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

Courageous Soul-retrieval.

FullSizeRender-3In 2013 I went on a wildflower spirit journey through Kakadu and almost didn’t make it back alive. For a while, writing the story was good medicine. That was, until I got to the part of the story where we were about to climb down off the escarpment onto the cliff face. The writing stalled for a year and just recently I’ve been re-reading, editing and reflecting on what I had written. The fact that I’ve been able to read it without nightmares makes me think I’m ready to pick up where I left off, but I can feel myself skittering around it nervously, so I’m backing off and looking for safe ways to re-enter.

Why do I think this story needs to be written at all, given that it could simply be a fruitless exercise in re-traumatising myself? I instinctively feel as though it may be an integral part of my recovery from a large disc-extrusion 6 months ago that has left me with numbness, tingling and altered sensation in my left foot and leg. And the following words, channeled through to me from Spirit during a healing from a friend, keep resonating in my mind : “I will help you down the mountain”.

I have the sense that part of me is still up there somewhere and I need to write my way down the mountain to bring her back. Real or not, this idea holds powerful healing possibilities for my psyche, but I also know I need to be gentle and careful with myself. It struck me recently that I need to revisit the cave I entered while on this journey, where spirit showed me stories and called me a ‘wildflower brujio’ or ‘wildflower spirit walker’. I have two strategies in mind for the writing/healing process:

  1. Write backwards, starting at the end of the story and working my way back to the worst bit on the cliff-face.
  2. Lean on the flowers for support. It’s time now to let them do their healing work. Between them and the spirit in the cave, I know I will be guided safely. I’ll use my imagination to revisit the cave so I can be guided from there.

Continue reading

Kakadu- Day 2 “Climbing the W”

IMG_6534A picture tells a thousand stories, or so they say. For me on this journey, it was the lack of photographs in the second half of each day that truly told my story. Fatigue and pain played a big role in keeping my camera packed at times like these, but at the end of day two it was the sacredness of the space we were in that kept my finger off the button. The tourist in me dissolves into thin air whenever the soft hush of sacred space descends. 


After packing up camp the next morning and reloading our packs, we had to climb a steep 5-7 meter incline. This was my first introduction to the complexities of balancing a pack on your back while you climb. After teetering on the edge of a backwards tumble more than once, I learned to climb on all fours, tipping the weight of my pack forwards.

IMG_6528At the top of the rise there was a flat area, and looking back the way we had come, we found a breath-taking view of the escarpment on the other side of the river. After drinking in this view, we stood together under a majestic tree in a picturesque area we nicknamed ‘the meeting place’, and consulted our map. After much discussion, we found our bearings and started following the contour of the mountain alongside the river’s edge, curving our way counter-clockwise up towards the escarpment. At times, steep gully walls pushed us into the river’s bed of rock. Water snaked and gurgled its way past us as we traversed flat expanses of gently sloping, smooth rock, occasionally climbing small 1-2 metre vertical rock-faces alongside mini-waterfalls.

The easy climbing soon ended. With the gully narrowing, all the smaller rivulets combined to create one deep channel, with sheer rock-face either side for the next four metres. We could swim, but that meant getting our packs wet and possibly being dragged down with the weight of them. After studying the rock face on our side of the gully for a while, we realised there were hand and foot holds we could use to inch our way across.

“Are you two up for this?”, asked Kate. “We’ll need to take our socks, shoes and trousers off and put them in our packs to keep them dry.”

“What do you think, Om?”, asked Alex. “I’m up for it if you are”. A little smile played around the corners of her mouth. Continue reading

Kakadu Wildflower Trek : Day 1 “The princess and the pea”

 

IMG_6445We arrived at the campsite on dusk and had to work fast to get our beds set up and dinner cooking in the last of the light. We had a play with the GPS but couldn’t work out how to use it. For some reason it wasn’t matching up with what our map was telling us so we decided to leave it behind and stick with our compasses and map.

 

It was on that first night, in the relative comfort of the carpark campground, that I realised I had made an error in judgement with my bedding. The girls had brought inflatable mattresses with them, and I, in a quest to keep the weight of my pack down, was making do with a pathetic piece of roll up foam. It weighed hardly anything but, like the proverbial princess and the pea, I could feel every rock and stick and clump of grass under me. It was a rough night to say the least, with my neck and shoulder complaining no matter how I lay. But do you think I spoke up about how I was feeling in the morning?

