Around this time of the year in Australia we begin to feel the earliest stirrings of Spring, I always feel this awakening when I see the fluorescent yellow blooms of the Wattle trees here in the forest. But there is another event that happens in the early days of August that has an equally special significance - on 2nd August is the birthday of my friend and greatest inspiration, Australian artist, Vali Myers. This year Vali would have been 84 years old. It's easy for me to count because we are 40 years apart in age. In the year 2000 when Vali turned 70 and I was 30, she invited me to travel to her home in Italy to attend the festival of Madonna del Arco and this week whilst searching for photos of my ancestors to show my sister, I stumbled upon the photographs I took on that trip with Vali many moons ago. I will write about this journey to Vali's 'Black Madonna' here soon as I feel it's time to get these stories written down before they are forgotten.
I also found the photograph you see above (I have mirrored and edited it). It is a polaroid photo taken in the 70s by Vali herself as she communicates with her familiar, Foxy, a young female vixen who was found orphaned and came to live with Vali in her home in a wild valley in Positano. Foxy became Vali's daughter and the greatest love of her life. This photo was given to me as a gift for taking care of Vali's Melbourne studio in 1999. When Vali returned she asked me to choose anything I wanted as a present and I chose this photograph. She gave me a funny look, there were many expensive prints and drawings I could have chosen. But I wanted this photograph. To me it is a clear vision of the love and deep intuition that passes between us and our familiars. Our animal beloveds. And even more I see it as a moment of meeting our own spirits in the eyes of the creatures who have chosen to spend their days beside us.
I feel Vali around a lot. And I have a sense that she can work more deeply and quickly in the spirit world than she ever could in an earthly form. She definitely gets her messages across to me when she needs to! Recently I was asked to create a medicine doll for a young woman who needed to find the courage to leave a dangerous relationship. The first totem that I saw in the making of the doll was the Butterfly to help set her spirit free.
I thought the doll was finished but I could sense that there was another element that was missing. I wanted to put something into the doll that would remind this sister to always love herself in whatever relationship she was in, to know her own spirit. And that's when I felt a little nudge from Vali and I remembered the Fox Wedding, a painting she was working on while I was with her in her studio. Here it is in the book, Night Flower: The Life and Art of Vali Myers published by Outre Gallery.
I remembered this painting and the Fox Wedding as I held the doll up to the sunlight to be photographed. As I held her up it began to rain - a sunshower! Vali had told me that when we see a sunshower, a Fox Wedding is taking place. This is from an ancient Japanese legend called 'Kitsune no Yomeiri', (the fox's wedding), a marriage between foxes who sometimes take human form and is seen by humans as a sunshower. In that moment, I knew that the doll should wear Fox medicine to not only help her to leave this relationship but to help her to marry her own spirit, a fox wedding to herself.
This was Vali's biggest gift to me. I got to spend time with someone who knew her spirit so well and romanced it every day. How can you romance your own spirit today? What do you love to do and how can you do it more? This is how we create beautiful and inspired relationships with others - by first creating them with ourselves. Today we are feeling the first stirrings of Spring deep within the Earth. Even if we cannot see much change above ground at the moment there's a lot happening just below the surface - so much birth and possibility!
So I blow a kiss to the stars to Vali Myers and the day she was born on the Earth. I hope she inspires you to find new ways to enchant your life, celebrate what is wild and natural in yourself and to remember that love comes in all forms and it may even have fur! xx