• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Australia

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The magnificent rock paintings of the Kimberly range in northwestern Australia are among the most ancient in the world, going back tens of thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of a fossilized wasp nest built over one painting places the nest itself at more than 17,000 years ago, so that the painting must be older -- possibly much older -- than that. Aboriginal people in this region call the paintings, or rather the Beings in them, Gwion Gwion, Giro Giro, and other names.

While making my Woman Shaman dvd, I did a lot of research on rock art around the world. These paintings grabbed my attention, not only because of their tremendous beauty, but because they show dance and ceremonial regalia. Aboriginal tradition says they represent ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. Because human ceremony celebrates these beings, and reenacts their primordial creative acts, we come around full circle to a likely reflection what extremely ancient rites might have looked like. But from North America it was next to impossible to find Aboriginal testimony about these paintings.

While I was in Australia last year, the very knowledgeable Chris Sitka shared a book with me that contained such testimony, from several senior Law Men. (We know that Aboriginal women have their own Women’s Business in Western Australia, but the book-makers were all men, in the manner of old-school anthropologists who did not understand the implications of this; and so they had no access to the female-only traditions.) The book's title is Gwion Gwion: Dulwan Mamaa - Secret And Sacred Pathways Of The Ngarinyin Aboriginal People Of Australia (Köln: Konemann, 2000). The Law Men who testified are Ngarjno, Ungudman, Banggal, and Nyawarra of the Ngarinyin people (with background added by editor Jeff Doring).

...
Last modified on
3

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_cowslip.JPGUpon my first flush of dedicating myself as a witch, the very first sabbat I celebrated as a solitary practitioner, before I had found my coven, was Imbolc. I had done enough reading of neo-pagan literature after poaching the stacks in my local town library and I was keen to get my Wheel of the Year on. Bright eyed, and very bushy tailed.

It was most of a decade ago now, but I remember the little ceremony well; it involved a small paper clay boat with a ram's head that I had carved and fired, dipped in a golden butter-coloured glaze that seemed to perfectly suit my purposes. In the boat I placed some offerings for the sabbat; there were some white chocolate dipped raspberry licorice bullets, some sprigs of red geranium, and a splash of strawberry port from a berry farm in the south. I 'launched' my boat into my front garden which had been freshly planted with some baby rosemary and sage and protected with moonstone which glimmered in the early morning sunlight. I burned candles and meditated and felt a flicker of something that has stayed with me and returns every August. My practices ever since then have always been as eclectic, and sometimes just as elusive: but the whimsicality and solemnity of the ritual permeates my memory.

The return of Spring is not felt with obvious sign or herald in my home country as it is in other lands. The climate here is Mediterranean and warm most of the time, and the temperatures on a sunny August day could possibly be mistaken for a heatwave in some Northern Hemisphere climes. This year, thankfully, we have received some rain and Winter feels like she has finally 'arrived' after a long, and dark, wait. There is certainly a change to be felt in the air, though. A Quickening. The land stirs beneath my feet with a note of potential that was not there before, and the feelings of dormancy have been banished as the downhill push into warmth begins. Nights will be cold, if not the coldest, of the year, but there is still a sense of 'spring' under the earth and birds begin to be a little bit more noisy than usual. The rains have freshened the landscape and weeds and winter grasses are flourishing with abandon. Very soon, the land will burst forth with every colour of the rainbow as if the rainbow snake of ancient dreaming has pierced some crystal somewhere and has shattered into a million pieces and scattered across the land. The magic will sing again, but until then, we wait. And watch.

Photo credit: Cowslip orchard from Western Australia, retrieved from http://ournomadicways.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/wildflowers-of-wa-part-3.html

Further reading: Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere

...
Last modified on
1
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I appreciate the metaphors. Happy Imbolc to our Australian friends!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Meet the Pagan Bogan, or, the 'Pogan'

Before one decides to make the big leap and attend their first pagan event, one's imagination conjures up all sorts of images about the sorts of people they will meet and the experiences they will have. If you're prepared to eliminate any romantic notions and be realistic about the people you might meet, you will do well. An open mind and tolerant spirit is the best attitude to adapt as there are going to be people who, regretfully in some ways, snugly fit into stereotypes which might be a little too familiar. For the Australian pagan that stereotype is going to be: the bogan. Bogans love witchcraft, Wicca and paganism and are drawn to it, like moths to a flame. Because of this, you might find you are swamped by bogans at pagan events, a horrifying prospect for an inner city, soy-chai-latte-sipping hipster witch.

Bogans are firmly entrenched in Australian culture and their kin are the 'rednecks' in the U.S. or perhaps 'chavs' in the U.K. They are symptomatic of middle-class white cultural cringe but mostly I think bogan identification is harmless and taken with a good shake of humour. The Things Bogans Like website tells us that "the bogan today defies income, class, race, creed, gender or logic". The negative aspects of the stereotype, such as willful lack of education or general racism (in the form of cultural appropriation) and bigotry, unfortunately does make an appearance in the pagan bogan, or as very artfully coined by Galloway of the excellent blog Galloway & Daracha, the 'pogan'.

b2ap3_thumbnail_poster13.gif

...
Last modified on
2
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for writing this! I'm always fascinated to read about the Australian Pagan subculture.
  • Ethony
    Ethony says #
    Great article. So many specific references. Love to the Pogan
  • Galloway
    Galloway says #
    I can't believe I forgot the "Magic Happens" stickers!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Quest for Connection Down Under

For many witches and pagans, one's practice is deeply connected to the land. It is in this that the oft-used, and sometimes contested moniker of 'earth-based spirituality' originates, and whilst I have a lot more to say about the idea of what 'earth-based' actually means in the context of witchcraft, for many, it has literal interpretations.

The turning of the Wheel and the observations of the Sabbats as framed by contemporary neo-paganism is one that links in movements that are both solar and earthly. Cultures live and die by the weather and the elements, even today in our world of modern conveniences, and this is something that many neo-pagans seek to tap back into, in order to weave meaning into our lives and to join in the dance that strums throughout the All. We gather on the Sabbats to celebrate the changes and to honour the deities who stride the land with us, and we feel and honour a connection that is deep and sacred. The waxing and waning of the planet matches the waxing and waning in both our lives and in the cosmos; in the Beyond, and Between. As the veils shimmer and lift, rise and fall, we dance in our circles and break bread with each other and with our Gods, however we view them to be.

The ubiquitous Wheel, however, takes on quite a different face when you are no longer in the Northern Hemisphere. Travelling Down Under, the Gregorian calendar no longer lines up so neatly if one chooses to continue to work with the land. Unease and disconnect inevitably arises and different pagans seek to take up this challenge in different ways. Horned creatures are not found in the wilderness, our moon crescents are backwards, our sun moves around the other way... we are looking at it all 'upside down' with a vague sense of colonial displacement.

...
Last modified on
3

Additional information