Visionary Art

Irina the Wolf Queen re-wilding in Sherbrooke Forest

Irina the Wolf Queen


There are parts of Sherbrooke Forest that have been wild and then owned and settled and then wild again.  In one part of the forest, an old residence is like a ghost in the garden, all that's left of any kind of human dwelling are pathways, drystone walls and mysterious manmade pools or ponds. It is a strange place because you feel the land's history and the present all at once and even though we are allowed to enter, I still often whisper and walk very quietly in this land. All I know is that many, many years ago this garden ceased being private land and was given back to Sherbrooke Forest and the trees, the vines and the ferns have made quick work of welcoming it back to the wild.

Melbourne author, Leah Swann is not only a writer I respect and admire, she is one of my dearest and oldest friends. We met over 20 years ago when we shared a house in Scotland with, let's say, a very curious collection of people. At that time it was rare to meet another Australian living in Glasgow. A  huge amount of our early conversations involved our fascination with sacred sites and ancestral mythology and nothing has really changed! As a writer, Leah is interested in creating ways to re-wild the spirit of women and men and at the heart of her trilogy for children and young adults, Irina the Wolf Queen, is a young female heroine who lives in a wild, intuitive and magical world inspired by the archetypal wisdom of fairytales.

As soon as I read Irina the Wolf Queen I saw it instantly as a film. Recently Leah had the opportunity to create a trailer, a visual welcoming into the imagined world of Ragnor where Irina and her wolves reside and she could think of no better place than Sherbrooke Forest. The young woman you see as Irina in the trailer and doing the amazing voice over is Leah's own daughter, Brigita - the inspiration for the character of Irina. I love this! I see this as active dreaming - to be literally creating the dream world of Irina in our present time. How amazing would it have been for our own mothers to have written a tale of magic and courage and then to have placed us as young women in the main role? And so Brigita is now walking and speaking in the dream of her mother and so this dreaming now belongs to both mother and daughter and the energy created is huge because underlying it all is a such a clear intention and collective dream for the sisterhood - to become the magical heroines of our own lives and to create our own mythology.



It was a such a magical experience to watch the filming of this dream in Sherbrooke Forest. As usual, I am always tuning into the animals to learn more about what's going on and I spent a lot of time watching the beautiful Apollo, Irina's 'white wolf'. To say that his owner was worried about Apollo would be an understatement. Apollo is very powerful and strong, loves to chase birds and is extremely hard to catch. But like most intelligent beings, he is highly intuitive and sensitive to his environment and when he stepped into the filming and felt the focus and intention of everyone involved, he became at ease and serene. Apollo was so calmed by the conscious focus of the dreamers that he actually fell asleep in the middle of that busy forest at Brigita's feet.  I've seen this happen with our own dogs when they work with us. Even in stressful environments, the energy of creating with intention is powerfully calming. Perhaps this is a message for those of us who also feel sensitive in chaotic environments - keep your focus on the dream and what you are creating.

I believe there is a great need for stories like Irina for young women and men, if not only to create a balance with the strange message being broadcast through mainstream media to children but perhaps to even burst that bubble of pressure and illusion completely. Here's to the spirit of the wild wolf, to Irina the Wolf Queen and to the writers like Leah Swann who are creating dreams for us all to feel closer to magic and nature.

Sherbrooke Forest is a beautiful between place - between the tame and the wild. The last time Tony and I visited the garden where the filming took place we found deer tracks on the path. As we turned down a different pathway we heard the stag just ahead of us, we heard him snort and turn and disappear back into the trees.

Purchase the Irina trilogy



StagWoman Medicine Doll Drawn by Alice Savage

StagWoman Sacred Familiar doll drawn by Alice Savage This week I received the finished drawing of our StagWoman medicine doll by Italian artist, Alice Savage. And of course she came at a time when I really needed it. She is magnificent and this photo doesn't do her full justice - she is drawn with diamond ink and shimmers in the light. The StagWoman was a personal medicine doll that I created for myself last year when I first moved to the forest and now she lives with Alice and is working her magic across the oceans. I feel this doll helped me to grow stronger and more resilient in the forest - I wonder what she is sharing now?

I'm so happy to be involved in this collaboration with Alice!

