Blue Mountains bush medicine stories (with photos), by SunBôw
The Medicine Way is a path of healing for body, mind, soul and spirit, for oneself, all our relations and the whole world. Healing is naturally learned from first hand experience and the wounded healer is often one who has first learned to heal themselves with the appropriate medicines, which after proving successful can then be used to heal others. In a time of health crisis in a sick society, remembering the ancient sacred medicines and old bush remedies has been highly enlightening for me lately, while the spirits of these lands have kept teaching me. It’s been a month since the post about my first hike here, so now is a good time to update on the learning experiences I was blessed with in the Blue Mountains.
That first hike along the cliffs (12-13 km) was a bit strenuous and old wounds reemerged, like the sciatic I had pinched when popping out a disk in July, so I was in pain and weary. Time passed, I rested, studied, learned and worked on writings. On full moon, the spirits called me out to do ceremony in the ancient rock shelters along the old Lyrebird Dell trail, where artifacts dated over 14,000 were found. Walking through the maze of paths I came to a crossing and while trying to find my way, I felt a hand on my shoulder gently turning me around towards the right direction, which I followed down to the rock shelters. While doing ceremony there in the early morning after full moon, I felt the spirits of the ancestors come and sit with me. The tall Yowie Elder that has been guiding me on this journey downunder made himself visible for a few seconds, just across the pool at the foot of the waterfall.
That day I walked up and down and around a few valleys and cliffs for about 15 km, which increased the sciatic pain at the end of the hike, forcing me to slow down for another week.
On the equinox, the spirits asked me to fulfill my ceremonial duty again and I hiked out to a new area around the Three Sisters, famous rock formations that the Original Lore calls the Six Sisters with stories about their origins, how and why the sisters were turned to stone. The rocks silhouetted against a carpet of clouds filling the valleys was a breathtaking scene.
Further along the path I found a quiet side trail leading down to a promontory with a flat prominent rock ledge overlooking the valleys with an extended view on the Blue Mountains. I was not the first one to do ceremony there, as there were old traces of ochre and a recent offering of feathers and stones. The rain from the previous day had filled two small pools in the rock. There I greeted the spirits and sat to do ceremony and prayers with smoke (smudge), pipe, drum, sacred red pipestone paint and sacred white ochre. As often observed in such circumstances, birds came close by to watch, in this case King Parrots perched near.
On the way back I passed some more waterfalls and hiked upstream along the Leura Cascades. The origins of the name Leura are uncertain and different theories are proposed. But to me it sounds very closely to Eora, which means ”Our People” in the local Dharug language, the first tribe to make contact with the settlers of the First Fleet who wrongly called them Eora, name by which historically they have been mistakenly identified.
While at the bottom of the cascades gully, above the Bridal Veil waterfall, I came to an ancient rock shelter which had me pause to feel the energy. There I heard some thumping footsteps coming near me but saw nothing. The foot thumps were heard again, closer and louder, so I knew someone was trying to get my attention. Then I heard a female voice next to me saying: “Excuse me” and as I paid attention, she showed me in telepathy a special yellow ochre layer that had been previously scraped and asked me to honor the site, which I did with offerings and prayers. The Leura Cascades valley hosted a community of Original Custodians until they were evicted by the nearby encroaching tourist towns, where some of their descendants still live, and with the creation of the National Park by NSW in 1959, their ancient trails were annexed to the park trail network. I paid my respect to the ancient ones.
That hike was also close to 15 km long, having my sciatic remind me of its strain, but another incident would leave traces when, after sitting on a bench, I felt something bite me on the buttock. At first it just slightly pinched, but in the following days, a growing patch of drying skin started cracking and swelling and turned after a week into a five inches wide by one inch thick crater with a one inch wide hole at the center. I finally realized I had probably been bitten by a White-tail Spider, which has the bad reputation to be able to cause with its bite a skin ulceration and tissues necrosis, like a flesh eating poisoning.
Recent studies show that their bites only rarely cause such dire effects and that others among the 10,000 species of spiders in Australia might have to be held responsible for the blame the White-tail often gets, mainly because it is more commonly seen and often enters people’s houses. It is unsure why the necrosis occurs only in a few cases and to different degrees. It is known that among venomous creatures like spiders, snakes or scorpions, the amount and the chemical composition of the venom injected vary, depending on the species, the size and the age of the specimen, and on other factors like the season and weather.
I would suggest a theory that the toxicity might also vary with the circumstances leading to the bite, if for instance one sits close to a web or a nest, the bite could be more severe and toxic, since the majority of White-tail Spider bites happen in homes, in people’s beds or clothing, and are relatively less severe, generally not causing flesh eating necrosis. What could be a downside of downunder is its many infamous dangerous biters with seven of the ten world’s most poisonous snakes and several of the deadliest spiders. But the medicines of those protectors of the land teach respect and caution. Finally, with natural medicines, oils, roots and care, it seems now like it’s getting better and on its way to healing, although it makes me sit on my right side, which is not to help with the sciatica affecting that leg.
