WOMEN I HONOUR

The content of this blog occurred to me yesterday as I was reading a post on Mystic Medusa’s website on Paris Hilton.  I abhor the shallowness and seediness of empty-headed, self-absorbed, so-called “celebrities” whose only function is to generate publicity and money about their vacuous doings.

My mum, grandmother and aunt
My mum, grandmother and aunt

It caused me to reflect on women who I honour, respect and think are pretty damned good.  So here’s my list, I know I’ve probably missed a lot out because I’m writing this off the top of my head, and I’m sure others will add to this list:

  • My mother who was warm, kind, loving, lovely-looking, smart, loved people, and who lived her life – a boulevarde of broken dreams – with guts, selflessness and immense courage
  • My maternal grandmother and my aunt, my mum’s sister, who surrounded me with unconditional love and showered me with affection as a child and adult
  • My mother-in-law who survived being an orphan and  exploited servant in her ‘teens, strong-armed her husband into marriage, brought up a family, moved around without complaint as an army wife, ran a boarding house, and lived to 94 years with a steely determination and stoicism which I find admirable

    Five generations - Hilda, Bryan (my husband), granddaughter Dee, great-granddaughters Sonya & Gemma, great-granddaughters Karra & Miar
  • Boudicca – she drove a mean chariot and got right up the noses of the invading Romans and made their life hell
  • Queen Elizabeth 1 – tough as old boots, wily, cunning, strong, determined, feisty, ruthless
  • The Bronte Sisters – managed to be creative in a really difficult environment and create books which have enthralled many generations. I loved Jane Eyre as a young woman
  • Mary Shelley – who created Frankenstein and inspired horror, gothic stories and movies.
  • Lady Frieda Harries – who painted the beautiful images in the Thoth Tarot which I find inspirational after years of doing readings with this inspiration deck
  • George Eliot – who lived life on her terms
  • The Suffragettes  – no individual one, but they were gutsy, courageous and determined, laying the basis for the emancipation of women
  • Mary Woollstonecraft – wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women, a wayshower for women’s rights
  • All the women who fought, unrecognised, in the First and Second World Wars
  • Florence Nightingale – revolutionary approach to medical care, again determined, steadfast in the face of resistance and oppression
  • Mo Mowlam – a minister in the UK Blair government who was Minister for Ireland, tried to be fair-minded but got nobbled by reactionaries and jealous men. Also continued to work after an operation for a brain tumour, never revealing that her weight gain (lampooned and ridiculed) was due to medication. Died with the grace and dignity which characterised her life
  • Georgia O’Keeffe – US artist whose art delights and fascinates me, as well as her commitment to live life on her terms
  • Frieda Kahlo, Mexican painter, who produced wonderful art despite a lifetime of pain and health challenges
  • Black American women who fought for equality, freedom and the dignity of respect – too many to name.
  • Aboriginal women who have also fought for rights, an end to discrimination, respect for Australia’s First Nation. Again, too many to name but active in an ever-widening range of activities, whether art, health, education and so on.
  • Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, Betty Frieden, Anne Summers, Shulamith Firestone, Jean Shinoda Bolen and all the other feisty women’s liberationists and  feminists who fought for women’s rights despite derision, obstruction and persecution
  • Editorial staff of Spare Rib (UK) and Ms (US) for publishing ground-breaking feminist magazines
  • Helen Mirrin, Glenda Jackson, Meryl Streep and Susan Sarandon who are great at their craft and show that you can grow old gracefully, with dignity, with humour and without plastic surgery
  • Vanessa Redgrave, for her courage in living an unconventional life, staying true to her ideals, being great at her craft, and surviving the loss of her daughter and sister with enormous courage and dignity.
  • Arundhati Roy, Naomi Wolf and Naomi Klein for their powerful, gutsy anti-establishment views and defence of ordinary folk when they could have remained in safer pastures
  • The poet Mary Oliver whose writings I find inspirational and a gentle joy to read
  • Creative women I’ve been lucky to make contact with through Facebook:  Tammy Vitale,  Cyndi Briggs, Chris Zydel, Deborah Weber, Jo Anne Parker, to name a few
  • All the amazing women who’ve attended my workshops
  • My step-daughter, step-granddaughters and step-greatgrandkids

    Me with my step-daughter, step-granddaughters and step-greatgranddaughters

I guess I could include all those unknown women in developing nations like India, Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in Africa, Iran, Iraq, Syria, China and so on, who are fighting for women’s and democratic rights, and those who’ve been part of the Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99% movements globally.  But this list is endless. I could go on an on, so I’ll draw to a close. Doubtless later today or tomorrow I’ll smack my head as I remember other women I should have included.

