The Magdalene Memoirs
Welcome, but beware as some of the content in my Blog may be off the Catholic Wall!
However, please feel comfortable to post and write freely on this blog. I hope it will swell to embody many stories from women who have experienced life under the hand of Catholicism and her Nuns within the Magdalene Laundry or, "The Pines" as it was called in Adelaide, Australia.
The Good Shepherd Convent, or Magdalen Assylum, first opened in Cork Ireland on the 29th July 1872. It was the site of an orphanage and a Magdalene laundry until the late 1970s.
The shocking imprisonment of young girls for 'subjective dishonor' seems inhumane for the 20th century, yet, it happened! and continues to in sheep's clothing or cloaked habit forms.
In saying this, there are positive stories to be shared here too, I certainly have some myself - full of humor and gutzo intertwined with the fear and sorrow of that 13 yr. old little girl. I personally gained from the whole experience in ways that may seem surreal to some. Yet, an ache deep within my soul remains to this day.
Please write, write and write openly and freely from your heart and allow your story to flow, be it good, bad or ugly!!! and, Welcome.
The Convent of The Good Shepherd; "The Pines"
- Mother Earth, United States
- I was an incarcerated Magdalene Laundress for 8 months in 1969 -it seemed like a life time to a teenage girl- "The Pines" or, Good Shepherd Convent was situated on 19 acres of sprawling lavish Catholic real estate at 336 Marion Road, Plympton, South Australia HOWEVER, we only saw half and acre of barbwire en-caged concrete slab, the Convent was operated from 1942-1974 by the Catholic Church under the control of the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Board and its successors.
Friday, April 15, 2011
An English Manor, oh so Grand,
with an attic,
she used to frequent the attic,
from dawn till dusk,
draw she did.
A big woman, grey hair in a bun
Pale skin, not a blemish.
Straight and just off white.
She smells of English rose perfume,
a gentle subtle fragrance.
She’s dead now, My Grandmother.
I never knew her,
I never met her, not once.
WJS. Darwin 1986
My Brother. .
I share the beauty of the rain with the birds. I love it so. The rain falls and replenishes the thirsty earth.
The birds suddenly go wild, dashing from one auspicious mango tree to another, in pairs or alone rejoicing in the tropical rain. . . . or, with it . . . the clean, refreshing rain drizzles down so carelessly, yet gently, as though to compromise with the steamy humidity to subside for a time, and a soft breeze brushes past my face, with a gentleness that forces me to close my eyes and enjoy being alive, and, sharing just a bit of the pleasure that my feathered friends relish in. A tiny thought dwindles in my mind, that the rain evokes an extraordinary behavior from the birds; is it because they fear for the next rain? And therefore, they grasp all that they can from it.
I say not . . . . . I wish not . . . . Their melody is so sweet, they sound so wonderfully happy and I can not help but listen and watch with so much appreciation. Chirps of what I’m sure could only be of an untamed excitement, and the joy they portray to me relishing in this their special time. Chirps and squeals from such tiny, fragile beaks penetrate the air as they become louder and louder as if they have to tell the world . . . . and, they do.
But I ponder; how many people take a minute out of their lives to listen to the beauty of this orchestral masterpiece? I relish with them in their short lived rhapsody, and the ultimate beauty is, that I know I will have this experience again and again. I love the rain.
WJS Darwin 1986
All my senses are alerted
By such a ballistic, turbulent chaos, so unsettling, and almost agonizing,
And yet so mysterious and alluring
But, without falter she continues to savage relentlessly to the end,
Only to slow such chaos for the ultimate caress of which still remains undivided. Joyous and so faithful and a never ending reliability that the very same secret devotion in which the sun rises and sets . . . . it is from the very depths of the ocean’s savagery that such delicate waves indubitably encounter the shore, with a gentle kiss.
This gives me so much strength, to know that no matter what the oceans wildest storm, the turbulence, the pain, the horror nor tragedy,
Ignites every Universal sense, She blesses and transforms me with such courage and endurance, that through my own turbulence, I too will surely come to shore each and every time with a refreshed breathe of life, caressing the very existence of my horizons . . . . .
WJS, NYC Monday 4th 2002
You have awakened my soul
And heightened my feelings
That which I thought had gone
When we meet you hold time
And fill my passion with closeness and depth
And I enter a space,
Where just you and I enter
And it seems to shrouds us from the outside
And brings the feeling of oneness.
When you hold me we seem to complete
With the world at our feet
Your femininity is strong from within
and it surrounds you in a glow.
