medicine women

Spirit Sisters - Women of the Ladakhi by Jimmy Nelson

Ladakhi woman
Before They are Pass Away - Jimmy Nelson

There are a tribe of Spirit Sister medicine dolls that birthed this year that have been very ancient and beautiful and I have often asked them 'where are you from?' Recently I saw the amazing photographs of Jimmy Nelson in his book Before They Pass Away and found the lineage of these particular dolls. I understand now they are Ladakhi and I can't wait to learn and understand more about these adorned and mysterious medicine women. 
"Ladakh (meaning ‘land of the passes’) is a cold desert in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is divided into the mainly Muslim Kargil district and the primarily Buddhist Leh district. The people of Ladakh have a rich folklore, some of which date back to the pre- Buddhist era." Jimmy Nelson

"Festivals and celebrations are unmissable opportunities for the Ladakh to
display goncha, the traditional dress. Typical costumes include gonchas of
velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots and hats. Well-to-do
Ladakhi women have a striking and opulent appearance." Jimmy Nel

Reconnecting to the Roots of our Medicine - Journey to the Magdalenes

A month ago Tony and I opened a medicine circle - dreaming well,  an energetic pool at the site of the Magdalene Laundries at Abbotsford Convent here in Melbourne in preparation for Femmina Unbound. I created this pool with intention and love to connect to the women and children whose spirits are still bound to this place, I asked the indigenous Aboriginal ancestors of the Wurundjeri to allow us to enter and to open up a pathway back to the Ancestral Medicine of the Grandmothers. Down at the Yarra River that curves around this site, I called mightily to the Grandmothers asking them to join us here to help all of the women who will be joining the medicine circle and to assist the spirits to return home. You see I have been wanting to help the Magdalenes for many years now but always doubted that I could be of any assistance - it always felt like such a huge undertaking. And I doubted my medicine - was it enough to help? Over the last year the fire has grown, particularly with Royal Commission into Child Abuse being launched by the brave detective Peter Fox - some call him 'whistleblower' I call him the brave Fox. I knew that if I did not do something, that the rage and pain would eat me alive. And so I began to plan a day of bringing women's medicine to such a place as the Magdalene Laundries this year I received confirmation that the time was now. I realised that I could do something, it may be very small in the scheme of it all but I could do something.
When I launched Femmina Unbound and especially when I physically opened the dreaming well, I began to have nightmarish visions and waves of fear moving through me particularly early in the morning. I received another vision to help me understand what I was feeling. I saw a young woman screaming at me and I felt her hysteria. Her hysteria, her madness, terrified me more than anything else. And I recognised it in myself, because it lives so deeply entrenched in the females in my family. We carry strong chords of madness, suicide, depression in my blood line, in our lineage. Many of the women in my family are psychic and Catholic - something that they never seemed to be able to hold together in harmony. And then in the vision I saw this frightening 'Lilith' cowering but still hysterical as someone came towards her to help her. And she became like a small frightened dog who has been beaten too often. I saw the dog bite the hand that wanted to help it and return back to the abuser instead. The dog had lost all of it's natural animal instincts. I saw that this is what happened to the women when we had our ties to ancestral medicine and wisdom cut by religion and patriarchy. We lost our power and knowing of our own spirituality. We lost connection to our instincts and intuition. We no longer knew what was good or bad for us - we had become conditioned. To receive this message was huge for me, it has helped me to understand many of the women in my family, to understand my own poor choices of the past. In that moment, I felt the line of women in my family released and unbound from a belief that we needed to be forgiven.
Enormous tree growing outside the Abbotsford Convent windows
3 nights ago I dreamt of an enormous tree. A tree like the enormous Moreton Bay Fig at the top of this post. I took this photo 2 weeks ago while holding Swan Blessing in Sydney - the place of my birth and family. In this dream I was shown that we are 'sleeping trees' when we have not reclaimed our ancestral roots and medicine. But like a sleeping tree, when we are ready to awaken, we can blossom and grow to monumental heights. I received a vision on the morning of this dream and in it was shown that one of the most harming outcomes of religion and patriarchy upon Feminine Wisdom was that it cut the tap root to the Ancient Mother. When people move trees from different lands without wisdom, they often do not take care to look after the tap root - a root that travels far down into the earth way beyond the reach of the main roots. When they sever the tap root they cut a chord that draws from the deepest part of the Earth and this is vital to the health of the tree. And so when the tree is re-planted in a different environment, even when feed and watered and cared for, the tree never grows in the same way again and in many circumstances, the tree withers and dies. My vision told me that we are not dead, that our wisdom is not so far removed from us in the modern world that we cannot find our way to it again. By consciously creating an energetic tap root back to the Ancient Mother, we can awaken and leave our slumber to blossom fully in this country, and in this time now.
When I felt the gift of wisdom that came when I connected my own tap root back to the Mother, I was filled with such trust and love for my own way of being in the world again and a healing of my 'hiraeth' ancestral longing for the mother country of my ancestors. In that moment I felt the waves of fear and sadness I had been experiencing about returning to such a place as the Magdalene Laundries fall away. I felt the power of my love to acknowledge, remember and assist the spirits of these women and children rise up. And it was a gentle, radiant rising - it was not about fighting, warring or revenge. It was a knowing that with the love of all of the women attending this medicine circle together, that we would remember how powerful we have always been and how ancient our power and medicine is. Just like the ancient earth itself, our wisdom has been here forever. These buildings that held the incarcerated women and children are so superficial - so new in our ancient world. We are stronger than these buildings, we can heal these places of deep wounding and return love to the earth.
And so I write this today, to share these visions and dreams of my own journey to my medicine for all the women who are feeling to come and be a part of this medicine circle but are holding back. I just want to say that I understand your fears and your concerns but I want you to know that these fears you feel do not belong with us in this time - they are from the past. Whether that be from a recent or distant past - they are past. Whether they are flowing from the wounds of your own blood lineage - grandmother to mother - they are past. The ancestors are waiting for us to remember who we truly are. This is not a war or a day of intense pain - it is a day of honouring and blessing ourselves and reclaiming the sacred land beneath the buildings. A day to fully experience our own power to heal the spirits of our ancestor sisters, the Magdalenes, and sing their spirits home to the Deep. It is a day of honouring the indigenous tribes of Australia and bringing our own Ancestral Medicine into alignment with the spirit of this ancient country. I urge you to bring yourself forward sisters, you are all worthy, you are Medicine Women.
Tree growing in the quadrangle of the Magdelene Laundry compound
Here before the convent - Yarra River below the grounds


