Recently I made a trip to Augrabies National park completing a shamanic dream I had had about visiting the 4 corners of South Africa. The Khoi people called it ‘Aukoerebis’, or place of Great Noise, as this powerful flow of water is unleashed from rocky surroundings characterised by the 18km abyss of the Orange River Gorge.
Now I can carry with me, a small file filled with earth from each direction. I also see it as a culmination of a journey of belonging that began when I first left South Africa when I was three years old. My journey has always been I believe finding and returning home. Auspicious that it should culminate in this earth year.
Augrabies is a place of wonder. It felt familiar, obviously ancient in many parts, past life memories, it filled me and swallowed me up all at the same time. Mostly by its largeness. Vast canyons carved by water, rivers lakes and falls awed me into silence and wonder. Sitting at the edge of vistas under which black eagles have been known to rise up to eye level. I felt on top of the world and I understand the part of us that is truly larger than life.
“You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart, You are here to be swallowed up.” Louise Erdich, The Painted Drum
Chanting in the depth of a pot hole, I struggled to enter and facing a threshold across a small but terrifying (for me) crossing of a deep and rushing river I realised I did not have to cross it to overcome it.
The healing happened in just the facing of the fear because I remembered something old and that I had been there before. This lifetime I was not taken by the river, and a healing happened. Water they say carries a memory of the place through which it has travelled.
Sometimes we don’t always have to jump without a net I realised. Sometimes we push ourselves to limitless thresholds to prove something that existed in a distant reality. Something that may reside from an old wound, memory, past life, ancestral legacy. It drives us to succeed, compete, be loved accepted, to fill a deep hole inside us to be enough, when we were always enough.
What that vast ancient extraordinary land taught me to remember again was that I am enough. In the massive canyon and the tiniest deep red stone worn by the elements into a beautiful gem, nature is simply enough. It never asks us to be anything more. Our limitless potential and power is carried so deep in our bones, the cells of this body that carries us, that to view myself in such beauty I am deeply connected, not to the external beauty, but the beauty inside of myself. Power has by its nature a very fine line, and that’s why its easy to abuse and be abused. Power is so deeply embedded that we forget its right use and its way. Nature simply is powerful, it never has to prove it.
In that place I allowed myself all that was wanting to arise in me, love, wildness, anger and vulnerability. Nature mirrored it each day, in a gentle still pool of water, a deep and swirling, waterfall, and river so strong it could easily have taken my wobbley legs underneath me, never to be seen again.
Carving a way through rock that is millions of years old reminds me that I too am that river and that rock, that we withstand for humans an enormous amount and have the ability within us to also carve out a life of complete fulfilment wonder and awe. Included in that is a certain amount of suffering, that somehow strengthens us.
On this journey I learnt a lot about inner strength, at times my physical body was tired, discombobulated but I always felt strong, powered up by the super natural world that surrounded me, the genet who came to visit, three nights in a row, and posed for photos. Genets are by nature shy. The deep blessing of the Eland bull the power animal of the Bushman left a message that we were indeed walking in their spirit, on a full moon night it stared at us for a few seconds before it disappeared into the shadows of the night. I left understanding the meaning of supernatural.
As I continued to walk in the spirit of the Bushmen, their incredible awesome rock engravings moved me to shake and twitch and lie on the earth next to them, I was again reminded of leaving a legacy for our next generations. where ever they engraved emerged a place of power. Wherever ritual has been performed we add to the energy, either as a clean up of the land or to the potency of the place.
The journey culminated in the red sands of the Kalahari desert, and as always when I am with the Khomani San bushmen, despite the immense pain and suffering I witness there, I come away healed, because they teach me about true power.
Here with the red sands, the wind, the night, the energy is very different from where I had just come. It is tied up with immense heartbreak, devastation, and deep healing, stillness and silence, reminding of a line in a Rumi poem ” stillness is the surest sign that you have died.”
I met and connected with a Khomani Bushmen. Toppes is one of the last master trackers, now quite weak from illness, I saw again that the whilst the body was frail he mustered the strength to join us on the drive to look at the sand for animal tracks. Its embedded deep in his bones, this ancient wisdom and knowledge, he doesn’t have to show how strong he is or what he knows, I saw his power on another level. And I got it, a profound revelation. The spirit lives on and the spirit we carry when the body is gone is as strong as it is when we are alive and manifests in the ancestors that I work with, feel surrounded by and that, also helps me to be strong, and the illusive power that is with in us now, that we so often forget, is right there to tap into. I saw it in this frail Bushmen I saw his power, and his strength, his playfulness and I remembered my own, and I am humbled and whole all at the same time.
Although I dress in western clothes most of the time I feel like this
May all worlds bless and protect you always