I want to acknowledge that I have written and posted this in different parts of Australia, all of which is Aboriginal land. The crown and the government is an illegal occupation of this land and sovereignty was never ceded. I pay my respects to all Elders past, present and emerging.
While spending time in north Queensland I was fortunate enough to meet Aunty Lil, a newly nominated Elder of the Idindji/Ggunddji people. I was honoured to spend time on the sacred land of her family, the land of the Birriah people of the Birri Gabba language nation. I was intrigued to know how she felt about her Eldership and how she feels she can make changes through this opportunity.
As an Elder Aunty Lil holds a lot of wisdom, much of which can’t be shared to the wrong people, or rather must only be shared to the right people. In fact it is an imperative part of Eldership that that knowledge be preserved and handed on through the generations.
Aunty Lil, laughing tells me straight up how surprised she was to have been nominated as an Elder by her senior women Elders in Yarrabah. To be an Elder, to have “the Law sticks bestowed on [you]” is a great responsibility she explains. “I must put the muscle on the skeleton so that the Elder in me becomes and living, breathing person.” A huge part of this responsibility is finding the people who have the gifts of Eldership in their personality and helping them to grow and learn so that they too can one day hold the wisdom that Aunty Lil and other elders hold.
I was overwhelmed with joy when Aunty Lil started explaining to me her philosophies of how to act in this world, they resonated so strongly with me and the things I had been thinking about. “The love of the heart is like the spear of what I am doing and is given through song and dance” she starts explaining “I am an Elder but I see myself as more of a servant.” This service she is giving to her community benefits everyone and has a ripple effect across her country. But as these positive actions transcend social and energetic networks so can negative ones if the intent is not pure; “pure heart love, it protects me in a way, because if you do it for other things it becomes warped and if its warped it can turn around and come back to you as a curse… be careful about what you ask for; be very specific about what you want and ask for the things you need.”
One of my biggest personal thinking points is what strengths does acting with love have over acting just through logic and brain process? I truly think that life is a balancing act and it is always important to keep the heart in focus throughout all the cognitive things, but I wanted to hear what Aunty Lil had to say about this as well. “Like the Buddhists believe, if the chakras are aligned then you can only speak from one spectrum” she begins“and the love spectrum is where I speaks from; that is logical to me because we are all part of the human race and if we have a similar mind set then we only want what’s best for every living person… and this creates a beautiful unifying of a life force.” She goes on “The great minds of 21st century have not seen [this] for a long time or not seen ever. Going back to the big bang theory people and places were separated so people all evolved in a certain way; some people kept closer to this one mind philosophy others sort of went off in other ways.”
Australian history tells a horrifying colonial story of rape, plunder, pillaging and murder- actually outright genocide swept across the continent and the effects are still ongoing today. Aunty Lil explained to me that this mindset that the Europeans came to Australia with was their way of feeling powerful and important. This mindset could be seen as an ‘opponent’ to Aunty Lil’s philosophy of acting through love; “I don’t like it because I’m a product and my peoples land has been moulded by that mindset” she says but then goes onto say that she “still [doesn’t] deny them their humanity, we are all one and I believe that if we move to create this one mindset to loving everybody then we will negate and change that mindset. But that mindset has enslaved the world for a long time but it has to be broken”
This I found this so powerful to hear, after everything that her people have gone through and are still going through due to this illegal and immoral occupation, this wise woman was still telling me that the most important thing that we can do is love one another so that love can prevail over this world. My gosh, imagine if we all could feel this way!
As Aunty Lil continues her journey as an Elder she will have to pass on one of the Law sticks which was entrusted in her. She believes the second Law stick belongs to a younger family member with gifts and personality for eldership who will one day follow in her footsteps. She knows that when the time is right she will feel it and she will know who that right person is when they are ready. She has already given some gifts of song and ceremony: She is teaching others dance. She explains that she can teach family ties but to teach others outside of close family she would have to consult her senior elders.
As Aunty Lil continues her journey through Eldership she will inevitably come across challenges and will learn a great deal while she is teaching others but I have no doubt that she will make changes. Through acting out of love she will change the hearts and minds of others that energy will continue resonating through and through.
“I am more than my circumstance …I don’t see my path as a narrow path, I see my path as big river that’s flowing so many places and if I let myself be taken by the river then so many places I can go!
When you resist that’s when you’re going into that safe little world and thinking no I can’t do this, I can’t do this! But I say go on, just let it flow!… you never know where it might take you… [we] miss out on opportunities sometimes but I always expect the best will come out of a meeting rather than expect the worst”
“I don’t know what belief the world will end at but … consciousness has to change to wrap one mindset around it, sending love through all the nations and making oneness through love. Where I walk it’s not an unattainable thing, it can happen. So if I do my bit and do all my jobs around my Eldership with the right mindset and focus then I’m helping that along and its that power of one again and if each person chooses that then that ripple effect goes out to so many others…
This is just the way it works for me and I share that and I encourage other old persons to do that too.”
I was so thrilled to have been given the chance to have this chat with Aunty Lil, it filled my heart with hope knowing that this loving mindset is still within many of us.
*All photos are credit of Bec Adams and Frontline Action on Coal