getting pregnant. ‘Thank god’, I mused. Dorothy might actually be a mother of an anti-Christ. As I got to know her, I began seeing her as a festering canker sore from hell. She sabotaged patient progress and undermined my success at promoting class participation. I hated her.
One day after work we drove away from the employee parking lot at the same time. I followed her onto the Styx River Parkway heading south on Purgatory’s east side. High speed traffic wove perilous webs of chaos betwixt lanes. I imagined myself as Mel Gibson’s Road Warrior and tailgated Dorothy within inches. I’d surely have rear ended her had she braked, but I was confident she’d stay cool.
Glancing nervously in her rear-view mirror, Dorothy wondered what I’d do next. I’d pull up beside her, smile, and drop back on her tail again. That was the beginning of the end of my time working at the hospital and of my letting go of undying idealism and optimism. I decided I wasn’t going to let anyone get away with anything. I felt protected by the Public Service Union. It’s not easy to get rid of anyone who doesn’t want to leave. You have to make a person so miserable that they choose to leave. I returned to work the following week.
Dorothy acted as though nothing had happened. She used the rules to attempt to force me to quit. She hit me hardest in my most vulnerable spot. My desire to work with high functioning patients had been my primary goal since I’d arrived. Dorothy insisted I must devote myself to serving the whole patient population. The Cabinet knew Dorothy was an asshole. They were deaf to my argument that the obvious lack of meaningful programming for the dozen highest functioning patients needed addressing. I’d built trust with this group and made considerable progress. My other argument was that my salary was less than two percent of what those twelve patients were costing the state yearly. What a fabulous investment!
I began flooding Dorothy with memos justifying my self-created career. I copied Zandor, rehab counselor, the cabinet, and the big wigs in Central Mental Health Care in Purgatory. My public relations strategy to save myself was poorly received. Aside from the fact that no one but me was willing to take responsibility, I was kicking the cabinet below the belt by confronting them.
Dorothy countered with an attack on my schedule. She insisted I work three days instead of two. She chose days when she knew I had other teaching jobs and personal business. I tried to compromise, but could clearly see my efforts and circumstances were becoming futile.
“Perhaps you are too creative for the rehab department”, Dorothy told me. “There’s no room for your pioneering spirit”. I was soon summoned to the hospital director’s office for a private conference. She wanted to discuss my dissatisfaction with Dorothy’s supervisory actions, a pretense to warn me that I had better keep hospital business within the hospital. I clenched my teeth and fists and readied myself for battle. The head of rehab for the entire underworld had told me that our hospital was not permitted by law to operate a sheltered workshop under the plan the cabinet had previously encouraged and approved. They’d scammed everyone to enhance next year’s budget.
For several months, Dorothy continued to be abusive and oblivious to my needs and the needs and concerns of staff and patients. She pulled rank on everyone as often as she could. Not only did we feel unappreciated, we were degraded and looked down upon. Every member of the rehab staff was eventually forced to resign. Though I was there the least, I held out the longest. Dorothy had been mandated to clean house. The hidden agenda was obvious. I wrote the following letter of resignation.
It saddens me to be writing this, but I’ve been given no choice. Dorothy was mandated to clean house and fulfill your hidden agenda. This may sound paranoid, but Dorothy has forced every dedicated staff member to leave. Everyone was aware of Dorothy’s physical handicaps and personal problems. We tried to empathize and made allowances for negative attitudes, but that’s no excuse for her complete lack of caring and support. Dorothy has been oblivious to the needs and concerns of her staff and the needs and concerns of patients.
It’s ironic to say that your staff felt underappreciated. They felt degraded and harassed as Dorothy relentlessly made counterproductive and unreasonable demands. She attempted to delegate her responsibilities to Zandor, who received a counseling memo when he objected to doing out of title work. Billy (the other half of my position) received a counseling memo for his generosity in rewarding the dedicated and hardworking maintenance staff a ‘THANK YOU! ‘ Plaque that he paid for himself. They graciously helped us set up the woodworking shop.
Enclosed is a copy of my latest correspondence with Dorothy. Her response was that I’m “too creative” for a rehab department that has “no room for my pioneering spirit”. She insisted I must change my schedule to a Monday or Friday, knowing these days conflict with my other work. She threatened to assign me tasks which clearly don’t use my obvious abilities to their advantage. I’m still waiting for a work evaluation that was due weeks ago.
I’m no longer concerned with the future of my career. I’m concerned about the future of the patients. They’ve been deprived of caring and capable staff members including Dolores, Bruce, Barbara, Billy, Maya, Carolyn, and Zandor. I plan to expose your cruel injustice and confirm your complicity in Dorothy’s horrible behavior and bad management practices.
I sent copies to Dorothy, the cabinet, and other department managers around the hospital. Cabinet members were hostile as they interrogated me behind closed doors. They were on the offensive and squirming in their seats as they attempted to put me on the defensive. They all agreed I was projecting my unresolved conflicts with my mother onto Dorothy. They suggested I seek psychiatric help for my problem. I said I was planning to write a (this) book about my experience and approach the media. They told me they’d find a way to ruin me.
I found my “I don’t get mad, I get even” button and pinned it next to my “Since I gave up hope, I feel much better” button on the lapel of my jacket. I couldn’t believe I’d let down the patients who I’d so eagerly promised to help and champion. Gene’s prophecy had come true. I’d disappear and never see anyone again. I had strengthened everyone’s fear and distrust of everyone’s everything all the time.
Classes were going well. Patients shared their ideas and the desire to make them real. Initially, I’d fabricate parts to be assembled by Jim, Juan, and Ethan. Making practical and useful objects was great for their self-esteem. Everyone was impressed. The director of the hospital suggested implementing a pilot project which required redesigning, fabricating, and installing a new office for her. We could use recycled materials. Dolores believed this was a perfect opportunity to shine and get brownie points for us. I’d also get approval to design and build a horticultural lab.
Everything was falling into place. Creative ideas germinated. One of the most valuable lessons I learned as an industrial designer was that you get more money for fashion. I eagerly recalled the ugly green frog vases I’d seen in ceramic workshops across the state. Why not use the same materials, resources, and labor to create Classic urns with unusual finishes?
Sheltered workshops survived by producing plain outdated designs. They could thrive with smart design and well-conceived manufacturing and marketing processes and plans. Ordinary wooden frames could be transformed into exotic frames with fashionable new moldings. Beautiful mirrors and other fashionable products could revitalize a dying industry.
I began to see my vocational class as a small business having a dozen workers with talents and abilities I could never afford in the real world. I had a captive audience with nothing better to do with their time, energies, and talents than work under my direction. I could arrange for them to make money and challenge them to be responsible for their behavior. It certainly seemed clinically sound to me. I fantasized we’d eventually be the design and marketing arm for the entire Underworld State Department of Mental Health. Win, win, win… or so it seemed.
We would design products for manufacture, arrange preferential buying plans with other state agencies, and create products for the mass market. I was directing a theatrical production, a sequel to the ‘Dirty Dozen’. ‘The Dirtiest Dozen’ ~ tales of how discards from hell became social heroes. I envisioned managing a manufacturing and marketing empire using mental asylums as the foundation and framework.
‘Crazy People’, one of my all-time favorite ‘crazy’ movies with Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah was about how crazy ‘Truth’ in advertising is. The truth is that stability and success in mental illness treatment would open new doors to working with sheltered workshops everywhere and offer sustenance and nourishment for all.
My family was supportive, but believed I was bonkers the moment I decided to work with a bunch of nutcases and freaks for next to nothing. There wasn’t anyone else around to share my inspiration and ideas with. Many of my peers in rehab thought I was weird. Sharing anything with them would add to the already uncomfortable hospital gossip. My close friends were mostly supportive, but I needed help from a mastermind group. I’d just have to stay focused, moving forward one step at a time, every thought, idea, and action bringing me closer to my goals.
Over the next several weeks, both vocational groups came up with exciting new concepts. Betsy had an idea for a line of stuffed toys for children that were perfect items for sheltered sewing shops. She called them `Love Bugs’. There were insects like spiders and scorpions. You’d be terrified if they were crawling on you, but instead, they’re soft and cuddly.
David and Jim came up with a unique new idea for modular interconnecting building materials. Unlike Legos or Lincoln Logs, they were fabricated from discarded, recycled, and repurposed materials and processes. We created several prototypes of quarter scale furniture. Potential markets were opening in our minds and hearts, and we believed that they would soon manifest.
Jack and Virginia created a very timely and clever `Women’s Liberation Survival Kit’. It was a cloth bag made of a military style denim camouflage material, hand sewn, silk screened, and featuring a collection of pockets and compartments filled with supplies like tampons, packs of condoms, birth control dispensers, a small canister of pepper spray, a compressed air horn, female paraphernalia, cosmetics, and other assorted goodies.
I made appointments with buyers and merchandise managers from major retail department stores to get feedback and gain additional insight into our products and planning. A few buyers wanted to know when they could purchase our products. One merchandise manager expressed doubt about connecting expensive merchandise with mentally unstable people. He thought it might detract from their marketability. ‘Manufactured by forensic psychiatric workshops’ was not the best-selling point.
Our team felt that wasn’t an obstacle. Like Republicans, we’d suppress bad news and glamorize alternative facts and good news. Patients were inspired and excited about the opportunity. Positive behavioral changes were taking place. I felt motivated. Everyone was beginning to notice as we made ourselves ready to negotiate with hospital administration and sheltered workshops across the state. I couldn’t believe how well everything was moving forward. The great white whale was in my sights.
Stay tuned as my white whale becomes a white elephant and all of our efforts head south…
I chose twelve high functioning patients for my vocational design classes. It took a few weeks to obtain permissions from the treatment teams. Zandor persuaded members by explaining and clarifying how my classes met clinical goals for each patient.
