Last One Standing

“Each young person is a poet of sorts, trying to sort out the poetics of their inner life and its relation to the great world around it. Each elder is a philosopher of sorts, trying to sort out the meanings and gleanings of a life as well as the necessary implications of the presence of death.” 
Michael Meade

Many years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I hosted a channelling evening at my house. My sister was there, and an Aboriginal friend of ours, her mum and another Aboriginal woman who was a school teacher, and another friend who was staying with us at the time. Me, Simone, Vynette, Leanna, Liz, Tara. Six women of varying ages, sitting in circle on our lounge room floor.

I was nervous because it was one of the first times I had channelled in public, even though they were my friends. But they were very supportive, and so I closed my eyes, settled into meditation and began…

Afterwards we shared cups of tea and a lovely supper spread around my kitchen table. Leanna always brought enough food to feed an army. It’s those Aboriginal values around family and food and love. And of course I am a country girl at heart who always has well-stocked biscuit and cake tins in case visitors arrive.

I never thought anything more of that night until months later. On a crackling international phone line a woman spoke to me from America. Unbeknownst to me Leanna had taped my channelling session and posted it to a friend. Who had shared it with another friend. Finally it had arrived at this woman’s house, a farmhouse in the mid-west, and now she was inviting me to join her group of Elders.

I was the youngest by thirty-three years.

We met by teleconference, and also in meditation. We even shared emails. It became a very important group to me, one I learned much from, and one where we did regular energetic work together for the world. Just a bunch of old people at home, working magic. I was very ill back then so I had the life of an old person too. I fit right in.

In the early hours of this morning I spoke with the last member of the group. There had been twenty-eight of us, but slowly our numbers have dwindled. Last Thursday Kaya died in her sleep. Then there was only two. I spoke with Connie this morning. She is blind now, and going into care. She has cancer too and this part of the road will be short. She is done.

I am the last one standing.

I had a little cry. A big one actually. And then I rallied. It’s my turn now. My turn to repopulate the group. This is how it always is. I was young once, and now I am aging. I have wisdom and teachings of my own to share, and I am the custodian of more that have been shared with me.

That’s the cycle of life, and I am ready.

I’ll keep you posted. Much love, Nicole  xx


One More Sleep ’til Retreat!

Enchantment by Josephine Wall

Enchantment by Josephine Wall

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.”
~ Gloria Steinem


It’s only one more sleep until I head off to run my Advanced Channeling Retreat. I’m so excited I could just about bust! 🙂

For the last eight weeks I have been readying myself. I have crafted, created and selected tools for each of my students. I have worked through rituals and meditations to help me prepare, so that I can best serve those who will be joining me.

The old and ancient trees around my farm have been hosting specially chosen Australian crystals that have been charged up by the energy of the tree (variously Hoop Pine, Ghost Gum, Bunya Pine, White Cedar, Teak, Tallowood, Magnolia), the moon, the Super Moon transit, the stars, the sun, the earth, and the various creatures wandering around the wild spaces of my home. I’ve gathered them in now, ready for my students.

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For the past month I have held my students in my meditations twice each day. I have held them in my heart, and they have been constantly in my thoughts.

In this past month I have set my students homework, and given them guided meditations to follow. We have all been working towards this time together.

So now it is down to this. One more sleep and we shall all be together, working and learning and sharing. One more sleep and my students will begin creating a solid metaphysical foundation on which to build the strong manifestations of their dearest dreams.

It’s such sacred work. I pour my everything into this time before, and then during our retreat, and then after, when I will continue to hold my students in twice daily meditations for another month.  I feel so honoured to walk this path, and to guide them, in the way that my Aunties guided me.

I’ll still be blogging from our beautiful sanctuary at Sangsurya in Byron Bay, so I’ll keep you posted. I’m sure there’ll be some magic happening.

Big hugs and much love,

Nicole xx

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*PS – I’ll be running the Beginners Level Channeling course in June, 2015, and there are still a few spots left. If you contact my wonderful PA, Dana at she can send you the information. But be patient. She’s coming on retreat too, so she won’t get back to you for a week or so.


The Rock, the River and the Mountain

Prayer Flags at Thorang La Pass, Nepal. Image from Budget Your Trip

Prayer Flags at Thorang La Pass, Nepal. Image from Budget Your Trip

“…your memory is a warm stone hidden in my hand I’m always turning over…”
~ John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
~ T.S. Eliot


My friend Sally travelled to Nepal last year. Before she left, she asked if she could bring me anything back.

“Just bring me back a stone off the ground,” I asked.

And she did.

It’s not just any old rock. It bears the impression of an ammonite, with perhaps a piece of this once beautiful animal still clinging to the silky blackness of this stone which feels so soft and comfortable in my palm.

