Whitefella Dreaming

In the months before my Grandmother passed away, she was trying to heal a wound. At 96 she had had a small surgery on her leg and six months later the wound was still trying to close. The ability to heal deteriorates with age, and sometimes fails altogether, creating a chronic wound. She was tended to […]

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In the months before my Grandmother passed away, she was trying to heal a wound. At 96 she had had a small surgery on her leg and six months later the wound was still trying to close. The ability to heal deteriorates with age, and sometimes fails altogether, creating a chronic wound. She was tended to by a specialized wound nurse who visited twice a week, applying particular dressings with expertise and diligence. At almost 97, my nanna passed away from complications associated with a stroke. She died with an unhealed wound, but my mother, herself a retired Senior Nurse, bought a bottle of champagne and wrote a card for the wound nurse. “She was so good”, she kept saying, “So patient”.

Just days ago, I travelled to the Northern Territory. In conversation with a friend of mine, and someone whom I regard as a teacher, Uluki Brendan Murray, Waa Warrung Lore Man and King of the Raven Tribe, he described some Original knowledge. He said that a kind of spiritual Rubicon was coming. Mother Earth, Terrestrial, had sung out to the Father Sky, Celestial, and he was returning. He told it as a story, more decipherable to my anglo-mind, but the important parts were secret business, at Uluru in December, and beyond the spiritual comprehension of uninitiated folk.

Slowly at first, and then with ferocity, fever began to build online. Uluru activation meditations and parallel ceremonies declared the significance of the moment. People across the world began to talk of ley lines and songlines, earth chakras, portals and preparation rituals. I had booked a ticket in August but I began to feel uneasy. I tried to cancel, but nothing was refundable. I wanted desperately to go, but I thought hard about boundaries. I decided to go but know my place, which was as a tourist and at a very great distance; self-isolation on the road.

There was a conference happening at the same time called ‘Cosmic Consciousness 2020’. People began to descend on Uluru as if it were Burning Man. On the flight up, nobody wore a mask. Guest speakers to the conference were flown in to discuss the ‘Plandemic’. One of my tour guides spoke, at first diplomatically and then with anger, that people had driven out to Mititjulu, the remote community, without warning or invitation.

On the morning of the Solstice, 250 people flew in to Uluru, some from declared Covid hotspots. The Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation closed the national park. Conference attendants began to lament online that the government was trying to shut down their activation ceremonies. ‘Send in light’ one of them pleaded. ‘The forces of darkness are strong’. The advent of Q-anon has intensified the tendency of the New Age community to wage a political fight without a political education. I fixed a distant stare onto red sand.

Prior to the closure of the park I had taken a tour around the base of Uluru. We stopped at a painted cave where the guide informed us that historians had been able to date the cave not by looking at the ochre, which being a mineral could not be carbon dated, but at the residues of smoke between the layers of ochre. Official estimates were that people had gathered, smoked, cooked, and painted there for 40,000 years, but that this was likely conservative. He said that the first real intervention into the area by the colonial forces occurred in the 1930’s. My grandmother was born in 1924. I thought of Joseph Conrad’s ‘the horror, the horror’, and another colonial wound, 90 years young, unable to close.

Healing is a word that looms large in the New Age community. When people pray for healing, they pray for miraculous healing, spontaneous and total. They pray for deliverance from what Stevie Wonder called ‘ordinary pain’.My friend Brandon Bryant is a whistleblower for the Drone Program. I rang him on my last day at Uluru, looking for solace in the wisdom of his reflections, and he talked not about deliverance but redemption. He has killed 13 people, and so knows the agony of living with an un-closable wound. He spoke of talking with a Catholic Theologian, who told him about sacred wounds. Sacred wounds he said, can never be healed, only carried, and the person who carries them must be equal to the task of the struggle and strong enough to show the wound to other people. This means to bare the judgement and the piety of people who can never understand, and to subject oneself again and again to re-wounding, so that they might learn.

For a long time I have wanted to write about Whitefella Dreaming. To try to articulate the ways that the disparate Celtic and Anglo-Christian mythologies are augmented by their contact with Australian landscape. Some indescribable rooting, whereby time upon the land assimilates an off-planet God into a type of Dreaming. But Whitefella Dreaming is not that. If it is anything, it is the attempt to carry the sacred wound of colonisation, and be equal to the task of the struggle. And to show the wound, not to others, but to ourselves, so that we might learn.

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