I had just returned from Peru where I plunged into shamanic journey-work and initiated into a new way of living.
It was a wildly expansive experience, and my body felt cleansed, brain re-wired, and my soul nourished by dancing with the infinite.
I returned home to Australia to let the lessons sink into my bones. As it knew it would be, the integration was a potent spiral into contraction.
For what expands must contract.
Expansion & Contraction
3 months passed, during which time I came face to face with death: Not physical death, but the energy of destruction, decomposing and dying. It was hard inner work and a deep grounding into the soil of my being.
I had no choice but to surrender to the process. So my life became spacious and I spent days in grief.
To go from the high vibrations and joyful ceremonies of the Andes to the ancient earthiness of Australia is quite an energetic chasm to cross.
Add to the mix a hardcore integration process and you get mush. In the mortar of integration space, my ego got pulverised by the pestle of wisdom I learned in the Andes.
The Enchantment Enhancer
Soon it was time to go see Cosmic Col. He’s a shaman but doesn’t call himself one. “I’m an Enchantment Enhancer”, he says.
Enchantment may be his medicine, but he’s about as no-frills as it gets. Col is a tattooed ex-biker, psychedelic rocker, bush poet, humble gardener, mystic musician and alchemist of the finest medicinal brews in the land.
I love him as a brother and respect him as an Elder. He radiates love in a gruff, down to earth and no-bullshit kind of way.
Col hasn’t trained with shamans of other traditions and there’s something pure about that.
“I take my teachings direct from the plants”, he says.
I remember asking Col if he would ever come to Peru and he replied in typical Col fashion:
“Why the fuck would I burn up all that carbon to fly halfway across the world when I can sit in my lounge with these plants and travel anywhere I want?”
Fair point Col.
I was with 2 brothers and the plan was to see Col for a 4-day sacred mission including 2 ceremonies.
We took a plane, train and bus to get to his healing sanctuary, a cosy house that serves as the altar to a magnificent ayahuasca vine in the back garden. To get in the house you pass an acacia tree and a cactus, standing guard at the door.
The living room is overlooked by a book-shelf, packed with books on magick, art, anthropology, shamanism, alchemy, ancient mysticism, psychedelics and consciousness.
I flick through the book on the coffee table and learn there are people who reckon Australia is where humanity originated. I believe it.
I’ve been having weird dreams and thoughts about ancient Australia and the people who lived here. I get a premonition that I’m about to go deeper into the ancestral lineage of this land.
There are classic guitars placed around the room, all tuned up to emit the highest vibrations a guitar can emit.
Looking down at me are skulls of esteemed Tibetan Lama’s, adorned with gold, encoded with sacred prayers and wisdom, and smuggled out of the path of Chinese oppressors.
And there’s a dog skull in the cabinet: one of Col’s beloved canine friends. This is a room where plenty of enchantment goes down, but also where death and re-birth happens every weekend.
Out the back is a psychedelic garden of Eden, a cornucopia of plants that teach, guide and expand consciousness.
I’m beginning to understand how being the gardener, custodian and guardian of these plants is a sacred duty that is the backbone of Col’s service. I sense that gardening can be a spiritual practice of depths I don’t yet understand.
As he guides us around the garden, Col explains our itinerary:
“Tonight, we’re gonna drink the vine here. Tomorrow we’re going to the farm for our next ceremony. We’re gonna have the medicine right in the Aussie Bermuda triangle, between 3 of the most sacred sites on this land. That should blast us right into the dreamtime.”
Death & Re-Birth
That night we drink the brew. The great vine has journeyed out from the Amazon to join with the Acacia, the original tree of knowledge, to create a next level medicine for these times.
The bonding of Amazonian ayahuasca with Australian acacia feels to me like a re-connection of two continents, an entwining of the anaconda of the Amazon with the rainbow serpent of the indigenous dreamtime.
The experience was ephemeral and spectacular. Amidst the journeying to other dimensions, wound the great spiral of expansion and contraction.
I held space for the struggle, surrender and ego-dying…. and for the naked, divine re-birthing of a friend.
Col was on the guitar channelling sounds that don’t usually come from guitars… sounds that tickle, tenderise and tease the furthest reaches of consciousness.
Spirit pours from the great mystery through his mind, fingers and strings.
It’s a cosmic-acoustic healing experience.
