ancestral dreaming

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

Into the ForestWild - Medicine Doll for the Magdalenes

Wildgirl Shadow healer medicine doll by Sacred Familiar Sometimes people ask me what to do with their medicine dolls once they receive them and that's a hard question to answer because the relationship you have with your own doll is so personal and really the way of working with your doll is limited only by your imagination. So today I thought I would share a story of a particular doll that I call WildGirl and how she helped me to let go of fear.

Over my time of making dolls I have made a few for my own personal use. It only happens rarely and I'm often surprised when they make themselves known. I created WildGirl at a dollmaking workshop that I held at Winter Solstice last year in the forest. When I teach I begin a doll to show the early steps to creating her head and her body, really very basic. I then leave everyone to weave their dolls in their own way. WildGirl was this 'example' doll. When I got home I was unhappy with WildGirl because she just didn't seem to be looking 'right'. Right? She didn't look the way I wanted her to look and strangely she rarely wanted to be seen. I kept her in a basket with my dolls that I was making for others and forgot about her.

One of my oldest childhood friends, Chris, came to visit and he looked at my dolls and noticed WildGirl and asked who's this? He was fascinated. I told him that I didn't know what to do with her. She just didn't seem to work somehow. As I held her in my hands and turned her around Chris said stop! She had her back to us and he said that's how she wants to be seen from behind. And he was right. She was much happier not showing her face, she was wild and didn't like to be looked at. That helped me to connect and feel more understanding of her spirit and I kept her with my personal dolls and didn't think too much about it.

Wildgirl Shadow healer medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

medicine doll by sacred familiar

A couple of months later I was preparing to hold a ceremony at the site of the Magdalene Laundries at the Abbotsford Convent here in Melbourne and I was feeling a lot of deep emotions not only about the spirits of the women and children who had been held there but also about my own ability to be able to help them with our ceremony. The Magdalene Laundries were terrible places set up to house and incarcerate young women and girls who were deemed to be too wild, who were orphans, or sometimes simply unwanted. They were termed 'fallen girls' and I had been feeling the stories and spirits of these women for years. I knew that if I had lived in those times, I could have easily ended up in one of these places. In fact, many of us would have been doomed to the same plight simply by having a strong spirit, different spiritual views or simply for being regarded as a 'temptation'. Hard to believe, isn't it? And so last year I realised that I couldn't ignore these voices any longer and in a small way, I wished to gather with lots of other sisters to somehow let the women know that they had never done anything wrong, that they were loved and that there was a home for them in the spirit world.

I booked The Linen Room in the Convent for the first day of Spring for this ceremony and as the day approached I felt more and more fear - was I actually allowed to do this? Could I hold this kind of energy and process of grieving that would come? It shows just how deep the control of authority has been experienced in this lifetime and the past doesn't it, that deep unconscious fear of being stopped or even arrested for speaking out and organising our own way of healing history? Six weeks before the ceremony I decided that I didn't want to be controlled by my fear and that to hold this space for the other women I needed to be as strong as I could. I thought about how I had felt afraid of the forest when I'd moved here three months before. When I arrived in the forest I would look at the enormous Mountain Ash trees whose branches alone could crush a house and at night I would listen to the noises of the forest at my bedroom window and I felt embarrassed but I was afraid - could the forest kill me? I'm glad to say that I soon realised that this was a programmed fear after living in the city for too long and not my own. And within months of moving to the forest I came to realise that Mother Nature is all I needed! I now know the Mountain Ash trees to be forest guardians and protectors. Learning this helped me to create a medicine doll ritual to deal with my fear of authority.

I chose WildGirl to be this doll to help me face my fears of the unknown and to speak out for women who had not been allowed to speak in their own lifetimes. When the women and children entered the Magdalene Laundries that were even stripped of their own names. I took WildGirl to a part of the forest that was most sacred and magical to me. It is by Sassafrass Creek and I call it the faerie dell. It is filled with a strange light that is often very hard to photograph. Here I took photos of WildGirl and you can see that her face was very hard to capture. I took her to an old tree that had naturally fallen years ago and in it's exposed roots, I buried the medicine doll deep inside. I prayed to the spirit of the tree and to the forest to take care of WildGirl and me. I asked to be taught how to be more wild in my life and particularly to have strength and trust speaking out. I was asking the trees to heal me through the doll.