Most patients were wary. They said ‘yes’ because I offered an opportunity for a unique experience. Initial classes were discussions and planning sessions for future classes. I needed my teams to feel inspired and look forward to their weekly time slots with me.
David was a die-hard fundamentalist Jew. While shooting cocaine, he and his best friend fought a life and death battle, a drug-crazed rampage, a War of Good and Evil. David was God. His friend, the Devil, lost his life. David’s thick, dense, tough-skinned hands made me imagine what it might be like to get run over by a garbage truck and walk away. A hefty man, David tried to kill himself by tying a noose around his neck and jumping out of a 2nd story window. He survived and had the scars to prove it. David wanted a relationship with me because I was ‘into’ Jewish mysticism.
Jim was the `guy next door’. While high on crack, Jim pushed a stranger in front of a moving train. He died. Jim was tried and legally committed to a forensic psychiatric hospital. Jim was likable, not angry and intimidating like Gene, Benny, and Jesus. He was remorseful for his actions and hoped to serve his time in the best possible ways, hoping to be a useful member of society one day. There were three leaders and three followers. Jim, David, and Juan had no desire to lead.
Juan was resident Pollyanna. A real `brown noser’, he was always sucking up to the biggest assholes. Juan’s crooked pinkie finger dramatically curved inwardly. He secretly wanted and needed to be what everyone else wanted and needed him to be. He was a peacemaker. Most of the staff appreciated his very positive attitude. It was impossible to be pessimistic, sarcastic, or cynical around Juan. He replaced Betsy as manager of the ‘Scene’, where he found his golden opportunity to publish ‘pep talks’ for everyone. Juan’s OCD for enthusiasm was over the top.
We had a tiny 12′ X 12′ space. Two large wire glass windows overlooked razor wire topping the walls of the yard far below. All the windows on the 11th floor had bright unobstructed views of the Styx River and Purgatory. I arranged two 30″ X 60″ tables in the middle of the room to create a square conference table. We could all sit and face each other with our backs to the walls. I wished everyone to look into each other’s eyes as we spoke. I’d look into theirs. As I turned off the overhead fluorescent lighting and closed the door, the sudden unexpected lack of buzzing was obvious as natural daylight streamed through windows and flooded the room.
Our first session was awkward. Patients paused at participating. I peered into their eyes as I prepared to speak. “Thank you for being here. Does anyone have anything to say before we begin?” Labored breathing from chronic cigarette smoking dominated the anticipation and the silence.
“Gene, what would you like to get out of the time we’ll be spending together each week?”
“No offense, Mark. I’m curious to see how you’re going to fail. You’re a nice guy with good intentions, but no one has ever created anything meaningful here. At the moment, you’ve got energy and enthusiasm. People come and go. Eventually, you’ll get discouraged or be fired and have to leave. We’ll never hear from you again.”
“Are you planning to help your prediction become a self-fulfilling prophecy?”
“No. You’ll see. It’s the system. If we actually accomplish anything of value, the cabinet will create a new policy to inhibit or prohibit whatever it is.”
“Leave those problems to me. When they arise, we’ll discuss them together and decide what to do about them. I’ve promised to give you my best. That’s what I have to offer. If you have something more important to do with your time, you should do that”.
“What would you like to get out of this class, Jim?”
“I’m glad for an opportunity to do anything. I want to make things and work with my hands. I want to go into the building trades when I get out. Maybe I could be a contractor.”
“I’ll do my best to help you achieve your goals, Jim”.
“What about you, David?”
“I agreed to come here, but I don’t want to do anything. I’ve never really done anything. I had a sixth-grade education, but I study Torah. When I get out of here, I’m going to find a trailer in the woods and live in solitude and celibacy. I could maybe have a garden and grow some good pot to smoke and study Jewish mysticism.”
“OK David, I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do. When you’re ready, we welcome your participation in whatever way you see fit.”
Jesus spoke up. “I love gardening. I’m responsible for the care and maintenance of the patient garden in the yard. David, you can help us with planting this spring. We’ll have tomatoes, beans, carrots, and lettuce this year.” David nodded affirmatively.
I thanked Jesus for his offer. “Maybe we can get permission to have an indoor garden for the off season”, I exclaimed! There’s plenty of daylight and floor space on the south and east facing windows of a mostly empty 11th floor. I’ll inquire whether space can be designated for greenery. We could have a community garden and cultivate our own healthy sources for veggies and herbs which can be shared by all.
“This is so exciting!” exclaimed Juan. “I’ll write a column about our class in ‘The Scene’.”
“That’s a wonderful idea Juan, but I think we should keep a low profile until we have some thing good to talk about. Negative publicity could be destructive to our cause. Let’s achieve something of value before going public. Can you put your communications skills to work by researching other projects and other state institutions and businesses, what they’re doing, and who we can network with? I’m hoping to find people who can help us achieve our goals.” “Yes! I’ll do everything I can.”
The last member was Benny. “Is there anything you’d like to say, Benny?”
“I don’t know what I want… I want to make some money. I doubt we’ll ever see any of what we earn and we won’t see that until we’re free.”
“I have no idea how money works around here. I’ll find out. I will say this. There are many ways and means to an end. If we create something substantial, I’ll do my best to arrange escrow accounts or find ways to ensure that you’re remunerated properly for your efforts.” I hoped I hadn’t just bull-shitted everyone. I had no idea whether what I said was possible. My team of misfits felt like a union of retired vampires, ready for an infusion of fresh young virgin blood. The fragility of creating and maintaining group trust was at stake. At the moment, everyone seemed happy to be there.
You met Betsy, Virginia, and Manuel. Jack was a religious Jew with skull cap on balding scalp. Jack had led a wasted life of habitual shame, guilt, and obligation. He had always cared for his hypochondriac mother who had desperate control issues. When Jack turned sixty, her clutching suffocating neediness drove him over the edge. He threatened to kill and proceeded to strangle her. She narrowly escaped and managed to get him committed. Jack was a whole lot happier in a loony bin than he was with his mother. His plan was to stay put until she died. He told me that even if he was old, he’d use his inheritance to start over fresh.
Everyone believed Ethan was developmentally disabled. He was unable to form intelligible words. No one ever bothered to try to understand him. Meanwhile, Ethan was highly intelligent. When we placed Ethan in the furniture repair program, he was the fastest learner and best natural problem solver. He’d always choose the right piece of wood, screw, finish, or right tool for the job. Ethan was born with a severely cleft pallet that had prevented him from speaking clearly. Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been? Billy and I spoke to Ethan’s treatment team and a speech pathologist was called in. A plan was conceived to provide Ethan with corrective surgery. This was the first real and true step in Ethan’s recovery and rehabilitation.
Dick made Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Peewee Herman (God bless). Dick was a Paul Bunyan, seven feet tall and three hundred fifty pounds of solid muscle. When I first met him in the art room, he was quietly crafting teensy weensy clay sculptures with his huge powerful hands. One typical afternoon, Dick said to me, “I’m going to take this place apart tonight.” I had meant to but forgot to say anything to anyone. The day got away from me. Dick completely slipped my mind. I might have remembered if it had been a full moon. That night, as I peacefully slept, Dick went berserk.
Staff and patients abandoned the ward while Dick trashed the place. He lifted and slammed a heavy regulation sized slate pool table against the wall. He pried fastened furniture away from the floor and walls. When Dick was done wrecking the ward, he fell asleep. Hospital security crept in, medicated him, and put him in a strait jacket. The cabinet wanted to send him back to Criminal Island, where Dick would surely be murdered. He’d hospitalized several guards in full riot gear on his last visit. Dick liked me. I liked him too but was glad he was well medicated.
I needed to learn more about my twelve patients and began exploring and examining psychiatric records in the hospital basement in a dreary poorly lit room of records. I kept my research top secret. I had access, but it would piss patients and staff off to know I was poking around in their histories.
The most shocking discovery I made was that psychiatrists never appeared to argue with or modify the original diagnosis or treatment plan. The proverbial buck was passed over and over again. Some patients got much better over time, but that didn’t seem to matter. I spoke to Zandor. He said, “nobody takes responsibility”. What if you said a patient was well and she murdered someone? It had happened before and would happen again. The same old tired patient stories were told over and over again before forensic review committees. I felt hopeful and sorry at the same time, especially for patients who were really trying to grow, learn, and earn their freedom.
I was positive there was a ‘secret agenda’ to keep mental hospitals full. There were certainly enough crazies ‘crossing 42nd Street’ to fill many wards. I began to research the mental health system while attending conferences in Lilith, the state capital. I began networking with other members of rehab departments in hospitals and sheltered workshops around the state.
‘Vocational Rehabilitation’ was becoming a gigantic unprofitable industry, subsidized by taxpayers. Sheltered workshops were making the same old outdated crap they’d always made. Some were contracted to assemble items such as pens or package products for a variety of private profit-making corporations. Developmentally disabled people are best at repetitive work like assembly and packaging. Rarely is anyone violent. Loving approval goes a long way toward team building. There was a gigantic opportunity here. I had no idea of how to tap into it yet. I knew workshops were competing for pennies. They hadn’t discovered fashion.
Stay tuned as students plant seeds that germinate, sprout, and flourish…
There were only two patients in the art room. One was warily tucked in a corner, the other was a pretty twenty something African-American woman quietly cutting colored paper with a child’s scissors. I gently mused out loud. “You look healthy and normal. Why are you here?”
“My psychiatrist tells me it’s because I feel no remorse for what I did.”
“What did you do?”
“I killed my roommate”. I chopped her up in the bathtub and flushed as much of her as I could down the toilet. The rest of her I put in black plastic garbage bags that I tossed in a dumpster.”
“Did you think you would get away with that?”
“I didn’t think at all. I got the idea from TV.”
“And you don’t feel badly about what you did?”
“The girl is dead. There’s nothing I can do about that!” “I guess I’m sorry for her family”.