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The metaphysical properties of the ammonite are all about healing and spiritual growth, helping you travel down or expand out upon that spiral path of soul growth to understand the essence of who you are. It is considered an important ancestor stone for linking you to past lives, and those souls who have gone before you in your family lineage.

As a healing stone ammonites help you to recover from major trauma or illness, systematically reducing problems and strengthening stamina, energy, vitality and flow. They are also said to increase prosperity and abundance.

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But none of that is important. What mattered was how this stone made me feel.

As soon as I held it, it was as if I had been wrapped in a blanket of comfort.

I set it aside while Sally and I drank tea and ate fruit cake on the veranda. But when she left I picked it up again. Immediately I felt a weariness. My head nodded, my eyes would barely stay open. Although it was late afternoon and not yet dark, I decided to lie down on my bed before dinner and listen to the sound of soft rain falling on the roof and the leaves outside my window.

It took little time for me to fall into the deepest sleep, and I did not wake until fourteen hours later, finding myself still clutching the stone.

As I slept a wonderful journey unfolded in front of me. I was asleep in a painted wooden barge, nestled on a pile of silken pillows and elaborately patterned rugs. My hair lay in waves upon the pillows, and my hands were crossed over my chest. I looked so peaceful. I felt so peaceful. The boat was being slowly carried by a current down a wide, muddy river. Snow capped mountains surrounded us, and strange towns I have never visited, there were prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, funeral pyres alight along the shore. I know this because I was above myself looking down.

The Lady of Shallot by John Atkinson Grimshaw

The Lady of Shallot by John Atkinson Grimshaw

“Dis not your river,” said a voice beside me. I turned my head slightly. Auntie!

“No worries. Stone show you its river. Only one it knows. But all dese rivers go same place. Same-same journey. Feel nice, hey?”

I was overjoyed to see her, and to have her soft, warm hand in mine. I began to cry and my tears dripped down from my cheeks and nose into the river below, leaving little iridescent sparks in the water.

“Dat you, dead one time,” she continued. “Just memory now, but still you. You dat lady inna boat. Rock show you. Your old-time grandmothers, dey remember too. All dem sleeping in same place.” Auntie began to giggle. “Nice warm feet,” she said, nudging my arm. “Not me. I got no good shoes for dat place.”

I looked down at myself in the barge again. From under the ends of my cloak peeped two fur-lined boots.

“Am I going to die?” I asked her. I wasn’t concerned. Just curious.

We were flying away now, and the river became smaller and smaller as we left it behind.

“Nah, your life already hard!”

That made both of us laugh.

“Just dat part of you not needed now. Dat die and go away. You be sad, dreams all dyin’, friends all goin’, but after that okay again. No more friend like dat. Dey no good. But you got plenny true sistas. True fellas. You not be too lonely.”

I knew it was right. And it did make me sad. All those cherished dreams letting go. All those parts of my old life.

Auntie made a clicking sound with her tongue. “Not dis life for dem tings to happen. You can’t be dis ting in your head you thought you could be, and be dat ting too. Only be dat ting now. Also, time for other Grandmothers come together with you. Big job ahead. Tell dat story now, girl. Good times coming.”

We kept flying North. The earth curved beneath us. The air grew chill.

“Make dat husband take you shopping. Need a big warm coat. Need proper shoes. He not enough keep you warm.” She gave me a cheeky grin.

I felt a tug, and looked back. Way back behind us, in Australia, I saw a light. It glowed red, but dim. There was hardly any spark. I was engulfed by sadness.

“Dat your soul-sista,” Auntie said. “Sista-cousin to you an’ your true sista. Dat girl hanging in there. She get through somehow. Her job not done yet neither.”

I nodded. That was good news for our friend, who is desperately ill with, I am sure, a similar condition to me.

Ahead green fields and a fairy mound came into view.

“Am I dreaming this?” I asked.

Auntie howled with laughter. “I spirit woman,” she said. “How else I gonna see you? Ain’t no car take me. No walk to your house. No, sista. We got dis place here in da night sky. Dat our meeting place now.”

Waterholes by Alison Munti Riley

Waterholes by Alison Munti Riley

Wise Birds Come Visiting


“One day you live somewhere, you call dat country home. Smell like dis place. Earth. Sea. But make you happy again. We send all dem black fella birds remind you your promise. Remind you your story. Then you know it’s time. Time to be dat story. Live dat story in your heart. Live your true Dreaming.” ~ Auntie


I woke yesterday to the mournful cry of the black cockatoos. Black cockatoos are never just birds for me. They are a spiritual presence in my life. A strong tie back to the land where I was first welcomed to country, the wild remote Kimberley of Western Australia.