Shadow medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

I visited WildGirl often over the next 6 weeks and every time I saw her she would look more and more feral! She began to gather sticks and mud and leaves and each time I took her out of the tree she looked happier and more and more beautiful. On the morning of the ceremony I went into the forest with a dear sister, Talulah, a Shamanic Midwife of Making Sacred, Talulah, who had travelled from Sydney to support me and our ceremony and I took WildGirl out of her tree home for the last time. At the base of the tree I found a Rosella feather, a bird I see as a messenger for friendship, and when I looked at the doll she now had 2 black eyes made from mud. She looked straight at me -  she was happy to not only see but to be seen!

WildGirl joined us in our ceremony at site of the Magdalene Laundries, she carried with her the ancestral memory of the forest and the wild and natural land that still lay beneath the buildings and had been there forever. And that is what our ceremony for the Magdalenes became - a remembering or re-embering as my  my sister Kaggi Valentine of 13 Moons Blood Mysteries, calls it. Kaggi sang with wild fire her own chant for the Magdelenes in the actual laundry itself that day leading us to sing and dance for those that couldn't in the place that had been their prison. We remembered the Aboriginal girls who had also been in the laundries and the tribes that had known this sacred land beside the Yarra River for thousands of years before these modern laws and judgements. So many sisters gave the gift of their love and voices that day to sing the spirits of the Magdalenes home including beautiful songstress, Lisa Mitchell, who shared her own new songs written at the time of our gathering. I played these songs again yesterday and they are are like celestial devotionals, ancient songs to open the veil. We saw and felt some amazing things that day and I am grateful to everyone who helped weave that heart-opening ceremony especially the women who came who had family and friends in the laundries and orphanage. And to my sister, Bec RainboWalker, who is always walking beside and is a Death Doula - I know how much her spirit anchored the whole process.

Friends. That's what helped the ceremony to be as powerful as it was. Friendship helped me to speak when I was afraid. I saw that we truly can do anything, face any fear when we do it together. And that is the gift of the medicine doll. She is a Friend. She will be beside you. WildGirl is still by my side, were are great friends now. I see her in all her strange and wild beauty and she sees me.

Wildgirl Shadow healer medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

Cosmic Children and GrandMother Dolls

OrchidDreamer medicine doll by Sacred Familiar I had the best time creating this medicine doll for Tilda who is 11 and a budding young artist. She is the OrchidDreamer friendship doll and filled with orchids grown in Tony's mother's garden and lots of forest flowers that I picked close to our home. While I was making her one of favourite people came to visit and I'm sure all of that laughter and storytelling has been woven into her dress.

Tilda's request for a friendship doll came in the same week that I received 3 more invitations to create dolls for children. This is the CrystalReader doll for Emma who is 12 receiving a sun blessing on her crystal ball.

CrystalReader Medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

I have been inspired so much by the spirit of the child whilst making these dolls that I began to make some big changes in my life, creating space for my own cosmic child to play. I created a tarot spread to understand what the cosmic child needs and I will share this spread with our subscribers very soon on the 1st September - the first day of Spring here in Australia.

I believe that whenever we give we receive and this week I had a sudden compulsion to go to our local opshop. And look who I found - my own doll! Isn't she beautiful. I don't know anything about her except that she looks completely handmade right down to her woolly jumper. She reminds me of my ancestors from Scotland and Ireland. Perhaps she is Fox's grandmother and has travelled from the Shetland Islands to take care of us all. Thanks Tilda! I definitely believe you and the OrchidDreamer had a hand in this doll exchange x

grandmother doll Sacred Familiar

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

Tree Sister Medicine Dolls - Seeds of Change

Sequoia Sisters medicine dolls sacred familiar The medicine dolls are cunning folk - they have strong intuition of their own.

Recently I gave a doll called Seeds of Change away free to the first person to claim her at the end of our DollMarket day. She was one of the last remaining dolls and I felt her spirit telling me that she was to be a gift. Within minutes, a woman named Gillian contacted me letting me know that she was interested in Seeds of Change and I told her congratulations. The next day Gillian got in touch to say that she had gone to our website to show her children their new doll and found out that the doll had been a free gift. She had thought that she was bidding for the doll and the fact that there was no charge was a total surprise.

