Vali Myers

Winter Solstice - the Dreaming Egg

emu egg Sacred Familiar Last night was the Solstice. Here in Australia it is Winter and we experienced the darkest night of the year. I recently wrote about this in our latest MoonMedicine Letter and thought I would share some of this here today. Emu is the largest bird in Australia and I had the honour of holding an Emu egg  last week when I was told it was the first of the season. As the egg is incubated and cared for, it turns from green to blue to deepest purple. I had only ever held an empty emu egg before this and I was fascinated with the heavy weight of this egg. When I held it in my hand I also felt a comfort in my heart. I felt the strength of the shell holding and incubating the softness inside. Everything about this emu egg reminded me of wholeness. And magic too! Could there be a dragon inside?

Emu's breed in early June and the egg is incubated for around 8 weeks and so they are truly winter babies. They have lived all of their dreaming and incubation in the winter months and are born in early spring. I love that it is actually the males that incubate the eggs and also take care of the very young babies too. It's definitely a combined effort. When I feel called to add emu feathers to a medicine doll it's usually a medicine of strength and protection. Emu's can be very territorial and strong in protecting their families. The day after I wrote this a package arrived with Emu feathers inside - such a huge bird and yet such delicate and elegant feathers.. I had a doll that was half-made, she had camel fibres woven into her hair and shawl and it felt perfect that she would be wearing Emu feathers in her hair too. I called her She Dreams of the Desert.

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Sitting here on the darkest night of the year I am looking at the Emu egg and I am reminded of what Winter is meant to be - a time of slowing down, feeling warm and nourished and incubating new dreams. Dreaming is very important to me and I have always had very clear and magical dreams that I have written down in notebooks ever since I was a child. Many of them contain messages and hints of what was to come - even years down the track. That's the tricky part about dreams, they are not bound to linear time and so we are often baffled at first and find it hard to reach the meaning. Writing down our dreams and then returning to them later on can be a really affirming experience of your intuition and knowing.

It can help when we can allow ourselves to flow naturally with the seasons and perhaps instead of seeing the long dark months of Winter as a time of being cut off from the world, we can see it as Mother Earth's dreaming gift. She has given us a great gift, this beautiful big egg full of promise and wish. But to see it grow into it's promise, we must be gentle with it, warm it and incubate it. Let the curtain come down softly on the world. We have been invited to journey deeper into the dreamtime.

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Today I am also remembering Vali Myers and how she loved the cold months and for much of her life she loved to live between two countries always. One to dream in and one to be out in the world in. For a time, Vali's personal notebooks and journals lived in my home and they were so full of energy, magic and wisdom that I found it very hard to sleep with them so close. Today I remembered finding this dedication that Vali wrote to herself in her earliest surviving journal from Paris in 1957. It is a dedication honouring the dreamworld - a land that the artist must visit regularly to create. And so today I am imagining Winter to be a different country that I have moved to and I'm looking at changes I can make to live more comfortably in this slower, dreaming land.

The first change is that I have received a dream telling me it is time to open up Swan Blessing ancestral medicine sessions again. These sessions will be available from July by phone and Skype and you read Swan Stories from people speaking in their own words about their medicine and the journey taken to claim it back. It has been 4 years since the blessing was passed to me by my Grandmother and it has deepened and changed. I'm excited about sharing this again.

Winter is the time of the Grandmother and when I wanted to ask her for some good, solid guidance for this season. I thought of the Emu egg and how it is a perfect vessel to hold the Cosmic (inner) Child.  I created the tarot spread below 8 months ago to help me to listen to the Grandmother and the Child. I am using it today to prepare for this dreaming time and I'm sharing it here for anyone who wishes to do the same. For all our Northern family who are dancing in the Sun today the only difference in using this spread is that it is not advice for incubation (feminine) but a way to access advice for what needs to be done and put out into the world (masculine) right now. I 'd love to hear how you go with it x

 

GrandMother's Gift to the Cosmic Child (with The Wild Unknown Tarot)

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Tarot Spread Positions :

1. What Is

2. What the Cosmic Child Wants

3. What the Cosmic Child Needs

4. How you are currently mothering the Cosmic Child – is this connected to your own childhood

5. Behaviours & Beliefs to be Released

6. Behaviours & Beliefs to Embrace

7. GrandMother’s Gift (Dreaming Egg) for the Cosmic Child

8. Your new journey (after Winter) with the Cosmic Child

 

You can read the latest MoonMedicine letter here in full and you can subscribe to receive it each New Moon. 