Forever Friends Animal Rescue Art Auction

Art by Nadia Turner Medicine Doll by Sacred Familiar for Forever Friends Pet Rescue

Hello Melbourne friends and animal lovers, the Forever Friends Animal Rescue Art Auction is this thursday, 9th October and there are some amazing pieces up for auction by Melbourne artists including original artwork from our friend Nadia Turner (see above and below). We have donated the ForestGuardian medicine doll. All proceeds from the auction will go to funding Forever Friends' ongoing rescue and rehoming work for homeless animals.

Forever Friends do such amazing work - happy bidding for the beautiful animals!

Forever Friends Animal Rescue Art Auction

Thurs, 9th October  6-9pm

1000 Bend - 361 Lt Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC

Alchemy of Coexistence by Patricia Ariel

Alchemy of Coexistence by Patricia Ariel "Alchemy of Coexistence"
Graphite, charcoal, acrylic, pastel, on Fabriano watercolor paper, mounted on panel
16 x 20 in  2014
© Patricia Ariel

Aaaaah Patrica Ariel! Sometimes it feels like she is painting directly from my dreams. Alchemy of Coexistence is one of Patricia's latest paintings created for the Hidden Kingdoms exhibition that also featured another dear friend, Alice Savage. I love so many of Patricia's paintings but something about this new work is so enchanting to me. In fact, whenever I see this painting I have to stop. I have to take it in all over again. And then it does a strange symbiotic balance within me as I sit in front of it. The balance of the antlers and the datura flowers and the sweetest expression in the women's closed eyes and soft mouths... it's such a mystery isn't it?

Next month I will talk with Patricia for a new series of interviews about artisans who consciously create with the sacred and with intention. Another reason I'm so in awe of Patricia's artistry is that not only does she have an incredible ability to paint what she sees in her visions she also has the gift of weaving with words and when she writes about her work and inspiration she does it in such a fascinating way that she doesn't 'solve' the riddle of her creations but helps you to navigate and journey deeper into their dreaming - or the rabbit-hole! I think Alchemy of Coexistence is a perfect entrance into this mystery.

"My "hidden kingdoms" are inhabited by characters that take the shape of an archetypal and spiritual analysis of my own personal experiences, and how their understanding can reflect on the outer world. At the time I started the piece I was somewhat immersed in reflections about my own duality, and thinking about how the experiences that take me to darker and more silent places end up nourishing my so called “positive” side, creating almost a third entity. This “inner alchemy” I experience so vividly constantly reminds me of the Jungian concept of shadow integration: two polarities – conscious/unconscious, light and shadow, day and night, masculine and feminine – coexisting in perfect cooperation. I decided to explore it revisiting the image of the “twins”, each wearing a different headpiece that are not simply placed upon their heads, but that are almost part of their own bodies. The headpieces, shaped on the form of deer heads, an animal that symbolizes gentleness and regeneration, are clearly representing the dichotomy life/death, that here are not literal symbols, but archetypes of “darkness” and “light” - unconscious and conscious. The figures are surrounded by datura flowers, seen as a sacred plant by Native Americans as having the power to make the living to communicate with the spirits of the dead, which I found a perfect metaphor to the concept, as well as a good representation of the “flourishing” of the consciousness due to this integration."

Patricia Ariel



Patricia Ariel

Vali Myers, Fox Weddings & Stirrings of Spring

Vali Myers and Foxy - Sacred Famliar 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.



Fox Wedding medicine doll - Sacred Familiar

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.


Fox Wedding by Vali Myers - Sacred Familiar

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


Vali Myers and Foxy

Buffy Sainte-Marie : FireKeeper

fallenangels Artwork: Fallen Angels by Buffy Sainte-Marie

This morning I was thinking about firekeepers - the keepers of the flame that inspire us with their passion, their artistry and basically their whole being. These kinds of people help to pull us up with them with their art when we are feeling tired, overwhelmed and even wanting to give up. I'd like to make a dedication to a firekeeper each week. Someone who has inspired me and I hope will inspire you when you feel in need of some extra focus and HEAT!