A few days ago I received a longer message from Gillian telling me that her family had received Seeds of Change & that she had already begun giving them new hope. She then told me that they had been one of the families that had lost their home & everything they owned in the Victorian bush fires last February. It had tested them severely but they did not feel unlucky, instead, they felt extremely blessed that they had all survived unharmed. But their hearts were missing their land and it was very hard not being able to return. With the doll's arrival they received the sign they were waiting for to finally move back to their land & begin to build their new home and lives again.

I remember creating the Seeds of Change doll purely for my own enjoyment one night. I had received some very fine and luminous silks and dressed the doll in her glittering but fragile golden threads. I then lay a large piece of Red Bellied Black snakeskin over most of her torso to balance the sense of fragility and surrounded it with leaves and branches. She has a carnelian stone over her heart, amethyst over her solar plesux and wears Kookaburra and Crow feathers in her hair. When I look at this doll now I see that she was already being made for Gillian and her family. I see that so much of her was linked to their story of courage and rebirth.

So much love to you & your family Gillian as you begin to plan the seeds to birth this new life. 

Seeds of Change Plant Medicine doll

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

Medicine Doll Market and DeerHeart Giveaway

DeerHeart Medicine Doll by Sacred Familiar A couple of nights ago I had a dream about a dollmarket - not a market that sold dolls but one attended by them! When I woke up and remembered the dolls moving about on their own I realised it was time to send the collection of dolls that I've made over this winter in the forest to their new homes. I will hold a Medicine Doll Market Sale beginning at the New Moon this weekend here at our website. There will be special offers and discounts and I will offer some dolls that have never been available before, they've been like little overseers in my doll workshop who give me hints about what to create and particular plant medicine to choose.  It's time for them also to go to work with new weavers and creators.

One doll that was intended to be in the sale is DeerHeart, the doll you see above. She is a doll that is very close to my own heart and I feel like she embodies the spirit of Sherbrooke Forest. You can see some photos taken during her creation here. But I just couldn't price her or sell her - and so I have decided to do something better and give her away. We really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to subscribe and we will choose a subscriber randomly at the exact point of the New Moon this weekend - in Melbourne, Australia that will be 8.42am this sunday 27th July. I am so curious to see who will be her new keeper. Yesterday I heard from the woman who found the medicine doll we left in the snow at the spring at Mt Donna Buang 2 days ago, I was happy to find out that she creates her own jewellery. Blessings on your creations together Tsugumi!

Have a beautiful weekend everyone, tomorrow I will meet with my sister to being tracking the almost covered-over footsteps of our ancestors. I feel excited about us coming together to mend our family cloth and begin  searching for the missing threads.

Medicine Dollmarket at Sacred Familiar

Tarot Spread: The Shadow that Hides Your Medicine - Illuminating the Cosmic Child

mt donna buang I don't know about you but I've been fighting an inner demon since that last super moon. She shone a big silver spotlight into the darkest cave and I have been feeling something moving back there ever since. But I've been too afraid to look. When I think of the moon I'm always aware of shadow and light and that the moon often helps us to illuminate what we might normally miss or deny. This made me think about the power of that super moon travelling closest to the earth and how we are made up of so much water - how could we not be influenced by her magnetic pull?

For the last 10 days I have been feeling anxious and sad. There have been so many tragic events taking place in the world. And I have felt SCARED! That's a really hard thing to admit isn't it?  That we can feel so scared especially about something that we can't even name. I've noticed this happening in my close friends as well. All of us spinning in our own orbit, distracted and well, a bit lost. I kept hearing myself and my friends asking, 'Is this it? Is this really how we are meant to be living, just working to survive?' Survival fears are our most primal and overwhelming. I couldn't help it they just kept returning each day. At the same time I was also hearing my friends talk about the afterlife, near death experiences and even their own memories of heaven. What if the moon shone a light on ways that we are now living that are hurting our spirits?  What if She came to illuminate our shadows so that we had to face them and begin to make the changes needed to live in a way that is meaningful and nourishing? Did a deep part of us remember these ancient and sacred times again since her visit? There is so much in western society that actively shuts down access to the mystery and to consciousness but that is becoming a door that will not stay closed. We are seeking again.

winter solstice medicine doll

Last night, Tony and I drove with Fox up to the top of Mt. Donna Buang to visit the natural spring that we love so much. It was dusk and as we climbed higher and higher we noticed chunks of ice and snow. It was a magical sight to see the spring surrounded by snow - a soft, white pillow for the medicine doll that I left behind as a gift to the next visitor of the spring. She was made at Winter Solstice and my wish was that she would be found by someone who really needed to remember that there is magic and mystery in this world. And I prayed to the spring and the spirits of the water and land that take care of it. I asked them to please help me. I didn't want to feel so tired and lost any more.