You’ll probably notice that I haven’t listed women political leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Hilary Clinton,  Condoleeza Rice, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir or Julia Gillard in my list. That’s because they have lived or live within the system, behaved or behave just as men behave when they’re in office, playing the games, waging wars and not challenging the status quo.  It might sound harsh but these women perpetuate the status quo. 

I believe that, in their own ways, the women I have chosen have – in the main – opted to walk the road less travelled and have enriched my life and the lives of many, many women by doing so.

RIVER REFLECTIONS

I went for a week earlier this morning which is just as well as it’s pouring with rain now.  I usually visit the small park at the bottom of our hill, and walk to the bridge spanning the river that flows past the park. 

The river is just down from where two creeks become one – South Creek which runs parallel to the road on which I live, and the Nambucca River which joins South Creek just before the bridge.  The two become the Nambucca River which looks quite small as it flows under our bridge, but by the time it reaches Macksville closer to the coast and then to Nambucca Heads, it becomes quite a large river.

This is a photo of the Nambucca River as it meets the sea. And below is a photo of the river as it flows to the sea close to the coast. By then the creek that flows under the bridge near my home has been joined by two largish rivers further down so that the Nambucca ends up as a pretty impressive river by the time it reaches the sea.

 

I’m commenting on this because I paused to lean on the bridge this morning and look down at the water rippling along underneath.  You can now see the bottom of the river, but when there have been heavy rains then you really get to see the power of nature at work.  It’s an amazing force. And what reminded me is the big tree trunk, swept down in the last rains, which is now jammed parallel against the bridge.

 

We have been here two years now and in that time the river has flooded twice at the bottom of our road. You’d never think it would happen looking at the paddocks stretching around and the quiet little playground on the park. But here are a couple of pics when the river was last in flood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what the bridge looks like normally.

As you can see, when there are floods, the bridge is completely covered and you wouldn’t know a bridge existed if you look at the floodwaters. What you do notice about the waters sweeping along, though, is their power. This past year we’ve seen the power and ferocity of water in the floods in Queensland where a complete township got swept away, and in the devastating tsunami and tidal wave which hit the coast of Japan.  Elsewhere there have been huge floods with devastating consequences.

I am making these comments because we, in our monumental arrogance, so often think we can control nature.  When we do so, we fail to take into account the ecosystem and its complex, invisible web which creates an interwoven pattern of currents and energies.  I learned about this when I lived in a small country town in South-East Queensland, Boonah.  You would see rain clouds approaching, which would then part as if hitting an invisible barrier, pass either side of our area, and rejoin the other to drop the rain. Our area was in drought.  The dam further south, which had been built a decade or so ago, was virtually empty.  It filled up when it was first created, and in those days – in a sub-tropical area – there would be storms every day towards late afternoon, and flash floods which would subside later on in the night. This all stopped when the dam was built.

Australia is the driest continent on earth, and the reaction of the bureaucrats and government leaders is to build more dams, with no thought for the environmental consequences. The same is happening in China after the construction of the huge Three Gorges Dam project. Inevitably there are subsequent climate change effects which are now becoming visible.

We know that human activity is causing climate change, not individual weather patterns, but overall climate change which is resulting in more major, catastrophic weather events, intensifying hurriacanes in the Gulf of Mexico due to rising water temperatures, different movements of fauna in the world, more extinctions of wildlife, different movements of marine life, and various other signs that our wonderful planet is in stress.

So my hope for 2012 and beyond is that we human beings open up to the concept of taking action to live more in harmony with Mother Earth, that we learn to harmonise with nature and we embrace the concept of tuning in to and aligning with the complex ecosystem in which we live.  We need to learn that we cannot control nature, but we can co-exist and co-create. Yes, it is going to demand quite fundamental changes in the way we live, but human beings have demonstrated, right throughout history, that they can rise to monumental challenges and I’m optimistic we can rise to this challenge.