Mary grew up in a verbally abusive emotionally constipated family with no privacy. When Mary left home, she applied for a single room at college and was forced to have a roommate. Enduring a year, Mary reapplied, and lost the room to her roommate. Completely losing control of her mind and heart while stuck in a state of rage, Mary eliminated her problem.
Many strange stories unfolded over the next several months in the art room. Every day promised new adventure. I was glad I’d survived the bog of bureaucratic bullshit. I was yearning to examine everyone’s hands, but decided to wait. I anticipated astonishing tales of intrigue and amazing artworks. Many patients had artistic talent. There were two professional artists in the group. I supported everyone’s creativity and acquired special materials and supplies above and beyond my call of duty.
The first patient I bonded with was a refined and cultivated woman in her mid to late fifties. Bizarre circumstances led to Betsy’s hapless and senseless captivity. She lived on Treasure Island, a wealthy seaside community. Betsy managed an art gallery and was gossip columnist for a local newspaper. She loved to garden and was a member of a local gardening club.
A lawyer of considerable power purchased the land adjoining Betsy’s and neglected it. Weeds and branches drooped and draped sloppily onto Betsy’s property. Her neighbor‘s obvious dislike of landscaping and disdain for his neighbors annoyed the hell out of Betsy. One very vexing afternoon, she verbally threatened to chop off everything extending onto her domain. Grabbing her ax, she angrily severed every limb over her property line. While quietly recuperating on her porch, Betsy became alarmed and frightened when police in plain clothes marched aggressively through the gate of her yard.
Betsy grabbed her ax, attempting to chase them away. The next thing she knew, Betsy was sedated in a psychiatric hospital for further evaluation. Her neighbor had pulled strings and managed to have her temporarily committed. Then her serious problems began. Because Betsy was so agitated, Thorazine was prescribed, mandated, and administered. Betsy had a bad reaction to Thorazine. She was rushed to a local hospital. Her spleen had to be removed.
Betsy was no criminal. Nor was she crazy. She had great character references. Her son, a successful architect, pleaded fervently for her release, but no one appeared able to help her. A series of unfortunate events had led to her getting caught up in ‘The System’. Betsy’s attitude remained positive and optimistic while her mental and physical health deteriorated. She lost three productive years of her life. The lawyer tried to acquire Betsy’s property while she was locked up, but her son successfully blocked him.
Everyone admired Betsy. I was self-appointed president of her fan club. She could draw, paint, sculpt, and write better than anyone. She won several patient art awards. She was a positive role model. As editor and illustrator for the patient newspaper, The Scene. Betsy also created signage for hospital activities and events. I got special permissions for her creative seamstress work and purchased (my $) supplies like needles, threads, and unique fabrics.
Betsy designed stuffed insects. She called them ‘love bugs’. Sewing and sowing the seeds of success in my mind, Betsy inspired me to imagine a patient run cottage industry within the confines of hospital life that would serve other sheltered workshops in social and medical worlds. We could be a source for products, design, and marketing.
I got braver each day as I investigated patients’ lives. I couldn’t divulge my appetite for wanting to know more, but I did look as closely as I could at their records, hands, and gestures. I printed crude hands using newsprint paper with poster paint. I assumed madness would be revealed in aberrations of hand morphology and topography. There were many unusual hands. I saw a lot of frustration, anger, and fear, along with an uncanny clarity or lack of clarity in thinking. Many souls saw only one solution to their problem, never considering the consequences. Invoking hindsight enables most folk to harness our strengths, mindsets, attitudes, and actions, and embrace whatever challenges we encounter on the path to becoming healthier and happier.
Repressed rage, confused minds, and constipated emotions rule mental illness. I’d never have predicted from the hands that I read, that most of these people would be committed to mental institutions. Many patients lacked peripheral lines. They were less neurotic than the wounded healers with highly developed superegos and many more peripheral lines who were paid to care for them.
I only saw one club (murderer’s) thumb in the patient population. I expected to see many more Mr. Hydes, motivated by passion, lacking impulse control, and having a propensity for violence. I didn’t. Other hands were soft and supple. Sometimes their bones felt detached. There was zero energy, enthusiasm, or desire to think clearly or do anything meaningful. I observed one psychotic person’s skin as appearing splotchy purplish red. I imagined the color combo was repressed rage. Many hands were stiff in the joints, preventing the lost souls trapped in limbo between their inside and outside from escaping. I examined schizophrenic hands with two sets of head or heart lines in dominant hands that were ambiguous, ambivalent, suffering, struggling, and striving to know themselves and others.
Betsy and I loved the symbolism of the Tarot. We consulted the cards many times with many questions. We rarely heard what we wanted to hear, but always heard what we already knew. I collected birth names, dates, times, and places from patients, but didn’t explain why.
Most artwork and poetry in The Scene came from the art room. The patient newspaper was a venue for creative expression for patients and staff. It offered hospital news and provided space for patients to express their concerns and share their creativity. It was an important venue because it provided an outlet for frustration, anger, and depression. Everyone spent too much time complaining and blaming their problems on ‘The System’ and each other.
I decided to become a spiritual ambassador and good sense maker. The real enemies were our bad habits, bureaucracy, and time. We were a team whether we chose ‘to be or not to be’.
One notorious patient infected my psyche with doubt. He was a young black man in his early thirties. Fred had been mentally, emotionally, and physically malnourished via many abusive foster parents. A gentle kindness lie beneath the surface of Fred’s deeply scarred face. Fred was violent, but it wasn’t knife fights and gang warfare that got him locked up. It was Fred’s unrequited love. Fred was obsessed with a teenage girl. Allegedly, she was ‘taken away from him’ by an `abusive maniac’. Fred created realistic ‘WANTED DEAD or ALIVE’ posters of his maniac. He posted them all over town, offering a phony ten thousand dollar reward for him. Fred had no clue he was creating evidence that would lead him directly to the loony bin.
Fred’s large feminine hands, rectangular palms, long slender knotty fingers, and conical fingertips embody the quintessential ‘feeling’ type: great for empathy, appreciating art, research, organizing, paying attention to detail, and mostly for caring. Fred’s long head line sloped into the heel of his hand, revealing a vivid imagination and rich fantasy life. Fred could copy anything perfectly. He could have been a master forger, but that particular crime would never have occurred to him. I cheered Fred’s abilities and encouraged him to draw from real life. I also convinced his treatment team and security on his ward to let him have pencils and paper and allow him to draw under supervision.
Fred had a private sketch book. He produced forty or fifty sketches and drawings in the first month and showed no one. I asked to see them. Reluctantly, he showed them to me. I was blown away. The political parody above was his first. That’s Ronald Reagan and its meaning is self-explanatory. What stunned me most were caricatures of staff sexually abusing patients. Patients were pleasuring staff in the sickest possible ways. Were security, therapists, and patients actually having bizarre sex acts using objects of pleasure and pain or was Fred’s vision an artistic fabrication of his unique psyche?
How could Fred have witnessed what he was portraying? He had a graphic imagination. Maybe his friends were telling him their stories and he was interpreting them. Fred let me photocopy a few drawings. I wondered about the veracity of Fred’s artwork and shared it with Dolores. She showed it to the cabinet. Betraying Fred’s trust was my greatest blunder and regret. Fred fought fiercely as his drawings and supplies were confiscated. It wrenched my heart to watch him being reduced to a drug induced stupor, artistic genius, never to create (during my tenure) again. I was responsible and couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Mary 2 was a highly functioning, extremely troubled patient. Mary believed she was Satan’s child, a bad seed. Mary was three when she first unsuccessfully attempted to poison her little sister. Then she failed to drown her in the bathtub. She tied her to a tree in a lightning storm, hoping she’d be electrocuted. Finally, Mary’s dysfunctional fundamentalist Catholic parents enrolled her in a devout Catholic school. They hoped that would save her. Mary predictably became more twisted. At sixteen, Mary set a nun on fire and carved her charring body to a bloody pulp with a broken glass bottle. She told everyone, “The Devil made me do it”.
Mary produced dark artwork. I coveted and appropriated her drawings every chance I got. While under suicide watch in a maximum-security psychiatric hospital, Mary etched `666′ in the skin of her arms and legs with whatever sharp objects she could find. She also scratched ‘666’ on furniture.
I don’t frequently see hands that frighten me. Mary’s hands were scary. The creepy hand above with very stiff fingers that curl inwardly belong to Susan Atkins’ (Charles Manson’s protege’). They’re similar to Mary’s. Mary’s skin was hard, dry, coarse, and reddish. She chewed on her nails relentlessly, leaving her nail beds red, raw, and sore. Mary transformed self-critical into self-hatred. I wished I could help her let go of irrational terror. Mary’s soul was hard-boiled from the hellish reality of growing up with hypocritical parents, along with fundamentalist codes, irrational doctrines, punitive rules, and restrictive regulations.
Mary had a huge crush on me. She was the first to arrive at the art room and last to leave. I felt nauseous when I was alone with her. I was repulsed, but always smiled and acted nice. Mary generously offered to give me a quickie blow-job under my desk. I remembered Fred’s drawings and how easy it would be to become one of his vignettes. I thought about all of the Ministers and Priests, religious shepherds, who physically and spiritually rape the innocent lambs they are entrusted to protect. Does terror, shame, guilt, and disgrace trigger erotic fantasy? Is fear of being caught a turn on? Can the Devil sow the seeds of evil in a psyche?
Mary was hovering over me and monopolizing my attention. I was abrupt and impatient with her. Dark rings appeared around her darkening eyes. Mary felt rejected. Satan was hard at work, preparing her for evil acts that night on her ward. It was a full moon. Stealing the ‘six’ and ‘nine’ balls from the pool table, Mary loaded them in a black wool sock, then beat a new patient to death while she slept. The poor woman was there for shoplifting, a few days of observation, and psychiatric evaluation. Mary said she didn’t like the way the woman looked at her. She’d certainly think twice before shoplifting again had she survived. I felt guilty and responsible. I should have said something. Staff should have been more vigilant. Mental institutions aren’t called lunatic asylums for nothing.