As the ceremony ends, we go sit with the vine in the garden and give our deepest thanks for the deep healing she has allowed.
The next morning, we head to the ocean to give our blessings and then we make our way into the middle of the “Aussie Bermuda triangle”.
Rites of Passage
We’re in the 4×4 snaking our way deeper into Darkinjung country. The knowing dawns on me: I’m being initiated into the ancestral traditions of this land.
All my grounding work since coming back from Peru is given context. By shedding skin, contracting and decomposing I’ve been preparing for the new.
I’ve asked Col if he can take us to an ancient initiation ceremony site he told me about. It’s one of the most sacred sites on the entire continent.
According to the local Elders, this is the first place their Sky Heroes stepped upon after their Starship landed at nearby Mount Yengo.
There are engravings on this rocky platform that apparently share the details of this journey across the milky way.
Ancient lore goes that the ultimate creator being who created everything physical on this planet, climbed on top of Yengo to leap back into the spirit world (which explains its flat top).
Col has initially said this place is off-limits, but he’s checked in with the ancestors and reckons we have the green light to go.
We get to the place and enter in hushed reverence. It’s a rocky escarpment atop one of the sandstone ridges that undulate all the way to the horizon. Our ceremony the previous night has cleared my mind from thought, and I’m enlivened by intuitive knowing.
Boys and men have come here for 15,000 years, since the end of the last ice age to go through rites of passage.
On the western edge, there are rock carvings, deep grooves where stones have been sharpened and natural water-sinks where hot blades have been cooled.
It’s obvious that this is where the initiatory ordeals happened, in full view of Yengo looming large on the western horizon.
I tap into the fear and awe of those who came here to initiate, in front of the portal to their spirit world.
I get shivers up my spine. Just imagining the rituals here sends me into a subliminal state. The rituals may have involved learning of sacred songs, dances, stories, and traditional lore. Circumcision, scarification, and removal of a tooth were often involved.
In the classic book, Aboriginal Men of High Degree, Professor Elkin writes on the purpose of these rituals:
“Understanding of life and man is reserved for the initiated and for those who have successfully passed through several degrees. There are several of these, each of which is marked by its own ritual, name, and portion of esoteric knowledge. At various stage in his progress, after due warning and preparation and when in a condition of heightened suggestibility, the novice is shown sacred symbols of wood or stone, secret ceremonies, and sacred rites; he hears sacred chants and is given some intimation of the significance and wonder of what he has seen and heard…. What is revealed to him is the complex of rites, chants, sacred sites, myths and sanctions of behaviour on which its life and future are believed to depend.”
The function of these rituals are complex- they strengthen in all who are present the realisation of the spirit world and the Dreamtime, and impress upon everyone the sanctity of tribal custom and lore.
They also create a unity of emotion, thought and action that helps maintain social cohesion and harmony with the natural world. In Professor Elkin’s words, they “bring about a highly desirable condition of social well-being and individual certainty and courage.”
As I drop deeper into an altered state and the vibrations of this place, I feel all of this.
I learn that knowledge, wisdom and lore accessible only in very altered states of consciousness was passed down from generation to generation through ceremonies at sites like this.
I feel within me something dormant come alive: a connection to this lineage, this land, this songline and these non-physical dimensions.
The people who lived on this land found a way to live in harmony with nature for thousands of years. The wisdom they passed down from generation to generation through myth, story, ritual, ceremony and song represents a treasure that I believe still exists.
This wisdom is necessary for our times.
As matter and energy
It’s alive in some kind of vibratory code form, stored in dimensions beyond 3D reality, and only accessible through journeying through consciousness to these dimensions.
Before we leave, we come together to meditate, connect with source, and Col thanks the ancestor spirits on our behalf. This place has changed me and my perception of what I am and why I’m here.
We arrive at the farm a couple of hours before dusk. Col’s nature retreat is a simple shack sat on pristine nature in between 3 of the most sacred sites on the East coast of Australia. Col and his partner are the custodians of this magic land and they take on this responsibility with love and respect.
Wedged in a cosy and lush valley flanked by slopes to the east and west, giant ghostly gum trees sway and creak their welcome.
We take our clapsticks carved by a local indigenous Elder and go for a walk up the eastern slope, which contains many caves and inter-dimensional portals.