When you are silent,
it welds a closeness that I have not felt before
and as your strength of woman abounds
the breath of our world
I feel the softness of a young girl
Experiencing her first emotion of love
And it expounds the power of touch,
Like the feel of a rose petal
Which reflects the colour within
Like the softness of you and only you.
Your individuality abounds with greatness
that stirs my feelings of music
which I thought had been lost
and knowing that you can feel what I feel
brings back the strength of music,
and when we touch our hands
it is enough to ensure your presence just once more
and time will never part.
In you I believe again
Of the worth and gentleness of love.
Time is the link of when we meet again.
With sleep I dream of you
and our times together are bought closer.
And when I awake I feel the depth of falling into the pond of love
and my thoughts are always of you
your greatness of woman
and your very being,
for you I exist my love
and for you
I give of myself.
You have changed my life
from sadness to happiness,
your warmth protects me,
like a force field of future times,
and when I look into your eyes,
the depth of inner self
strikes me with passion
and I know you are the one.
Written for WJS by ‘ Perfect’. 1995 Adelaide South Australia
Not One word need be spoken
As Love is Exquisitely Attuned
When . . . .
Lovers find the depth and beauty in each others Eyes . . .
WJS 1988 Darwin Australia
Hate is an ugly,
It does not appease!
It gradually eats away at its victim
It gorges relentlessly into their being
Have you seen?
A slow, painful destination
Desensitization – Decomposition
What an uncouth vision of the living Dead!
But, please wait!
Hate only breeds where it is allowed to reside.
The sun will always shine
because it is so pleased to rise every morning
The sun has an undying commitment to its Earth
The Moon too
It is romantic and mystical
And, it too will never fail its Earth
The rain replenishes the Earth devoutly
And waters the Garden, the Garden that you so proudly made for me
WJS 1988 Nov.
Appreciation of Innocence
Your delicate innocence is unscathed
Yet you are a rare gem
but only in your adolescence, as experiences in Life have not taken you beyond that point
But I love your being
Your gentle manner and tenderness, the way you cup my face with your hands, brush my hair, touch my body, make Love with me, gaze at me, and sit up nights watching me write and make me cups of tea .
Yet, your sweet words of Infinite love
Filled with promises of Forever
All, my Darling, characteristics
Your disappointment in growing beyond that innocence conveys,
a naive hurt that simply reminds me of your delicateness
When you are Man
call on me again
This piece reflects my non-acceptance, I would not ‘accept’ his love, and, instead I found fault with his tenderness by calling it adolescence, where-as his devotion was unyielding.
Peace of Mind
That we have the ability to recognize our true nature and follow it intuitively . . .
Then, we have reached the very depths of our soul
WJS Darwin 1992
Watching with Intensity
It is watching the intensity of it all pass by me,
The escalation of the era, the history of which I dance within,
the dance that goes on,
the history changes day by day, to my titillation . . .
I smile with a passion quenched with adoration,
it has now come before me -in a manner of which- holds a glimpse of what is mere fetal,
thus, a touch of agony,
an abandon creativity that sets me free to infiltrate, ready to explode
the particles of which fall, with a gentle cascade, softly, slowly,
oh the beauty
feel the sensation, become a part of the Universal force
only to succeed another existence,
Stuck in a Void
Are we stuck in a void, toiling with the end and the beginning?
escape then is inevitable
Or, is it a wanderlust for new experiences?
Western Culture suffocates & retards my senses and the very essence of who I am
Where do I go?
Is it deaths door of which I am finally arriving at, no satisfaction with this existence, no joy in sharing my “true” life.
WJS Feb. 2nd 1995 Australia
I imagine faintly, almost with a caution, your air,
an existence I no longer wish to deny,
with each breath
It is a collusion I have with myself; I want your presence,
it is like the restless ocean,
which speaks through its multifaceted ness,
the perfect sunset which keeps my spirit alive.
You flow within me,
Reminding me of this illusion called love.
Your sacred caress born into me, never to be deprived never wanting to, resonates from the skylight of your soul.
Your hands, which engulf me, spoke to me with their tender grasp.
The arousal of which every woman quenches for with a lustful thirst,
The pure pleasure you would power to soak and,
like a sponge I would devour all your gifts,
Only to know with an eroticism, that you would die for reciprocal pleasures.
You hungered for me, I starved you, and you still called me
WJS Feb. 17th 1995
Words are clouded by mystic; focus is out of reach . . . . . again!
Words become so hard to unearth, so hard to utter, so rigid!
Then, there is a wisp of a breeze that brushes by my cheek, which alerts me - this time- I stop to listen.
