Soul Retrieval – Falling off the mountain

This is part of the story about my second wildflower journey, a trek through Kakadu that nearly ended in disaster. At times, my re-telling of this story is simply memories being shared, but at times I am called back to Kakadu in vision, as part of my healing journey. This was one of those times. IMG_6566

I am laying in bed, in the room I slept in as a child, in the country I was born in. It is my fourth night here, visiting my family, and I am re-intending and strengthening the psychic dream-catcher I erected over the room on my third night. I am intrigued, because the catcher looks like the dome of a cathedral, and it seems like I am looking upwards at it, scintillating light streaming through stained-glass shapes above me. And at the centre of the dome is a lady standing with her arm raised and her hand resting on the dome’s centre, almost as though she is holding it up, ever so gracefully and effortlessly, with a lazy regal bearing. I don’t know her but her name hovers on the edge of my mind, just out of reach. Lady….. ? Later in the vision, I discover that she is Lady Nada, who is new to me. I haven’t worked with her before.

Lady Nada smiles at me and with her free hand she reaches past me, down to the bottom of the dome where it touches the ground, and lifts a small section of it, as effortlessly as if it were mere tablecloth. I feel slightly miffed and confused for a moment, because these are my dream-catcher boundary edges she is messing with, but I know this is silly, because she is very obviously in charge of the entire dome itself, and I have her to thank for it. As though she has just opened the door to a guest, a see a shape enter under the edge of the lifted dome. It’s orange, long and furry and the word ‘marmoset’ pops into my mind. Pay attention, I hear Lady Nada say.

So I keep my attention very firmly fixed on the marmoset and wait. “Did you know you have four tailbones?”, the marmoset asks, and flashes me a mental image of four tailbones lined up alongside each other.

“Um. No, I didn’t know that.”, I reply, somewhat dubiously.

The mental image of the four tailbones suddenly shimmers with intensity and zooms my focus in on the second tailbone on the left. I can see that it is damaged. Crushed. Earlier this year, on March 1st, the capsule around the cushioning disc between my lowest two vertebrae burst open, and the disc material spilled out, pressing against my spine in one of the most agonising experiences I have ever endured. The entire length of my left leg felt like it was being electrocuted and set on fire at the same time. 8 months later I still cannot walk far without limping, and I have only just begun driving again. The numbness and tingling in my leg and foot is caused by nerve damage that will be slow to heal.

So I knew the ‘crushed tailbone’ image had something to do with this injury, and that I was being invited to do some healing work on myself.

“What caused this crushed tailbone?” I asked, playing along with the story that was unfolding.

“You fell off the edge of a cliff”, the marmoset replied. And certainly, the injury itself had occurred when my heel slipped off the edge of a step and came down hard on the ground. I ‘missed my footing’ so to speak, a simple misstep that had me screaming in rigid pain on the ground, unable to walk or move for 6 hours. But this isn’t the memory the marmoset’s reply stirred in me. No, the memory I found myself revisiting took place on a very real cliff, much grander in scope than a mere step at the bottom of the stairs: Kakadu escarpment, with cliffs stretching 50 metres above me and Goddess knows how many metres below me.

18 months before my tiny slip-up on the stairs, I was perched perilously on the side of a mountain, waiting for my two girlfriends to return from their mission on higher ground. I remember it took me quite some time to find a stable position, wedging myself safely above a small tree so that I wouldn’t slide down the sandy slope we had been climbing. In a way, it was easier when you had to keep moving, because the activity kept the adrenaline pumping, and now I was feeling dangerously tired. But I couldn’t afford to doze off when I needed every muscle in my body to focus on keeping me safe.

Finally the call came from above and I could hear one of the girls returning.

“What’s happened?” I asked. “Did you find a way out?”

“Sorry Om. We let the e-perb off.”

“So there was no way back to the escarpment?”

“Possibly. But it didn’t feel safe. We had a conference, and decided as mothers we couldn’t do it. We let the e-perb off for our children. Alex set it off at the top of the scree slope.”

I nodded. I understood what she meant. As a mother, you don’t take the kind of risks you might otherwise take.

The loose rocks on scree slope above us were bad enough, and I wondered how Alex’s hands were faring, because the rocks were covered in a vine with sharp thorns. Even if she had been able to climb the large rock faces above the scree, there was no guarantee she would be able to find a safe way down off the escarpment to get help, and besides, we were out of time. We were expected home within hours. It was horrible to think of the fear and worry our partners and children would go through if dusk came and went without any sign or word from us. A search party would be sent out so we might as well stay alive and tell them where to look by setting off the emergency device.

Jo explained to me that she and Alex would bring my pack back down to the waterfall ledge by lowering it slowly and carefully on ropes. This would free me up to descend quickly, so I could get started on lighting a fire to attract the attention of the helicopter that would be sent out. There was a panicky moment between us when Jo rummaged in her pack and couldn’t find the lighter and then we remembered it had earlier been transferred to my pack. Relieved to finally have something to do, I happily inched my pack off my back, retrieved the lighter and carefully wedged my pack above the tree I had been using as an anchor. Jo threw me down the rope which I attached to my pack, the other end held firmly in Jo’s steady grasp.