Book in a Swan Blessing ancestral session with Julia 

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

A Cup of Tea or Three with Me

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Hey hey! What's inspiring you today? That's what Pip Lincolne has asked me and the rest of the recent graduates from her Blog With Pip course to write about today in a series called A Cup of Tea with Me. Have a look at all the lovely blogs at Pip's home Meet Me at Mikes. I did this course to help me get my head around technology and instead discovered and learnt so much about self expression and met a caring and very helpful new community. I think you had better put the big kettle on. I am! It's absolutely freezing here in Sherbrooke Forest tonight and I am settling in to do some long overdue reading of everyone's Cup of Tea posts from the class. And I'm a tea fanatic so it really rarely stops at one cup.

Well it's deep deep winter in the forest and it's really hitting most of Melbourne and Victoria. There have been whispers that it might even snow up here on the mountain this year and I'd love experience that. I find winter a very creative and beautiful season but it doesn't always have a positive effect on everyone. When I lived in Scotland I would go to work in the dark and come home in the dark and when my sister came to visit it had a terrible effect on her spirit. I think the land and the seasons are so important to our wellbeing. I think this is something we need to think more about rather than where it is convenient to live - where do you feel at home? Where does your heart dream? Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved dark green forests filled with mist. And sometimes the forest has a flash of red and white spots - faerytale mushrooms! Or if you want to be very specific and with mushrooms you absolutely have to be, they are Amanita Muscaria. I want to say first up that these mushrooms are highly poisonous and toxic and not to be handled by the inexperienced. But they are an absolute feast for your eyes and spirit. I think they bring out the child inside us all. I found the exquisite mushroom teaparty in the photo above in the Arboretum on top of Mt Dandenong about one month ago. And I photographed it exactly as I found it. How is that for an enchanted encounter? Autumn and early winter are the seasons to come and find these beauties in Sherbrooke Forest but I was surprised to find one more blooming all on her own 2 days ago - surely the last of the season for this year.

Amanita Muscaria - Sherbrooke Forest

Last bloom of the season

Another magical creature that has been sighted and spoken about quite a lot this week is the Lyrebird. Early this morning I heard one calling right near our house. This is new! I heard him calling last Sunday and he has returned today. Lyrebirds are such ephemeral beings. Even their feathers are fine and if you are lucky enough to photograph them they are almost always blurry because of they move so quickly and lightly. In photos it looks like they are emitting a kind of etheric energy. They feel like creatures that can move between the worlds, seen and not seen. When you see them they are always darting back into the ferns or flitting across the road and you almost have to question it - did I just see that? And I love that about them, that they are here and not here. Last week at our winter solstice doll workshop, one of the women brought along lyrebird feathers to put in the headdress of her doll. Wow - I'd never touched one before. She also told me that the males drop their feathers around this time of the year and that I should keep my eyes open on the Lyrebird Track in Kallista for them. I'm so excited I have to stop myself going out right now but of course, it's freezing and the kettle has just boiled, so I think I can wait. Here is a photo that Tony and I took up on Mt. Donna Buang on the full moon 2 weeks ago of a male lyrebird doing a mating dance-off with another male for the affection of a female who was quietly watching from under the trees. This was an amazing moment because they were so engrossed in their own performance that they didn't care that we had come so close to watch them. Such ancient and tribal moves.

Lyrebird dancing

Lyrebird is the totem of Sherbrooke Forest. I was told that it is such an ancient creature that they have dated fossils to 15 million years ago. Because of this their medicine is that of the ancestral record keeper. They remember the sounds of the creatures that no longer exist on this earth.

