I’ve been taking part in the Art Every Day November challenge run by Leah Piken Kolidas, and this is my final image.
I revisited a photo I took of a nature park when I used to live in Bowraville, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, Australia. The park was established by an Aboriginal Elder and it was quite other-worldly when you walked into it from the road. All the traffic faded away, there were no sounds, and you could feel the nature spirits around you. It was incredibly peaceful and I wanted to try and capture the other-worldly feel of it. A really magickal place!
Here’s a photo of my altar to my totem, a spider. It is customary not to name the exact spider and I connected with her when I did a soul retrieval. I had to tie a prayer string around my left wrist until it disappeared and my totem would have arrived. So I tied the knot tightly, walked out to my car and the knot had disappeared already. My spider totem appeared, her presence so strong that all the spiders in our home came out to greet her – big, middle and small spiders. Even my husband noticed the spiders everywhere. We were also living in the appropriately named Cobweb Cottage at the time!
My totem sits on my right shoulder. The drum on the wall was blank but once my totem appeared, I painted the spider image and it was amazing how the tone of the drum changed once I’d put my energy into it. I also created the Spider Woman painting. Around the drum are my beaters, rattles, a rain stick and a pair of Aboriginal clap sticks (in the red and black bag) which I sourced from an ethical outlet in the Kimberley region of north-west Western Australia. You need to be careful about buying Aboriginal art in Australia as a lot of it is cheap copies from Indonesia. But my clap sticks are the real deal.
I’ve been thinking for some time about free speech and political correctness. The latter, it seems to me, is simply a matter of courtesy: you can no longer with impunity make comments that are offensive to women, people with disability, LGBT people, people of colour, people of different religions. You cannot, these days, go around making offensive comments and think it’s okay. It’s not. Hate speech is so often a part of patriarchy and patriarchy is starting to crumble. I won’t say it’s over, because obviously it’s not – witness the last throes and thrashing around in the Trump administration.
Free speech, on the other hand, is a bit tricky. Yes, you have a right to put your views BUT the same applies as it does to political correctness: you do not have the right to be horribly offensive or make comments which incite violence or hatred towards particular groups of people who are not white.
Because when you look at those who are loudest about free speech, all too often they are the ones who say it’s okay to make homophobic comments; to make racist jokes about minority groups; to vilify the religious beliefs of Jewish and Muslim people; to cheer when Donald Trump advocates violence against people who don’t support him; to sneer at people with disabilities; to deny the Holocaust of World War 2 never happened. Why? Because they go beyond the bounds of decency, tolerance and kindness.
And when it comes to the mainstream media, the idea of free speech really is a bit of a joke. You, me and the average person on the street do not have ready access for free speech in the highly influential corporate media (although that hold is abating somewhat with the rise of social media). But magnates like Rupert Murdoch and those in the UK who are super-wealthy and own the like so the Daily Telegraph or Daily Express do have the right to say what they like whether it’s the truth or not. And if they are, on the very rare occasion, found to have overstepped the mark, you’ll find an apology in small print buried towards the back of the publication.
Frankly, I think it’s time to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the so-called free speech of the extreme right, the white nationalists, the self-appointed militia, the KKK, the racists because of the impact it has on sections of society who find themselves faced with discrimination, violence, death threats, arson, bullying, terror and hate. The people who demand free speech for themselves to advocate discrimination are not the ones on the receiving end of the violence their “free speech” invokes. They are not the children who are scared they’ll be pulled out of school and deported. They are not the undocumented migrants who work hard to support themselves and their families with honest toil. They are not Aboriginal, Native American, African-American, Middle Eastern people who face discrimination because they aren’t white. They aren’t non-white people being abused on the streets.
Free speech requires a degree of self-governance – that we are respectful, polite, kind, tolerant and compassionate. And if you can’t abide by those guidelines, then just stay quiet and don’t show yourself up to be a lesser human being.
It was actually getting an image of a piece of Ochre in my collection which prompted me to unpack all the crystals I’d stored away a while back. This Ochre comes from Coochiemudlo Island (yes, it’s a real name!) off the coast of Brisbane, Queensland, and it was gifted to me, along with two smaller pieces, by a good friend who now lives in New Zealand.
Ochre isn’t strictly a stone. According to Wikipedia, it’s: ” a natural earth pigment containing hydrated iron oxide, which ranges in color from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colors produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow.”
In Aboriginal culture, red ochre is sacred. Along with other colours of ochre – yellow and white – red ochre can be used in artwork, body paint and protection for weapons. Although I can’t find any information on the internet, if I remember rightly red ochre is also used for medicinal purposes.