Now I live on the opposite side of Australia, but this place ties me energetically back to the Kimberley, and my wise old Aboriginal Aunties. Somehow, living here, they feel stronger in my heart.

This country where I have my farm, Byron Bay and its hinterland, is home to the Arakwal People. The Bundjalung mob have called this place home for thousands of years. There is strong Aboriginal energy here. It nurtures me at every turn.

The past few days I’ve been feeling better. Stronger. Yesterday I woke with a sense of energy and purpose for the first time in over a year.

As I sat in meditation the mournful cries of black cockatoos seeped into my consciousness. At the end of my meditation, as I stretched and breathed the cool morning air I watched them sitting in the big old hoop pine near my back door. So many of them.

There’s my Aunties“, I thought to myself, and tears pricked my eyes. My heart was back in country, and I could feel the red dust in my veins.

Soon Ben and I were in the ute, driving down to Byron Bay to read the papers and have an early morning coffee.

I took a notebook and began jotting some ideas down. To one side I also wrote a shopping list on the back of an old envelope, because its been weeks since I’ve been well enough to shop and we’re running low on basics.

“Good,” Ben said as he sipped his coffee. “Shopping. We’ll go tomorrow.”

I was careful not to let him see the ever-expanding list beneath it.

I began to plan some ideas and goals for the weeks and months ahead. Mostly they were things to write. Old manuscripts to edit and tidy up for submission. Some e-books and courses. Things for my new website. Words to get down on the page, bit by bit, now that my brain is working and I have a little more energy. Things I thought I should be writing.

I was proud of myself. It was a sensible list, with no crazy deadlines. It would allow me to rest, write and rest some more. But oh, how good it felt to be creating some kind of plan.

As we sat on the sidewalk outside Mary Ryan’s a sudden mad cacophany of screeching filled the air. What seemed like a battalion of white cockatoos flew directly up the street, making a line for the hoop pines that rim the edge of the beach. Some of them alighted in the paperback above me. A single white feather fell down and landed in my breakfast.

More soared up the street. Seven white birds, strong and vibrant. They whooshed past our table and a tear slid down my cheek. Seven birds. Seven Aunties. I felt them all beside me. I heard their voices in my ear.

The trees at the top of the hill near the beach were filled with cockatoos.


I looked down at my list. Was that really what I wanted to write?

All I could hear was Auntie’s voice:

“Now you got your Story, your Spirit no longer lost. That Dreaming inside you make you understand who you are. That Story how you gonna walk this world.” ~ Auntie

When I got home I put my list away and spent some time in the kitchen instead, baking a cake, doing some dishes, preparing some food for the week ahead. I was lost all of a sudden. I had no confidence in my list. What was I supposed to write?

I tossed that question around in my head all day.

Late in the afternoon Ben came up from the river paddock with a present for me. A wedgetail eagle feather.

“It reminds me of one of those old-fashioned quills,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to start writing again.”

I agree.

But what?

There’s a fresh white page in front of me, longing to be filled with words. I’m going to trust that just as I feel guided back to writing, what to write shall also be shown to me.

And of course, I’m open to suggestions. 🙂

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Girl, stop askin’ dem questions. Listen!

Wandjina by Lucy Ward

Wandjina by Lucy Ward

“Very few beings really seek knowledge in this world. Mortal or immortal, few really ask. On the contrary, they try to wring from the unknown the answers they have already shaped in their own minds — justifications, confirmations, forms of consolation without which they can’t go on. To really ask is to open the door to the whirlwind. The answer may annihilate the question and the questioner.” ~ Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat


The next installment in my Kimberley Story

Many years ago, when I lived in the remote Outback on a million acre cattle station at the top end of Western Australia I learned a number of important lessons. One of them was about questions and answers.

It took me a while to understand the etiquette involved in directing a question to an Aboriginal Elder. At first I just did what I’d always done. I looked the person in the eye and said exactly what was on my mind. Politely, of course. Respectfully. I would then wait for my answer. If they seemed to misunderstand I would reform the question in my mind and ask again in a slightly different way.

Somehow that didn’t work for me once I moved to the bush.

One of the first things I did was ask the Aboriginal Stockman what was so important about me seeing owls. At night I watched the owls as they came to the trees around our campfire. If I went on a moonlit walk they followed me. Owls had suddenly become a big part of my life.

He ‘hmmphed’ at me and turned on his heel, slouching off in the opposite direction. My question? Ignored. After that I was too shy for a long time to ask again.

As I became comfortable with Aunty and Grandmother, two Aboriginal Elders who came visiting, I decided I needed to ask about the owls once more. I was seeing so many of them now. There were usually seven at the camp fire each evening, sometimes nine. Two always followed me as I made my way back to my room or out for a walk with my dog. It seemed a bit weird.