Meanwhile, Uncle Andy gave me some bush medicine made by his bush doctor, a secret recipe with unknown ingredients which I (wrongly) suspected contains emu oil, that has alleviated greatly the sciatic and leg pains and physical strain, procuring much relief and healing. Among the many great stories Uncle Andy has shared with me, years ago he discovered under a waterfall in a remote location a Yowie’s nest or bed and felt their presence there.
This morning, walking around the yard, I heard an entity knocking on the windows in the empty shed trying to get my attention, and then banging on the wall a couple times. We communicated and I found out it was the soul of a teenage girl who had passed there and was buried around. This place used to be a provisional school operated by the sisters of the Sacred Heart for Aboriginal girls and a large number of Papuan girls from New Guinea, until it was burned to the ground in a bush fire started at the dump in Katoomba in 1957.
The nuns and the schoolgirls escaped the tragedy hitching for rides on the highway. The fire destroyed the school and the luxurious Castle Hotel across the street, which left only ruins of its foundations, stone stairs and an arch. The historic Leura House next door, the oldest building in town dating from the 1880s that was hosting the schoolgirls, was spared by the fire when the flames miraculously stopped at the statue of the Holy Virgin. The system of provisional and industrial schools in Australia that created the stolen generations of Aboriginals has a terrible record of inhumane and abusive treatment of the inmates, exploitation of all kinds, with forced acculturation and assimilation, explaining the meaning to the popular saying eloquently stating that “White Australia has a Black history”.
Apparently, somehow one girl didn’t make it out and perished there, and she didn’t receive proper burial in consecrated grounds which, as often in such cases, left her soul restless and seeking to be acknowledged and released, which I did. Later, Uncle Andy confirmed that he had been feeling her presence around, giving me the same description as I had seen her.
This morning also, the embassy called me back to inform they deem I’m not eligible for the “COVID-19 emergency loan for Canadians abroad” advertised on the government website. They confirmed clearly that I’m on my own and as their site states, “traveling is your own choice and responsibility”. The good news is that, as opposed to what I thought, it is possible to transit through other countries and change flights without having to quarantine before the final destination, which considerably saves on the expenses I expected for the return. But to avoid the prescribed quarantine in Canada allegedly makes one passible of a $750,000 fine or six months in jail, measures which represent a quite convincing coercive argument. Masks are mandatory in airports and planes, which will make me have to try one, while a mandatory mask (contested) law was passed in Quebec where I’m returning… eventually…
Meanwhile, my visa is still valid, I stay with great friends in a great place, surrounded by thousands of square km of pristine wilderness of astounding beauty where roam the Bunyip and the Yowie, and where the Min-Min lights glide between the trees, learning a lot and enjoying a fantastic Aussie spring bringing many new bird species arriving in flocks. There are many species in the class Aussie bird watchers call LBB (Little Brown Birds), moving about quickly as they are passing by through the bushes, posing the greatest challenge for wildlife photographers. They are hard to identify as they are quick, small and many species look similar. Among them, the White-browed Scrubwrens are the most common here and the less shy. Today I met the Red Wattlebird (last photo: wiki), a beautiful bird, over one foot long (32-35 cm) of the honeyeater family, that came and checked me out a couple times.
The spirits of this land are welcoming and kind, sharing ancient wisdom, secret knowledge and sacred gifts. My initial plan to spend five months in Oz was modified, as it’s going on ten now, fulfilling somewhat a secret wish which would have not manifested without the global crisis and turning into a series of blessings. Trusting that guidance and providence manifest at the perfect time and that every step of the way makes it worth the walk on a sacred path.
While the world is experimenting a crisis, like the birthing pains of a new awareness, undergoing the painful process of poking the abscess and expelling the toxic poisons, uncovering the misleading lies threatening our collective future by bringing the truth to breakthrough openly in broad daylight for the sake of all life and of future generations, Mother Nature is the best anchor to soothe the soul and bring Peace of heart, Her medicines are the best pharmacy to heal our bodies, and ancestral wisdom is our best guidance, as its perennial resilience has maintained its teachings of reliable sustainability since tens, when not hundreds of thousands of years, and in the case of this land since Dreamtime.
Life is a precious gift filled with blessings to be grateful for, which we are meant to appreciate and enjoy happily and freely. Let us make sure that we transmit these essential values to our children and their children’s children to offer them a peaceful and sane world.
Including all my relations in my prayers and ceremonies, I continue on this medicine journey, grateful for the wonders and beauties this life has to offer us for our healing.
Thanks for reading and for your interest. Best blessings on your respective journeys.
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