It’s not what you do, but what you get away with that matters. Gene was undeniably the most incredible artist in the hospital. He’d been a successful commercial artist and advertising executive. Scuttlebutt was that he created the TV ads that everyone loves to remember.
Gene was unique. A celebrity on his ward, he had the only private room, outfitted with his own furniture, library, audio tape collection, state of art stereo system, Bose headphones, and grizzly bear rug.
No one messed with Gene. Dark satanic auras shrouded Gene. Angry facial expressions and aggressive body language told a tale of uncontrollable rage from a horrible childhood. Gene was hostile. Everything about him screamed, “Stay away from me!” In a jealous fury and fit of rage, Gene slit his girlfriend’s throat from ear to ear. She survived, didn’t press charges, and forgave him. Gene couldn’t forgive himself. He told me had to stay because he’d do it again.
Gene could have been free had he wanted to be and behaved accordingly. I tried to make good sense to Gene and convince him to become an active member of the real world again. Gene wanted to stay. With little interest in worldly freedom, he was free to love his literature, music, art, and still be king of the roost. I actually felt a little jealous of his inner freedom.
Gene was charismatic in a dark and dangerous way. He was the patient Dolores caught in the art supply closet with Janice. That untimely final exit for Janice turned out to be wonderful therapy for Gene. We frequently had philosophical discussions and co-created artworks that I still cherish. This life size pastel Gene drew of me in the art-room subtly captures a very private part of me.
Benny was Gene’s buddy. Benny was uncooperative. A strong fit black man in his early thirties, Benny’s phobia of homosexuality impelled the former transit policeman to assault a bar full of gay men one night with a semi-automatic weapon. While freebasing crack, Benny brutally slaughtered eight gay men.
Benny came up bi-yearly for forensic review. He believed he’d be set free one day, but was always rejected. One psychologist told me that a ‘secret agenda’ was to never ever let him go or know. It was in everyone’s best interest to humor Benny. Otherwise, he’d lose hope, become violent, and need to be permanently medicated.
There was never a dull day in the art room. One handsome young patient, recently admitted, had cut his mother’s heart out, artfully prepared, and hungrily ate it with her favorite knife and fork on her favorite plate while drinking her favorite wine and reclining in her favorite chair.
Another man was found combing his mother’s hair on her mantel, weeks after he had cut her head off. The entire hospital was full of lunatics and addicts who committed violent acts under the influences of bad circumstances, rage, or drugs. Schizophrenics, sociopaths, psychotics, and pathological liars flourished and blossomed. One sociopath from England had a Rolls Royce delivered to the hospital entrance based on conversations he had with a dealer from a pay phone in the hall of his ward. If only I could put everyone’s amazing talents to good use…
Jesus Jefferson was the angriest patient in the hospital. Rejected countless times by forensic committees, Jesus had nothing left to lose. Everyone steered clear of him. Jesus had thrown his girlfriend, her 3 year old child, and dog from a 17th story window. They died instantly as they hit the ground. Jesus had zero remorse and never spoke of the incident. He clearly needed to be locked up, but what of his other innate talents and abilities. I envisioned Jesus as a capable production manager in a patient run manufacturing business. I shared my idea with two staff psychologists and they agreed with me. Unfortunately, Jesus was too unpredictable and angry to be given any real opportunity to take real responsibility.
Names have meaning. Many people who end up in loony bins are named after biblical figures. Jesus, Mary, Faith, Angel, Grace, and Hope haunt wards at mental institutions everywhere. Whatever their parents had hoped, wanted, or expected… something else weird and perverted happened. My parody below represents my interpretation of present-day archetypal names.
After six to eight working days, I’d met most of the patients. There were five men’s wards and one women’s ward. The wards traveled around the hospital escorted by SHTA’s. One, two, or three wards at a time would meet in the rehab department for recreational/religious services. Many patients found religion while incarcerated. Evangelists, fundamentalists, and self-styled ministers attended every service, along with agnostics, atheists, and heretics. I counted four Jewish patients in the mix. Jewish services were most ludicrous of all. Patients of every shape, size, color, and religious denomination wore yarmulkes (skullcaps) and pretended to chant pigeon Hebrew. For attending religious services, patients received extra rewards such as cigarettes, tea bags, and candy. They also hoped to earn a few brownie points with God and the Forensic Committee when they came up for evaluation.
The next several months were both enlightening and frustrating. It was obvious I needed more clinical training specific to a forensic population. I reached from the Rehab department to make allies on the treatment teams and in the cabinet. Unfortunately, protocol and position are guidelines in public service. If you go directly to someone outside of your department on your own initiative, it can be misconstrued as a breach of faith or as a failure on the part of your supervisor to control her staff. Employees generate truckloads of surplus paperwork and ask permission for everything in writing. Dolores was reprimanded. I felt dejected.
My initial impression of patients was that they were generally dull and apathetic, motivated by bribery or extortion. Cigarettes (nicotine), candy (sugar), tea bags (caffeine), and little packets of Sanka rewarded good behaviors. I believed they were ultimately harmful and destructive. Extortion was punishment for bad behaviors. Having no rewards, no activities, temporary isolation, or mandatory drug treatments is really `Pavlov 101′ in practice.
There were two types of patients. Nearly all had committed acts of violence. Some were there for psychiatric evaluation. Others were assigned for long term care by the court system because they were unfit to stand trial or too mentally and emotionally disturbed to be in a normal prison setting. There were several mass murderers and serial killers. You’d never know it as they appeared meek, apathetic, and ordinary. As they grew to trust me, they revealed hopes, dreams, fears, and tales of intrigue and horror.
I was steadily earning the trust and respect of the rehab staff. I’d read Dolores’s hands. Within a month, I was asked by other staff members to share my insights and observations about them. The rehab staff was caring and well meaning. I observed unhealthy doses of neurosis combined with fear, paranoia, and overdeveloped senses of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. Public service feels thankless and hopeless to many of the staff. I tried to be constructive, helpful, and leave everyone feeling hopeful.
I suggested to Dolores that she practice saying “NO”. I advised Zandor not to react negatively to criticism, even if it’s personal. I nagged Billy (Skinny) to lighten up and see reality as it is and not how he wants it to be. I encouraged Luscious Lips to let go of his guilt, cultivate good habits (like controlling his indulgences), and begin to schedule activities to look forward to in his life. I applauded Barbara’s ability to maintain clear boundaries and thanked her for her honesty with herself and everyone else. I cheered Maya’s energy and enthusiasm. I let her know I supported whatever she wanted for herself. I wanted Janice to clearly see and express herself creatively.
My reputation as a hand analyst spread quickly. Soon, I was in the hospital director’s office reading her hands. Dr. Helga presented a caring and friendly demeanor, but after examining her hands for a couple of minutes, I was positive it was an act. She had the stiffest hands and fingers I’d ever felt, inwardly curving pinkie fingers, and a clear simian line in her dominant hand. Knotty fingers and long index fingers were well suited for a detail-oriented directorship. Helga’s father had been a German SS or gestapo who ran a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. There was no place for emotion in Helga’s formative years. She was calculating, ambitious, and couldn’t tolerate disobedience. She ordered me to never discuss what I saw with anyone and told me in no uncertain terms to stay away from patient hands. I gained insight into the cabinet by reading several members directly and by carefully listening and observing body language at meetings and in casual exchanges without permission.
It took six months to learn the ropes while generating and accumulating huge masses of paperwork and proposals. I was ready to present my syllabus for prevocational classes to the cabinet when the hand of fate unexpectedly intervened. A quirky thing happened. Dolores accidentally caught Janice, the art therapist, in the art supply closet with her skirt up around her ears. She was dispensing her own personal form of emotional and physical therapy to one of the male patients. Janice was fired instantly.
Janice had self-destructed. I’d lucked out. There was no art therapist. I was the only staff member qualified to fill in until another was hired. I knew about art. I didn’t know the first thing about art therapy or forensic psychology. That didn’t seem to faze anybody. I was thrilled to put everything aside to be the new substitute art therapist. I’d finally get to meet patients. Nearly all the patients frequented the art room. It was a chance to play with art materials and express themselves creatively. They could sculpt with clay, draw and paint, make collages, write poetry, and play music. I’d examine their hands, astrology, and experiment with tarot on them. This was an important lesson in human nature and my nature that I’ll never forget.
The art room was small and private (14’X 14′). I was happy about that because in addition to having the potential for intimacy, I was required to inventory every pencil, crayon, scissor, and even staple. These were all considered potentially dangerous weapons. Everything in Rehab was either bolted down or fastened together with special screws and nuts that required special tools to unfasten. Every precaution was taken to protect us from patients and patients from each other and themselves.
One very crazy patient who seriously creeped me out was James. After James’s mother would visit him, staff would find him mutilating his genitals with a paperclip, staple, or whatever he could find that caused damage. James eventually died of AIDS after repeatedly letting other male patients have their way with him sexually. I stayed away from James’s hands, but I do remember ugly brown tobacco stains between the tips of his index and middle fingers from letting cigarettes burn to ash without taking a puff.
I was cautious around patients. I tried to be helpful. I spoke little except when spoken to. I’d sometimes sketch patients. They saw me drawing and sculpting and began asking for artistic advice. I happily provided tips and tricks. It took over six months to locate a new art therapist. During this time, I’d meet a dozen patients who would influence my destiny.
Stay tuned to meet the patients…
Author’s note: If you’ve read the first episode of ‘How I lost my Sanity’, you know my writing is a combo of fact and fiction. Using the same voice as my non-fiction writing may create some confusion. I break rules of grammar and syntax. A generous helping of political and social incorrectness sheds darkness on my protagonist. Made up names and characters from movies parody and give faces to characters in my story. If you have any thoughts, ideas, feelings, suggestions, advice, or whatever about my writing and story, feel free to comment.
