Raym’s client loves Australia but not Aboriginal Australians. Her search to discover why leads to an uncomfortable realisation.
We walk beneath a starry sky. The stars fill the firmament above us, the Milky Way clearly visible, like a thick strand of the wild, flowing hair of a goddess. There is no moon, but the billions of distant suns are bright enough for us to just see what lays before us; we are in the bush somewhere in the outback.
I smell wood smoke on the cool night air, the gentle warming, welcoming smell of a small campfire. I hear its distant crackle and sense its glow in the bush beyond us.
A young Aboriginal woman walks lightly before us, almost skipping through the darkness. She turns and her heart-stopping, radiant smile seems to lighten the atmosphere around her. She is beautiful.
This way, she telepaths, moving silently and gracefully ahead, finding a path where I can see none. I trust her and follow.
— What are we doing here? Where are we? My client Suzette is confused.
I have brought you here to meet some very special people. Our young and playful guide walks purposefully towards the distant crackling fire.
— Why can’t I feel my body? Suzette looks at her hands, waving them in front of her face.
Because you’re not in your body, silly. The young Aboriginal girl’s smile is luminescent.
You’re in the space between worlds
She giggles. The place you whitefellas don’t believe in. Her private joke turns into a full-blown laughter. Time stopped when your friend brought you here, remember? You’re in our sacred spiritual space, our Tjukurpa*.
We approach the small campfire, which sheds a flickering pool of light on the rough ground around it. Next to the fire is an old Aboriginal man with a younger Aboriginal man standing next to him. The older man sits warming himself, enjoying the night. His skin is very black, making his white beard and hair appear like pure white, curly candy floss. His face looks careworn, although his eyes have the same playful glint as our young guide’s.
He acknowledges us as we approach, a subtle nod in my direction. His thoughts touch mine. He is surprised to see two non-Aboriginal people in this sacred place.
The younger man next to him is an imposing figure: clear, lean, and intense, he stands proud and free on one leg leaning on a long spear. He is not a man you would mess with.
Our guide approaches, they exchange glances and the Uncle smiles, sharing some kind of private joke about us. I sense Suzette’s tension building. Her apprehension transforms into fear as the young man steps towards her, his spear held loosely in his hand.
We have been waiting for you mate, long time
You want to know why you don’t like blackfella? I show you…
Suzette steps back as I step forward, ready to deal with whatever happens next…
Suzette is a striking young French woman who has fallen in love with Australia, particularly the remote outback. Before our shamanic journey she tells me of the intense feelings of joy and homecoming she felt the first time she set foot in the red centre, when she knelt and pushed her hands deep into the orange ochre sand, sobbing.
She is surprised at how much she adores Australia and wants to understand more. Quietly she tells me that she is embarrassed that she is repulsed by indigenous Australians. She would like to understand why she feels that way and be free of that feeling. It is both distressing and confusing for her, as in Paris she has several black French friends, whom she loves.
Laying in my crystal mandala, the depth and speed of our shamanic journey has taken her by surprise. She has temporarily forgotten why she came to see me and take this journey. The tall man with the spear has just reminded her.
French to the core, she quickly regains her composure and stands resolute.
— Who are these people?, she asks our young guide, who then points at the Elder.
This is my Uncle. He is a wise man. This fella… She points to the spear carrier, smiling, but her sentence trails off as the Uncle catches her eye and signals her to stop.
Let him show you
You came here for answers; he has them, the old man telepaths, smiling.
Suzette looks to me for guidance. I feel the young man’s power, but I also sense that he is not threatening. I encourage her to go with him.
He takes her to the past and they witness a tragic story play out – a story of forbidden love which ends with a trial by a council of Elders who make a harsh decision. The young black man is accused of murdering a woman’s husband and will suffer traditional, rigid justice. He will be speared in front of the gathered clans.
The woman he loves is devastated
He is innocent, and enraged at the blind injustice of tradition. Often when a man is speared the wound is not life-threatening. Sometimes it is more of a symbolic gesture, but in his case the spear severs his femoral artery, and he bleeds to death surprisingly quickly. His punishment is severe because he is a trainee Medicine and Lore man who should know better.
The spear carrier turns to Suzette: You carry this pain still. You were born a long way away, in another land, but Biame called you back.
As he communicates he becomes more eloquent, searching Suzette’s current vocabulary for the right 21st Century words to communicate clearly.
Suzette is sobbing
I feel her grief.
— Such a cruel end. I want nothing to do with this harsh justice and you people, ever again.
I have forgiven. It is time for you to forgive and let go of the contracts you made with yourself to not be all you can be. It’s time to remember who you are and what you carry in your DNA.
— What do you mean? Who I am? I was the woman then and I have had enough of being Aboriginal. I’m a proud French woman now. And I do as I please.
No, it is not that simple. It is time to remember what brought you back to this land. You are with your people again and we love you.
Suzette wells up with tears as she absorbs his words.
You carry our Lore with you. It is in your blood. Please don’t waste it. It is time to leave this trauma in the past and continue your work as spiritual Lore man. We have work to do.
You were not her. You are me.
Prior to publishing this article was reviewed by an Indigenous Assistant Professor with a PhD in Indigenous Studies.
* Tjukurpa is the proper term for ‘dreamtime’, meaning the sacred business/the spiritual dimensions.
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