Return of the Medicine Women - Women of Power: Katarzyna Majak

Maria Ela Lewanska - a Healer and Visionary
belongs to the 'tribal elders' of the new times

I am so thrilled to see this beautiful photographic work: Women of Power by photographer, Katarzyna Majak a series of 29 portraits of Polish witches, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders.  Thank you Katarzyna for this honest honouring of Wise Women.
See the full project here: Women of Power.

A book with photographs and conversations with the medicine women will be released soon.

"Katarzyna Majak explores the power of women as she searches for female wisdom and plurality of spiritual paths hidden within monoreligious Polish society.  Majak’s Women of Power series turns stereotypical witch imagery on its head and showcases striking images of women ranging from their 30’s to 80's, wearing colorful unconventional clothes, and holding their unique objects of power. When asked what being a witch meant to one of the subjects in the series, she replied ‘A witch is a woman of knowledge who takes a broom and sweeps to cleanse the world.’
The women of wisdom, healers, enchanters, visionaries and spiritual leaders depicted in Majak’s vibrant photographs often facing discrimination, have taken great risk in being photographed. This is the first time many of them owned their power publicly. Majak’s journey with the Women of Power began when one of them accompanied her in a ritual to say ‘good-bye’ to her wedding dress, and the journey continued from woman to woman as the artist became fascinated with their alternative wisdoms on female power."