Jasmine – Flying Away
Mummy – Shutting down
Daddy – Personal Power
During cooking time in the communal kitchen at Bulungula Backpacker we made a friend, Mbali Marais, and Jasmine made fast friends with her impish companion, little Sepinkosi. We told her our story and she told us hers, and she offered to do a healing ceremony for us, at the place where the river flows out into the ocean. It was kind of a letting go of the wounds, letting go of the pain and grief after our baby boy, Rohan’s passing, and speaking to him, and speaking to all our ancestors. Mbali explains about the Ancestral Legacies, the primordial wound oscillating down the generations.
The best thing about staying at a backpacker, especially one as remote and rustic as Bulungula, is the interesting, amazing, cool people you meet, getting to know them, and their stories, and having long meaningful chats about whatever. Vita and Francesco were on an adventure of their own around the entire south coast of Africa, part of it on bicycle. We really connected with them and took our meals together and talked endlessly, and just before they left I asked Vita to tell us abit more about what she does back home: What is Music Therapy and how can it help with healing Trauma?
Music was what kept me almost sane, growing up. I loved all kinds of music, but I would say that Rock, Raggae, and Trance always found a way to lift my spirits, and guide me. For the longest time music really was my religion. And then learning to play the guitar wasn’t easy for me, but I stuck with it, and eventually it became a way for me to express myself, to be creative and artistic which was what my soul yearns for, and to find away to transmute my wounds and the tight anxieties into beautiful words and sounds… the songs of my heart came pouring out.
We got Jasmine a little ukelele that fits her perfectly and I try to encourage her to play, but not push her but just let her take it at her own pace. She loves to sing and make up her own songs, no encouragement needed on that score (at times we have to ask her to calm down) but sometimes she comes up with these spontaneous truly inspired pieces, and towards the end of the video is one of those: “take a little time to heal” she says.
Somewhere along the way, on our escapade up to the top of the Hogsback mountains, we got a nail in our tire and so we had to get down to East London to repair the flat tire, and get the car serviced. We stayed at Areena Backpacker and ventured into East London to do our dirty work, and to pick up some art supplies. While driving around looking for the art shop we came across Marlene Neumann’s fine arts photography gallery and since we were really getting into photography and videography, we decided to check it out, and we were pleasantly blown away to find such a rare gem, and treasure chest of wisdom about all things artistic, photographic and spiritual.
Marlene has a unique way of expressing her art and self through her lens and dark room. She captures the way something makes her feel, and then she takes it into the dark room where the artistic process continues to bring out the nuances, and numinous, that was not obvious in the mere capturing of light frequencies. It’s all heart with Marlene Neumann, and she kindly allowed us into her space, and world, and this has really deeply inspired and influenced our approach to our own artistic expression, and healing process. Marlene’s advice to us is to “Look Inside!” She says that “within you, you will find all the answers that you need.”
On our first day in Hogsback we met a spritely pixie named Yellowfoot. She was peddling her craft, lovely handmade amulets, necklaces, hairpieces etc. and we had an instant connection. She is so youthful, bright and playful, still retaining the child-like twinkle in the eyes, and still excited about adventures and healing. We loved her work and spirit and placed an order for amulets for each of us.
When we met again at “Away with the Fairies” we had a nice visit and long chat and discovered that she is also a Shaman and does healing ceremonies that go deep into the forest to the waterfall, and deep into the psyche to the creative source, where visions are born… She talked to us about how people disempower children, and the importance of being conscious and responsible about our behaviour and energy, especially around children.
She told us to leave our shoes behind to really experience the forest, and after a little while I felt something, a shimmer in the air, and so I stopped and closed my eyes, and then i saw an energetic being moving in extreme super slow motion, in an arc, swinging, like a reaper, perhaps the mythic grim reaper, but there was nothing grim about this reaper.
Later we reached the great great grandfather tree down in the heart of the forest. This huge ancient tree which was surrounded by a tall fence. Yellowfoot made me climb it and sit inside a hollow in the massive trunk and here i had my second vision. I can’t say why but i was a little overwhelmed and i cried a few little tears, and then i had the second vision. Another energetic being, a feminine presence this time seemed to be presiding over my tears, and she joyously proudly scattered blessings from them, as they rose spinning and sparkling.
We finally reached the waterfalls deeper down in the forest, and its ceaseless gushing and energy probably inspired the third vision. The night before I had a dream of a shark that dove deep into the darkness, and now in my vision it rose like some kind of phoenix but not in flames, but in glimmering energy, once again in ultra super slomo. These visions were made of my own stuck energies liberated, i could feel them as much as I could see them.
The reason we chose to start our healing adventure in Hogsback was because of a Facebook friend’s enigmatic pictures. There was something there, something in the soft hazy magical beauty of the forest, something about her wild wolves, and the piercing serenity in her eyes, and so as soon as we got there I made contact with Lyn, and we arranged to meet and discuss her Shamanic Healing Journeys.
We met at the Butterfly Bistro, for tea and a chat, she came with her wolves, but they waited patiently in the car, while we consulted about our need for healing as a family. Meeting her was like meeting someone familiar, someone you have known a long time. She invited us to her place for a healing ceremony.