“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding.” Hermes
This is a tale of how I tempted fate and lost my sanity. You may think you know your dark side, or you may know someone who has been devoured by theirs, but until you’ve been seduced into madness, breached your sacred boundaries, and tasted the forbidden fruit; you won’t experience the boundless breadths and desperate depths of darkness in your psyche along with the stark realization that you can’t turn back.
Black and white are metaphors for oppositions that fuel our awareness and allegories that guide us between our whitest whites and blackest blacks. Love and hate are extremes of the same basic substance. Like and dislike are varying degrees of gray between black and white. If insanity is black and sanity is white, where does happiness end and misery begin? When does pleasure stop and pain begin?
As a life-long student of craziness, I coveted the opportunity to serve criminally insane people. I might never get another chance. Back in college, I studied Industrial Design. I minored in bizarre psycho-ideologies and isms. As an active member of a twice weekly study group at a Gestalt psychology institute for two years, I whetted my appetite for more knowledge and understanding of human behavior. I finally had a real chance to explore authentic craziness incarnate.
Criminal minds fascinated me. I learned from my study of astrology that each of twelve sun signs has its own unique criminal style. Take this with a grain of salt, but here are a few gross generalizations. Gemini / Mercury rules con artists and pickpockets. Taurus / Venus commits sex crimes and breaches of trust from petty theft to grand larceny. Aries / Mars loves warfare and commit crimes of passion. Sagittarius / Jupiter wears white collars. Capricorn / Saturn rules master criminals. Aquarius / Uranus rules arsonists, terrorists, and unexpected bad shit happening. Pisces / Neptune rules drug dealers and users. Scorpio / Pluto rules seduction, rape, murder, and betrayal. Pluto lustily awaits you at your final destination.
Our outer planetary pictures provide a karmic backdrop for past and future generations of actors and actresses striving to learn their roles. Life is a play of plays. Unconscious creates drama. Subconscious directs plot. Consciousness is stage manager. Sun enlightens. Moon reflects. Mercury connects. Venus senses. Mars energizes. Jupiter expands. Saturn limits. Uranus disrupts, Neptune dissolves, and Pluto destroys. ‘God’ is Master Playwright.
Before proceeding with my vocational classes, I need to regress and provide background material for my year of preparation preceding my choice to teach classes. It may take a couple of posts, but I promise you’ll be glad I did.
I entered the hospital from my first day through guarded locked doors, metal detectors, a bag inspection station, faded institutional beige paint, and buzzing fluorescent lights like parasites that sucked my vital essences. Hospital staff appeared to be the dregs of humanity’s helpers. Most had physical handicaps like limping, scarring, splotching, or gazing in hopeless desperation with myopic eyes. I hoped it wasn’t contagious. I had easy access to patient records and treatment plans. I could attend treatment team meetings with psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. It felt too good to be true and it was.
Forensic hospital life is about rules, regulations, and self-defense. There are many more don’ts than do’s. Employees are sworn to secrecy, fingerprinted, and instilled with awkward feelings of mistrust. Orientation had been designed to help new staff members understand the organizational goals, policies, and procedures affecting job safety, security, performance, and delivery of care. We filled out a lot of questionnaires, surveys, and evaluations. We were briefed on the nature, structure, and policies of the facility. We learned about patient rights and privileges, rights and privileges of staff, and hospital policy.
The largest portion of hospital staff were security called SHTA’s. They accompanied patients to every activity. I attended life safety training with them: CPR, First-Aid, and Management of Violent Patient Behavior (MVPB). A violent person could `go off’ and all we could do was to defend ourselves. We weren’t permitted to be aggressive. We were taught Judo style moves by serious martial artists and laughed heartily as we fell, flipped each other on gym mats, and got to know each other. We were encouraged to nickname one another to help us connect. Based on obvious personal peculiarities our nicknames stuck. There was `Skinny’, `Luscious Lips’, `Gigolo’, and `Tortoise’. I was `Smiley’. Forever after, we addressed each other by our nicknames.
Fighting with patients was a scary idea. Despite my comprehensive training in self-defense, I envisioned myself grabbing the nearest chair and clobbering a violent patient over the head in a crisis. I’d be instantly fired and then indicted on criminal charges. Fortunately for everyone, most of the furniture was anchored to the floor or walls with specially designed hardware to prevent that kind of violence.
When I wasn’t watching over my shoulder for violent patients, I was cautioned to be on the lookout for ‘bacterial pathogens’ which cause disease. A lot of patients have hygiene problems and are unhealthy. Samplings are taken regularly from surfaces around the hospital in order to monitor disease. There were patients with AIDS. In 1986, that was scary! What if a patient with AIDS bit a staff member? We were briefed extensively on care and prevention. This job began to seem more than a little risky.
When I first met the patients, they appeared to be the most motley crew nature had ever assembled. They looked like R. Crumb characters. Many had deranged eyes. They were so whacky that I felt like laughing. Some had been given massive doses of thorazine. I couldn’t wait to find out who had done what. I’d heard there were a few notorious celebrities in the mix.
I was given a photo I.D. (I had to wear it at all times) and keys for areas I had access to within the hospital. Keys were given upon entering the hospital and deposited before leaving. Patients observed me with random glimpses, furtive glances, and glaring gazes. They saw me as one more ‘keeper of the keys’ who was attempting to figure them out, discipline, rehabilitate, or fix them. One thing for sure, I wasn’t one of them (yet).
I was directed to sit in on patient activities, assist rehab staff, and familiarize myself with patients. The first few days were uneventful. Important goals were getting the patients to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and to try not to be generally disgusting. Another important goal was to get them to stay awake and participate in activities such as art, music, education classes, and exercise. There were no interesting conversations yet.
The rehab staff consisted of nine members. As Director of Rehab, Dolores was beaten down by too many years in state service. Her sad name complemented her careworn face. A telltale twitch made me wonder whether she was smiling or frowning. Her unhealthy-looking teeth were yellowed from too many cigarettes and too much coffee. A deep raspy voice coughed her words. I was concerned she was ineffective. I was right. Dolores was caring but couldn’t say ‘no’ to anyone. She promised me full health benefits and then let me serve my half-time position by working two ten-hour days while the hospital’s needs would have been better served if my time were spread over three days.
Respiratory, pulmonary, and circulatory health problems could be seen in her bulbous whitish nails. Her square palms and short square fingers revealed a practical nature, while her dry, reddish, dishpan skin had weathered many storms that seemed to endlessly arrive from every direction. Despite our differences, Dolores and I liked each other.
My `other half’ was a furniture maker and restorer named Billy (Skinny). Billy was tall, thin, and bony. He looked like a scruffy middle-aged Abraham Lincoln. Billy was one of the hardest working, enthusiastic, and idealistic persons I’d ever met. Like me, he’d never had ‘a job’. An eccentric renegade from societal rules and regulations, Billy maintained a furniture restoration and refinishing business on the side. Like me, Billy had a hidden agenda. His was unselfish and equally unrealistic. He believed that he could actually rehabilitate lunatics and transform them into functioning members of society.
Billy’s ‘feeling hands’ had rectangular palms and long fingers. A hardness and stiffness ruled his fingers, and knotty joints enhanced his compulsive need to control his physical and mental life. His especially long middle fingers bent towards the top of his ring fingers. Billy had an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, obligation, and guilt. An oversensitive perfectionist, Billy spent endless hours thinking about the best thing to do next.
Billy and I tried to set mutual goals, but my hidden agenda clashed with his righteous cause. Billy wanted to turn patients into furniture restorers. I wanted to help, but I wanted private time with them. Billy committed to creating a sheltered wood working shop. I chose to offer design classes to higher functioning patients. I’d also help Billy set up a workshop that would serve the entire patient population.
The Rehab staff was a smorgasbord of affirmative action. Zandor was Estonian. He was a rehabilitation counselor and second in command. Zandor should have had Dolores’s job, but upper management didn’t want a person they couldn’t control in that position. Zandor’s ‘thinking hands’ correspond to his strong handshake, firm elastic skin, long straight fingers, square fingertips, and open and frank nails. Zandor had also been abused by too many years in state service, but it didn’t break him. He had grievances pending against the Public Employees Union for obvious discrimination against him. Despite unfavorable circumstances, Zandor always presented himself with pride, integrity, and dignity. We became comrades.
Bruce (Luscious Lips) arrived at the same time as Billy and me. His meaty practical hands had square palms and short square fingers that were soft and supple with dominant plump third phalanges. His head and lifelines were tied together at their beginnings. He was a Taurus and a huge procrastinator. Bruce was in charge of recreation. He’d served state social service agencies throughout his entire work experience. Sweet and mild mannered, his desire to make a real difference had dulled from too many years of compliance to authority, rules, and regulations. Bruce had gone as high as he could in institutional politics. He was caring and attentive with the patients but seemed depressed and resigned to mediocrity the rest of the time. The only times Bruce revealed real passion and genuine enthusiasm was when we talked about gourmet food or going fishing together.
Barbara was the schoolteacher on our team. Her goal was to help as many patients as possible reach high school equivalency. She was a large boned middle aged Afro-American woman and a very kind person. I don’t remember her hands except for her large broad nails and the sparse clear lines engraved in her palms. Barbara had spent many years in state service. She was one of a very few state employees who managed to maintain a sense of humor and a life outside of her work. She complained the least of any full-time staff member and always kept her cool. Once during English class, one of the male patients pulled out his huge erect penis and started jerking off. Barbara walked over, looked him straight in his eyes and without raising her voice calmly said, “please excuse yourself and go to the bathroom”. He did. I wished I could have read her report about the incident.
Bob was the librarian. He reminded me of a Spam and Velveeta Cheese on Wonder Bread sandwich. Bob was a real life Walter Mitty. He was helpful when asked, but most of the time, gazed into the distance under thick lens wire rimmed glasses. As I think of him, I can still feel his cool damp mashed potato hand shake that confirmed a total lack of will power, energy, and enthusiasm.