And finally, I am in the process today of dreaming in a new medicine doll for a woman of Afro-Cuban heritage who celebrates her ancestors in the Yoruba tradition which is more well-known as Santeria. She has asked for the doll to hold the medicine of the gypsy and ancestral wisdom of both Africa and Spain. I feel honoured to help create a doll to hold these ancient traditions. Each doll births differently and today I felt an urge to be inspired visually while I worked on her. When I first dreamed the doll, all I could see was that she had such dark skin that she looked almost blue. I began looking at photographs and kept being drawn particularly to a Berber tribe called Tuareg. It became clear that this was to be the medicine of the doll, she was Berber - and I am happy that the client understands. She knew that the doll would teach her about her a new way. The Tuareg are a nomadic tribe and something in the women's faces is so mysterious and wise. I was fascinated to learn that it is not the women that wear the veil but the men. And then I found the key : the Tuareg are often referred to as the Blue People because of indigo used to dye their purple and dark blue garments. Because of the scarcity of water, the dye is beaten into the fabric and rubs off on their skin turning it metallic blue. The fact that these nomadic tribes have moved through not only Niger but also in Spain confirmed that this was the perfect spirit to hold the wishes of the doll's new owner. Here are the photos found of wise women that inspired the early weavings of this new medicine doll.

19-Tuareg-girl-photo-Steve-McCurry

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I even discovered I had the perfect colours for her - a couple of months ago I purchased the most beautifully hand dyed silk merino wool from FibreArtemis in New Zealand. I love the combination of these colours against the forest ferns.

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As I began felting I revisited Tony Gatlif's film, Latcho Drom, an ode to the spirit and journey of the Romani people from India to Spain. This film brought back so many memories for me of spending time with one of the most influential and inspiring people I've ever known, Australian artist, Vali Myers. We used to watch this film often in her adorned jewel of a studio in the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street. The scene below of the Bedouin girl spinning as she dances has always remained with me. When I first saw it I went into a strange awe because it felt like a memory I had forgotten. I felt such joy watching her spin and spin - when I was a little girl I used to ask my mother to dress me as a gypsy and I would spin like that for hours. I still think this young dancer is one of the best I have ever seen. And so that is the inspiration that is finishing my day. Remembering how it feels to dance! I am going to clear a space tomorrow to let the spinning child in me come out to play again. I think my body knows that moving in this cold weather is really important. Our spirits have memory beyond our current geography.

Where does your heart go to dream? What does that place look like for you?

Vali-amp-Moby-Dick

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXTTWmIr9jA

A Doll for Alice Savage

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I have just finished weaving a medicine doll for Alice Savage. Alice is an Italian illustrator and spirit sister and she has been creating illustrations inspired by my dolls. The illustration above is of the doll, Heart of Fox - with a little Vali Myers inspired moustache no less! I am so excited and honoured by this collaboration and I couldn't wait to create for Alice a doll to hold her very own personal medicine. Alice and I have spoken about the intention and healing wishes she would like her doll to hold and I came to feel that it was important for Alice's doll to be both strong and soft together. As I began I kept envisioning deep blue oceans and the creatures that journey to the deepest depths. When I looked into my medicine box, which is actually a very old hat-box, the first beauty to catch my eye was a cuttlefish bone.

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I found the cuttlefish a few months ago on a foraging trip to Phillip Island in part of Cat Bay. That's a lovely weaving already as I know that the Cat is sacred to Alice and are her dear familiars. What I didn't foresee was that the doll would ask for a chestnut to be placed with the cuttlefish and at first I questioned the paring in my mind. Yesterday Alice told me a story of beautiful chestnut grove that she used to love to visit and hopes to return to it again. I love that the doll knew what medicine was needed. This information cannot come from the mind as it is unknown but by listening to the doll with your own childlike heart, you get a strong urge or pull towards what is needed. Alice's medicine is also linked to crystals and stones and she felt complete with the placement of a seed pearl in the centre of her heart. She is a beauty! Just like you Alice. Blessings on your journeys to the deep blue together.

 

And here is one of the latest medicine doll illustrations by Alice: Heart of Fox - complete with her own Vali Myers inspired spirit moustache! LOVE HER xx

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I love you Vali Myers

Vali and Foxy - Self Portrait Polaroid
Today would have been Vali Myers' 83rd birthday.  I remember that Vali once told me she was born with a head of thick red hair and came out howling - she said it set the tone for the rest of her life. Vali was one of the most important people in my life. Knowing her, just spending time being in her wild presence, changed me forever and I am still, only now, understanding the pearls of wisdom that she gifted me so long ago.
I was honoured to be asked to write the foreword for Night Flower - The Life and Art of Vali Myers. I hope it inspires you today to remember Vali and your own wild spirit. And I hope it encourages you to seek out her incredible art and this wonderful book. Viva Vali.
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Night Flower - The Life and Art of Vali Myers

