As a child, I (not Olimnia) longed to be an explorer. I later became an earth scientist, travelling widely to complete field research, often in remote, unmapped areas of the world. Whilst starting off with a passion for the emotionally safe world of rocks, desert sands, ice and ancient rivers, these travels further awakened my sense of being on a spiritual inner journey.
Eventually, I had a dramatic epiphany in which I questioned my passion for understanding the outside world, when it was my inner world that was calling for my attention. While rocks held the key to the geological past, only through personal self-exploration could I begin to understand my own past and its influence on who I had become.
Thankfully, illness (M.E.) then forced me to free myself from the constraints of institutional life, giving me the opportunity to explore my inner path and why I had become so ill. In doing so, I found myself embarking on a creative inner quest to discover more about myself. Through writing and art I began invoking some of the places and experiences that had touched me most deeply.
Olimnia Goodlass came to life at that time, while I was still unwell. In writing about Olimnia’s journey, I realised the power of symbolic meanings that emerge unbidden from our unconscious. Exploration of earliest, matriarchal societies symbolised my search for my own identity, personal language, authentic relationships and wellbeing, all these nourishing the growth of my spiritual, feminist, gay and mind-body consciousness.
It was through Olimnia (and my previous novel The Quest for Humsight, not yet publd) that I was awakened to my different inner selves. I discovered how learning to accept and love them all with compassion can support our emotional and physical wellbeing. So, Olimnia Goodlass helped me to put into words the emotions, experiences and realisations that marked my inner journey towards my True Self, leading not only to my final release from academia, but eventually to my complete recovery from chronic illness.
As I escaped the world of academia, I also found myself becoming an artist, naming myself Judith McNicol (a family name). I used my geologist’s pen, and working in black and white, created intuitive, free flowing ‘maps of my unconscious’. You can see some of these 'drawinks' and other artworks at www.inkywings.me.uk. Together with other like-minded self-taught, visionary and outsider artists, we set up an arts charity, Artesian Arts, supporting us to exhibit our artworks and have our voices heard. We organised exhibitions and published an international magazine of ‘Upwelling Art’.
My writings also included reflections on my own illness. The latter formed the basis of my subsequent research into M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), which I then combined with training and now working as a neurosomatic therapist. To learn more about the therapy work go to www.wellwise4me.com and www.proactive-neurosomatic-therapy.com.
As well as publishing my book of ‘drawinks’ ('Mapping the Inner Universe', Bumblebee Press, 1994), I have written about art and illness, and about the origins of, and paths to recovery from, early trauma and neurosomatic illness. As recounted in Olimnia’s story, our response to trauma can reflect our disconnection and exile from our True Self. Recovery and wellbeing arrive when we embrace and express who we truly are, fully, deeply and joyously.
Although I originally wrote this novel in 1996, no publishers were able to add it to their lists. It therefore remained dormant on my successive computers for almost 25 years, even after I made a full recovery from my illness in 2004, and long after I had left my academic University post in 1995. In 2018, I suddenly felt the time was right for the book to come back to life and finally have its voice heard in the world.
I hope you enjoy(ed) reading the words of my younger self – in the guise of Olimnia Goodlass.
I live near London with my wife of over 30 years, Fiona, and a menagerie of garden wildlife.