Tag Archives: Kaurna

2021 Meeting the Moment #9

The balmy March evening had attracted plenty of moths to the flame, the East End of the city of churches was bursting at the seams. The zero attention being paid by revellers to any kind of physical distancing was a sign of confidence and triumph in public policy, compliance and a lot of luck. The rude health of Adelaide on display for the world to see. There were remnants of bygone times with QR codes on venues and COVID marshalls in hiviz mixed like pepper and salt with Security personnel, but they were the weedy ones, Security were more burly, taller, muscular. How did we get it so good? Here we are again in Festival mode and everything seems right in the bubble we have in this southern extremity of a land at the bottom of the globe, enjoying what the Northern Hemisphere call a Meditteranean climate in mid March where the frangipanis, honeysuckle and jasmin are in the breeze and home brewers can sit in their sheltered verandahs to discuss the variations of barley used in Lime Gose and mid-strength beers. It is the height of privilege.

The lands we are on for these festivals of the arts have never been ceded and past pandemics wiped out whole communities. Some of the viruses came on boats unannounced, others were probably by design and the evidence of purposely impregranted smallbox into blankets ostensibly handed out for warmth, is documented. The land of the red kangaroo Tarntanyangga holds the city together and the colour red continues in the landscape with the creek we call a river named by the colonists as the Torrens and in Kaurna known as Karrawirra Parri, Redgum forest. There are remnant Redgums around the outskirts of the city and you will find groves here and there inside the marked out turf of the surveyed ‘square mile’.

Soon we will all be listening to the sounds of the planet, in the annual musical festival of Womadelaide which has been a tradition for me over many years. This year there will be a celebration of homegrown music, while so many troupes are unable to travel to our place. The celebrations of survival and thriving of voices in first languages will be heard wafting across what is being named King Rodney Park Ityamai-Itpina, in honour of one of the three Kaurna elders present at the proclamation of the colony of South Australia. (If you want to know who King Rodney was check out this podcast).

Past, present and future time fuse and the invitation to meet moments concurrently are offered up in the landscape. How we name and experience the spaces we inhabit time and space with our bodies, our memories, our DNA and entangled epigenetics, and the knowledge that we stardust , is a constant invitation to consider how we move forward as individuals, a community and a species. Wandering around my home town with all the freedom and civility and safety it offers has come at the cost of others and it is not always comfortable, and I am grateful for all the bounty that has come to me, in equal measure.

Treading lightly and keeping an open heart and open ears and eyes to what is in the landscape and the stories held in the bark of those red gums and the in the soil and roots deep down below the surface, invisible to me, is a privilege and one I will try not to take for granted.

May all that is seen and unseen, heard and unheard,

melt into meaning.

May all that is been and becoming, done and undone,

soften our dreaming.

Sparks will fly #27 #blindspot

“What the eye doesn’t see and the mind doesn’t know, doesn’t exist.” DH Lawrence

This was quoted to me during the week as the provenance of the adage “You can’t be it if you can’t see it” and whether or not it is the genesis of this oft quoted phrase in feminism, both are really saying there are blind spots. We miss what we don’t know or understand.

I know looking at a landscape with my colonial eyes I miss many of the stories all around me that a Kaurna person would know. I know that when I am in new situations with new tribes I miss cues and messaging because I am not literate in the place I find myself in. I am grateful to those cultural attachés who help me out in those situations. To give primacy to the local expert is just good manners. I am learning more and more about what I haven’t seen because I didn’t know. Once you get a bit of literacy you realise how little you know! Just as a child first recognises sounds and then letters and phonetics there are a few steps to go through before the sense making can start.

You need perspective, interpretation and analysis to get the sensemaking to form. This takes time. Time to decipher, talk things through, time to test possibilities, time to reflect, time to consider expert and outlier advice. None of us have a mortgage on making sense, but we all do have our own version of what we see and therefore also what we miss and that means we also have our own version of truth and what we know. Blind spots are everywhere. Keeping an open heart and open mind is an invitation that keeps being offered. Just when you think you have opened enough, another invitation to go that step deeper, shade braver, extra thread to add to the weave. With each acceptance of another invitation another layer is removed enabling a new one to emerge. Shedding skin seems to be part of  this snakes and ladders game. I take heart in the knowledge that lotus grow in mud, lights are at the end of tunnels and that the sun does rise every day.