Andrew was art therapist when I arrived. His tenure was short. The only thing I recall about him is that he sent his estranged daughter a gross of condoms for her sixteenth birthday. He quipped in his southern drawl, “If she’s going to do it, might as well be safe.” The new art therapist was Janice. She was an unsuccessfully aging frustrated starving artist in need of a steady income. There was a frequent staff turnover for art therapists.
Maya was recreational therapist. She was young, very private, and a very athletic Afro-American woman. Maya managed sports activities and the patient newspaper, the Scene. All of the staff liked Maya. Patients loved her. Her powerful ‘intuitive hands‘ were well suited for sports like football, soccer, and wrestling. Everyone thought Maya was gay, but that was nobody’s business.
I was a card-carrying member of a band of misfits in search of a fit. On the whole, I liked the rehab staff and felt like I was becoming part of a team. I looked forward to our working together and began to imagine that we might actually make a real difference…
I spent two years working part time, two days a week designing vocational rehabilitation programs at a forensic psychiatric hospital. I wanted to get to know that population. A year had passed when I got my first big break to finally delve into the clients. Rehab was responsible for holiday activities and Halloween was about to happen. “Wouldn’t it be fun if you were our fortune teller this year?” Dolores (my boss) inquired. I named myself “M”, ‘palmist’, dressed in satin robes with sun, moon, pentacles (five-pointed star), and a hand-crafted silver hand hung round my neck.
Caricature by Chris Wynter
Within moments of examining each a patient’s hands, I pinpointed their behavioral issues, current obstacles, and major life challenges. Most reacted, “Hey, you’re for real!” or “You really know me!”. I carefully tailored my words to their ability to understand. Most competent readers know that it’s not what you see, but what you say and how you say it that matters. Inadvertently, Dolores had set me up as a confidant. You never know what you’ll hear or what you’ll say when a person you’re talking to believes you already know their secrets and future. Word of my abilities spread quickly. I soon gained many new recruits who became regulars.
Mohamed was ‘a lifer’. He’d been given enough Thorazine to sedate a small army. As a giant sized middle-aged black man, he looked like a dark blend of Muhammad Ali and Bob Marley. As one of the most popular patients in the hospital, Mohamed had been a Hell’s Angel, cocaine addict, and cold-blooded murderer. He found `religion’ during solitary confinement. I began receiving Plain Truth magazine shortly after I met him. He had placed me on their mailing list. I learned about contraband from Mohamed. Patients with money got marijuana, alcohol, extra cigarettes, Sanka, and a myriad of other illegal stuff smuggled through security.
One not to notice occurrence was the way large quantities of office and recreational supplies would arrive and vanish quickly. I began hoarding yellow pads, pens, and pencils, hiding them in my desk before they disappeared. Staff were getting away with whatever they could. Even office machines vanished. When I asked a friend in a nearby hospital what was happening, she replied that it was “par for the course”.
Many people who work for government agencies have a chronic poverty consciousness that makes them feel inferior, underappreciated, and entitled to get away with whatever they can. Most workers in helping professions give too much and don’t ask enough for themselves.
Nothing was as it appeared. One security staff member who habitually acted friendly with patients, said to me in confidence, “I’d shoot every one of them in the head at night while they slept if I could get away with it”. I pretended he was joking but was really shocked and awed. Watching patients pretending to be what and how they believed staff wanted them to be was a spectator sport. When backs were turned, patients would give staff their middle finger or spontaneously contort their faces. Staff often behaved similarly to patients and each other.
Sometimes it was `Show Time’. An organization whose job it was to inspect state hospital social service programs was called `XYZ’. The ‘powers that be’ at the top of the mental health food chain got plenty of notice from XYZ. Inspectors showed up to lots of hustle, bustle, and productivity. We ran smoothly, like ‘Timex’ when observers were around. Everyone was active and cooperative, and everything was orderly and `spic and span’. In truth, we were scuzzy, and programming ran unpredictably… you know, the kinds of things inspectors need to see.
The state allots monies for capital improvements and program development each year. Unspent monies are removed from the following year’s budget. A $100,000.00 surplus needed to be spent quickly. A scam that affected me was the creation of a woodworking and refinishing shop. The cabinet approved purchasing expensive woodworking equipment for the Rehab Dept. They failed to inform us that the patients would ‘never’ be permitted to use the tools as they were ‘much too dangerous’.
I questioned Billy (other half of my position) about who was going to operate the equipment. He told me that he and I would initially do the machining, but eventually certain patients would be trusted. I disagreed. None of our conjecture mattered, because when the fiscal year was over, the cabinet scrapped the shop. Now they could ask for more money next year. You’ll appreciate this picture of me and Billy at the annual Xmas party. Even Santa was a lunatic!
I figured if everyone else was getting away with things, so could I. `Gigolo’ worked maximum security at the secure entrance. When no one was around, he’d wave me past the bag check and metal detector. Even the director of the hospital was scanned and checked daily. I took advantage of his trust by waiting outside the hospital entrance until no one was in the foyer. I became ‘Smiley’, who always entered the security area with a big smile on my face. Gigolo would wave me through. In my briefcase was a camera, tape recorder, and extra tapes. I began recording patient songs and stories. I could and so I did.
Virginia was abandoned by her mother at birth. Fished out of a garbage can, Virginia grew up in orphanages. She had a grade school education and never developed work skills. Virginia ventured out into the world on her own. She became pregnant as an adolescent and a magnet for one co-dependent abusive spouse after the other. Virginia prayed her children weren’t forsaken by God, but they were. They were homeless and starving. She loved them too much to watch them starve to death. So, she killed them. What else could she do?
Virginia’s haunting voice expresses the agony of her soul. I saw her as a cross between Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I found her tunes and lyrics profoundly poetic and deeply disturbing. She asked me to share one of my choosing.
“CRIES OF PAIN, CRIES OF JOY
SCREAMS OF TORMENT WITHIN
SILENTLY WHISPERING INNER FEAR
A WALL OF PRETENSE TO HIDE
BITTER REALITY WITH NO REMORSE
CHANGING MOODS, ALWAYS DENY
TRUTH IN A WORLD OF UNENDING STRIFE
REACHING OUT THE LAYER OF LIFE
DREAMING OF THE EVERYDAY CHARADE
MOVING FACES IN A MASQUERADE
REVEALING THE UNRELENTING SOUL
OF A TIRED AND LONELY BEING
HIDDEN QUALITIES SOARING BENEATH
THE EXTERNAL EXISTENCE ABOVE
COULD THE ENERGY EXIST TO FIGHT
THE SHADOWY SILHOUETTE OF I?”
“Have you ever seen a hand that frightened you?”
I often hear that question. It was a sweltering day. A chill entered my soul as I touched Manuel’s hot sweaty palms. His huge reddish balls of thumb were full (like they’d been stuffed with extra-large eggs) and smooth with no lines. The image on the left is simulated. The ball of thumb on the right is mine. Many significant relationship lines lie within my lifeline. I love lots of people. Manuel had no lines. Manuel had a mega-dose of desire, lust, and passion; nourished by fear, anger, and hatred. Unfortunately, Manuel had zero ability to have intimacy with other human beings. He allegedly kidnapped eight little boys, took them to rooftops, raped, murdered, cut their penises off, and carved crosses in the bases of their skulls.
Manuel pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to a maximum-security forensic hospital for the criminally insane. When I met Manuel, he had been dying of kidney disease. He’d been on dialysis machines for five years. His kidneys were shot. There would be no donor for a child serial killer. Manuel’s time was running out. He wanted to tell his story and asked me to record it. Before accepting Manuel’s word, I examined his hospital records and psychiatric treatment plans. Dozens of articles about the murders were recorded on microfilm in the news section of the public library.
Although the evidence was circumstantial, Manuel fit the profile. The media had generated a public frenzy. Hundreds of detectives and policemen were on the case. The first suspect had to be disguised as a policeman in order to not be lynched by the public.” It took over two hundred police, some wearing riot gear, to prevent over 1000 angry people from storming the xxx police station in the mistaken belief that a suspect in the mutilation murders of four young boys was inside the building.”
Manuel’s ball of thumb is the star of his story. Manuel came to the USA from Puerto Rico at age thirteen with his father and brother. He had great aspirations, but says he got hooked on drugs (marijuana) and headed downhill after that. Manuel said to me, “Drug addiction was in my genes. From the first time I tasted drugs, I never stopped”. A huge round ball of thumb symbolizes sensuality, compulsion, and indulgence. A paradox is that a large ball of thumb can also symbolize a huge appreciation of nature, children, art, music, and all things beautiful, along with abundant generosity and warmth. Manuel’s low set thumb and very stiff fingers and life and head line closely tied together at their start symbolizes that Manuel’s patterns and habits were deeply embedded.
Many thieves and pick pockets have inwardly curving pinkies. Hooked on heroine, Manuel resorted to stealing drugs to support his habit. He hung out with prostitutes and criminals. Meanwhile, his mother died of brain cancer, his sister died of cirrhosis of the liver, his half-brother died of a drug overdose, and his other brother was locked up for murdering their crazy father. Manuel’s tale would make an extremely dark TV sitcom.
Manuel dealt heroine to support his habit. When he turned sixteen, he was arrested for drug dealing. In “Purgatory’s tombs”, Manuel began banging his head against the wall. He was sent to a minimum-security outpatient mental hospital to detox and six months later he believed his habit was broken. Manuel discovered he had talents in arts and cooking. He tried living with a woman at seventeen, but he couldn’t stay out of trouble. While in and out of prisons and mental hospitals, Manuel managed to get his common-law wife pregnant three times; two daughters and a son. One daughter had to be on dialysis for failed kidneys.