And finally I was free from my tiny perch on the mountain side! Without the pack on my back I could slide down this loose sandy stretch of slope on my bottom, shredding my trousers even further to shreds, using my feet to steer and brake. The urgency I felt made me go faster than I should have. Finally the e-perb had been let off! I had been fantasising about this for hours now, wishing for all of this to be over. Help was coming!

Sliding pell-mell down the mountain slope at break-neck speed, I could hear shouts coming from above me but it took a while to make out what they were saying. When I did, my heart leap up into my throat and I couldn’t breathe. Of course! We had veered left the first time we came down this mountain, and I was heading downward in a straight line, my urgency driving me blindly towards the cliff’s edge. For a long panicked moment my feet couldn’t find anything firm to break my slide and then finally they found purchase and I came to a shuddering halt.

“I’m okay!”, I called upwards to the girls with a shaky voice, feeling awful for causing them so much distress. A few shouts back and forth between us and they were reassured that I had my bearings again, and was safely veering left.

I might not have fallen off the mountain that afternoon with my physical body, but later when we got home, and every time I have dared think about it since, the feeling and vision of falling off the cliff’s edge feels more real to me than the memory of stopping my slippery slide towards death. My body physically jolts when I think of it, as though recoiling from the inevitable fall that is about to come. For the first few nights after we got home, I had to sleep with the light on, and I had to hold onto my husband because everything kept moving. The ground wouldn’t stay put. I felt like I was constantly falling.

Now I understand that I need to rescue myself from this vision, this haunting; I need to stop the falling for my spine to heal.

The marmoset is talking to me again, showing me a psychic image of hanging off the edge of the cliff-face by my tailbone. As I Iay here in bed, my physical body is aching around my tailbone. I can feel my energy body instinctively pulling myself away from the fall, pulling back towards the mountain, but not knowing how to set myself free. “Help me!”, I cry, and suddenly a male energy is approaching me, from within the mountain itself. I recognise him: he is the cave spirit I worked with in Kakadu, two days before ‘the fall’.

“Come to me”, he says. “Lean back into me”.

I am overwhelmed, so grateful that he should come.

“Why are you helping me?”, I ask him.

“Because you helped me”, he replies.

“But how?”

“You stopped me from feeling lonely”, he replies, and now I am weeping, tears streaming silently down my face as  I attempt to manoeuvre my falling energy body back into the safety of this solid mountain spirit. I feel his gentle hands wrapping around me and suddenly I am safe. I know I need to stay connected with him and my male energy to be whole. He is showing me the vision of the four tailbones, merging together as one.

“Come with me”, he says, leading me into the stars above, and I feel starlight knitting my fractured tailbone together as he holds the four pieces together as one with his hand. But the starlight isn’t enough. Strangely, I am drawn to the image of a tree. It seems familiar. I feel like I have climbed this tree, been carried by it, revisited it many times as a child. And then I see an image of my mother and my aunt as children and know that this tree is an old friend for them too. It’s a river red gum, from this country here where my physical body is now: Alice Springs. I feel like it’s sending a stream of river-sand up from its roots, up into my tailbone to help it knit together.

The mountain/rock spirit man talks to me, whispering knowledge to me. He tells me this healing could not have happened until now. My physical body needed to be here in Alice Springs, exploring my roots, my family tree, my family history… which is exactly what I have come here to do. The pieces of sand are placing themselves very precisely, weaving themselves in a perfect pattern between the cracks between my tailbone fragments. Strangely, I see each sand particle being placed, and colourful, like the dots in a dot-painting. I keep seeing my uncle’s smiling face as he teaches me how to paint. It was the seven sisters I was enchanted by, and one that he had me paint over and over again. I could feel stories from the stars in each individual dot.

“Our ancestors…”, said the rock spirit. “….all the stories come from the stars. All the stories are inside you. Your roots are spreading deep.”

He touches me on my fourth eye, pushing me backwards, and suddenly I am home in my body, typing this story, home in the country I was born in, putting down new and old roots.

Blessed Be

My love for holism

While writing Wildflower Spirit Journey, there was a subtle theme that kept popping up for me over and over again: holism. I saw it in my mother’s nature-based spirituality, the Aboriginal art I was surrounded by as a child, and the yin-yang teaching style given to me by my spirit guides, Khryse and Tomas.

Both my grandmother and my great-uncle had an enormous childhood influence on my life, imprinting within me their love for nature, science, anatomy and physiology, helping people, wildflowers and photography. My grandmother was a doctor. My great-uncle was an arid zone botanist. And there have been many times through my life I have been tempted to walk in their footsteps, but my love for holism has steered me in other directions. Continue reading

Packing up at Mutijulu

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My husband and I just got back from moving Uncle Peter’s gear from his home at Mutijulu, to Alice Springs where he will now be living. He will be sorely missed at Uluru. He has been an incredible source of support for the local community and has put decades of valuable work in as an arid zone botanist, well respected as an irreplaceable fount of knowledge.

