Gothtober DAY 6 by Nora R

Visit and click on day 6. It is a slideshow of drawings by Nora R, it is silent, no music accompanies it.
The full title of today’s Gothtober Piece is “5150 – The Wood of the Suicides” 
At the heart of observing Autumn, Fall, Halloween and Gothtober is slowing down, and taking a moment to make friends with the night. The night time of the soul is true and real and necessary. Sadness, emptiness, loss, depression, despair, shame, anger, fear, these are often equated with darkness, but are these emotions bad? No, they are not bad, they are fine as soul, a part of the whole that makes up human existence.
Nora’s Gothtober piece takes the time to take a look at a serious subject, we don’t get a lot of pieces like this, and I’m proud of Nora for having the courage to share her work and this subject with us. Here are Nora’s own words about 5150:
“5150” is the section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which authorizes a clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, others, and/or gravely disabled. A 5150 hold can at once traumatic and life-saving.
The “Wood of the Suicides” references one of the Circles of Hell, described in Dante’s Inferno (Circle VII, Ring II, Canto XIII). In the seventh circle of Hell, Dante and the poet Virgil travel through a forest haunted by harpies, who feed from the leaves of the bloody oak trees which entomb suicides. The Catholic Church considered suicide to be a deep sin, because it is seen as a rejection of God’s gift of life. 
Dante’s tortured forest is infested with harpies, where the act of suicide is punished by encasing the person in a tree, thus denying them eternal life and damning the soul to an eternity of torture at the talons of the harpies. In addition, the soul can only speak and grieve when it it’s tree is broken or damaged. The trees in the Wood of the Suicides produce blood, rather that sap, and a person remains inside them forever, as a punishment for choosing suicide to express grief or pain.  I read Dante’s inferno in High School, and the imagery of the Wood of the Suicides has stayed with me.  However, I would add a different version. 

I don’t believe in hell, but I do know that some mental illnesses can make this particular circle of hell a reality for a person. People on a 5150 hold are often in great, unimaginable pain, much like the souls entombed in the trees. My piece is an imagining of the internal wood, the internal encasing, that people struggling with severe mental illness can carry with them. 

My hope is that all of these trees are broken, so that people suffering can speak their pain, and tear down everything that keeps us hurting and alone. 

Grassroots organizations on mental illness – The Icarus Project and NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Thank you, Nora.