It was a rainy day and we didn’t know what to expect but Lyn guided us through the process. It’s quite simple actually, after blessing the ceremony, and playing the drums and calling on the great spirits to guide us, you lay down and relax and then she goes on an imaginal vision journey to find your lost parts. It’s called Soul Retrieval and what she brought back for you opens a new way of self understanding understanding and communion with the unconscious and one’s spirit guide or guardian angel, if you prefer, working with symbols that have the potential to energise and awaken. It was fascinating how these ‘lost parts’ intermingled and amplified the symbols that my Active Imagination had produced during the Individuation course, and how this then flowed into my artistic creative outpouring. The night after soul retrieval I was thinking about my symbols while falling asleep and I had this kind of lucid dream in which a shark dived deep and then rose and emerged from the dark water, a beautiful majestic colourful energetic bird. I started painting this…
On our second day in Hoggies we visited The Edge Mountain Retreat and discovered that there was a weekend course taking place about “The Power of Presence” and it had something to do with Eckhart Tolle’s the Power of Now. We love Eckhart, and so we booked a spot for Varkha for this one and I would be with Jasmine. That’s what this expedition was all about; healing, meeting new people, trying new things, relaxing and having fun!
The ability to be present is going to be essential if we were to heal the terrible baggage of the past that was preventing us being free and living in joy; if we were going to really make our relationship work, and do better for Jasmine.
The retreat was called “Awakening the Shift” by John Homewood. We didn’t know that we were in for something very rare and special. It just shows when you put yourself out there and take a step or two in the direction of healing, life, the universe and everything unfurls to meet you half way. John kindly agreed to give a brief interview about healing from trauma.
I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle for years, and listening to his audio books and watching viedos etc. and I could certainly talk the talk of the Power of Now, and very often walk the walk, that is, access real stillness, real peace and joy in the moment, but very often, my day to day, moment to moment consciousness, was still dominated by anxieties and fears, especially when there’s some stress or trigger. But it somehow goes unnoticed, slips underneath the radar, because we are on autopilot, and then we mask it with religious and spiritual striving and bypassing. Meeting a true practitioner of Presence, planted the seeds of transformation, and really did awaken a shift in both of us.
Overcoming the burden of the past, so deeply entangled, interwoven and patterned into the biology and neurology of the body and mind, is not so easy, and those who have experienced chronic trauma and abuse from a young age will know very well the challenges. A superficial ‘letting go’ of the past doesn’t cut it, but we learnt a very important first lesson on the journey of healing that it is very important to be grounded in the joy of presence and to be able access that peace and fun, so that when we delve into our past and encounter our shadows and skeletons, we do not get lost and enmeshed, but can always find our way out again.
It’s not another way of running away from or patching over our past and our wounds, but rather it is a new awareness and way of observing feelings and thoughts, being honest with ourselves as we look at our behavioural habits, emotional routines, and mental patterns, and taking responsibility for how we really feel inside.
It’s a strange paradox that we can only really change when we allow and accept ourselves and our lives and realise that it is all arising out of the highest wisdom and the purest love. Doesn’t feel that why when those attachments are being shattered, but eventually we realise it when we are one degree more free.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
“Accept – then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
― Eckhart Tolle
Leaving Joburg was exciting. Varkha was quite anxious because she had never done anything quite like this before. I had been on these kind of adventures but this was also new territory for me. Selling up all our stuff and hitting the road, with no plan, just a first destination, Hogsback. I called around a few places, and someone kindly offered to put in a note in the local notice board, and a day later I got a call from someone with a nice little cottage for rent, at R3000 for the month, which is a bargain, and so that was the plan, and we would see from there. It was really an adventure, going into the unknown, trusting in Life, to guide us.
We packed everything we had left in the back of our Jeep and filled all the empty spaces with blank canvases and paint and art supplies, and hit the road. After a thirteen hour drive from Johannesburg heading due South, we went offroad into the Amathole Mountains just as a stunning sunset were painting them in flaming orange. We bounced over mountain roads, and finally arrived in Hogsback, just as it was getting dark, with a little bit of petrol left in the tank (I was anxious about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere but we made it). It didn’t take too long to find our cottage, just next to “Middle Earth”. It did take some time to locate the caretaker to open up. It was cold and so he made us a log fire but this only filled the whole cottage with an acrid smoke that would have delighted Sauron himself. Apparently the chimney had been recently painted and so it needed a good fire to burn away the paint. Not the best start to our little adventure!
But we slept and in the morning we awoke to gentle sunlight glimmering everywhere an enchanted forest and its soft mosses, and artistic weaving life, and sweet sounds of birds and children chirping, and Jasmine met her friends, Liyema, Asavela, Zimi, and Yonga, and they were inseparable after that for the next month.
with Tumisi Rearabetsoe Motaung and the crew
The Struggle to be is what defines the whole human experience.
Richard has a way of listening and genuine caring that is uplifting and healing in and of itself. We met Richard at a really low point, and he was a gracious but firm guide helping us to navigate and find direction.