(Essay 1) I Must Call Her Awe/stralia by Leslene della-Madre

Soaked in loving sisterhood, I have recently returned from being on tour in a-mazing Australia. After nearly three years of conjuring with the magnificent women of the School of Shamanic Midwifery in Australia, Melinda Whyman, Jane Harwicke Collings and Susan Stark, I spent this past April there in this sacred land that I must call Awe/stralia! The book/workshop tour invitation was an absolute honor and the tour was beautifully planned and mapped. These women are absolute treasures! My other sister hosts, Glenys Livingstone and Brooke Burton, brought me into their homes as if I had been a relative they hadn’t seen in a while! More women treasures! I was also womb and heart connected with Zohl de Isthar, though we only met over the phone. Zohl is Executive Director at the Kapululangu Aboriginal Women’s Association in Balgo, Western Australia. She cares for the elder Law Women there and is holding the Women’s Law Camp as I am writing this piece. Zohl graciously invited me to come and participate in the Women’s Law Camp, which I so fervently wanted to do, but knew I would need a good rest after my extensive travels and had to turn down her most gracious invitation. I knew I could not do the extensive travel required to get to her and to the beautiful Aboriginal women.  It was another way I felt deeply honored, even though I couldn’t be there in body with those a-mazing women. But they are all in my heart! Oh, the power and grace of women!!

I have had a deep place in my heart for Awe/stralia for a long time — mainly because the Aboriginal indigenous culture is the oldest continuous shamanic culture on the planet. I have always felt a connection to that reality. Now, after having only recently returned in early May, I realize I was sung there by the ancestors. I was dreamed there. My shamanic work has been connected to the ancestral grandmothers of the cosmos and the planet for a long time. I know the grandmothers of the Dreamtime are part of this vast network, which is something I am coming to understand as a cosmological living mythos pulsing in our cells, in our blood, in our very being — a wisdom, of course, that Aboriginal women have always known. The Dreamtime ancestor world is about the forces of nature and the universe — what I call the YoniVerse — including gravity and electromagnetism as the forces of attraction and repulsion and resonates very well with my recent research into electric universe theory. It is a very different sense of ancestors than what I have been used to in terms of family lineage. However, I feel when one really looks into family lineage, we can find ourselves on a journey that expands into the cosmos. I was called to Awe/stralia because I need to learn what these ancestor grandmothers want me to know. Johanna Lambert, editor of Wise Women of the Dreamtime, writes, “Traditional Aboriginal society is founded on the preeminence of the characteristics of the Universal Feminine.”[1] To have an opportunity to be on the land where women have held this truth for over 50,000 years was profoundly sacred for me — a gift beyond measure. As a devotee of the Sacred She for a long time, and one who is also devoted to uncovering her deep wisdom in any and all ways possible, I feel humbled beyond words by being called, sung and dreamed to this sacred land whose magic I will be integrating for a long time. One trip is not enough!

Sacred V at dawn, Sydney
Sacred V at dawn, Sydney

The very first workshop I was invited to offer was for the women of the School of Shamanic Midwifery near Sydney, out in the bush at Jane’s beautiful home and sanctuary. Jane gave me a sweet place to stay in a little bungalow and fully welcomed me into her family! I felt we were long lost sisters! This workshop was Sacred Womb Wisdom: Women’s Shamanic Path of Re-membering. Early in the early morning of the first day of our circle, a large V appeared in the sky directly over the exact spot of our gathering, with the tip of the V pointing directly to the Red Tent, which was our central meeting space — I felt the Mother joyfully painted across the sky in the  pink dawn the sacred pubic V for us to receive a message long hidden from our consciousness, and wanted to help us re-member! Feminist cultural historian Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum writes in dark mother african origins and godmothers, “In the paleolithic epoch, signs of our oldest mother were the color ochre red (signifying blood of childbirth and menstrual blood) and the pubic V painted in african caves.”[2]  For me, the pubic V is a map of creation found in the body of women, from the cellular to the whole body. It was as if the ancestors were saying “make no mistake… this is the spot!” The sacred formation lasted for a long time as dawn’s colors gave way to the brightness of the new day sun. This was the second time I have witnessed this synchronicity in the skies while doing sacred womb work with women. The first time was nearly a year ago at a workshop I gave in Ashland, Oregon — The Biophilic Autonomy of Women. These appearances are deep and profound messages from the cosmos herself.

Twenty of us spent beautiful time in sacred space at Jane’s, re-membering and healing, invoking womb woman magic through song, dance, sacred theater, sharing, shamanic journey, laughter, tears and nurturing food! Our process together was truly transformative for all of us! When I do workshops, I work with a basic structure, but I have learned that I hold a kind of medicine that emerges in the moment. I need to be with the energy of the living collective we form when we come together. To me, this is the experience of the shaman as the circle of women—the original shaman. We co-create together and the Sacred She heals in the presence of the ancestors, all the elements, the cosmos and the hallowed lands.

First circle at School of Shamanic Midwifery, Sydney
First circle at School of Shamanic Midwifery, Sydney

To be continued in part 2.

[1]  K. Langloh Parker, edited by Johanna Lambert, Wise Women of the Dreamtime (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions International, 1993), 3

[2] Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, african origins and godmothers, (Lincoln, NE: Author’s Choice Press, 2003), xxv

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Donna Snyder

What a beautiful group of women, strong and wise.

Jenna Ludwig

This post, the sacred pubic V, the land, and womyn…all awe inspiring!