A blind spot physiologically happens when our visual field matches the place where there is a lack of light-detecting cells. This place makes things invisible to us and we don’t know where that spot is unless we move. It is defined and detected in relation to what is visible and the boundaries of visibility. You must move your whole head usually not just your eye to move away from the blind spot. Psychologically and emotionally it is the same. You can not see things from the same position, you need to move, your heart and your mind and position yourself in such a way that you can see differently and think differently. We reinforce our blind spots if we keep looking from the same direction, and don’t move the mirror.  I think it also has something to do with increasing empathy and maybe also getting angry. Dissolving a blind spot can only happening by moving out of the place it exists.

Moving the mirror is bound to cause at least a few sparks to start flying.

 

 

 

Betrothal Panel in the Triptych

I have never lived alone, was married to my one true love at 19 and had four children under seven well before I turned thirty. I followed the pattern of my mother and her mother before that – love, marriage, baby carriage.   So when I came to turn fifty several years ago I was struck that I had not made much of  vow to my true self.

When I turned fifty I invited my women family and friends to join me in a ritual to celebrate my arrival into cronedom. Even though I was not yet through the menopause and not yet a grandmother I thought marking the beginning of my sixth decade was an appropriate moment in time.   This was a ceremony I did without the men in my life and the vow I took that day was to take up more of being married to my self. To begin to own the wisdom I had accumulated over my lifetime of womanhood, motherhood, wifedom, sisterhood and auntiness. I wanted to claim both my singularity and my collective experience of being a woman.  My own betrothal to myself to be intentionally on the journey to union with the cosmic powers of creation and the centrality of our mother earth.  I was so blessed that day by the presence of a woman from this most ancient land the Kaurna people who smoked the site for us to come together and who generously gave us permission to be there invoking the generations and the spirit of the land to support me and the community of women who had gathered.  I was further blessed by a woman who shared my faith journey and celtic spirit to lead the ceremony. The women who gathered were from all parts of my life and as I have no sisters and no aunts and therefore no cousins (male or female) I had created this sisterhood and was blessed by their presence.  During the ritual I crossed over to Cronedom and embarked on the next stage of my life, knowingly supported by my experiences  and memories gained as a maiden and a mother.  This threshold welcomes wisdom, holiness, a right to be revered and respected, a gateway to transformation and capacity to live with the ambiguity of mystery.

I am thinking about all this as in the past six months two of my children have announced their betrothal. I like the power of the word betrothal.  It declares, it states intention, the promise to act and to follow through. A sacred pledge to the world that you are for a single person and they for you. As two lives become threaded and woven together the tapestry you will make together begins.

As the families and the communities gather together to support the couple and give witness to the love and the intentionality it is also a celebration of betrothals of the past that bear witness and are bearing fruit.

Each generation works out what this commitment will look like for them. The deep seeds sown in the dark so long ago are now in bloom and the fragrance of love is heavy in the air.  I am taking a moment to remember those early days of being head over heels in love that I now know lead to the promises of being “true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and until death do us part”.  The promises that lead to many gifts, and for me those gifts included children.

One of the betrothed has never lived alone and I am delighting in the knowledge that it will be a tribe gathered today as the commitment is publicly declared.

I am encouraged again by David Whyte from his book The Three Marriages, when he writes of the conversation between the triad of marriages – with self, a partner and work that this conversation offer us  “a sense of profound physical participation with creation, the reconfirmation that we are not alone in the world, and the reminder that there is a larger context to existence than the one we have established ourselves.”

I am seeing the croneing ritual for my fiftieth birthday as my betrothal and the conversation maturing as I head into my mid – fifties and so perhaps the marriage to myself is taking its right and proper place in my triptych. It is a Garden of Earthly (and unearthly) Delights!

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