 

Mind you, I don’t recall anyone asking, says my sulky three-year old self. Nor was there any discussion about establishing this site as the day camp to travel out from and return back to each day. It was as though the cajoling promises made by both of them that morning had never existed. The excitement of the adventure whisked as all up, and as usual, I just went along with what was happening. The ‘nice’ part of me wanted to please them and not ruin their adventure. And the gritty part of me was determined to stick with the original plan in spite of my injury. Continue reading

Kakadu – deciding to go

This is the pre-edited beginning of the Kakadu Wildflower Journey. Looking back, I admire my inner strength and courage, but find it hard to believe I did this hike with an injury!


Stirring after a restless night, I took a moment to listen to my body. My heart sank and my stomach churned with a mess of conflicting emotions. There was a part of me that didn’t want to go on this trek through Kakadu and now I had the perfect excuse not to go: a neck and shoulder injury. The first little warning twinges had started the day before and I had hoped in vain that it might clear up after a good sleep. The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t even get out of bed without help from my husband.

 

That damned massage! I thought to myself crossly. A few days earlier I had received my part of an exchange with another practitioner. She had lovingly given me extra time, but it was extra time I could have done without. It was an Ayurvedic consultation and included an oil treatment. My head was tilted back, hanging off the end of the table, with oil pouring down over my forehead. As usual, I was being excessively polite and I didn’t have the heart to tell her how uncomfortable I was. To be fair, having my head tilted backwards for almost an hour might not have been an issue if I wasn’t also in the midst of re-painting the walls in our old bedroom. My husband and I had moved ourselves downstairs, and were preparing to take on a boarder. As is so often the way, the injury sets itself up during these crazy weekend ventures and then pounces days later while doing perfectly innocent things like receiving a massage.

 

I checked my phone and found a message from Kate: How’s the neck?

 

Worse, I replied. I can’t come. Not happy. Steve is going to meet you at Alex’s with the GPS, beanie, mushroom soup ingredients and stock for first night soup. Say hello to the flowers from me! xx

 

Kate called me back immediately and asked me to reconsider, saying she had spoken with Alex and they would be happy to set up a day-camp so that we didn’t have to carry full packs, and I could rest there if I wasn’t feeling up to the walk. Then found a beautifully worded voice message on my phone from Alex herself, imploring me to come, with similar ideas about how we could still make it work.

 

I felt so torn! I knew Steve didn’t really want me to go, because he was worried about us getting lost or eaten by a crocodile, and I had similar fears myself, but they really wanted me to come. And I had done so much work to prepare for this hike! It seemed like such a waste. I had been practising walking with a loaded pack for the past two months and I had prepared dehydrated food packs and spent hard-earned money on equipment for the journey, like my compass, boots and backpack.

 

“I don’t know what to do!” I wailed to my husband. We talked it through for a while and he encouraged me to rest for the remainder of the morning.

 

“Sleep on it”, he said. “I’ll go and get you some special things to help your muscles relax. Come on, let’s get you back into bed! You can make a decision at lunch time after a good rest.”

 

I crawled back into bed, struggling to find any position that was comfortable and gave me relief from the pain. Steve soon came back with a glorious bag full of goodies and insisted I play lucky dip. I reached a hand in and came up with deep-heat, which he promptly applied. My second foray into the bag yielded a packet of medicated sticky bandages, a box of Epsom salts, pain-killers and Tiger Balm, amongst other things.

 

I did feel better when I woke at lunch time, and throwing caution to the winds, decided to text Kate: I’m coming. What time do you want us to get to your place?

 

Yeehah! 1pm here??

 

I ate lunch and did one last check on my pack, adding the medicated bandages and filling my camelback (a water bladder with a hose attached so you can drink while walking). Then we drove out to Kate’s. Kate lives on a rural block with her husband and three daughters. She’s a veterinarian with a passion for horses and on their block they have horses, chickens, dogs and a pet crow. This was only my second visit, and Steve’s first. I really didn’t know Kate or Alex very well beyond the practitioner-client relationships I had developed with them, and was looking forward to getting to know them better.

 

We collected Kate and she guided us to Alex’s house, further out into the rural area. One of Alex’s chickens seemed quite intent on coming with us and we had to keep shooing her out of the car while we were loading up. Steve had made me a walking stick to take with me, and he strapped it firmly to the roof rack. It was a long staff made from an old tree-branch, with the bark scrapped off so that the surface was smooth under my hands. Besides being another point of contact with the earth and thus providing extra support, it had also been designated Chief Crocodile-Basher, ‘just-in-case’.