Manuel spent five years in a state penitentiary while his family survived on welfare. The prison system tried to rehabilitate Manuel by teaching him several different trades. He had the best of intentions but was unable stay out of trouble. Next, he found religion and went to live in a church. Becoming fundamentalist and fanatical, Manuel began preaching from the bible to his family, friends, and strangers on the street. He claimed he tried to stay away from drugs, but even a drag from a cigarette or sip of beer would rekindle his addiction.
A combination of drugs and religion led to grandiosity. “I was greater than God. I really believed I was Jesus Christ”. Manuel took medication for his hallucinations. On drugs, he could temporarily cope. If he forgot, he’d become mentally and physically ill. Manuel began taking speed and cocaine again. His delusions and hallucinations became more grandiose. One forensic psychiatrist described Manuel as a “walking time bomb”, a violent psychopath destined for evil and a forensic lifestyle.
Several authorized and unauthorized exits from QRS, a low security mental hospital, coincided with the mutilation deaths of young boys. Manuel was seen preaching on the streets near the scene of one crime. He was connected to other murder locations because of relatives who lived nearby. Manuel denied killing the boys. A court appointed defense attorney talked him into copping a plea of insanity. Manuel claimed he didn’t know anything about the legal system and just followed his lawyer’s advice.
“I was sold down the river. Everyone needed a murderer, and I was him”. Manuel was declared criminally insane. There were no more mutilations of children after he was put away. I secretly believed Manuel committed those crimes. I also felt compassion for him. He was born on the short end of a very hard thorny stick in both the nature and nurture departments.
I was repulsed by him, but I also realized that Manuel might have been a very different person had he had real love and nourishment in his childhood. Manuel could have had a healthier and happier life with the right nurture.
I read almost every hand in the hospital, but never shared anyone’s secrets with anyone else. Rehab staff considered me harmless. They were more neurotic than the patients. Many had overdeveloped superegos. Most of them did what they knew they could get away with. Most patients had huge ids with no superego. They did what they thought they had to do, never contemplating the consequences of what they did. They saw only one solution to a problem. Patients generally had fewer peripheral lines in their palms than staff who were more confused.
I published an appeal to patients interested in participating in something creative and fun.
I was `M’, the fortune teller at our Halloween celebration. Mark is my name. I came here as a vocational instructor. Many of you know me as part-time art therapist. I’m actually an industrial designer. I design products for manufacturing companies and teach design at local colleges. I sometimes offer workshops to help creative people and inventors manifest their creations.
One year ago (this week), I began working here. I hoped I could motivate many of you to nourish your natural talents and abilities. I planned to offer guidance and support on projects of your creation. I assumed you’d be inspired by an opportunity to work on your own projects. Over the past year, I‘ve heard many reasons why you can’t or don’t want to be involved.
You’ve become so used to circumstances being hard that you can’t imagine anything else. Disappointment is too painful. You’re afraid to be enthusiastic. You’re afraid to trust anyone. Your self-esteem is too low. You’re not worthy or capable, but I assure you, you are.
I’m appealing to anyone who feels inspired or curious about their potentials and is willing to make a commitment to a weekly schedule to work under my direction. You must be accepted to participate in my class. A brief interview with Mr. Cartozian, the Rehab Counselor, will be required. His approval, along with the support of your treatment team will determine your eligibility. If you want my help, you’ve got it.
I promise to dedicate myself to helping class members make their projects a reality. Any project you choose is fine as long as it’s possible. Twelve students will participate in classes. There will be two work / study groups with six students each. Each will meet twice per week; one session on Tuesday and one session on Wednesday.
Here’s my vision: We’re motivated about our projects and willing to do whatever it takes to make them happen. We’re sharing in healthy constructive ways and learning a lot from everyone’s projects. We’re learning to draw and make things in our workshop. Many projects are happening; works of art, music, writing, and producing practical items like furniture, magazine racks, floral planters, and boxes of all shapes and sizes. If you can envision yourself in my class, please speak with me directly in the Rehab Department on a Tuesday or a Wednesday over the next several weeks.
I began preparing for my vocational classes. Some of my favorite patients were ready to sign up. Others I’d tried to interest remained apathetic. I published an appeal for my ‘vocational classes’ in the ‘Scene’, the patient newspaper. The response was better than I expected. It’s what happened as a result of my choices and actions that drove me out of my mind.
Cancer is a Cardinal Water sign that is governed by our Moon which influences our Oceans and Tides. Cancer rules Motherhood, Family, Food, Feelings, Home, and our Personal and Collective Unconscious. The birth of the USA is embodied by the Summer Solstice. When the Declaration of Independence was signed in Cancer on July 4, 1776, our Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter were in the sign of Cancer. That’s a lot of Cancer.
There’s some controversy among astrologers as to the correct time of signing the Declaration. Aquarius or Sagittarius is rising. I believe it’s Sagittarius because the placement of planets in that natal chart indicates leadership and sticks our noses in everyone else’s business. Let’s look at how the 20th Century transits of Pluto and Uranus through the constellation of Cancer influenced Personal and Collective Psyche.
Pluto, archetype of sex, death, and transformation transited the sign of Cancer from 1913 to 1938. Plutocrats, partisan politicians, nationalism, and isolationism transformed world ideologies. World War I turned into World War II. In 1913, President Wilson pressed a button in the White House that blew up the Gamboa Dike at the Isthmus of Panama that created a canal between oceans that transformed travel by sea. Wilson legislated the Carter-Owen Bill that established a Federal Reserve System that transformed the stranglehold on the nation’s currency and credit system by banks.
NBC became the first Nationwide Broadcasting Company. Daylight Saving Time transformed clocks and schedules. Transcontinental telephone service transformed international communications. World infrastructures and atomic energy transformed planetary energy sources and usages. Wall Street prospered from war while soldiers earning $16 per month died in the trenches. No child was left behind. President Wilson established a lottery style draft promoting patriotism. Congress passed the Espionage Act fining draft dodgers $10,000 and imposing a twenty-year jail sentence.
Pluto in Cancer catalyzed Kleptocracy (government by people who use their power to steal their country’s resources) and Kakistocracy (state or society governed by its least suitable or competent citizens). “Like all good illusionists, the kleptocrats know how to distract us from looking at their misdeeds and the kakistocrats know how to distract us from their ineptitude. They do it by talking to us about ideology and attacking those of their rivals. While we watch and play our part in these ideological circuses, they steal. Or tinker with government policies they don’t really understand. And we pay the price.”
“Do your bit” encouraged citizens to buy Liberty Bonds. Wheatless-meatless days were promoted. The end of 1919 marked the end of the Influenza pandemic that caused half a million deaths and a quarter of the nation’s population to be sick. Prohibition banned liquor for all citizens. Black markets and bootlegging industries flourished. Black leader Marcus Garvey organized ‘The Empire of Africa’ with 500,000 followers. Garvey led the largest mass exodus of Blacks with the least sense of brotherhood in US history. Pluto passing through Capricorn opposite Cancer is furnishing the wisdom necessary to not make the same mistakes. Hindsight has few surprises and many possible benefits.
In 1929, doubt, fear, and panic upset our stock market as we faced our darkest hour. Foundations and structures of home and family were crumbling. Pluto in Cancer birthed many people who spent their lives taking care of family. Their overdeveloped senses of responsibility, guilt, and obligation motivated their children to become dropouts and runaways. Neither extreme has worked.
Uranus, planet of sudden and unexpected changes, invention, rebellion, and revolution transited the sign of Cancer from 1949 to 1955. Mothers stopped staying at home and went to work. Women began wearing the “bikini”, a fashionable French bathing suit. ‘I Love Lucy’, a comic show about a housewife and her Cuban bandleader husband became the most popular show on TV. Ranch houses and basement playrooms became popular. Subconscious mind was explored in psychology. Born between 1949 and 1955? Your psyche may be shipwrecked somewhere in time and space in opposition between rational awareness and fearful confusion.
We should think twice before we elect (appoint) another Cancer President. Four USA Presidents were born under the sign of Cancer. George W Bush (7/6/1946) has an egocentric character to match his Leo rising. George Bush demonstrated some of the worst qualities of Cancer and Leo in his behavior, intentions, and actions. Check out the similarities between the three other Cancer Presidents.
Like George Bush and Al Gore, John Quincy Adams finished second in popular vote behind General Andrew Jackson. There was no majority. The choice was put before the House of Representatives. House Speaker, Henry Clay, swung the election to Adams. When Adams appointed Clay as Secretary of State, Jackson followers cried, “Corrupt bargain”.
W.H. Littleton proclaimed, “Of all the men whom it was ever my lot to accost and to waste civilities upon, he (Adams) was the most doggedly and systematically repulsive. With a vinegar aspect, cotton in his leathern ears, and hatred in his heart, he sat like a bulldog among spaniels.”
President Calvin Coolidge shared his birthday 7/4 with the USA Declaration of Independence. Coolidge was famous for “holding his tongue”, earning him the title, “Silent Cal”. Two of his favorite sayings were: “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” and “The business of America is business.” William Allen White said of him, “He was an economic fatalist with a God given inertia. He knew nothing and refused to learn”.
The 38th President, Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. didn’t know he was adopted until he was seventeen. Betty performed all the domestic chores. Gerry never lifted a finger around the house. As Speaker for the other house, Ford passionately pleaded for escalation of the war in Vietnam. He urged “unleashing devastating air and sea power”. He failed to impeach liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas as a favor to his buddy Richard Nixon. Ford granted Nixon a “full complete and absolute pardon” for all crimes relating to Watergate. Ford blamed democrats for the disastrous rate of inflation and warned that electing more would “jeopardize world peace”. He admitted to not reading books, but did find time to watch football on TV. Good thing there was no Twitter!
Congressman Robert Drinan said, “I cannot dislike him personally — he’s cordial and gracious, but he’s consistently wrong and consistency is a virtue of small minds. He’s never proposed a constructive solution to anything”.