But I do think we need to realise we cannot rely on vested interests like plutocracies, the governments they control, and the military-industrial complexes which thrive on war creation and conflict between nations. We need to find ways to move around them and forge ahead with our own creativity, because only in building new forms of society will we secure the future and leave a future for subsequent generations to inherit.

UPDATES FOR YEAR’S END

I have finally managed to delete the greater part of my former web page, thank goodness.  I can’t close it down as I can’t track down the way to do that (don’t these sites always make it hard to close down?) but I’ve deleted all the pages and former members.

The reason I’ve done this is to simplify my work down to this one blog, makes life much easier. I’ll be getting a new website up and running when we get settled in North Cyprus, one where I can advertise my new inter-active book once I’ve worked out how to get it published. And I’ll also be advertising the course I intend to run when I’ve found the right house.

I’m intending to run courses on:

  • Understanding dreams
  • Mandala art
  • Astrology and soul songlines through play, art and creative visualisation
  • Understanding the Tarot
  • Intuitive crystal energy creation

My aim is to run courses at reasonable costs, with people booking their own accommodation and airfares according to their own preferences.  I’ll offer self-service tucker and all materials.  So I’ll keep all the administrative trivia to a minimum, and give people flexibility as to how much they want to spend according to their own financial circumstances.

We are also planning to offer open house to visitors, with a nominal weekly contribution to help us with overheads, such as lease charges/rates, electricity, water and refreshments.

My main aim is to offer low-cost courses and holiday accommodation to people on a casual, look-after-yourself basis, given that times are economically challenging for so many people. How this works out in practice will be sorted out when we get there and buy or lease a home.

So watch this space, folks, and start saving your pennies if you fancy a rockin’ good time in North Cyprus chez MoBro!

Sweet scent in small package

Last summer my husband and I would appreciatively sniff the most beautiful scent which used to waft through our home in the evenings.  We thought it might be from the flowers on the trumpet tree in our neighbour’s garden, but the scent continued after those flowers had died off.

Then a couple of nights ago, on my  evening walk (just want to boast gently about my exercise routine!), I came across the bush/creeper which produces this scent.  I got a whiff of it

a few houses  away and then was overwhelmed by the sweet, heavy scent as I got closer to the front garden of a house a bit further up the road. This is what this sweet-scented creeper looks like – very small, pale green trumpet-shaped flowers which get no bigger than the present size.

In fact, the scent is so strong, we had to put this small cutting outside in the evening, which is when the scent is heaviest. During the day, this little sprig smelt of nothing, but last night the scent started wafting through the house again, although not so strong as when I first bought this bunch of flowers home.

I thought I’d post it because, you never know, someone might recognise it. I have no idea whether it’s a native or introduced plant.  But also, it just seemed to me that big surprises come in little packages and this innocuous little plant really has plenty of bang for its rather bland looking appearance.  Bit of a lesson in not taking things at face value, and looking below the surface.

TEST RUN

I have been poking buttons in all directions to get this blog connected to Facebook, so this is a trial run to see if it works okay. 

Don't mess with me!

Since Time Line came in, it has stuffed up all connections between  my Networked Blogs and Purplicious Passion Path blog on Facebook and it has been a right pain in the clacker.

While I do like the new look of the Time Line page, I do wish that Facebook would sort out the glitsches before they institute their changes!

I definitely feel like Maxine at her crankiest today!

NATURE TOTEMS

I was going to label this blog “Animal Totems” until I realised that my totems are a spider and two birds, so “Nature Totems” it is.

In 2006 I did a soul retrieval process which included connecting with my primary totem.

My personal drum

The arrival of this totem, a spider, was rather apt as at the time we were living in Cobweb Cottage in Pingelly in the wheatbelt south-west of Perth, Western Australia.

When my totem arrived, and I could certainly feel her presence, the spiders in our home came out of the woodwork to honour and greet her. It might sound weird, but we had never seen so many spiders on the walls, ceiling and in corners, and even my husband noticed what was going on.

I love spiders, they absolutely fascinate me, and they don’t scare me at all.  I remember one woman came to view our home when it was up for sale and I was raving on about a spider on the wall being quite small, when I realised she had gone quite green and I found out she was terrified of  spiders!