This morning I woke up early and began to feel the gnawing pain of fear again and I'd had enough! I got out my tarot cards and decided I would look at this fear - head on. I laid out my owl wing fan and whale bone, the wisdom and record keepers, and Touchstone Tarot deck designed by Kat Black who I'd had the honour to meet with years ago. I created a new Tarot spread: looking at the scary! What was that dark shape moving there at the back of the cave? I wanted to create a reading to help me to finally name and know my deepest fear. What I discovered were old beliefs and behaviours I was almost embarrassed to own but once I did I found they were hiding my greatest treasure – my gifts and my medicine. Treasure that felt so precious I was afraid to let it out fully into the world, to be scrutinised and judged. And who was holding this treasure – a radiant child! I call her the Cosmic Child – the one who has known my gifts and talents and medicine for lifetimes and is here to remind of them again.

Whatever way you choose to illuminate your shadow and face your fears, I encourage you to be brave! Go for it! There is nothing worse than living in fear and nothing better than knowing exactly who you are and how to help yourself feel better, stronger, free. So I can truthfully say that today I am in gratitude and awe at that mighty crystalline orb and what felt like the scariest 10 days I’ve had for a long, long time. Dear SisterMoon, thank you for your light! Cosmic Child I look forward to playing with you again wise creature.

facing fears tarot reading

Card positions and meanings (reading from bottom to top):

Position 1. (Bottom card) What Is: Position 2. What is your Scary: Position 3. Why is this so frightening: Position 4. The Old Belief that is feeding the Scary: Position 5. The New Practice that allow you to be an open channel for love and to shine without fear.

Sometimes when we are emotionally overwhelmed or feeling blocked it can be hard to navigate and interpret our own readings, if you would like assistance you can book a reading with Julia


Testimonials for Shining a Light on the Scary – Illuminating the Cosmic Child Readings

My session with Julia got to the core of my reason for being on this Earth! It also shone a light on my deepest woundings,  that hold me back from being the person I am, from living my highest potential and Blessed life. It was the story of this life time, revealing the myths and the truths for what they really were. I loved the reading, it gave me so much clarity and freedom to live the blessed version of my life, not the afraid and lonely version.. Shining forth!
(Shining a Light on the Scary – facing our fears Tarot session)


‘I had been in lockdown, scared to move either way for some unknown fear that was clawing in the pit of my stomach. I was feeling melancholy and having overwhelming thoughts, questioning everything I stood for and struggling with my life path. Julia’s reading unlocked answers on a cosmic level. In her shadow reading with me I got to face this fear with Julia’s assistance and found out that what I truly feared more than anything else was being myself and shining. I know right?! I feared owning my medicine, truly owning it.

It was time to come out of the cave and offer my medicine to all, rather than to a select few. I had been dulling myself down so as not to gain attention. Trying to contain my energy rather than share it. It was time to come out and that’s why I was afraid. Julia touched on a past life issue of a fear of persecution, fear of judgement from others – it has led me to wanting to ‘fit in’, wanting to be liked and normal (oh the horror). My fear was of showing my power and being ridiculed for my light. Fear of being labelled a show off. Fear of being noticed.

I am a healer, nurse, wise woman, witch, death walker and death doula. I walk between worlds and I have for as long as I remember. I’m the one holding your blood and guts in my hands. I’m the one with you as you take your last breath. Julia’s shadow reading was like being given a mirror to hold up to my face and there was no escape. It showed me the past, my shadow and the deepest locked away feelings and memories that I held at my core. Knowing and facing these fears helped me to step through them to embrace all that I am.’

Bec Rainbowalker, Nurse and Death Doula 2014

(Shining a Light on the Scary – facing our fears Tarot session)


crystal ball