Our rescue mission went beautifully, thanks to some brilliant planning by Steve. On the friday we arrived in Alice, we helped Pete pack up his caravan, then we cleaned out his car. We picked up a hire trailer and some packing materials and conferred with Pete about what needed to be done. The next day Steve drove out early and my cousin dropped me off at the airport after a lovely lunch with her and my mum. My chronic sciatic injury isn’t car-friendly, so I had to fly!

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Stephen arrived the same time I did and he collected me from the airport. After dropping things off to our hotel room, we went to my uncle’s demountable on the community, spent a few hours throwing out rubbish and drove back to the room on sunset. I absolutely love the view of The Rock from the community. Lots of good memories! I remember spending hours playing with my brother in Pete’s ultra-lite glider, pretending we were flying; gazing through telescopes while Pete taught us how to recognise venus, mars and saturn; and listening to him telling us dreamtime stories about The Rock.

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It took us another four days of packing and cleaning to finish the job and we made some friends with a nearby local family who claimed the old bike I used to ride around on when I was a child, along with a smorgasbord of other goodies like food and a couple of old chairs. We also left lots in the shed, which uncle donated to the arts community, along with the demountable. On the last day, we got up before dawn and walked around the rock, then we went to Kata Tjuta. To my delight, there were lots of flowers after all the rain, and incredible memories came flooding back of childhood visits to places that are now closed off to the public. I’m glad the locals are reclaiming their space.

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On friday I flew back to Alice while Stephen drove back with the loaded trailer. It was lovely to connect with family and I’m hoping to go back again in a few months time, to help sort through some of Pete’s gear and get some interviews done with him. It was really beautiful to hear over and over again the love and respect everyone at Uluru held for him…. they will miss him so much. He leaves a legacy of important botanical work and great kindness in his wake. Other rangers are taking over with the plant walks, but who will now buy and deliver a weekly box of fruit to the local community school? Some are talking about setting up a special garden in his honour, with the aboriginal names for the plants featured; my uncle is very concerned about this knowledge being lost.

Swainsona

Swainsona

Swainsona flavicarinata

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Grandma’s house was being prepared for sale, and all of Grandma’s possessions were being sorted and distributed. Mum was feeling overwhelmed because she already had too much clutter in her home and didn’t have room for more. “I should have sorted all of this stuff out years ago!”, she said. With her lament fresh in my mind, I turned down all the objects Uncle Palko offered me, including the ceramic lizard sculpture I made for Grandma in year twelve. I was studying Aboriginal art at the time and had painted my own dreamtime story about Alice Springs on the lizard’s back, with the Todd River separating east from west.  Driving away without my lizard, I felt a twinge of sadness, so it was lovely to receive a text message from my mother a few months later. “Your painted lizard is now in my garden! Looks good too. We are still cleaning Burke St. On it goes.”

Our next community felt familiar. Then I realised an old boyfriend of mine had family connections here. Our relationship had ended after a shared tragedy and a misunderstanding. We lost touch and I’ve long been haunted by the memory of walking with him beside the Todd River and him saying, “One day I’ll end up with them mob of drunks in the river, and you’ll be some fancy white lady driving past in a shiny car.”

In the months leading up to this desert trip, the need to know he was safe and that he had forgiven me became intense. I tried searching for him on line, but had no luck. I am not sure why I didn’t try asking around at the community when we arrived there. Shyness? Time constraints? Fear?

Instead, I focussed on flower hunting and discovered a beautiful pink flower on the outskirts of the community, a flower named swainsona. When Swainsona connected with me, I felt my energy field broaden its grounding connection with the earth, almost as though I were a tree with large buttress roots. Then the back of my heart chakra opened. My chakra walls thickened and stretched out. I could feel my heart repairing its foundations and searching for a deeper sense of authenticity. The flower spirit said: Stop making excuses. Be honest with yourself.

Then I had a sensation of being stretched and pushed, as though I were an aerial acrobat stretching my body as far as it could go without any hesitation or fear of falling. Swainsona asked me to step up and own my power, rather than making excuses in order to avoid taking risks. This flower spirit aligns and connects three auric power centres  positioned in the sacrum, the centre of the chest and the soul chakra above the head. Alignment of all three centres strengthens our will, or power of intent.

I wonder if this power of intent somehow called my old boyfriend back into my life, because two weeks later I was speaking on the phone with him. Like me, he had been wanting to get in touch for a long time, but unlike me, he didn’t give up the search so easily. Our conversation left me feeling healed and whole in ways I never thought possible. We were both relieved to know the other person was safe and happy. How simple healing can be! Thank you spirit.