The breeze once again reveals itself
This time as a turbulent storm,
violently pushing through the heavens,
with such an estranged beauteousness about it
but I listen.
The deluge projectiles from these gloomy storm clouds yet they proudly
roar with the elegance of a colossal mythical fairy
Platonic dualities synchronizing with harmony,
The force, the power, the fiery intensity comes
through the softness of the storm clouds with illumination and precision,
the end result is never-the-less the same
The storm clouds of dualism rage within me,
within us all?
I want the storm, I hunger for it with a passion,
It is the karmic cure that heals my spirit, the resolution
Only to begin yet another storm within
My thoughts are not clouded,
they are manifested within my very essence,
an essence that nurses my soul, spirit, and intuitively I gain the calm, intuitively I find the words which push through my thoughts like the climb to the top of the Mona Kao Summit,
the joy of the experience
achievement once again.
Intuition takes me back, to the reservoir of my essence
it is the pain which deters me, why?
because it was like -wild out of control stallions driven by pain- that stampeded my very pleasure.
Pain only exists where we allow it to.
Pain thwarts our conscious evolution.
WJS March 3rd 1995
Athena has gone, Aphrodite is here, Venus. . . .
In my silence I find the feminine power, I find myself
The Silence I so feared
it was to render me numb
it was to retard my intellectual ability,
it was the dreaded pain of not being heard.
Yet silence causes me no such burdens, silence gives and gives
I hear myself, the perfectly guided voice of intuition
The gentle voice of my spirit, like
nurturing Mother, unconditional love.
In my Silence I feel my Beauty, such a soft seduction,
in my Silence I feel my tears, the cold moistness in my eyes . . .
their genesis revealed to me . . . no need for rhetoric any more
This is the precious eloquent Gift of Silence
In the Silence melds my Beauty of Female, where She sits with an air of
A gentleness so powerful
She resonates as Gift
It is like the most beautiful white cloud, just carefully breathe her
As such a serene pleasure may only pass your way once
WJS 1995? Hutt St. Adelaide Australia
It is a masterpiece of Nature
The perfect cup in which the rose bud is embedded, so striking and yet so
but held sturdy via the gallantry of her thorny stem
Two polarities set to deter anything that would destroy the unfolding exquisiteness of the Rose,
such protection,,,,,, not even expected,
it just is.
So slowly and awfully cautious he goes as he carries his heavy load on his back
to watch his pace is sad, as his burden is cruel
he tries continuously to lighten his load
so cramped, so small, and in times of danger he climbs inside his shell
Oh why does he punish himself so?
He knows no better
“I will lighten it some more” he says
But never does he rid himself of it
To shed his shell is an obvious pain – to those who can really see
as his hard solid load portrays his nature,
lost in his world of emotional overgrowth
his behavior –if you really watch-
demonstrates an odd delight of such a burden on his back
“ Oh just make it lighter”
Painfully he sheds weight, year by year
with a false confidant he plods on
never really seeing his plight
He smiles jest fully with such commitment, with a false security,
as he shows off his big shell and tells wondrous stories and adventures of where it has faithfully taken him
Those who are delighted at the snail’s quest are unaware of its inherent burden
the true pain he suffers lugging this around, maintaining it
But, to the young and innocent
it is too an adventure
and those he can fool
But to the snails who have shed their burdens
he will never fool
One day he may shed his difficulties
and build, as he did for me,
a beautiful garden to live in,
May your journey be safe and kind
may your burden –one day- be gone
Then when it is shed then you only have you to get to know
WJS Oct. 1990 Darwin Oz.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
I was taken to the Pines after being "appropriately expelled" from my High School. That was one long day. That morning I awoke to find my (social) Father home from work. This never happened on a week day as he was always off to the Army Barracks. My Mother told me not to dress in my uniform, too late, I had, and I flew out the door with a desperate gripping feeling. I think walked to school that day, usually I rode my pushbike. My gut was in turmoil, I was stupefied and fearful, but through out my childhood this feeling was my constant companion. However, I knew something was up. I was unsettled that morning @ school.
I was at my school desk when my name was blasted over the loud speaker, "Wendy Sutton come to the office." There was Mum and Dad -a first- sitting in the Headmistresses hall way. Mrs. Rumbold was her name. Into the office we all marched like good little soldiers single file. Rumbold sat matronly behind her magnificent desk with my parents sitting on the opposite side discussing this "uncontrollable" person in the room -me-
I was numb. I sat and looked on as they all decided my fate. It was signed sealed and delivered I was officially expelled from Strathmont Girls Technical High School at age 13. The red headed deputy head mistress was loitering out side Rumbold's office, and as my parents and Miss Rumbold shook hands and passed solemn pleasantry's amongst themselves, Red gestured me over to her.