 

Steve gave us a brief lesson with the GPS and then before I knew it, we were saying our goodbyes and heading off towards Kakadu! The first few hours of driving were filled with chatter about family and I occasionally felt a bit shy, realising these two knew each other a lot better than I knew either of them. I may have been their healer, intimate with them in ways they perhaps weren’t with each other, but I still knew so little about the day-to-day of their lives. Not for the first time, I found myself brushing away vague fears, wondering what on earth I was getting myself into and whether it was wise to be going into the Kakadu wilderness with two clients and an injury.

 

Arriving at the turn-off into the part of Kakadu that was to become our home for the next four days, we went through the open gates on to dirt road. Alex refused to relinquish her position in the driver’s seat, even though she had no experience with four-wheel driving, and we had a lovely time guiding her through creek beds with their steep inclines and rises. She did a brilliant job. There’s such an art to finding the right approach and speed when navigating country like this and it was fun watching her exhilaration when she successfully got through each creek-crossing without getting us bogged.

 

Along the way we saw some wild horses, a mother and child. The discussion that ensued gave me an insight into Kate’s love for and knowledge about horses. I haven’t had much to do with horses myself, beyond my connection with them on a spirit level. My childhood was filled with camels and camel treks and the only time I ever went near a horse, it bit me, so I’ve been rather wary ever since. That doesn’t stop me from admiring them though. Perhaps they are another power animal for me: we usually have a healthy respect for our power animals. When animals come into our lives, they bring spirit medicine with them and the spirit medicine of horses is about adventure, freedom, stamina, strength and warrior energy. Thank you horse, for lending me your strength and spirit. I certainly needed it for this journey!

 

Wildflower Spirit Journey in Kakadu

IMG_6714Two years ago I had a wildflower adventure in Kakadu.

My birthday brings the memories back because I had my birthday out there under a tree on the escarpment with two incredible women who kept me alive and amazed me with the blessings they kept pulling out of their backpacks. Grapefruit tastes like manna from heaven when you are thirsty from shock and you still have to get through the night with only half a litre of water to share between three people. 

I’ve decided to publicly share some of the writing I’ve done about this, even though I’m not sure I will complete this story and release it as a second wildflower book. It was an incredibly powerful experience, and one I would love to share, but I can’t seem to write about coming down off the escarpment without having nightmares, so I’m putting that part of the writing on hold until my psyche feels safe to continue. The journey ended with us being rescued by helicopter from a waterfall ledge half way down the cliff face. Phew! I may have cured my fear of heights in the process but that’s only because everything else seems like a walk in the park by comparison. 

I feel nervous sharing ‘the cave’ part of this story with you- emotional actually- but I think it’s time, and at least this part of the story is mine to share…. or is it? Spirit assures me it is, at least in terms of my relationship with Spirit and the land. Some of the reason I keep hesitating with the writing of this book is because it involves two other people. Do I really have the right to tell a story shared? And if so, how do I do it in a way that honours their privacy and the fact that their story might be very different from my own? Perhaps I need to revisit the cave and re-anchor the decisive male energy I discovered there. 



THE CAVE

I lay down again and opened up my senses, reaching out and speaking to the canyon, the cave, the rock spirits, the space itself.

We apologise if we are trespassing but we have travelled a long way. It’s getting dark and we are very tired. Can we please rest here for the night?

The reply came as it always does: a collage of words, feelings, impressions, images and knowing. I could feel a strong male energy stepping forward.

We understand. You may stay the night but you must leave as early as possible in the morning. We like you three. You are quiet. We are tired of noisy people. Everything is changing. We don’t like all these white people coming through here. We long for the old days.

I suggested to the spirit energy that he could talk to his people and ask them to speak with the rangers about this. At first, all I could feel was silence in response. Then grief, which soon gave way to reluctant acceptance.

We’ve already done this. The way it is now, with this area being shared with the white man… it’s the only way. We have already negotiatied. It’s either this or nothing.

I could feel the deep grief of the canyon about the way everything was changing so quickly. I felt sad for Spirit, but what could I do? I agreed to the terms laid down about our stay and gave thanks, ready to end the conversation, when it suddenly veered in an unexpected direction.

We want you to come into the cave. We have things to teach you.

It wasn’t a request. I almost felt as though it was part of the condition of staying, a sneaky addition tacked on at the last minute. I also knew I would do what I was told, in spite of my reservations about entering the cave.