Buffy Sainte-Marie is the for me the ultimate firekeeper. She is a musician, artist, activist, teacher and proud Cree woman. I love that she is so hard to pigeonhole. She is herself in everything she does. She came up in conversation with someone else who is a more close to home firekeeper, my best friend and death doula, Bec Rainbowalker. Bec and I have that kinship that is more like a sister. We are each other's 'check-in' - a barometer of what's going on in our day, whether that be good or bad. It was Bec who reminded me of Buffy's song Starwalker this week and today Bec is needing to be strong for her daughter who is sick. So firstly, I'd like to dedicate this firekeeper to Bec to help her to trust and be strong today and also to share this fire with you all.

A couple of years ago Buffy toured Australia and I got to see her play live for the first time. She was 70 years old and looked like someone half her age and that is no exaggeration.  A couple of times in mid-song, I saw her spirit shapeshift into a young girl as she danced. She was playing with her band, all Native American and when they sang and chanted together I really understood that expression 'lifting the roof'. My heart opened and the energy inside it was FIRE. I got to meet her after the show and it was an honour just to have the gift to be able to thank her for all that she has given to me over the years. When Buffy speaks and sings, she teaches. But she doesn't beat you up with her message, she is wise and creative and instead puts the truth to you so plainly and cleanly that you can't deny it and then she opens up the circle and asks you to join in the move for change. Here is a brilliant example of her doing this in her introduction before singing Starwalker in concert in the same year that I saw her.

I love that wherever Buffy appears, she uses that moment to get across a real message and to break down barriers. She has never shied away from speaking about corporate greed, indigenous culture and the futility of war. Her song, Universal Soldier, was written at the time of  the Vietnam War but could be written for us right now. Most people my age, in their forties, probably remember Buffy from Sesame Street. Sesame Street was such a great show with a great message of community and it had brilliant music! Did you know that she was the first woman to ever breastfeed on television? And can you  believe we still afraid of showing this today?

While writing about Buffy this morning I found this amazing interview about creativity from Australian television in 1972.! Another new Buffy spark. Sending some fire to you all today friends to encourage you to be creative, reach out to your friends and dance! I hope this sends you on your own fire-lit path of discovery of Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Patricia Ariel - 78 Tarot


If you've seen our posters and flyers, most of them feature the artwork of our dear sister, Patricia Ariel. Patty and I became friends many years ago and I can't even remember how or why but I have a feeling that the tarot may have had something to do with it. I would say it is because the tarot is so intrinsic to both our paths that we were already speaking a similar language. And so it is wonderful news to hear that Patricia has been asked to contribute to a new deck called 78 Tarot - not just because she is such a talented and visionary artist but because she is a tarot medicine woman.

Many of us have been students of the tarot for years and years and guess what? We will always remain a student of tarot. It is a mesmerising and never-ending mystery - thank goodness. We can never know it all. I love that tarot keeps us all on an even playing field and yet hands us keys and secrets that are always so personal and true. I have recently been called back again to teach tarot after almost 2 years break but in this time I have always kept reading for myself everyday. I have found that when I have a break from reading for others it is usually to learn more about myself and then to apply this again. Perhaps it's a time for another veil to fall reveal the next veil and yet another.

I can't wait to see how Patricia and the rest of the artists of 78 Tarot interpret this beautiful and magical craft. Here is a little of Patricia's interview about drawing from the tarot. You can read the full interview and learn more about this new deck at

I am fairly familiar with the tarot, although I am always learning something new. The tarot is an essential part of my spiritual path and a connection to other symbolic languages and traditions which I also learn from. It concentrates knowledge in many different levels, and being also an “art”, in the sense that its interpretation will depend on the view of a particular reader, it has a very intimate connection with the realm of symbols that generates art as creation. My art in itself is full of “bits” of the tarot symbolism so drawing an actual tarot card feels just natural.
The Eight of Cups speaks of one of the recurrent themes in my artwork, which is transformation and renewal. It is about leaving a situation you’ve been emotionally tied and accommodated to for a long time, but that has represented only stagnation. And then you finally recognize that situation as being harmful to your evolution and decides to do something to change that. Personally I don’t have a lot of difficulty getting rid of situations of discomfort, even if they are tied to other kinds of gain, so by working on this card I hope to understand better what this struggle represents. Read more

Tarot of a WaterWitch - Tarot Workshop in the Forest at New Moon on Friday 30th May. (details) The focus in this tarot workshop will be on recognising the Seer in our own Ancestral Medicine. Breaking through old beliefs and negative thinking to create new pathways of change for ourselves and our loved ones. We are the new Keepers of the Tarot - sharing the keys with love and compassion.