She looked at me like a sad eyed spaniel, with her head cocked to one side and biting her lip, she took my hand and said, "for what it is worth Wendy, I am so sorry." She was kind, and so was Rumbold, although they did not agree with my parents judgment concerning me, they still allowed the process to continue. "It's for the best" they said.
That day was filled with erratic emotions, I collected all my books and belongings. I remember my entire class rallied around giving me suggestions on how to "run away" or "escape" A friend, Glen Hockly, offered me $2.00 to catch a train and get as far away as possible so my parents would never find me; My psychical education teacher hugged me and cried as she asked what she could do to help me, she then gathered the class in the sports shed to wish me well and everyone was howling. My dearest friends clung to me like bees to honey, it was awful but at the same time wonderful to know how these people loved me.
"I am only going for 3 weeks" ... I blubbered through my snot and tears. I was weak, lost but I soon clicked into disassociate mode which I knew how to do so well by age 13. I think I walked home, talk about the prey walking into the den! I was 13 for God's sake, a very psychologically, spiritually and physically wounded young girl.My teachers knew this as they constantly had me in the office asking questions about my obviously battered body. Of course, I always fell off a swing, fell over, had a fight with my sister................
All I remember next was that silent drive in the little green Ford to the Pines and up the long driveway. I have a reoccurring dream of that long driveway..... but it is a positive dream now-a-days taking me along a long and winding driveway filled with grand exotic trees and powerful waterfalls which lead to my home. A home that has not materialized to this day mind you!
Then with the same poof and pageantry as with Rumbold, I was handed over to the Nuns in total silence. This is where I felt the impact of the Magdalene Sisters movie trailer, when that door was slammed behind me and I was alone not knowing what the hell was going on. I was never informed! I was silently aching. I had literally been thrown away...........yet again. I just kept thinking it is only for three weeks, yeh right! 3 weeks led to 12 months!
It was as though I was in that cold empty room for hours when Mother Superior came in and handed me a tidy bundle of drab looking clothes and instructed me to undress. She took my "outside" clothes and she then ushered me into a damn hot disinfectant bath, I will never forget it. Mother -silent but with a stern look on her face- scrubbed me down from head to toe with a bristled scrubbing brush. I was filthy from sin apparently. But, I was a virgin, I was molested by a close family friend -but my Mother did not believe me- and violently raped at 13, but still a virgin to consensual sex; I did not smoke nor do drugs.
According to my Mum I was uncontrollable, and you know, I am sure I was in her eyes, I was always seeking her attention, apparently. Although I believe this to be true as my Mother did not want me, she herself came out from a sordid marriage with my 7 month old sister in toe and, me on the way! I do not blame my Mother or my Father, they did what they thought was right at the time.
The bath was done, I was told to stand, I did. Mother inspected my body. I was red raw and crying, well sniveling really as I was too scarred to really let go. Mother passed me a towel that was almost as hard as the bristles on that damn brush! she instructed me to dress. Out she went and closed the door, gently, behind her. I was alone and empty once again wondering what on earth was going on. I consoled myself by thinking I was only in this place for 3 weeks.
Now all dressed up in my "inside clothes" looking like some orphan Anny with wet unruly hair and stinking of disinfectant, eyes red and stinging like fire! I looked about the dark brick room which housed this huge ugly bath, no furniture that I remember anyway, no windows, just two doors. Some of us Madelene Laundresses remember that bath very well.
Mother Superior materialized. It was as though she glided into the room from out of no-where, with her long black habit flowing all round her, she startled me. "Your name will be Jane" she instructed. Then she opened THAT door which led to a concrete court yard. Before I could ask a single question the door was slammed and bolted behind me.
I remember this as if it were yesterday; as the door slammed behind me I turned to see this concrete slab enclosed by TALL fencing with barb wire on top. I shook, I peed myself, I just wanted to die! I could not cry out loud, but the tears streamed down my face. ..... Other "inmates" came to inspect the new comer and some laughed at me, others looked on from a distance, but one girl stood out amongst the rest, Sharon. Sharon smiled and said "don't worry about them." FORTY FOUR years later we are still the dearest of friends!
So, this was my introduction to the Pines.....
Mum has ever asked me about my experience in the Pines, (or any experiences for that matter) I believe this is because of her own guilt, and yet if we all talk about it, as this Blog allows us to do, it dissipates any guilt. No-one needs to feel guilt, no-one. I do not blame any-one. This took allot of work and self-healing.But today, I still stand alone. We are definitely one of a kind.