Lyndon Johnson quipped, Ford “played too much football with his helmet off” ~ “Jerry’s the only man I ever knew who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time”.
Reverend Duncan Littlefair proclaimed, “Ford isn’t a bad man, but he’s dumb—dumb. He shouldn’t be dumb either. He went to school just like everybody else”.
“The important thing is that men should have a purpose in life…
it should be something useful, something good”
The Dalai Lama (Cancer) is “The Reborn Soul of Buddha” who fled Tibet in 1959 to live as a “simple monk” in a remote corner of Northern India. Unable to return home, he chose to promote world peace and love. Like Orpheus, singer, priest, healer, poet, and musician in Greek myth, the Dalai Lama must charm Pluto into letting him enter into the domain of death to mine the matrix of collective unconscious and restore humanity. Death warned Orpheus that he’d lose Eurydice forever if he looked back. In a moment of doubt, Orpheus looked back and lost Eurydice forever. If hindsight is 2020, we must be fully conscious in 2024 of the consequences of our choices and corresponding votes.
“The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding.”
Alchemy is not transforming lead into gold. Hermes turned Saturn (Lead) into Sun (Gold) by building stable structures on solid foundations, being disciplined, and focusing on his metaphysical quest to prepare mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to connect to any and all others at any and all times. Alchemy is a set of magical formulas, tools, and esoteric instruction for becoming healthier, happier, and more fulfilled in life. Alchemy is the mastery of mental forces by transmuting one mental vibration into another. Our Sun passing through Gemini ~ May 21st to June 21st is a perfect time to share our selves on a soul level with anyone and everyone who is able!
Every thought is made up of individual cells; physically, mentally, and spiritually connected to all other cells on all other planes at the same time. Our brains are our cell communication hardware while our minds transmit and receive messages. Relationships between cells cause energy and matter to vibrate on different planes of reality at different times and places. Combining physical, mental, and spiritual planes, enables us to connect any with any and every being at any and every time and place. We can achieve wholeness by letting go of fear, taking a leap of faith, making connections, tuning our links, and creating nourishing environments.
“While ALL is in “The ALL”, it is equally true that “The ALL” is in ALL. “To him who truly understands this truth hath come great knowledge”. The inner nature of “The ALL” is unknowable and indefinable. That’s why humanity needs anthropomorphic gods and institutionalized religion. Spirit is the essence that embodies “ALL”. Spirituality requires the recognition, realization, and manifestation of Great Spirit within and without.
Hermes Seven Laws
“Law of Polarity”: “Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.”
“The Secret” is only a secret to the uninitiated. The ‘Laws of Attraction’ work best when you know what you desire, and your intentions are clear. Polarity is spiritual magnetism.
Anyone can turn negative thinking into positive circumstances by letting go of fear, having clear intent, choosing a worthy quest, and doing the work. See how the ‘Law of Polarity’ transformed trash into treasure!
Opposites are extremes of the same basic substance with varying degrees between. Where does heat end and cold begin? Where does darkness leave off and light begin? What about positive and negative, hard and soft, sharp and dull, noisy and quiet, high and low? The same principle operates on a mental plane. Love and hate are simply degrees of the same thing. In the middle are shades of like and dislike. Vibrations of hate can be transmuted into vibrations of love through the art of polarization, a phase of alchemy known and practiced by ancient and modern masters.
Hermes other Six ‘Secrets’
Correspondence, Mentalism, Vibration, Rhythm, Cause, Effect, and Gender are Hermes other six Laws. Practicing metaphysical principles enabled Hermes and enables anyone to explore, examine, and explain the unexplained, and to execute any and all thoughts, ideas, and visions.
Having inner and outer wisdom has helped critical thinkers throughout history to unlock mysteries using Hermetic thought and principles. Hermetic masters possess knowledge of transcendental astronomy called astrology, transcendental chemistry called alchemy, and transcendental psychology called mystic psychology. Confucius, Galileo, Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Nostradamus, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell were all Grand Masters of Hermetic thought and principles.
Astrology is a symbolic system that compares and contrasts our heavens with affairs of man on earth. Astrology unlocks ancient and modern mysteries using Hermes second principle of correspondence “As Above, So Below, as below, so above”.
An infinite variety of characters, plots, and archetypal tales are mirrored in lots of dysfunctional humans, unable to see the forests from the trees. Too many lost souls are Idolizing gold-plated Calves on brass-plated pedestals and Worshiping Sacred Cows on the Altars of Nonsense. The human race has become a race against self-created bad shit happening. Our planet’s sixth extinction is nearing more quickly than we think.
Hermes was Greek god of wisdom, wealth, trade, luck, fertility, language, animal husbandry, thieves, travelers, sleep, and providing safe passage to death. Mercury was Hermes’ Roman version, messenger of gods and ruler of Gemini. Thoth, in ancient Egypt, was a lunar god and patron of science, literature, wisdom, and invention. Loki was the Norse god of mischief. In Tarot, Hermes, a Magician at a crossroads has crucial decisions to make and critical actions to take. Merlin, Gondolf, Harry Potter, and Dumbledore are modern Hermes. Having metaphysical tools and mystical knowledge enabled Hemes and enables ALL of us to choose our thoughts, feelings, what to do, and who to be.
Hermes was reputedly a real person who lived for 350 years in the flesh in ancient Egypt. Refusing to age, Hermes misspent much of his adolescence as a trickster and petty thief. He was ‘Puck’ in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’. He’s Peter Pan, a Gemini, who never grows old.
A 76 year old Hermes, I’m no longer adolescent. Peter needs and depends on Wendy. My Wendy is Joanna, Aries with Taurus rising. She strongly disagrees with my assessment. I call her ‘Rambull’. I’m a Gemini with Scorpio rising. She calls me ‘a piece of work in progress’. Being born twelve years apart makes us ‘the bores’ at Chinese New Year’s parties. I’m a Pig on a Mountain. She’s a Pig in a Monastery.
Wendy is a Virgo type, a practical and responsible friend who darns Peter’s socks, sews his shadow back on, and patiently awaits his return as he flies away to Neverland whenever he chooses. Wendy brings an awareness that balances Peter’s ambiguous and ambivalent thoughts and feelings with clarity and good sense.
Michael Jackson actually lived in Neverland. Priscilla and Liz were his Wendys. Johnny Depp is Peter Pan who played Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Carribean, Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, and many other child centered characters. Hermes & Aphrodite gave birth to Hermaphrodite. David Bowie has flourished and blossomed in musical creativity, originality, and androgynous performance art.
Know thyself. Common sense without good sense is nonsense. Cultivate clear vision. Make wise choices. Nourish real relationships. Choose right uses of will power. Act decisively. Maintain positive attitudes. Balance courage, strength, wisdom, and grace with critical thinking, real feelings, and right actions. Having solid faith creates strong structures on sound foundations. We can change our destiny and the destiny of our planet on a cellular level by raising our vibration, polarity, and rhythm.
As Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto transit our Zodiac, they transform Personal & Collective Psyche. Uranus was the only outer planet to transit Aries (1927–1935) in the 20th Century. Uranus in Aries brought fierce individualism, pioneering spirit, infinite energy, and limitless financial resources to facilitate concepts through fruition. Uranus inspired both Individual and Collective Psyche through revolutionary technological changes, spectacular inventions, and unexpected financial events.
German ophthalmologist pioneered first contact lens
First drive-in movie theater opened ~ New Jersey
Model A replaced Model T Ford
First air-conditioned office building ~ San Antonio Texas
Jet engine patented
Charles Lindbergh ~ first solo flight ~ New York to Paris
America captive ~ Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son kidnapped
Mao Tse-Tung developed guerrilla warfare tactics to conquer China
Leon Trotsky expelled from Communist Party
Federal government entered hydroelectric power ~ Boulder Dam
First Talking Motion Picture, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences born
,Stock Market Crash ~ Time to re-examine Values & Institutions
Uranus completed its eighty-four-year cycle in 2011, turbulently returning to Aries to crumble regimes, topple demagogues, ignite cities, and fuel an Arab Spring that would spread across the Mid-East. Devastating earthquakes in Japan forever changed how governments look at nuclear power policies. We’ll be dealing with the consequences for eternity. Protesters in Spain set the stage for Occupy Movements in New York and London. Osama Bin Laden was killed. His demise appeared on Twitter before being officially announced by The White House. WikiLeaks raised awareness of government secrets, conspiracies, and everything else we shouldn’t take for granted!
Original artwork and signature. My parody facial.
Irrational interpretations of our second amendment fuel fundamentalist & extremist demagogues & ideologues. Armies of angry, confused, and frustrated failures with semi-automatic weapons of mass destruction are a millimeter away from becoming nutcases with guns. The rest of us are a banana peel away from a coma!
Evangelical Christians, corrupt partisan politicians, and NRA members laid a groundwork for another Civil War as Uranus left Aries. As Evil tempts and seduces us, its disciples betray our minds, hearts, souls, and world while pretending to be real. Wannabe emperors, beasts, and frogs, clothed in lies and alternative facts, must see and be seen through a lens of good sense. It takes numerous years and myriad challenging lessons before bad choices can be transformed into healthy outcomes.
“Hasta la vista baby”
Uranus’s unpredictability, along with the blood, guts, and gore of war are a scary combo. Neptune in Pisces and Pluto through Capricorn and Aquarius can become noble and spiritual, or poisoned by passion, devoured by lust, and / or consumed by greed, hatred, fear, and terror. We must shift our broken philosophical and spiritual paradigms or be doomed to an eternity of Mass Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (MPTSD).
A “Big Bang” is a tale of Worlds, Neutrons, Supermarkets, Laundromats, Homogenized Milk, Wonder Bread, Scotch Tape, Model T, and Plastics Recycling, etc. Our human race has become a race against bad shit happening. Why must we always lose what we value to value what we had?