animal totems

Koala Warriors - Colleen Wood and Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar These are some of the beautiful rescued koalas being cared for by Colleen Wood and her team of volunteers at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter here in Victoria. It's been a long time between visits but last Saturday Tony and I were thrilled to visit Colleen and her sister Jenni and have the honour of meeting the koalas in their care. Colleen has been a huge inspiration to us over the years. She has dedicated her life to the plight of the koala in Australia, she is a leading expert in koala care and education and told me that it didn't matter what was going on in her life, her mission to help and protect them is always her priority.

Colleen Wood Southern Ash shelter

Colleen inspires me so much because she is not an extrovert or a natural leader, she is in fact a quiet person and even a shy person. But the call of her work gives her the strength to go out into the world over and over again to speak on behalf of the koalas who are facing so many dangers to their health and habitat. She educates wildlife carers, zoo workers and also people working for corporations involved in logging because she was does not want to attack - she is a warrior of love for the koalas and knows that the more people that know and understand this sacred and ancient animal, the more they will be compelled to act with care.

This year, after 20 years of service to the koalas, Colleen was finally recognised by the Australian government and she was awarded an Environment Achievement award on Australia Day. Her wish is that finally the plight of the koala and their habitat becomes more known so that we can act now to preserve them and their homes in the future.

This work is not easy. Colleen and her staff see so much tragedy. The work of the wildlife carer is linked as much to death as it is to life - they are right there on the frontline with the animals they love so much. I am awed by Colleen's determination to never stop helping and it made me think about ways that I can help more. We are not all able to do the same work and shouldn't judge or compare ourselves to others which usually results in feeling less worthy or courageous and that doesn't help anything. Instead, we can find ways to assist and do more in our own way. For me this was offering to hold a healing ceremony on the land of the shelter to honour the spirits of the koalas that have not survived and with love release the huge weight of grief that Colleen and her carers have been carrying. It is hard enough to do this work without carrying grief of the past. Once we hold our ceremony of release we will create a medicine dollmaking circle so that each carer can create a doll to hold hope and vision for them in the future. In difficult times in the future this doll will be a beacon of light to remind them of their strength and courage.  She will be a bright reminder of their own love.

When I returned home I created a doll call FireVoice inspired by people like Colleen who despite their own quiet natures, stand up and speak out for the vulnerable. This doll will be auctioned at the upcoming Friday 13th StarTribes Dollmarket to be held online as a Facebook event next week and the funds raised will go to the koalas at the Southern Ash shelter.

You can also sponsor a koala at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter for as little as $40 as well as give a donation of what ever amount you can afford. Southern Ash is the most amazing shelter we have ever visited, they receive no government assistance and everyone who works there does so as a volunteer - every cent you give goes straight to the koalas.

Thank you Colleen and Jenni! We look forward to our medicine dollmaking circle with you and your koala tribe!

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

Koalas photo by Sacred Familiar

FireVoice medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

Julia Inglis Sacred Familiar

heart of a Fox

The honourable Fox has been demonised for too long. I loved watching this true story of the Fox tonight, true because it tells of the honest spirit of the fox and the depth of feeling between this beautiful old man and his Fox companion. And yes I thought of my dear friend, Australian artist Vali Myers and how she would have loved this too.

Vali told me once: 'I like dogs and cats but a fox... a fox is like my own spirit'.

Foxy, the orphaned vixen who was brought to Vali after her mother had been killed, became Vali's deepest love. Vali called Foxy her 'daughter'. The last time I visited Vali's home in Positano, Italy it was after Vali's death and I returned with some of Vali's ashes to give to Gianni Menichetti, Vali's companion and friend who cared for her animals and home. Gianni, Tony and I sat up on Vali's tiny bed built up high in the roof of her domed stone home and Gianni spoke beautifully about Vali before placing her ashes into a small wooden box that contained the remains of Foxy. And in that moment I felt a sense of calm and release. Like someone or thing had exhaled and relaxed.

'Now mother and daughter are reunited', Gianni said.

Such love, such spirit. Are we really so crazy to discount the meaningful relationships between human and animal? As I write this, my own familiar, Rory sleeps beside me. He will stay up as late as I do and I am an Owl. He is almost 18 years of age now and yet he still will wait for me to finish so that we always go to bed together.

Give the animals in your home and life an extra kiss and squeeze tonight. Our familiars, our children, our teachers. Wise beings of fin or feather or fur. We are the lucky ones they have chosen to share their whole lives with.