Col wants us to introduce ourselves to the land and the spirits of this land. So, we climb into a cave, passing by evidence of human habitation.
Col tells us how to use the clapsticks:
“These are an energy transferral mechanism- so my energy is transferring into a vibration and rhythm into a sound form. This sound-form has the potential to travel far…. every leaf, insect, bird and part of nature is touched by that vibration. They’re used to tell anyone not invited to a ceremony to piss off, and at the same time to announce to the ancestor spirits that a ceremony is about to begin and they can come into the space.”
Col leads us into a rhythm and chant, and we all put our heart into it.
When we stop clapping, there is a silence so pure its as though the birds, trees and insects have joined us in ceremony.
We sleep and then wake up to a glorious day, drink Huachuma cactus, a medicine that contains light-codes from the sun, and also micro-dose Iboga an African root and powerful ancestral medicine. For good measure, we also drop some
We head out for a walk. It’s my first time up this steeper western side and I’m excited to see the views of mount Yengo from the top.
I’m amazed Col has managed to beat a track up through the bush, on such a steep and perilous incline. A year ago, he could hardly walk.
A bad motorbike accident years ago had left him with debilitating back, hip and knee injuries.
But then he had his knee and hip replaced. I commented on Col’s agility so soon after major surgery.
“My recovery has been amazing- none of the doctors or physio’s have ever seen anything like it.”
How? I ask.
That’s classic Cosmic Col, lying on the surgery table, having his bones sawed, yanked, pulled out and replaced while he chants healing mantra’s. The image tickles me and reminds me of the limitlessness of our healing potential.
Col continues: “Now my bones are buried under the vine… I was in last nights brew.”😬
We get to the top of the mountain and are treated to a magnificent view of Yengo. The vibe of the place is very similar to the rites of passage site we were at the day before.
There is magic in the air. Goannas roam and bird song flavours the sound-scape.
I feel a sense of permission to bring people and hold vision quests on this land, fasting and sleeping out on this mountain top watching the sun set behind Yengo and connecting in with all the beings and ancestors who live here.
It feels like a calling- a rekindling of an ancient fire, a re-learning of an ancient song. (Email me if you feel to join a vision quest on this land)
Once again Col leads us into the appropriate rituals to pay our respects to Mount Yengo, and all the beings, creatures and ancestors who walked it and shared in common the energy and codes coming from the sun.
All the rituals, ceremony and music for the retreat is improvised in the flow of the moment. I play the flute and then we stand and clap our magical vibration devices.
We then all lay down in the shade, close our eyes and feel the vibrations permeate every cell of our bodies.
As we walk down the mountain, I feel the blessings of the land and know we are supported in our quest.
When we get back to the valley its time for that stage of the medicine journey that can only be done alone. The journey inward.
I meander in joy to where I know trees are waiting for me. I arrive at a clearing, having passed by a row of gum trees that feel like teenagers in the tree scheme of things.
Their mother is at the right-hand entrance of the clearing. She is a powerful and majestic Queen tree, high branches held elegantly aloft as she holds space for the valley.
I walk closer and tune in with her. I’m in the presence of pure femininity, and it’s a visceral experience to be in the field of such creative and nurturing power.
I find myself drawn close to the tree but unable to touch it. She tells me to express myself, to hold the frequency of love and light, to live colourfully and daringly: to sing the most beautiful world into existence.
I thank her and cross the clearing to where the King tree of the clearing stands tall. I drop into the same silent awe I feel in ancient sacred places: a tender feeling of humility in the face of great power.
I sit at the base of this King gum tree and drop into silence and stillness.
Its vast solidness is medicine, igniting within me a remembrance of an archetypal way of wielding power in a conscious way.
The presence of the tree unlocks codes within my consciousness: the King/ leader archetype downloads into my body.
I sense into the true meanings of integrity, impeccability and sovereignty… and see where I have work to do.
I learn about the fine line between domineering control and wise action, and again, see my invitation to grow.
I learn that there is a type of leadership that is the only true leadership.
It can only emerge from a level of “super-consciousness” that transcends all illusions of separation.
You lead on behalf of unified consciousness as a representative and guardian of all life.
You may be the leader of your family, team, business or tribe – but as an Earth Guardian, you are also a leader of the whole collective.
Clever Fella’s on Initiation Country
2 weeks later I’m on different land, deep in the Byron hinterland on Bundjalung country.