At the time I had the octagonal drum in the pic at the side, so I decided to decorate it with my spider totem.  It also includes fire and red around the edges for grounding, while the symbol enclosed by the extended spider claws at the top represents my Celtic heritage – both Welsh and Irish.

Wolf Spider

Interestingly, like eagles (below), spiders really entered our lives in Boonah.  In the first house we lived in, we’d see heaps of Daddy Longleg Spiders, and also Wolf and Huntsman spiders.  They look quite dangerous as the latter two are quite big, almost the size of your hand, sometimes, but in reality they’re very timid and will steer clear of human beings. They clear up insects and mosquitoes so I am quite happy to co-exist with them.

When Bryan went back to the UK in 2000, for some reason I felt that this was a time when we each needed to make our own journey – him in the UK and me in Australia.  It was a difficult decision as neither of us liked being apart, but it was a time when  my husband deepened his family connections, and I travelled further afield to do more teaching. 

In the time before Bryan flew to Manchester, I created a mandala for myself which, for me, represented this part of my life as a journey on my own. I was looking at this mandala recently and realised it really  heralded the entrance of Spider in my life as a bringer of creative energy and a weaver of new worlds, which is what I was creating for myself at the time.

I’ve also come to realise over the years that I have three more bird totems – the Willie Wagtail, Kookaburra and the Wedge-tailed Eagle.  When I first arrived in Perth, Western Australia, in 1972, I was walking to the railway station at 6am heading to my first day of work, when a demented burst of laughter nearly frightened me out of my skin.  I jumped a mile, looked around thinking there was a lunatic on the loose, but the streets were deserted. Then I heard the laughter again and realised it was coming from a rather ungainly bird perched atop a telegraph pole.

This was my first introduction to a kookaburra, but it is only here on the East coast of Australia that this fascinating bird has really made its presence felt.  When we flew from Perth in 2006 to look for a house on the East coast, we’d see kookaburras sitting on the fence watching us as we drove past to check out the house we eventually bought at Woodenbong, on the border of New South Wales and Queensland.  It was as if they were keeping guard as we drove along and, when we finally moved to this small country town high up in the Border Ranges, I opened the window of our bedroom and there was a kooka sitting on the fence looking back at me.  We often saw and heard kookas, and I posted a pic in a recent post on the three kooka babies which were reared in our backyard.

We saw less kookas in Traralgon, Victoria, where we lived next, as we lived in a fairly built-up area. But when we moved from Victoria to our current home, in Bowraville in the hinterland of the mid-NSW coast, we once again saw kookas on the fences watching us pass by.  We stayed in a lovely pet motel as we then had our little Jack Russell, Rosie, as Ned’s Bed welcome all sorts of animals who are quite welcome to bring their owners!  We stayed here when we first moved to the Eastern States, it is about 1km inland from the Pacific Highway, in the middle of bushland, and is utterly peaceful.

These two kookas were perched on the fence the morning after our arrival, and we were able to watch kangaroos and their baby joeys feeding at sunset and dusk.  In the home we eventually bought nearby, we hear kookas laughing their raucous heads off as dusk approaches, and then just as the day is getting slightly lighter in the mornings, they start up their cacophony again.  They often perch on our clothes line or on the fence or, again, on the top of telegraph poles and their eyesight is incredible, they can see the smallest lizard or insect or worm on the ground and they swoop down in a flash to catch their next meal.

Kooka laughter is such a cheerful sound and, I feel, a good reminder to tread lightly on this earth and remember the power of laughter in our lives.

When we lived in Boonah from 1994-2002, Willie Wagtail appeared in my life. These are medium-sized birds, black and white, who chatter and sing and constantly waggle their tail, hence their name.  An Aboriginal friend of ours watched one in our garden and commented that it was happy. I asked her why and she said if they waggled their tails a lot they were happy and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t stay long.

Willie Wagtail sitting on horse

It was my first introduction to observing birds and other wildlife closely, and Willie Wagtail often visited our garden, hopping around and darting into the air to catch flying insects. I also found out that Nyoongah Aboriginal folk in south-west Western Australia believe this bird is a spirit messenger, which makes this totem all the more meaningful to me.

The first birdsong I heard when we arrived back in Perth after our stay in the UK from 2002-4 was a Willie Wagtail. I climbed out of our friend’s car when we reached her home and immediately heard the chatter of this lively little bird. I was home!  We have since then had Willie Wagtails appearing in our gardens wherever we’ve lived – in Western Australia, in New South Wales and Victoria. They are cheeky, cheerful, lively little birds and yes, I will miss then when we move to North Cyprus.