“Aunty?” I started one afternoon as we drank tea in the shade of a big tree near the camp kitchen. “Can you tell me about the owls?”

Aboriginal Art - Image from Wikimedia Commons

Aboriginal Art – Image from Wikimedia Commons

Aunty ignored me. She sipped her strong sweet tea and scuffed dirt with her toe. After a while she took a hard gingernut biscuit and dunked it in her tea before slurping at it noisily.

I tried again. “Aunty, I did ask the stockman about it. I asked him several times in fact, but he won’t tell me.” I looked across at her but I couldn’t catch her eye.

Grandmother, who was much younger than Aunty, nudged my arm. “Not his place.” Her voice was gruff with disapproval. “Dat question for you to ask women. Dat question women’s business. You rude girl to ask him. Make him feel very uncomfortable.”

My cheeks burned with embarrassment. I’d made a huge cultural gaff. “I didn’t know! Oh goodness, I’m so sorry. I should go and say sorry at once.”

I stood up, and Aunty put her hand on my arm. “Sit, girl.” She laughed softly. “You aren’t to know our ways.” She went back to dunking biscuits in her tea. After a long silence she said, “Hurry-hurry answers no good for a big question.”

“Is it a big question?” I asked stupidly.

Aunty reached for another biscuit. She dunked it in her very sweet milky tea, turned it and dunked it again. Then slowly she nibbled around the edges in a neat circle. The remaining biscuit she placed on her spoon, lowering it into her mug of tea and watching it carefully. After a few more minutes she brought it to her mouth and slurped the soggy mess with great satisfaction.

I sighed. We weren’t getting anywhere.

“Aunty, I keep seeing owls. The Stockman asks me how many I see but he won’t tell me anything about it. No-one will tell me anything about it. Why is it important? Why is how many I see important?”

She put up her hand to stop me talking. “Girl, stop askin’ dem questions. Listen!” The old lady then resumed her biscuit dunking.

Image from yum2three

Image from yum2three

Listen? To what? No-one was talking. In the background I could hear the hum of the station’s big diesel generator. In the kitchen Cookie was clanking pots and pans and whistling badly to some tune on the radio. Down in the yards one of the men was breaking in a horse and I could hear the occasional crack of a whip. The afternoon breeze rustled the leaves above us.

I was really getting frustrated with this cultural divide. Why wouldn’t they talk to me?

“Need more tea,” Aunty finally said.

I took the empty pot into the kitchen, and was surprised when Grandmother followed me. “Girl, let me teach you how to do proper asking. Okay?” Her eyes were kind.

I nodded.

“Aunty a very old lady now. Elder for our mob. She holds many many things inside her. Big job to do that. You want to ask something? Go up to her, not looking in her face. That shows respect. If she sits, sit beside her, facing same way, looking out. If she stands, stand beside her. Not too close. Look out like she is looking out. Then ask your question.”

I’d been doing it all wrong. I felt sick with shame.

“One more thing,” Grandmother stopped me in the doorway. “If your question little question, not very important, Aunty tell you straight up. But if question big-time question, big important one for you, she make you wait so you will respect the answer. If it’s not your question she say nothing at all. She just look away. If not your time she look down. That tell you one day it can be your answer but not now.”

I wrestled the information in my head. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t how I’d been brought up. I grew up with teachers and libraries, encyclopedias and dictionaries. I’d been encouraged to learn, and to seek answers everywhere. I was used to information on demand, or as a result of how hard I worked. How could I succeed in a system where I couldn’t make things happen as and when I wanted them to happen?

Banging through the screen door I brought the teapot back out to the table. Aunty was still sitting in her chair, so I dragged mine around to her side of the table. I looked out to where some lorikeets were playing noisily in a blossom-laden tree.

I poured more tea and we watched the birds. I waited, agonizingly patiently, before starting again. When I spoke I looked out at the birds, and kept my voice calm and moderate. “Aunty, why are the owls important?”

She blinked and nodded her head slightly, indicating that she’d heard me.

“Well?” I wanted to yell. “Why can’t you just tell me?!!!” But of course I didn’t. I sat there patiently all afternoon.

Aunty never gave me an answer that day. When they said goodbye she put her warm hand on my front, over my heart. “You got to listen. Dat big heart of yours can listen. Dat heart know tings. Too much head, too much hurry-hurry no good. No good for you.”

As I lay in bed that night all I could think was that somehow my question was a ‘big-time’ question. But she hadn’t looked away, and she hadn’t looked down. She WAS going to give me an answer. Not in my time though. In her time.


How long would it take?

Image from White Wolf Pack

Image from White Wolf Pack

To be continued…