Acknowledging ‘Country’ – Listening to and Speaking your Place
“We cry for you because you haven’t got meaning of in this country. We have a gift we want to give you. And it’s the gift of pattern thinking. It’s the culture which is the blood of this country, of Aboriginal groups, of the ecology, of the land itself.”
David Mowaljarlai, Ngarinyin elder
This Writing Course aims to facilitate opportunities for profound connection to place and to history with which to ground your words, enrich your understanding, and to grow your ongoing connections to Country.
The focus will be an exploration of the new Australian ritual of Acknowledging Country that for the last decade or so has taken place at the start of public gatherings. This ritual has emerged at a vital cultural moment, with the growing awareness and acceptance of Australia’s violent conquest history, and greater understanding of the ongoing impacts of colonial culture on both Aboriginal and settler cultures.
Carl Jung as both therapist and cultural agent held space for difficult questions and saw the deeply personal as necessary for cultural and political transformation. He brought awareness of the archetypal realm (pattern thinking) and of Anima Mundi – the soulfulness and animacy of earth.
In the spirit of Jungian processes, the investigation will take a depth psychological approach to researching and creating your own Acknowledgement of Country. We will be using a tool Jung developed, Active Imagination, to sense and dialogue with Country. You will be invited to deeply, personally, and somatically engage in the practice of Acknowledging Country through invocation – speaking aloud to animate Country, and listening for words that feel true and real.
At the same time, we will respectfully engage with a range of profound and generously gifted Aboriginal cultural materials. These will help us shape a meaningful and appropriate Acknowledgement to speak aloud at relevant occasions.
This course will take place over (four) fortnightly Zoom sessions, with readings and guided exercises to explore in the time between sessions.
Friday 27 August: Introduction and Overview of ‘Acknowledging Country’. Country is an Aboriginal English word meaning both the visible and invisible word around us; people, plants, animal, landforms, weather systems, the animate spirit that infuses us all, the stories and the web of relationships between us. To acknowledge Country, then, is to acknowledge an alive, sensing world. The implications of this are enormous, with the potential to disrupt the de-animated worldview that underpins the colonial paradigm. – How might we fruitfully and respectfully engage with this other way of knowing, and learn the responsibilities and connections of deep belonging?
Thursday 9 September: ‘Returning to the Roots’ The European tradition: including Goethe, Jung, and the deep and hidden history of faerie, otherwise known as nature connection. Re-enchantment: tradition and the power of the spoken word. Guided writing exercises and tools for engagement with body, history, soul and soil.
Thursday 23 September: ‘Rooting in Ancient Earth’ The Aboriginal tradition: The Gift, the meaning of Country, Dreaming and Dadirri; Deep Listening. Guided writing exercises and tools for engagement with Country.
Thursday 7 October: (Completion) ‘Speaking your words’: a whole group sharing of experiences and acknowledgements.