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Review of "God's Healing Grace" by Mariellen Gilpin - nhpeacenik
Review of "God's Healing Grace" by Mariellen Gilpin
Mariellen Gilpin is a Pennsylvania Quaker who has lived with mental illness for much of her life. Her approach to dealing with her condition, which she refers to as a "mental and spiritual illness" is documented in an eminently readable pamphlet called "God's Healing Grace". The pamphlet is published by Pendle Hill  as pamphlet 394 and intended to reach a Quaker audience, but I think it could be very meaningful to non-Quakers as well.

At age 38, in 1978, Gilpin was hospitalized because she was having disturbing conversations with voices, some of which claimed to be "God" and  "Jesus". This began a long journey, during whch she realized that she was suffering from a spiritual illness as well as a mental condition, and that coming to terms with her affliction would involve a combination of therapy and inner work that she would need to discover for herself with the support of her husband, her Meeting,and trusted mentors. Over the years,she came up with some good tips for dealing with the medical/mental health system which she points out can cause as well as alleviate mental symptoms. She advocates taking a trusted advisor along to  interviews, choosing a psychiatrist who respects you and accepts that your point of view can be valid even if not orthodox, always surrounding yourself with trusted friends when undergoing changes of medication, finding a support group, getting counseling help, acting as a "sane" person would and continuing to work diligently at your job or vocation.

Gilpin has served as Clerk of her Meeting and served on committees that dealt with difficult issues.authored books and otherwise demonstrated exceptional gifts and leadership, but she affirms that she will never be "cured" or "fixed" and will always need to live with her condition.

On her journey, Gilpin experienced the reality (for her) of demons and other spirits who lived in her. She concluded that the harmfult spirits must be dealt with nonviolently. She believed that she had acquired some of her demons when she practiced healing touch as a young person, taking on other people's afflictions in addition to whatever spirits were in her originally. She believed that God and Jesus did, in fact, speak to her as they can to anyone, but that it was necessary to distinguish between the voice of "God" and God. By paying careful attention to her sensations, she learned that there was a "whooshing" that happenend just before the voices and hallucinations started, and that by noticing when the whooshing happened, she could take precautionary measures. She learned several useful techniques for coping by participating in a group called GROW, which arose out of Alcoholics Anonymous but was not a 12-step program. In a dialog with God (not "God"), she learned that she had to give up prayer for 5 years as part of her growth process,. This seemed counterintuitive but definitely
proved valid and practically useful.

Finally, she began having honest dialog with her demons, treating them with respect and kindness, until they agreed to depart from her one by one. The demons had a literal body, with a tail, that departed from her mouth very slowly.

She discovered that she had internalized a demon named "Raped by God" from a close friend who had been sexually molested as a child... the demon was a young girl and needed to be reassured and calmed before she could bring herself to leave.

A demon named "Power" belonged to her, and she came to realize that it was this demon that had gotten her started in healing touch, because having such a skill gave her apparrent power over others, when she was otherwise what she called a "wimp". She needed to learn true power,..  the power of being honest and firm with others, before this demon was willing to let go its protective intentions and leave her to take care of herself. The seemingly negative spirit was actually just looking out or her best interests all along.

Throughout her tortuous journey of healing, Gilpin could call on a "support committee" from her Meeting. One of the members of the committee was described as a Celtic Shaman, who helped to arrange ceremonies where the released demons and other spirits could be thanked for their help. 

Gilpin says, " I thank my positive and negative spirits as specifically as I can for their work within. Everybody appreciates recognition."  She says she hallucinates only about twice a year now and the hallucinations and voices mostly allow her negative and helpful spirits to work together to help her understand her feelings better, like a good therapy session. She says that spiritual nonviolence, not spiritual warfare, has brought her to inner peace. She says that choosing to feel better in the short-run rather than doing and being better in the long run is negative.

Current Location: Greenville NH USA
Current Music: Emma's Revolution - One By One | Powered by Last.fm

1 comment or Leave a comment
From: sonoran_scrawl Date: March 10th, 2009 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
i totally understand this, thanks. i had to do a zen approach with these things...i totally know that wooshing sound beforehand too.

hey i have quaker ancestry. my great great something or other uncle was john bright, the one in english parliament who was a rabble rouse and reformed the corn laws. i like quakers. if i ever go to church again i would check out the quaker meetings. thank you for this post. peace, nancy
1 comment or Leave a comment