The Drugs Don’t Work- Unmedicating the Dark Feminine.

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Elizabeth Wurtzel (July 31, 1967 – January 7, 2020), Pluto/Uranus/Venus conjunction. Asteroid Lilith 1st house conjunct south node.

“It was just very interesting to me that certain types of women inspire people’s imagination, and all of them were very difficult women.”

― Elizabeth Wurtzel

Remember Prozac Nation, the book that defined a generation of disaffected, depressed Americans who had grown up under the milieu of divorced parents, working mothers, and who inspired the term latch-key kids?

Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, is Elizabeth’s Wurtzel’s testament to her struggles with mental health and increasing dependency on psychiatric medication. In her journey to self-acceptance, she recognises that it is not only herself who is suffering from depression but that the whole nation appears to be under a fog of a chemical addiction.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re all living in a Prozac nation. The United States of Depression.”

Wurzel’s book defined an era of disaffection and burgeoning mental health labels that were managed by an ever-increasing plethora of psychiatric medication. Her generation, known as Generation X, were born between 1965- 1980, between the post war Baby Boomers, and tech savvy Millennials. A transitional generation, they bridged reality and a dawning artificial reality. They were the first generation to have home computers and gaming; many went onto create pivotal technologies in Silicon Valley such as Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter. Perhaps the success of those pioneering network platforms were in response to the growing sense of alienation that many of the Generation X felt.

Witten in 1994 when Wurtzel was 27, Prozac Nation was among the first of a burgeoning genre in Memoir Writing. The book received mixed reviews, some of which were a damning indictment of Wutrzel’s so called narcissism and self-absorption. Michiko Kakutani writer for the New York Times, compared Wurtzel’s book to the “emotional exhibitionism” of Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, and said her “self-pitying passages make the reader want to shake the author, and remind her that there are far worse fates than growing up during the ’70s in New York and going to Harvard.”

Nowadays-hopefully-we recognise this “what do you have to complain about” mentality as a form of gas lighting used to shame and silence people into feeling guilty for authentically expressing their feelings, especially feelings that challenge the consensual reality by digging deeper and asking difficult questions. To my mind, this dismissive and life- denying attitude is also a rejection of the dark feminine which embraces the inevitable pain and reckoning of becoming something greater and more vital than our limited selves and exposing the lies of society.

Beyond the primacy- and perhaps because of- the GDP, and insatiable need for progress and growth at all costs, there is much grief to be felt… as well as the recognition in how we have colluded with and allowed ways of being that are contrary to our soul’s deepest needs and longings.

Today we are experiencing an epidemic of denial; freedom of speech and the right to protest has effectively been outlawed.

Still. What if…

We said no to medication, over-consumption, addiction, porn, vaccination, dead food, the prohibition of the right to roam the land… to live on the land, unwarranted social control. What would our true, authentic, organic, and maybe slightly wild selves do and say then.  How much closer would we be to a vision of freedom.  What if spoke truth and felt our feelings?

I was 27 when I read Prozac Nation, at around the same time I also read Carried Fisher’s (who incidentally had Black Moon Lilith conjunct Chiron, 1st house), Postcards from the Edge, and Susanna Kaysen’s Girl Interrupted. Feeling somewhat lost and alienated myself in a world in which I had difficulty-and resistance- adapting to, I sought out books written by women who were also struggling… although I couldn’t quite quell the nagging feeling that this book, and other icons of the grunge intoxicated 90’s was to some extent glamourising mental instability and heroin chic. Nevertheless, reading books like Prozac Nation eased me with a sense of not being so alone in my suffering, and even that there could be gifts to be found, especially creative ones- though that was far from most people’s reality. As a student of English Literature, I became increasingly disenfranchised from many of the people and structures around me. Growing weary of society, I found my way to the frayed edges where the other -self exiled- misfits lived, I became more comfortable in the sub-culture, immersed in aimless drifting days and wine fuelled nights. I was never prescribed meds though I self-medicated on the most socially acceptable drug of all- alcohol.

As I write about my 27 year old self, the age Elizabeth Wurtzel was when she wrote Prozac Nation, my thoughts also turn to the several famous people who died by taking their own life at that age- ‘The 27 Club’ as they are chillingly known. It would appear that 27 can be a difficult age for some; having not yet crossed the threshold into adulthood, marked by Saturn’s return, this unacknowledged initiation may be too much for some.

The pressure to conform in what felt like an increasingly plastic society was for the most part a painful and silent plight. The voices of disaffection that made it through the channels of main stream media -even while they incurred ridicule as Wurtzel did- were reassuring signs that the dominant narrative, presented as the only reality, was beginning to tear at the seams. Books like Prozac Nation, at least allowed for the possibility of a conversation about why so many people were on anti-depressants in the first place- then as now women were twice as likely to be prescribed anti-depressant medication as men and twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Remember the days of womb removal as an attempt to cure hysteria? Hysteria was a mental health condition applied to women until 1980- the end of Generation X- when the diagnosis was dropped in favour of an array of other conditions that could now be treated with drugs … a far less messy and much cheaper way of controlling ‘difficult’ women.

Wurtzel’s book it seems was a double edged sword, on one hand it opened the channels for a particular kind of confessional writing that exposed many of the ills of American society, while on the other it seemed to pave the way toward the acceptance of psychiatric medication as an inevitable way of life.

Prozac Nation and other books in that genre however were the voice of Lilith, calling from the shadows and exiled places, calling out the hypocrisy, daring to challenge the collective miasma and corrupt power structures- “Wake up! Don’t go back to sleep… don’t wrap yourself up in chemical cotton candy… don’t allow them to pathologize your soul’s longing and inner knowing… don’t accept a label that will allow you to fit neatly into a manufactured society, controlled by those who want as little disruption as possible in their quest for mastery over Nature.” Lilith has spoken.