Published by Outre Gallery
Foreword by Julia Inglis
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
Edgar Allan Poe  1827
 
What you hold in your hand is a spark. A spark from the immortal spirit of Australian artist, Vali Myers. Vali has been called many names -  witch, bohemian, outlaw, gypsy, visionary. And they are true and they are not true. How do you name a force of nature? Or define a spirit that comes both from an ancient place and a far distant future?  The only name that Vali cared for was artist. She dedicated her life to making her art deeply personal, raw and true and she put the same energy into living her life. Vali never lived life on the surface, like her tattooed face she fearlessly wore her spirit on the outside. Everything about her was deep and wild, her beautiful strangeness so natural that she was supernatural.
The ancient Celts believed that we had two selves one that lived in this world and at the same time, one in the Otherworld. This mysterious ‘other’ is usually separate from our knowing but in Vali it co-existed with ease. The Australian Aboriginals call the Otherworld the Dreamtime and Vali used this word often and with love as if it were the real world, a place where creations are born, ancestors reside and the future was already known. Vali was a walker between the worlds. She even called her paintings ‘spirit drawings’ as if pulled from the ether. She drew only for herself with no intention of selling for years, so what you are holding in Night Flower is a book of paintings and writings created by her spirit for her spirit – to romance the other. By opening this book you are crossing a once secret threshold. This is the first time Vali’s notebooks have been unearthed and published in such length and I believe they are important not just for artists but for anyone wanting to know how to befriend their own spirit. Tenderly written and intricately illustrated, these notebooks are literally dreaming manuals on how to live an extra-ordinary life.
Vali was never just a muse, that is too passive a role for a firestarter, an awakener. She is more like an ancient Dakini, a sky dancer who is guardian of the deeper mysteries. Like the Dark Goddesses Lilith and Kali, Vali is a truth-bringer, her bright energy illuminating the darkness and smashing all that is false or a danger to nature. At 19 years of age Vali sailed alone from Australia to Paris in the clothes she stood in carrying a small satchel containing her artwork and a ten pound note. From the sheer force of her spirit she forged a magical life that traversed continents and crossed paths and inspired luminaries such as Jean Cocteau, Django Reinhardt, Salvador Dali, John Lennon, Patti Smith, Tennessee Williams and Marianne Faithful. For most of her life she kept two homes. One her beloved Il Porto (The Port) a wild volcanic valley and animal sanctuary she shared with Gianni Menichetti in Positano, Italy where she withdrew from the world and painted. The other was wherever her spirit urged her to sail to sell her artwork to support her animals.
It was never Vali’s intention, to inspire generations of existentialists, beatniks, hippies ,punks, artists, rebels and beautiful dreamers. She simply trusted her ‘fox nose’ in a constant search for what was real and true, and this was naturally found at the centre of the most important art and cultural movements in modern history. Not that Vali was ever part of anyone else’s ‘scene’ she was simply already there before them. In Night Flower you will glimpse the effect of Vali’s wild magic in written, photographic and drawn contributions by: Gianni Menichetti, Ruth Cullen, Nicole Karidis, Devendra Banhart, Chris Stein, Eileen Polk, Donovan, Lina Eve, Flame Schon, Carol Beckwith, Carlo McCormick and the late Ed van der Elsken.
 
What would Vali have thought of all this? She would have cared about the art. That her creations pulled from the dreamworld, some taking decades to birth, were still alive. It makes sense to me that after passing away ten years ago and ‘going to ground’, an expression used by fox hunters when the vixen magically disappears from sight, that Vali has returned to fire us up again. In these changing times when we are being called to honour and protect the earth and her creatures, we must first learn how to nurture and protect what is natural and wild within ourselves. We need to know that people like Vali exist. They are rare but they exist. It was my greatest honour to know her personally and my life has never been the same. My hope is that Night Flower opens a door to a time when Vali’s art and life becomes known and celebrated in new ways. I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the creation of this beautiful book. Together we are creating the possibility of this spark becoming a raging fire.
 
But first, this spark is for you. A gift from Vali Myers, a woman who dedicated her life to art and honouring the sacred power of nature. May Night Flower kindle a fire in you to seek the wild and the real, and to embrace your own beautiful otherworldly twin, the dreamer with the dream.
 

Wu-man-Vali-Myers