I conveyed all of this to the girls and they relaxed a little. Or at least, I thought at the time they did. Later I was to discover otherwise. While they began setting up camp, I went into the cave. As I entered, I became aware of a power position on the ground, up against the rock wall in front of me, and headed towards it. Then I stopped suddenly, confused, because there was another one up against the wall to my left.

Which one do I sit in? Why am I aware of two?, I asked myself. The answer came in a flash. The one directly in front of me was a man’s power position. The one to my left was a woman’s power position. I turned automatically to the left to go and sit in the women’s position, when Spirit stopped me.

No. Sit in the man’s position first.

First. Obviously that meant I was going to end up sitting in both. I sat in the man’s position, feeling very comfortable with the rock wall supporting my back.

Are you sure I’m meant to sit here?, I asked Spirit.

Yes. We have things to teach you, Spirit replied.

Are you sure I’m meant to be in this cave? I’m white. I don’t have the right.

In hindsight, I’m guessing I sounded a bit whiny, but I was exhausted and feeling overwhelmed.

Quiet. We asked you to be here. Everything is changing. We make do with what we can get. Black, white, it’s irrelevant. You are a Spirit Walker. Not many like you come up here. We make do with what we can get.

Reassured, I settled back into position and went into trance. A series of shadowy images flittered through my mind, morphing and shifting. I peered more closely. It looked like an animal. A black mountain goat? Or was it a mountain lion? A kangaroo? Finally the shifting settled. It was a black dingo.

I felt the spirit I had been speaking with earlier drawing my attention back to the canyon. I became aware of my position in the cave and then the perspective lifted, as though I were flying upwards and looking down over the canyon. Higher and higher we lifted. Finally the ascent slowed and the cave spirit pointed into the distance. I looked and could see Uluru.

Puzzled, I asked Why are you showing me this?

This is your Country, yes?, asked the spirit, it’s tone light and friendly. I realised it was making a connection with me, almost like a traditional form of greeting.

Yes, this is my country. It was close enough. I grew up in Alice, a days drive from Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock, or more simply The Rock. During my childhood we often went to Uluru to visit my Great Uncle Peter, an arid zone botanist and ranger.

As the spirit and I gazed out over the land I could feel a connection in the land between where I was in Kakadu, and where I had spent time as a child in the comunity at Mutijulu, where my Great Uncle lived. I felt as though the land here in Kakadu was understanding me via my connection with Uluru.

Then the spirit showed me an image of a dingo and referenced the famous Australian story about a dingo taking a baby, back in the 70’s when I was a child. I wasn’t sure why spirit was showing me this, but I politely acknowledged the event, saying yes, I remember this. I also remembered the many dingos I had spent time with at Uluru, especially the one that used to visit the community in the evenings, looking for food. We were taught to be wary and careful, but not afraid. I thought they were beautiful.

The spirit seemed satisfied with my memories, somehow identifying me and where I belonged via my connection with Uluru and the dingos. Then it’s attention snapped back to where we were, pulling me back with it. I could feel it looking into me and through me, as though rifling through my memories, especially of the journey up the side of the mountain.

You are a flower spirit walker, it declared emphatically, as though this were my sole purpose in life, engraved into the fabric of my being.

I’m a healer. I work with colours, I replied, trying to convey a broader sense of who I was.

If this spirit had had a hand, he would have waved it dismissively. All spirit walkers are healers. You are a flower spirit walker. Obviously my identity beyond this wasn’t open to discussion. I shrugged and acknowledged what the spirit was saying, feeling a little dubious about my new title.

IMG_6441Then the spirit showed me an image of one of the flowers I had met on my way up the mountain. It was the first flower I had met along the way, on the first day heading out of base camp.

This is cleansing spirit medicine, it told me, showing me an image of my aura, full of small dark blotches.

You need cleansing. You filled your mind with negative thoughts on your way up the mountain. Why were you thinking these thoughts? You are a spirit walker. Be in your power.

It brushed the branch of flowers over me and through me, all the while scolding me for my unbecoming behaviour on my way up the mountain.

How can your body stay strong with these useless thoughts? And no wonder you were having trouble keeping up! Look!

It showed me an image replay of me climbing the mountain, pausing to decide which way forwards as I debated whether to go around a tree or under it, push past the bush or go over the rocks. Over and over again I had lost time pondering while the girls pushed forward without hesitation.

Just keep going. Go in a straight line. You think and wonder too much. Just get on with it!, said the spirit with exasperation.

