Artwork: Natura by Patricia Ariel
I always feel that the spirit of a new year truly begins with the New Moon & today we celebrate the birth of the Year of the Sheep. In Chinese Astrology, the Sheep is a symbol of peace. The Sheep brings harmony and tranquility with an emphasis on creativity and the arts. The totem of the Sheep teaches us about community, tribe and sharing.
I have just been writing a lot about the spirit this year in our monthly MoonMedicine Newsletter and thinking about the Sheep and the Goat as so much of my day is spent handling and creating with wool and fleece. I had no idea when I began making medicine dolls that they would become such a big part of my daily art practice and work. But I'm so glad that they did! The benefits are many but the one I am focussing on at the moment is how much the dolls have introduced me to the wild rainbow world of fibre!
The first wool love affair was with colour. Dollmaking has helped me to understand colours in a much deeper and profound way. I began to understand why I love certain colours so much and then I began opening my heart to embrace a broader range of colours especially when I was asked to create a doll in a colour that I wasn't naturally drawn to myself. What I began to notice was that after making that doll I had changed my whole understanding and appreciation of it. I noticed this particularly with the colour brown and now I absolutely love it and am blown away by the huge spectrum of just that one colour. I'm sure being surrounded by all of these giant trees in Sherbrooke Forest had a powerful influence too - I am constantly noticing the many types of brown in even just one tree. I feel I have now opened my heart fully to every colour in the spectrum.
I always had a sense that I was in a kind of 'spirit apprenticeship' with the medicine dolls and that the teachers were ancient doll makers. These Great GrandMothers must have felt happy with my understanding of colour because they recently brought a new love and understanding to me and this new love affair is now with texture and fibre! I began branching out and experimenting with all the different types of wool - this organic fleece is so flexible and malleable as well as extremely soft. I try to use Australian merino as a base always and now I am adding silk, mohair, camel and alpaca. Recently I was contacted by someone who is creating wool for me that also includes buffalo. I am very excited about working more with these beautiful creatures and understanding how each different animal medicine feels in a doll and how she comes to look when she is holding it.
Another benefit that really appeals to me and touches my heart is getting to know the animals personally that share their wool and fibre with me. This is the best way to work with animal medicine - to meet the beautiful beings sharing themselves with us. Below are photos of some of the alpacas that we met at a farm in nearby Wandin, VIC called Santa Fe Alpacas. Did you know that a lot of farms are open to visits? You can organise a group visit with Sante Fe - I'm sure you're children will love meeting alpacas. Buying fleece and fibres directly from growers and artisan crafts people is really important to me and also lots of fun. We have some of alpaca Storm Attack's (great name hey?!) beautiful fleece and met his daughters. The black little baby in the photo is two weeks old. I have never been so close to alpacas before and they are gorgeous - their eyes are huge and dreamy. The alpaca was sacred to the ancient Inca tribes and their fleece became known as the 'fibre of the gods' - so far I've only made 3 dolls with the alpaca fibre and all 3 have an elder grandmother / grandfather energy to them - very wise indeed.
Subscriber Winner of StarSeed OakAcorn!
And lastly we drew a random subscriber as the winner of the StarSeed OakAcorn medicine doll yesterday and NewGridWolf is the winner!
Love to you all for everything you are birthing in this Year of the Sheep. Here's to more harmony, peace and communal art-making! Julia + Tony