In 2012, I managed the Australian tour of the international indigenous Grandmother Drum, a symbol of healing and peace and unity of all tribes of Earth. Blessed by the Athabaskan tribe of Alaska under the guidance of the drum keeper White Eagle Medicine Woman, the Grandmother Drum has been on an international journey criss-crossing most continents and touching the lives of many thousands of people. 2012 marked 10 years of this spiritually transformational work and to celebrate the decade, the drum was invited to tour through Australian indigenous communities for the third time.
We travelled 25,000 kms in all states and territories of Australia (except Tasmania) over a 6 month period. The people we met and the communities we lived in were phenomenal life-changing experiences. For me personally, I was introduced to elder wisdom keepers of several tribes who took me under their wing and tutored me about cultural lore and spiritual law.
I had learnt earlier from the lore/law woman of the Kimberley, Aunt Peggy, when I was on a personal quest to understand the calling of my indigenous bloodline and what to do about it. I went on walkabout with a group of women doing women’s business. I will always remember her words: “if you have one drop of aboriginal blood, then you are aboriginal”. That was back in the 1990s and since that time I have acknowledged myself as ‘aboriginal’ on official documents. My family did not know which tribe we descended from; all we knew was that our mother was descended from Afghani/Aboriginal intermarriage along with Scottish and Irish heritage. A distant cousin was researching his family tree – I wished later as an adult we had asked more questions back then…..
As a consultant working in Canberra, I was able to join other women’s gatherings where we sat in circle with tribal elders. You do not question elders. We were told to wear red as a symbol of respect to Mother Earth by Aunty Anne Thomas (dec.), wisdom keeper and guardian of Mt Gulga in Yuin country. It was understood to be a universal honouring and respect to the land as our sacred mother especially when we were in ceremony. I was later to find out that those who had never been initiated or undertaken cultural rights of passage, did not know or appreciate this fact. I was to be openly attacked by uneducated aboriginal people who thought only men could wear red, being symbolic of men’s law. More on that later.
The penultimate initiation was received from my lore/law elder in Nyoongar country (Perth, Western Australia) who originates from Pitjantjatjara and is a holder of Central Law/Lore. What an amazing woman she is! She taught me a great deal, some of which I was instructed to teach to others including the grandmother teachings. I returned in 2016 for more personal instruction and progressed to become a high initiate. There are a group of us working together to strengthen spiritual law under her authority and we have all been progressively adopted by the Nyoongar people.
There are other beautiful elders to acknowledge who have taught me and others their cultural lore, including Aunty Min Mia from Wirradjuri country and the Lee family from Larrakia country. I honour and deeply respect all of them. Our lives are so much more enriched when those who hold the spiritual law and cultural lore of this land are willing to share their knowledge and wisdom. There are differences according to the stories, dreaming and songlines of the respective country.
Suffice to say, it is a long path to initiation and many layers of learning and growth. This is true for whatever flavour of spirituality we embrace. It is a lifelong journey. It is also true that when you are called, you must heed the call (or else …. ).