I could feel my body soaking up the male energy in the position I was sitting in, and I started to shake off the indecisiveness that had slowed my progress, not only on this walk, but in my life in general. Then the branch disappeared and tiny points of yellow light appeared, like sparkles of sunlight coursing through my mind. The lights were flower spirits and they were filling me with positivity.IMG_6610

After a while the shower of yellow light stopped, and I knew it was time to move into the other position.

Leave your spirit-body here, said the spirit, so I was careful to stand up in body only. I left a firm image and feeling of myself sitting in the men’s power spot while I walked over to the women’s position.

The women’s position was just as comfortable, but the rock behind me sloped backwards rather than being completely vertical. Instinctively, I leaned back against it, with my legs in a squatting position. It felt like such a good position to give birth in. My mind filled with images of women giving birth here, while my body went through the bearing-down motions as though I myself were giving birth. I didn’t really feel like me: I felt like all the women who had ever come to this place to give birth.

As the baby slipped out of me into my hands, the spirit of the place stepped forward and took the baby from me.

Now leave your body here and go sit in the men’s position.

I did as I was asked, stepping out of my body and walking over to the other power spot. I could feel myself in both positions at the same time. I was the man watching the woman giving birth, and I was the woman giving birth.

I watched the spirit hand the baby to the man, the father of the child. I held my hands out as the man, and received the child. This imagery repeated itself, over and over again.

Then I saw an image of someone taking the baby into the water and somehow ascending together up through the rockface at the head of the canyon, emerging up through the rock onto the top of the escarpment. The baby was held aloft to the sky, as though being presented to the heavens, as though a great event had unfolded and was to be celebrated.

Then everything became more intense but I don’t remember all the details because I was in such a deeply altered state at the time. I was being shown a dreamtime story. What I do remember is that when it first began, I realised what was happening and felt alarmed. What right did I have, to hear such a story!? I got quite upset about this and wept until spirit calmed me, saying Hush child.

You are a spirit walker. The stories have to be told. We make do with what we have,

I wonder if my reluctance to hear the story is the reason why I can’t remember all of it, or if this partial memory loss was a safeguard established by spirit to ensure the sacred parts of this story were kept secret.

The story began with an image of a vortex over the cliff face at the head of the gorge, above the waterhole. I remember feeling mesmerized by it and drawn towards it. Spirit stopped me. It almost felt like an invisible arm was pushing back against my chest, holding me back.

No. Don’t go there. Not for you. Not safe. Stay here and watch. Listen.

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Book update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was hoping to have my book Wildflower Spirit Journey through central Australia ready for publication earlier this year but the company I was working with produced a truly uninspiring end product that was going to be very expensive for the end user. The paper they were using for their colour books was extremely poor quality and they could offer me no better option. After meetings with my editor and conferring with family members, we all agreed: I couldn’t go ahead with this company. I was going to have to start again.

For a few months I researched and contemplated my options. The answer came from an unexpected quarter: Blurb. Blurb rescued me years ago after another publishing saga gone wrong and I have always been impressed by their standard of service and the high quality of product they are able to produce for a very reasonable price. Blurb has just created some new product lines and services that have turned out to be perfect for my first flower book project. We have had the odd challenge to troubleshoot here but the teamwork has been fantastic.

The book has been millimetres away from being ready to release for months now but I have been distracted by overseas travel and perhaps just a smidgeon of procrastination. I am certain I could edit this book another hundred times and still find things that need fixing or changing. So I am hereby making a solemn promise to only do one more edit and to get it done in time for christmas. My family and friends have been waiting so patiently….

To honour this promise I will have to prise myself away from other writing projects and resist the temptation to dive head first back into the first draft of Wildflower Spirit Journey through Kakadu. I left the narrative halfway through day through day three of the bush walk, just before we headed down onto the side of the escarpment. I’ve been binge-writing this draft, immersing myself completely in writing for days and weeks at a time before emerging to rest for a few months. The memories are still fresh, a little too fresh at times, and there is a limit to how long I can hang out in Kakadu, even on paper. Powerful country.

Last night I caught up with the women who shared that journey with me and not for the first time, we talked about going back. We have unfinished business there, but so far my attempts to return have been thwarted. If Kakadu lets me back in, it will happen when and how Kakadu wants it to happen, not according to my agenda. In the meantime, I have been climbing other mountains, in Belfast and Austria, and tested a suspicion: Was it possible that the Kakadu adventure cured my fear of heights? So I jumped off a mountain in the Austrian Alps; a blissful tandem paraglide over an incredible landscape of snowcapped peaks and grassy slopes. Verdict? Jumping off mountains isn’t scary, it’s fun!