– I journey for myself to heal the pain in my back:

I listen to the sound of the clap sticks, I light up my chakras using the colours gold, purple, bright blue and green. When I get to the green heart chakra there is a floor of green earth beneath it. I continue with yellow, orange and red. I create the tree within me, the roots come out like wind swept tea tree roots, they hang onto the rocks tightly. I reach my branches high into the sky and grow tree, upon tree, upon tree so I can reach higher. I peel back the bark and step out of the tree with the black panther Solange. I run my hand down his back and up his tail.

We walk along a path of stones, large patchy stones deep in the earth poking up like stepping stones. The landscape is rugged coast with small scrabbling bushes. We are in the Tarkine. I reach the stick archway. It’s brittle and thin, I touch the sticks, they are shrunken and dry. I step through the archway with Solange, with the cool earth beneath my feet. I wear a dress of tattered lace. The string that laces up the back is so tight that it’s restricting my breathing and causing my ribs to ache. Through the portal of the archway there is a grassy clearing with rocks around the sea edge. We’re not in the forest today.

I can see some friends around me Sami, Michelle and Abby with her clap sticks making a beat for me. I turn around further and I see an old friend. He has the shaft of an arrow in his hand. The head is broken off. He is coming over to me holding the shaft. He tells me it was an accident. He is worried because the arrow head has broken off in my back. He also has long ropes of kelp and a fishing boat with cray pots on the back. He shows me that the arrow that is buried in my back is replicated as one also buried in the ocean floor. He is going out to sea in the fishing boat to use the kelp ropes and cray pots to pull out that spear, it’s in the bottom of the ocean. Solange and I wait in the clearing, my old friend goes out in his fishing boat with the white wolf and the kelp. I tell him he will need more help than that. He waves his arm across the ocean shore and says “I have all the help.”  The seals, cray fish, sea gulls, all of the life of the ocean is there to help. I see the face of the ocean goddess. She has eye brows like a penguin pointing upwards. She has eyes like a fish, she is dressed in kelp, her face shimmers like sand and salt. Her lips are crusted in salt. She stands up out of the ocean and wears the waves and the water as her cloak. She stands up high above the sea. The storm clouds are on her shoulders. She has little earrings that are golden cray fish. I can see the whole ocean in her eyes and she repeats. “He has all the help he needs.” The birds are squalling, the ocean is almosted drained as she stands up high. She is standing up higher and higher until she is reaching through the clouds. She is peeling back her layers of cloak and skirt to expose the bare ocean floor.

The fishing boat sits low on the ocean floor, on the kelp forest which is laying out like grass. My old friend takes the white wolf and cray pots with kelp ropes tied to them and he starts to walk among the abalone and kelp forest and rocks. The wolf follows him as he looks for the spear head. He is walking amongst the rocks and barnacles, over the different terrain. The sea goddess shows him where to find the spear head. It’s not actually a spear head, it’s a harpoon tip. There is a whale carcass laying on the floor of the ocean and the kelp like a rope ties to the end of a harpoon.

My old friend tells me, he is split in two because his ancestors were the ones who protected the land and the ones who destroyed the land. I can see him split into two. His native self, the aboriginal that protected the land and the sea and the coloniser who came to take from the land and the sea. He returns into one. He pulls on the kelp, leading himself toward the harpoon tip which is buried in the base of the ocean between the ribs of a whale carcass. He pulls the kelp until it breaks, cracking like a whip into his face. It scars him on the cheek. The wolf comes over to the harpoon and starts to dig around where the metal is embedded in the ocean floor. He is digging all of the sides to make it deeper. My old friend is pulling up the harpoon tip. Until he unbeds it. When he unbeds the harpoon the spirit of the whale swims away into the ethos. Now that the harpoon has been released from the ocean floor and the whale has found freedom. The sea goddess releases her cloaks and skirts and the sea falls back down around the sea bed and raises up the kelp. In a raging storm the sea is unleashed again into its wild form.

My old friend runs with the white wolf back to the boat and they hang on as the boat is raised back up to sea level amongst the white wash and the waves crashing everywhere. The sea goddess says to my old friend “In you, are the ancestors that created great harm, but in you are ancestors that protected and loved the earth. In you there is duality. You can decide to continue to create great chaos or you can decide to become a great healer for the earth. Otherwise you will continue to be split in two.” Then the ocean becomes calm, the ocean goddess goes deep back into herself into her layers of watery depth and the sun rises up. The  smooth surface of the ocean is like silk spread out far to the horizon. My old friend brings his boat back into shore up to the rocky cliffs and walks back up to me. He gives me the arrow head harpoon tip and he says that he is so sorry. He is so sorry for wounding me. And for wounding the earth. He takes the kelp rope and a mortar and pestle, he breaks it down into a pulp, creating a salve. Now that the arrow head has been removed from the ocean he takes the arrow head from my back from between my ribs and he puts the kelp salve on like a poultice. He bandages around my ribs with the strips of kelp. It makes a cool compact and a salty healing bandage. He says, “I’ll never wound you again and I’ll never wound the sea. I’m going to protect her.” Then he splits in two. The aboriginal and the coloniser. The coloniser is covered in blood. The aboriginal takes the arrow tip that has come out of my back and screws it onto a new shaft of a spear. He takes that spear and stabs it through the heart of the coloniser. The coloniser splits apart into a thousand seagulls and flies away over the sea. And now they are part of the sea and the ocean that will be cared for by the aboriginal ancestor. The aboriginal ancestor takes my hands in a curled grip. He says “We are the Wiradjuri tribe,” and splits apart into his ancestors back through thousands of generations. They unfold down the line and then they fold back into him. Then he is himself again. He says “I promise you.” Then he whistles the wolf and they go off in the boat away to the horizon, into the sunlight.

I stand tall stretching my ribs and feeling the kelp wrapped around my core. Around the top of my rib cage, around and around all of my ribs down to my hips, down the cord to the bottom of the ocean anchored onto rock, the rock goes deep inside the earth. Like an umbilical cord, the kelp stretches when I walk, so I am connected but not bound, I can walk all the way home from here, so I turn around with Solange, I thank Abby, Sami and  Michelle for coming here with me and I walk under the archway. I touch the sticks as I leave, the sticks become alive and rooted into the earth, I walk down the steps and back out, the grass grows green under my feet. I walk down the grassy green path and into a salty rock pool, I let the water flow over my body, washing away any excess energy and my hair flows up free, I sink down until I touch the bottom and then I return.

Notes: After returning home I visit my old friend and he tells me he has taken the promotion as head wild life officer and he saved more seagulls than he has ever seen on his first day.

Another friend tells me the first time he visited the Tarkine was to to hold ceremony through song to free the whale spirits that were trapped.