Because of her I can ...
This guest post was written by Felicia Robey, a participant in my Ayurveda Sadhana Training this year.
This week in Australia is Naidoc Week (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee)
The theme "because of her I can" recognises the mothers, elders, grandmothers, aunties, sisters and daughters. As pillars of our society, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have played – and continue to play - active and significant roles at the community, local, state and national levels.
Growing up in the Sutherland Shire of Sydney I was never exposed to too much knowledge, history or culture of the indigenous people of Australia, the owners of this land.
In fact it was quite a taboo subject, usually my own Grandmother would whisper a racist comment followed by my mother - and in later years myself and sisters telling her off and to "stop it".
It's a deep rooted shame, confusion and nativity I believe is embedded in the very heart and soul of this land and our ancestral lines. And for the aboriginal people great pain and hatred from being invaded, separated, killed, abused, stolen and controlled - stripping them of their rights, their culture, their land.
In learning about and working through ancestral lines in Ayurveda with Katie Manitsas this - our disconnection to the land and the rightful owners of it, plus all the negative feelings that the past has embedded itself in our bodies and our selves comes up again and again.
I followed my grandmother’s side and found that an ancestor was on the First Fleet - it was his job to look after the animals on board, a thought that brought both a smile for the animal care and an uneasy feeling that my own bloodline was on that boat that changed indigenous Australians history for ever.
I don't know how to say sorry for their doings, or to accept their karma while still insuring my own, I can only dedicate the rest of my life and history to learning as much of the history, the culture, the spiritually of Australia's rightful owners. I can only learn and hopefully teach my nieces and others about the connection to the land, the medicinal practices and uses of bush tucker.
I can only dedicate my own practice to more compassion and greater love. And to always give my respect and recognition whenever I hold space or give gratitude. May we also use the past to stand up in the present on how others are being unjustly treated, that we should try to preserve indigenous and traditional healing and spiritual practices and teachings.
So with that, I honour our precious indigenous peoples of Australia. Holding the highest respect of acknowledgement, awareness, sharing and maintaining the wisdom and knowledge of our culture and the land. And pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.
Aboriginal spirituality is inextricably linked to land, “it’s like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where I’ll go. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity."
Spirituality is a feeling, with a base in connectedness to the past, ancestors, and the values that they represent, for example, respect for elders, a moral and ethical path. It is about being in an Aboriginal cultural space, experiencing community and connectedness with land and nature including proper nutrition and shelter. Feeling good about oneself, proud of being an Aboriginal person. It is a state of being that includes knowledge, calmness, acceptance and tolerance, balance and focus, inner strength, cleansing and inner peace, feeling whole, an understanding of cultural roots and ‘deep wellbeing’ (Grieves 2006a:52).
E. K. Grant (2004), a community developer from Adelaide in South Australia, identified that ‘Aboriginal spirituality’ is used ‘by non-Aboriginals and Aboriginals alike without reference to its meaning and its roots and that ‘in itself it is a self-defining entity with each person defining it within his or her own framework of knowledge and experience’. She drew on the voices of Aboriginal people that she found in literature and summarised Spirituality thus: Aboriginal spirituality is defined as at the core of Aboriginal being, their very identity. It gives meaning to all aspects of life including relationships with one another and the environment. All objects are living and share the same soul and spirit as Aboriginals. There is a kinship with the environment. Aboriginal spirituality can be expressed visually, musically and ceremonially (Grant 2004:8–9).