The piece I have is a rusty-red colour, it’s high in hematite as its hard and heavy, while the two other pieces my friend gifted me are a pale pink, much softer and easy to scrape for the pigment. For me, therefore the large piece of ochre is linked via hematite to earth energy and resonates with practical creativity. No point being creative if you don’t actually do anything!
The above image was developed from a photo of my piece of ochre. It represents our links to the stars, but also the long history of ochre being used in rock art with the image of hands re-appearing not just across the sacred sites of Australia but also in other places, such as the caves in France, and in Native American art. It’s why I’ve included a hand-print to link to those who’ve walked on this earth before us and connect with us through their use of red ochre. I also added in the metallic decoration at the top to link to present-day work with ochre by creative spirits and by those working with Aboriginal cultural heritage in Australia.
Below is a link to an Aboriginal artist talking about the sacred aspect of working with white ochre and also how to use the pigment. The second piece is about Aboriginal art while the last link is to Aboriginal cultural stories. Hope you enjoy this information – I got quite homesick looking at all this!
When I lived in Victoria, Australia, I happened to meet a lass who showed me two stones she’d found under a Boab tree in the Northern Territory and which she’d brought home with her.
I imagine that these two stones probably had spiritual resonance for Aboriginal groups in the area where the stones were found and I’m dubious about the ethics of removing them. I’ve always felt that the spirits of these stones were calling to back to Country.
So this is a contribution to offering healing energy to those stones, and to provide a rainbow bridge to journey back to Country in their Dreaming energies.
Today I revisited a photo I took of Mt Barney, part of the Border Ranges at the southern end of Queensland and northern end of New South Wales.
When we lived halfway up Mt French, in the hinterland behind Queensland’s Gold Coast, we used to look to the south and have a clear view of Mt Barney and other mountains of the Border Ranges. An Aboriginal friend of ours pointed out the various formations in the mountain range and the Aboriginal names for the peaks we could see so clearly. I used to love living there as it was incredibly isolated and quiet, the only sounds generally being the crows, magpies, butcher birds and, at night, the howling of the dingoes.
Mt Barney was a magical, mysterious and very spiritual mountain. You could feel the other-worldly power of the mountain when you were on land close to this huge peak. On one occasion I was taking part in a group meditation in Boonah, the country town where we eventually moved to at the foot of Mt French, and suddenly had an out-of-body experience. I found myself hovering in the air in front of Mt Barney. It suddenly split open and an entity emerged, also hovering in the air. Suddenly it sped up and shot towards me, both of us shouting “Aaaarrgghhh, oh no!” and then I felt this being meld with me in some way. I was quite startled and the experience lasted only a short time but it certainly frightened the life out of me.
For a few weeks afterwards I felt dog tired and eventually went to see a cranio-sacral therapist in Ipswich, a larger town north of us. She put her hands on me then said, with some hesitation: “I hope you don’t think I’m off the planet, but I feel you’ve had an encounter with an alien entity of some kind. You feel as if you’ve had an electric shock and all the power has drained out of you.” She probably thought I’d leap off the massage table and run screaming out of the clinic. But, of course, what she said I knew was true from my own experience. Over a few sessions she balanced me out and helped my body re-energise itself and, trust me, I’ve managed to avoid out-of-body experience ever since!
It’s why I’ve incorporated some odd images into the photo, to give some sense of the strange, but powerful, energies you can feel around Mt Barney. It’s a beautiful part of the world and living there connected me with a sense of the Earth and Aboriginal heritage which European culture has treated with such disdain.
I worked yesterday on a piece of art I created in Australia – Yemaya Dreaming. Yemaya is the Great Goddess of the oceans and I imagined synchronising her energies with that of the Rainbow Serpent which is an integral part of Aboriginal Dreaming – the way in which the country of Australia came into being.
I sold the painting before I left Australia to move to North Cyprus and it was quite an emotional moment for me to say goodbye to it as I’d incorporated into it stones from the beach where I’d scattered the ashes of my mother and father. I know it went to a good home though.
Yesterday I felt drawn to revisit my photo of the original art, to return to it as a song of praise for the great oceans, rivers, seas and waterways of our beautiful planet and to offer healing energies for the challenges these waters are facing.
The image that emerged reminded me of a great Yemaya in the sky being birthed here on Earth to offer the gift of water to Mother Earth as she was coming into being, hence the name: Yemaya Songlines. Songlines are the story of creation – the links back to the heartland of this planet.
The black patterns represent the water plants that are nurtured within Yemaya’s depths and the mystery of creation. Water represents feelings, emotional flow, tears, nurturing, sensations – and around the world so many are taking action to heal Mother Earth and ensure a heritage to future generations. This image honours them and the great waterways of our beautiful planet.