From time to time I would ‘see’ or dream of sitting in circle with Aboriginal women. I would shrug my shoulders and say to myself that when the opportunity arose I would grasp it with both hands. I still didn’t know how I would achieve this but it didn’t really matter.
In 2005 circumstances arose that placed me directly in the path of an opportunity I will never forget.
A good friend of mine invited me to hear a speaker at a venue in the city. I live approximately one and half hours from the city and do not particularly like visiting the city or driving at night. However, I agreed to go anyway.
As I was driving to my friend’s home to journey into the city with her and her husband, I had to stop in the middle of the road as a beautiful chestnut horse was galloping up the middle of the road toward me. I have a deep affinity with horses and to me they represent beauty, power and freedom. I believe this one had escaped his paddock just to give me a message that I should be even more aware that night and that something special would happen for me.
My friends and I duly arrived at the venue and found our seats. In the middle of his talk, the speaker had us break up into groups of no more than four people to undertake a brief workshop.
I was seated next to a woman I did not know, who turned to me and asked, “Are you interested in Aboriginal culture?”
After registering surprise at this question, coming out of seemingly nowhere, I replied that, yes, I was very interested in Aboriginal culture and I would love to be in ceremony with them.
She proceeded to say that a friend of hers was flying to the desert in Central Australia in six weeks for women’s business with senior Aboriginal women. Would I like her phone number.
The next day I called her, and as synchronicity would have it (of course – isn’t that the way it works?), there was a place left for me to travel and be a part of the upcoming desert ceremonies. I would need to get myself to Adelaide and then travel by bus to reach our destination; a destination that was on sacred land for secret women’s business.
Again as synchronicity would have it, the night I met this woman – this stranger – I happened to have a cheque in my handbag. I had received the cheque that day for the proceeds of selling my antique furniture. The amount written on that cheque was the amount of money I needed to make this journey.
The day arrived when I was to board a plane to Adelaide. I awoke that morning with the worst migraine I had ever experienced in my life. My partner drove me to the airport and literally poured me onto that plane. What a test to see if I really wanted to accept this opportunity. I could easily have said I was too sick to attend and forgone my place in ceremony and forfeited my plane ticket.
I knew that an experience like this would change the course of my life if I allowed it. If I were to deny myself this opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life. I knew I had to go, migraine or not!
On arrival in Adelaide I made my way to the bus depot. I had a five-hour wait until we boarded the bus and I still had to purchase ten litres of fresh water. There is no tap water in the desert. Do you know how heavy ten litres of water feels when you have the migraine from hell?
The time came to climb aboard the bus for the next step on this journey. I am quite tall and the bus seats are quite small. I squashed myself and my migraine into my seat and wondered silently to myself what I was thinking in taking this journey.
Twenty two hours and numerous toilet stops later (how can women need so many pee stops?) we arrived at our destination.
The red desert is an awe-inspiring place. We walked into a place that appeared to me to be womb-like; a flat desert floor with steep rocky hills around it with an opening at one end. The bright blue sky contrasted with the red desert – each so vibrant and energy-filled.
As soon as I stepped into this place I felt different. I just didn’t know what that difference was yet.
With my migraine still firmly in place I chose my campsite and set up my tent. There were approximately 200 white women and Aboriginal women gathering together for ceremony.
I undertook this journey on my own, but throughout the next five days of camping, cooking and ceremony I would make firm friends – a sisterhood of women who came together in ceremony and celebration of women before returning to their everyday environment.
This is not a journey for princesses. You sleep in your small tent or in a swag under the stars – regardless of the weather. There are no showers and no toilets. You become an expert with baby wipes and digging a hole for toileting. Meals are communally prepared and shared. The red dust covers everything like a magnet attracting iron filings. All of these were new and glorious experiences for me.
In the first few days I was so ill that I often wondered about my sanity in wanting to be in the middle of nowhere with no doctors, no comforts, no anything.
All I had was me. As my migraine lifted (with the assistance of a new friend), I tried hard – too hard – to be connected to the experiences of the elders. I overburdened myself with expectations. After all, it was effortless getting to the desert so I must be meant to be here – right?
Absolutely right! The silence and the beauty of the desert found its way into my heart and soul. Magical is the only way to describe the millions of stars lighting up a dark night. The many campfires dotted around the campsites blazed in harmony with the passion I was experiencing.
On this particular day I had a revelation. I had not had a real thought since I entered this sacred place. It was as if someone had pressed the ‘pause’ button on my life, the life I had left behind in Melbourne for a time.
I knew I had a partner and children. I knew I had a home and bills to come back to, and yet they seemed to belong to someone else, not the woman covered in red dust at that moment; not the woman listening to the dingoes in the early morning or watching eagles fly in the heat of the day; not the woman exploring her divine feminine spirit through ceremony.
At that moment in time, I got it; I really got it! It was all about me – there really was nothing else in that moment.
I have travelled back to the desert twice more and each time it has brought a deepening awareness of my true self. The elders have allowed us to experience a new sacred place whenever we are called to ceremony. These gracious women share a little more of themselves and their culture each time we are with them in the desert.
I feel very fortunate that I was called to experience this ancient culture. White women are only now, in recent years, being offered the opportunity to share in the desert ceremonies that have their origins thousands of years in Australia’s history. These glorious women touch you deep within your heart and soul.
My life changed the moment I met a stranger who offered me the opportunity to answer a call I first heard years before.
I had allowed my intuitive self to guide me every step of the way – even when I did not realise why I was selling my furniture or why I was attending a talk I wasn’t particularly interested in. I just trusted each and every step and, by doing so, I was gifted with the fulfillment of a journey that had begun years before in my visions and dreams. I pushed through any pain and discomfort and accepted my rightful place on this particular journey and I was rewarded with an experience far beyond my wildest dreams. This dream had come full circle to manifestation and I knew that this was just the beginning of a new journey, a new cycle for me.
I know I will return again and again to the desert, which I consider my spiritual home. When I hear the call – I answer ‘Yes, I am coming.’
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