My final totem is an eagle, and this appeared when we moved from WA to south-east Queensland to a small country town called Boonah. We had a real Dark Night of the Soul experience in the first hosue we lived in, in this town, but I think we emerged spiritually richer, and certainly quite different people. 

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Our first home was halfway up a mountain, Mt French, where it was incredibly quiet with beautiful views to the Border Ranges mountains in the south.  We would often have huge, wedge-tailed eagles flying overhead, wheeling gracefully and lazily in the thermals.

We occasionally saw an eagle when we moved into the town centre a few years later, and I well remember seeing a sea-eagle – a bit unusual so far inland – circling in the sky being attacked by a couple of crows.  It was like a big Lancaster bomber being buzzed by two Spitfires!

When we lived in Pingelly, in WA, we would often see eagles overhead, but their presence as something signficant in my life didn’t really occur to me until we’d sold our home and were driving towards Perth, to stay with a friend prior to flying to Canberra and the Eastern States. Two huge eagles flew right across our windscreen, very slowly and deliberately.  As we’d both been a bit nervous about such a cross-continental move, I felt reassured to have these beautiful birds validate our decision.

We came to associate eagles with driving long distances or moving home, because whenever one appeared, as sure as eggs we’d have a long journey or we had sold our home and were preparing to move elsewhere.  The day before my father died, we had an eagle appear fairly close over our car and the next day, when we got a phone call from Dad’s nursing home to say he was dying, we had a three hour drive to make our farewells.

Since we arrived in Bowraville, we have seen eagles flying overhead, past our window, by a bridge on the Nambucca River, and generally it’s felt like living in Eagle Central.  We have been joking about eagles heralding a move, and – of course – it’s been proven right as we are now leaving Australia and heading overseas to North Cyprus.

I’ve gone into some detail about how nature totems have operated in my life to provide information to others who may be interested in working with their own nature totems.  I don’t think it’s something that happens just be wishing.  It requires us to be observant, to work with nature, to listen and to identify what creatures are appearing in our lives and what their significance – if any – is.  I do also wonder about animals/birds/insects which appear in guided visualisations, as sometimes this is a result of imagination rather than reality – a bit of quick-fix Western approach to a deeply meaningful, spiritual presence which enters our lives when we connect with the real-live totems which surround us and which will step forward when we pay attention. 

However nature totems enter your life, I hope you feel as blessed as I do by their presence, and I hope also they enrich your life as much as mine has been by the presence of  my Spider, Willie Wagtail, Kookaburra and Wedge-Tailed Eagle totems.

NOSTALGIA

Today we sat and watched the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.  It’s a classic blue water race which attracts top competitors from around the world.

It brought back memories for us as we met in April 1977 and on Boxing Day of that year we were in Sydney, where Bryan went with a friend to watch the start of the race.  We were having a break in Sydney prior to flying to China for a holiday.  This was in the time when China hadn’t opened up much, it was just starting to develop and welcome overseas visitors, and we had a wonderful time with the tremendous hospitality, warmth and great sense of humour of the Chinese people.

So today we watched the start of the yacht race again, as this is going to be our last Boxing Day in Australia before we move overseas to North Cyprus.  We’ve been remembering all the lovely places where we’ve lived: Fremantle, Western Australia; Boonah, S-E Queensland; Pingelly, wheatbelt, Western Australia; Woodenbong, northern New South Wales; Traralgon, Victoria; and now Bowraville on the mid-north coast of NSW.  Everywhere we’ve made friends and we’ll be staying in contact with them and, hopefully, welcoming them in our new home in North Cyprus, wherever that is, if they choose to come for a holiday.

The photo at the side is of myself and my husband in the rainforest of Wollumbin mountain (Mt Warning) on the north coast of NSW, an absolutely beautiful part of this vast island continent. 

It’s been a time of memories for us living in Australia, it’s a truly beautiful country and it will hold a special place in my heart wherever I am in the world after this.  Will we return?  I have no idea. I’ve stopped saying “never, ever” to anything as all too often I’ve had to eat my words. Whatever, nothing can take away the lovely  memories I have of this wild, wonderful country.