A handblown glass vessel to catch tears. RavenKeeper of Secrets travels with her mama, a healer working with women & children in shelters and halfway houses. She is doll for them to tell their stories to when they are not ready or able to speak to anyone else.
In May this year I travelled to the Redwoods in California to share medicine dollmaking at Spirit Weavers Gathering. It was a beautiful experience to sit with sisters so far from my home in Australia and humbling too when I heard their stories about the deep and passionate work they are committed to doing. I especially loved catching up with sisters that previously I'd only spoken to online. Once of these women was Heidi Lafinier who I knew as Pura Vida Living and I was so happy when she sat beside me in one of our medicine doll circles. As we began Heidi mentioned that she had noticed how many of my dolls had braided hair and I told her it wasn't conscious it just felt right. She told me that in her Native American Cree tradition, braiding your hair was a way to preserve energy for yourself. To keep it strong and pure. She said just putting a small braid in your hair can help you from being affected by the energy of others - keeping your spirit close so you can work with other people who may be in pain and trauma and not have their energy affect you so much. I was very grateful to learn this and it really seemed to speak to the similar medicine of wool as an insulator, incubator, a holder of energy. Wool also is one of the few fibres that does not easily take in water - just like our hair.
After I returned to Australia I made the Fire elemental medicine doll you see above and Heidi felt called to be her keeper. This doll told Heidi her name was Bold and she began to go everywhere with Heidi in her work with women and children in shelters and halfway houses. As a healer and grandmother herself, Heidi's passion is working with the Crone. Soon I received another request from Heidi for a new doll, a special doll and when I asked why, this is the story that Heidi shared with us to call in the spirit of RavenKeeper of Secrets:
"I have volunteered at the battered women's shelter and a halfway house for women just released from prison to perform Reiki. I always take Bold and keep her with me, but on one occasion at the women's shelter a red haired little girl asked if she could hold Bold while I gave her mom Reiki, I saw no harm in this. As her mom and I walked back into the room we overheard this: "And that's really how my arm was broken, thanks Bold I will tell the Police the truth now. I love you too!" She gave me Bold and we went home.
Bold didn't talk to me on the way home or at work the next day but I was busy and let it go, but after work we were off to the halfway house. These women are very hard or hardened. I offered Reiki to one woman and another asked about the doll I kind of explained her and tried to hurry on, every red flag in my body said keep moving, she was someone I'd been warned about (hard, mean, hateful, violent etc.). But she said "I would like to talk to that doll while you do hanky panky to her" and she pointed to the other women. I really did not want to give Bold to her, but Bold still wasn't really talking to me, so I handed Bold to her and I finished Reiki and rushed out to get Bold and it was like a different lady handed me back my doll. And these are her exact words: "That is some doll, first person who ever believed me, and I have been telling the truth for 35 years" and she turned around and walked away. I stood there like an idiot. On the way home Bold still didn't talk but that night I decided I should sage and cleanse her, but she spoke loudly then and said maybe you should meditate with me first! Then she didn't betray any confidences but she let me see that she was not made to be a 'Keeper of Secrets' she was there for me and she would always help me, but it was hard on her to take the pain of those she did not know, pain that was so indescribable she could not share with me. Because she was my keeper. So I helped cleanse her and we are whole again.
So I now Know, I need a medicine doll whose sole purpose is to be strong as steel, who can be the 'KEEPER OF SECRETS'. This is something I believe I will come in contact with many times as I begin working with the Crones. There are two very wise spirit animals that are considered Keepers of the Secrets. One is the Lynx and one is the Raven. The Owl is also related to secrets or the darkness of things. None of these are bad as Creator only created good things for us."
I felt such strong emotions reading Heidi's story and request. It's stories like these that remind me of the power of the doll. How many times have we seen children talking with focus and emotion with their dolls? It is no wonder that many therapists and counsellors work with dolls when healing trauma. I felt a big responsibility to make her such a powerful vessel to hold all of these shadow stories but more than anything else I felt excited and very focussed.
The first question I asked the doll was who walked with her and it was clear - it was Raven. I began to lay out the silky black feathers. I thought about the doll's body and how strong she had to be - an anchor. I prepared a medicine bundle filled it with mugwort, fern roots, hawthorn flowers and peridot crystals from the Australian desert. I placed a drop of water gathered from the natural spring at the Equinox in the centre of the bundle. Everything about RavenKeeper of Secrets asked for the best. A medicine doll that was being requested so selflessly and who would be in service to so many received the finest fibres of angora, cashmere, merino and silk. Her hair is woven with Camel fibres and dyed with walnuts.
And then I remembered a beautiful glass bottle from my own personal medicine bag that held the sacred waters from the Chalice Well at Glastonbury. To these waters I added an oil blend gifted to me by a wise crone here in Australia for protection and healing and saw that this was a vessel to catch the tears as the stories were shared with the doll. And that she would hold the story for them until they felt strong enough to share it with someone who could be trusted.
And finally I decorated RavenKeeper's heart with silk rays of blue light around a labradorite that I only realised much later was in the shape of a tear that looked like it was falling into the glass bottle. This stone was also one of the finest in my possession and had been gifted to me.
In 6 months time I will journey again across the ocean to gather with my sisters under the redwood trees at Spirit Weavers Gathering. I look forward to hugging Heidi again and thanking her for honouring me with the opportunity to weave such a sacred doll. I look forward to holding RavenKeeper of Secrets again too and feeling how huge her heart has grown holding all those stories.