John has been the custodian of this sacred land for many years. And what a job he has done – spirit is alive and joyous here. Like Colin, he is a true Elder.
On a physical and energetic level they have both been cleaning, clearing and caring for the land, and pouring their hearts into it.
As true elders and Earth Guardian’s they have continued the path that our ancestors walked for millennia.
The land we are on is known to be that of the Widjabul people, who were part of the Bundjalung nation. Behind us are the rainforests of the Whian Whian hills.
Whian Whian is derived from the Bundjalung word ‘weeung weeung’ meaning clever fella, clever man or men of high degree. These men were the shamanic/ spiritual leaders responsible for upholding the proper respect and rituals to honour land and people.
These men and some woman were described as possessing special powers including telepathy, healing powers and were the holders of great wisdom.
They would have been the leaders who took responsibility for initiations and rites of passage, and for passing on the knowledge of walking trails as well as sacred and significant sites bound by the “Dreaming”.
Both John and Colin are modern-day “clever men” who clearly have been selected to be custodians of sacred initiation country. The land they look after, though a thousand kilometres apart is connected by the songline of sacred initiation into tribe and nature.
The knowing that we are doing deep spiritual work on the same land that those before us did their spiritual work fills me with a sense of connection, joy and inspiration.
Being the Best Ancestor I can be
I feel tender, raw and vulnerable as my dear sister Jemma opens ceremony. Jemma is a Priestess initiated in the Andean traditions, a powerful woman and holder of the most exquisite ceremonial space.
She holds a loving presence like that Queen Tree, and in showing up the way she does is representing an ancient paradigm of powerful feminine leadership that is being re-birthed in our timeline.
The ancestors have been coming to me in dreams with deep blessings for the path I’m on. But I’m feeling sombre, preparing to go into deep processing.
There is work to be done. How I show up today is not yet aligned with how I must show up as an Earth Guardian: there are fears I must face and limits I must break through.
I spend the morning in solitude, navigating the dark shadowlands of my psyche.
Black cockatoos are circling above the entire day of the ceremony, blessing us with their pre-historic calls, inviting us to let go, let go… let go to the timeless place of oneness.
Down by the river I’m visited by an indigenous Elder in a vision who shares wisdom with me.
I learn that after a long, dark night, only now is the consciousness of people on Earth ready to receive the light of the timeless wisdom that we are her- we are the Earth.
“Prepare”, he says… “A full influx of teachings and knowings for humanity is in gestation, soon to be re-birthed on this continent and others.”
“Those who transcend separation ideology and ground into nature as self are doing great service for the flowering of human consciousness.
We are here to lead in the path of the heart, that flows from the Earth. This is a path of claiming sovereignty while surrendering to the great mystery.”
And so, as I reflect on this wisdom and these experiences, I integrate what is coming through in the next turn of the spiral.
My work, I have learned, will be grounded on this continent. It will involve dropping into and honouring the lineage and song-lines of this land.
This ancient land that we call Australia holds the drone note for the planet, as a didgeridoo reverberates that deep bass that anchors us into the earth.
This drone note of grounded root chakra earth connection is the ancient song of this land…. and I feel it now flowing through my heart as the medicine needed for humanity to remember.
My work will be in doing the inner work that allows my sharing of this medicine, wisdom and the wild rites of the Earth. It will require that I connect deeper and deeper into the remembrance that I am the Earth and a guardian of her.
To do this, I’m going to do what it takes to become the best ancestor I can be.
I’ll learn how to listen to and feel the Earth that nourishes me.
I’ll look after the Earth for those who aren’t yet born.
I’ll learn from my Elders.
I’ll nourish my connection with source.
I’ll support those stepping into this path.
In doing so, I’ll honour this ancestral lineage of Earth Guardians.
p.s. I wish to express my gratitude to Colin and John for showing me what it is to be an Elder. I wish to express my deep respect to Jemma for being an honour to her lineage, and to the sacred feminine. Big love to Trent and Francis who joined me on the journey to sacred initiation country.
I bow deeply to all my teachers in human and plant form. I give thanks and respect to the ancestors of the land I walk, to all the indigenous wisdom holders across the world and in particular to the Darkingjung and Bundjalung people and ancestors, who’s sacred sites I felt welcomed in.
Also published on Medium.