Swan Blessing Past Life Story - Unbinding Plant Wisdom

Offering from the Amazon Shuar Series by Susan Thompson

Today I share again with you the moving Swan Blessing experienced by our dear sister, Nicole Ahava, doll enchantress and plant medicine woman. These are not titles that Nicole gives herself but this is what I see and feel around her so strongly. I will always be grateful to Nicole for awakening my own ancestral memory of shamanic doll-making and plant medicine. It is a path that once re-awakened, is hard to ignore!

We both knew that there was a memory with Nicole of still needing to hide and work in secret. This is something that many of us feel now and it can be very hard to reconcile with only the rational mind. I hope Nicole's story helps all of those feeling this fear to come out of the darkness and share your wise medicine with us again.

I am walking barefoot through a familiar forest. I come upon the well. I look into the deep pool and see her. She is a tribal woman, with long dark hair and dark eyes. She takes my hand and we cross the threshold, I am there. It is dark, the land is barren.  She dances around a fire. I see so much pain inside her. This is a dance of mourning. Her face is full of sorrow as she stomps and writhers around the fire. 

She shows me her journey. I see her wondering naked on the bare earth. She is a very small child. There has been a great upheaval and her family has left her behind. She is found by a wise old woman who takes her in, raising her and teaching her wisdom. They walk the earth together. This is where she learns her medicine. Later she is a grown woman she takes me to her village. We are in front of her mud hut with her six children. They are so beautiful. They have very little but there is so much love. She shows me her work with plants making medicine.    

There has been great famine, all the people in her village have been driven away from their lands. They now live on barren land, fighting starvation and illness. Her husband has gone to a far away land to work.  The women from the village cover their heads as they go to her for medicine and scurry away quickly with her brew hidden in their robes back to their huts. She is living in fear and isolation. She shows me how they come, soldiers, tearing her children out of her arms. They are taking them away, she pleads with them desperately, she vows never to use her medicine again, but they take them all away.   

Finally I see her lying on the bare earth, she is old and lonely, overwhelmed with grief. She lets her body go and is instantly free.
I am back in the forest at the water’s edge we are facing each other. I honour her. I understand why she made that vow. She smiles at me. She knows why we are here. It is time to let it go. We hold each other with deep love and she transforms into light she is surrounded and embraced by her family, her children, her husband, the wise old lady and her mother they are all free. 

I am standing before the daughter of the well bound heavily. Together we cut the bindings and instantly I feel myself expand, I am free. She takes me into her sacred well, all the daughters are there. I am floating in the sacred well. The daughters are washing away all that burdens my soul. I am cleansed, pure, light and free. 

The first time I got an email from Sacred Familiar about the swan blessing I knew it was something that I just had to do. I put it aside for a while but the swan medicine continued to call me. It is a very sacred and profound blessing. In this life I was born a healer. As a child I would give healing to sick animals, I would lay in my bed at night and send healing to people. I was cut off from my medicine after receiving one of my vaccinations and very quickly it was forgotten. Years later when I began to explore my own healing I became a Reiki master and it all came back to me, but I would find that every time I shared my medicine the energy would get stuck with me or my children would get sick. I could not share my medicine because I was afraid that it would harm my children. 

The swan medicine really is very gentle as she continues to unfold and expand in my life. There have been many changes I have been able to share freely without fear, I feel as though a channel has been cleared from which I am free to connect and receive more clearly and my medicine is changing, becoming more potent. Julia really is a divine magical being.  I extend my deepest gratitude for these beautiful blessings to you Julia beautiful sister. Thank you. 

Nicole 2013

Thank you precious sister for your healing story. I believe it is a beautiful gift and medicine that Nicole holds in her gentle soul. Nicole will be holding her Spirit Doll Workshop at Seven Sisters Festival next month. When she came for her Swan Blessing I saw that Nicole is a powerful healer and one of her strongest gifts is working with Plant Medicine to create Medicine Dolls for sick children - beautiful comforting dolls for them to take into hospital when they are feeling afraid and to become dear friends to them in the long weeks of recovery at home. For those who wish to look into purchasing one of Nicole's healing dolls or receive a distant healing session from Dream Empire, you can find her here and on Etsy.