Vali and Foxy by Rudi Rappold
Self portrait with Foxy taken by Vali with a polaroid

Platypus Dreaming at Olinda Falls

Well we have almost finished packing and our new home in Sherbrooke Forest calls to us daily, our dreams. We have received messages and signs from the King Parrot and Magpie about wisdom to learn and share from that magical green world. A day ago we journeyed up to Olinda Falls and sat with the spirits of the land. We sat and meditated by the waterfall and I felt such a strong urge to thank. As I was thanking the water, the rocks, the trees, the aboriginal ancestors of this majestic land, I was taken to a cave in the mountain. Tony was greeted by the breath of Mother Earth, a swirling circle of energy that whispered: welcome.
We will be opening our doors on Saturday 9th February on the eve of the New Moon and Year of the Snake with new offerings of ceremony and sessions that we have received over our 'hermiting'. Last year I received the clear message that all we truly need is our body and the land. We look forward to holding sacred space for you to experience the majesty of Mother Mountain.

Can you see the giant platypus in the stone by the waterfall?
Whenever I come to this forest I can feel the spirit of the 'megafauna' the ancient and huge animals that used to live here. I just read that caves often act as 'time capsules' preserving fossil remains of ancient life. To the left of the platypus is the small cave I was being directed to in my meditation. 

Happy Birthday to the Wilde Vixen

Photograph of Vali taken by a very young Mary Ellen Mark in Positano.
In our world, Australian artist Vali Myers would have turned 81 today - in her worlds she is eternally spiralling, diving, and dancing in a cosmos of energy as wild, ancient and mysterious as her beautiful self. Love to you Queen of Foxes, may your memory and visionary art keep inspiring us all. 

Wu man, Vali Myers

Desert Fox, Vali Myers (prints available from Outre Gallery)
Moon Hare, Vali Myers

Vali and her owl Jonnie

Vali playing her gramophone on the beach, photo: Flame Schon

Self portrait with Foxy
Vali & I in Naples 2000

Ashes and Snow Nomadic Museum

“In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals. The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present.”

—Gregory Colbert, Creator of Ashes and

Total Lunar Eclipse & Celtic Shapeshifting Goddesses

Hello Everyone and welcome to the new members of our Circle,

Today we are in the building energy of a Full Moon Eclipse. This eclipse will be seen in our skies around 6am tomorrow morning and is a rare as on this night the Full Moon will plunge into the longest and deepest total lunar eclipse in more than a decade. 

Celtic Shapeshifters: Blodeuwedd (Owl-Woman) and the Selkie (Seal-Woman)
At Winter Solstice next week we will be meditating with the Celtic Shapeshifters Blodeuwedd and the Selkie who as well as teaching us about their own gifts and medicine will lead us into finding out who our very own Animal Totems are. In this one-night circle Tony will be passing messages from the animal world and each person will receive a message and a reading to help you on your path. 

This will be the last meditation circle run by Tony and I until late August as we will be taking a break to record meditations and create our new Shamanic Tarot Course: The Golden Temple opening at Spring Equinox in September. I still have a few places left for the Winter Solstice circle and this will be a lovely evening to invite friends and family to share in a night of exploring the Celtic Shamanic path and connection to their own Animal Totems. All funds from this evening will go to the aid of the animals of the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter.
Please contact me to book your place and you can read more here: Winter Solstice Meditation  

Warm Wishes for this Full Moon Eclipse,


Winter Solstice Animal Totems Meditation

Hello Tribe!

I am so happy to invite you all to an open meditation circle focussing on discovering your Totem Animals on the evening of the Winter Solstice, Wednesday 22nd June at Williamstown Community Centre. In this meditation circle you will learn to journey with your Animal Allies and Totems, and understand more about why these sacred creatures have chosen to walk your path with you.

We are dedicating this Winter Solstice Circle to the beautiful Koala. Koala is an Animal Totem that teaches us to relax deeply, and to develop visioning and inner-journeying to find the answers that we need to help us on our path. All of the proceeds from this evening are going to the wonderful Colleen Wood and her team of dedicated volunteers & wildlife carers, who spend endless hours caring for our precious wildlife at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Gippsland, Victoria. Colleen was the person who cared for 'Sam the koala' after the terrible bushfires of 2009 - you can read more of Colleen's journey with Sam and the amazing work she does on the shelter's website:

Colleen and Sam at the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter

The shelter is run completely on a volunteer basis, with no funding from the government. Unfortunately the Koala's habitat is being greatly threatened by bushfires, growing urbanisation, and heavier vehicle traffic moving through the Koala's ancient trackways. Colleen's dream is to raise $200,000 to purchase land to establish a much-needed Rehabilitation Centre and Burns Hospital.

At this time of the ancient festival of Winter Solstice, our 'Yule' in the Southern Hemisphere we invite you to connect to your Animal Guardians, learn more about your own Natural Wild Spirit and to help SAVE THE KOALAS!! Please feel free to invite your friends to this open Winter Solstice Circle, places are limited so please let me know as soon as you can.

Warmest Wishes for the approaching Winter,

Julia and Tony