Hand maiden to the dark goddess, Lilith keeps the score in our bodies and the many psycho- physical, psycho-spiritual illnesses that we experience. She may have fled into exile for a few thousand years, yet she is fully conscious, fully present, and entirely unmedicated. Biding her time and offering guidance from behind the veil, she shows up in the cracks that appear when we accept what harms us or what we know to be false. She comes to us in the life stultifying depressions, primal rages, and acting out; she exposes our addictions, people pleasing behaviours, and pill popping compliance for what they really are… a denial of our authentic self. Lilith wills us to be free from the seduction of an artificial life with its many promises of ease, pleasure, and comfort in favour of wholeness, liberation, and authenticity.

In just over a week, myself and 12 other women will embark on a 7-week journey- Meetings With the Dark Goddess and Finding the Seeds of Renewal. If you would like to be part of a future group, or similar explorations, or if you would like a Dark Goddess astrology consultation or shamanic session,  please contact me at karen@redspiral.co.uk.

Meetings with the Dark Goddess & Finding the Seeds of Renewal- an online course.

Meetings with the Dark Goddess

Collectively we are in the domain of the Dark Goddess, a liminal space between one state and another; behind the scenes a mystery is unfolding…we are in the birthing canal. It is a precarious time as we have not yet fully let go of the dissolving world or yet grasped the meaning of the new one. Astrologically this state can be likened to the 12th  house, the house of undoing before a new beginning emerges. In the lunar cycle it is the balsamic phase when everything is mulched down from the previous cycle providing fertile compost for the new to be born. It is the Phoenix rising from the ashes. States of transition however are not without danger. Folklorist Arnold Van Gennep describes the perils of transition within society thus,

A house with rooms and corridors in which passages from one to another is dangerous…. danger lies in transitional states, simply because transition is neither one state nor the next, it is undefinable…. the person who must pass from one to another is in danger and emanates danger to others…. the danger is precisely controlled by ritual which precisely separates [her] from [her] old status, segregates [her] for a time and then publicly declares [her] new entry to [her] new status”

Danger lies in the overwhelming and extraordinarily confusing glut of information, widening and fractious polarity, and above all perhaps in the social pressure to conform to an accepted reality that may be at odds with our inner truth. What if our voice sounds different even to loved ones and family? Our authentic voice may be rising up against not only societal injustice and pressure but also against the ways of being that have made us small, sick, victimised, or in any way diminished from who we truly are and what we are here to embody.

In these times we need containers, support,  ritual, and positive affectation. Once the lid comes off, what is revealed is sometimes a life time of playing small, of being fearful, shamed, or shrouded in false self-identity and beliefs about ourselves. And yes, maybe our psyches and our bodies have been damaged in systems that have not always supported life and healthy growth… much has been revealed to this end. I believe we can heal and make the transition a positive, affirming one in which we retain or claim our sovereignty.

Ritual and initiation may offer a connecting thread between the worlds, the inner and outer, the old and new. For the ancient Gnostics, ‘initiation worked to make initiates aware of their unconscious selves as a source of their greatest anxiety and their greatest power’. What have been, or are, your greatest anxieties during the pandemic, and how might they serve you now as a means of transformation and reclamation?

This is the time of the Dark Goddess, suppressed and exiled for millennia, she stirs beneath the Earth inviting us to meet Her, to face Her and to learn from Her wisdom but first we must make the descent into our own unconscious to illuminate what programmes, beliefs, wounding and rejected parts lay waiting to be brought home. She is the rage we feel at the injustices of the world, the terror and fear that paralyses us, and the quivering eruptions that explode when we are tired, stressed, diluted, or fragmented. She stands beside us now, willing us to talk truth, to utter the words from our wombs and release the tension of living in systems and circumstances that tether our soul and feminine essence. We are not victims however, we hold the key to our own liberation, and the Dark Goddess is the ultimate Wayshower. She appears to us in dreams, in our creativity, our sexuality, our bodies, our sickness, our darkness,  our “Enough!”;  She exists in the spaces in between, in the irrational, the liminal, in our rages and passions and the moments of silence. She is the language of the Soul; She speaks in symbols and intuitions. She is the ultimate Liberator; She appears to us as Lilith, Inanna, Ishtar, Hecate, Persephone, Demeter, and the Black Madonna. She dances through the veils.

This course does not provide a platform for political discourse, nor is it able to hold therapeutic space for individual women beyond the possibilities of group sharing. It is a course for women who would like to work with other women in a safe and respectful group exploring what it means to reclaim themselves in a time of change. The course invites the symbolic and mythic worlds as an imaginal aid to help see the bigger picture both personally and collectively. It is for women who are largely unsatisfied with the current narrative and who are therefore seeking a new way forward even while that may necessitate major change in their lives.

Personal astrology and therapeutic sessions may be arranged in addition to the course.

We begin our journey with the Descent of Ishtar, exploring the rich symbolism contained within this myth.

This is a 7-week course, open to all women who would like to be supported through this time as we cross the threshold. The course may also be beneficial for women who are experiencing personal change such as menopause, pregnancy, career change, death of a loved one, or a major new life circumstance.

The cost of the 7 weeks  is £105 (if paid before 1st August); Thereafter it’s £126.

The group will be limited to 13 participants to ensure a level of intimacy, safety & support.

I am a qualified counsellor/shamanic councillor, a professional astrologer and shamanic practitioner. I hold an MA in Myth, Cosmology & the Sacred.

Please contact me for ffi about payment and booking.