I have told people through this blog and elsewhere that I am a mystic. If that offends or challenges you it may be a good time to go back to watching television because I have some need to discuss a little in the Australian context. I hesitate to broach this in such a public way through the blog as the level of outrage and ignorance it can cause to be aimed at me are considerable. I am trained in the ways of occultists and people of old religions. There was a tradition of secret adherence to old ways in some parts of my chains of ancestors. I even studied and practiced things like tarot. For my purposes it worked well but I have not spoken of it for years. For me to talk of it as being a useful art just aids the attempts of tricksters to foist their low skills on the gullible. People who train deeply and with integrity will find some useful teaching in it. Also I have head injuries that mean I cannot even remember the period it was in my life
Having studied the art of my Celtic and British ancestors and practiced the Cabbalic rituals and read the books and then studied old pagan beliefs and been immersed in the mystical side of martial arts and having a liking for the Green Man I wanted to try to connect with Australian spiritual matters. Australia seemed likely to not be wound in the stories of Tuatha de Danann. or of Hecate or Dianna, or Erzulie. Australia was different. It is different on many levels but particularly it seems the indigenous people here were living alongside any ancient invisible beings in much the same way as they lived alongside the sand. I tried very hard to get them to tell me anything about it but they treated me like a tourist and never gave me a single fact. I was struck by the possibility that the people I asked may never have known what their spiritmen once knew if that was anything. Anyway I resented being so off-handedly treated and have very little time for their stories of rainbow snakes and white crows that were made black by soot.
The paintings and drawings I create have always been through strong visions. I always thought everyone had such strong spiritual and emotional experiences as the visions that fostered my image making and I wasted a lot of time thinking they were of no import. Another bone to pick with Christian ministries in schools. It was through visions while I wandered in the bush that I found things.
Actually I forgot that one time I was photographing an indigenous campaigner for a magazine. He was trying to save the spirit trees of his ancestors from non-local indigenous people who had created a land council and were swapping his cultural heritage for funds. The land given to the land council was then sold to developers by-passing many of the general community’s attempts to keep it tied up as important. In this case the trees were a kind of Eucalypt that his people had seen as bearing their souls. He formally introduced me to the trees and the old spirits in them. Something very few living people and possible no whites were ever offered before, I understand.
One night after that I was standing in my room and was suddenly enveloped in a vision of a corroboree. It was a band of clean limbed and healthy male dancers! The people having the corroboree were so happy that for a moment I lost all the emotional burden of being human and danced. Maybe a Kangaroo hunting dance. Then I realized I was crippled and they drifted away and the burdens fell back into my reality and my body ceased being able. It was such a splendid feeling. Are these the burdens we release when we die? I almost wonder why we resist. It is so beautiful and perfect a silence among the stars where the dancer’s spirits wandered.
When you are ill and suffer mental dullness as I often did over the years you can miss things. It was the case with the little grassy mounds by the lake. I was attracted there again and again and even went to sleep on the grass. I ignored the repetitive little stubbs of memory that visited me there until one day it hit me like a shock. I always saw a vision of young nubile women leaving the lake and of their backs as they disappeared through the grass. Their sexuality and the high level of nubileness suggested it was a place of the rituals for the first bleeding. Whatever thing governed it protected the old ways by only showing their backs as they left. Whatever it was it was filled with regret and a sense of loss and I suspect it was lonely since its people were probably lost to disease with the coming of the fleet. The fact that the vision was protective of whatever rituals were carried out in that place suggests that the breaking of indigenous ritual into men’s and women’s etc is not just a fancy of the human participants. A British witch of old times may have found a water hag or something like Ancasta.
Some things that came as visions and were never entered into paintings I call “dreamings” to recognize the old indigenous shaman who have passed away from this part of the land. Snake-dreaming may be an over reach as that one I have mentioned before. It was a clearing of fifty metres or more that was filled with resting Brown snakes. They were no more than a single arm’s length apart and I walked between them to continue my walk. It occurred to me that an indigenous person from before the fleet may have seen some sacred thing in their gathering and they may even have been the totem animal
I won a small prize for a story and some simple designs based on “Little frog dreaming” It was a story where a group of people were struggling through a drought. They were at the last water hole known to have water even in terrible droughts but was empty. They were dying and desperate when they slept the children heard frogs in their dreams. They went off to play with the frogs not expecting anything but found a rock with enough water to allow them to go on. The frogs became the totem and a protective spirit. The design and story became part of a little school and tiny frog foot print that had graced my drawings for them were placed up the front wall as protective devices
“Bull Shark dreaming” relates to a vision of a massive bull shark that I had each time I crossed a place in a waterway. I have seen sharks there. I recognize the grandmother shark if I ever pass over it again. Probably foolishness but it is respect. The Bull Shark Dreaming is an unusual one as I suspect it was not known among people. I dont know if the people of that area had a Bull Shark totem but they may never have recognized that place I found. It goes a long way to indicating these visions are not based on things created by humans but may simply exist beyond the first people
I apologise sincerely. The following was written after I tired and falls to generalizations. I may come back and fix it or I may just leave now that I have covered that part of it. My comments on the visions stand.
This will do. In European magic the spirits are human-like with all the barely human things cast out as in the case of the Titans. British mythology became Christian mythology a long way back and it is difficult to get books showing the early forms of things like cross road spirits that dont show them as demonic. The constant interaction between early religions and then attacks by Christians with the occasional Hermetic magician wandering about splashing chicken blood and demanding obedience means that the kind of interaction between humans and anything that survived is likely to be difficult and a simple gift to a glade may be all. In Africa most interaction was fearful with priests or witch doctors taking the role of intermediary and modern African Christians often prepared to kill anyone who indulges in recognizing ties to old thing in the forests. Hindus seem to have some healthy surviving interactions with ancient things as do some Asians and Island people. This is not a study on that. Some ancient things brought me visions when I went seeking them. Perhaps they respected me as an artist and mystic or perhaps I missed the point. I do have considerable brain damaging events in my life after all. I think I found something beautiful and beyond my poor artistic talent to express. A living gift wasted on me but touching me too deeply to refuse