There is so much for settler people to learn to become responsive and responsible dwellers in this land, and precious few traditional knowledge keepers. Which is why non-traditional ways of sharing have become so important.
One of the books that we look at as part of the Acknowledging Country course is the book Songspirals by the Gay’wu group of women. This profound book is the result of many years of close collaboration between women anthropologists and the women of a Yolngu family – hence there are multiple authors.
In it they write: “We bring this book to you: we cannot let this knowledge fade away. It has been here so long and it is still here. That is why this book is so important, to pass knowledge down, to continue the spirals. It needs to happen now and we want you to walk with us on this journey.”
They also write: “Country has awareness, it is not just backdrop. It knows and is part of us. It is home and land, but it is more than that. Country is the way humans and non-humans co-become, the way we emerge together and will always emerge together.”
That term, co-becoming, inspired many of us on the course. There was a group who were keen to keep working together after Acknowledging Country, and to practice some of what we’d learned from these different texts – to engage our subtle feeling senses, to listen to Country, and to learn responsiveness. To see if we could walk with the Gay’wu women, as they asked – beginner steps. So we started the Co-becoming Practice Community.
It’s been one of the great joys of my life, to meet with this group (of all women, as it happens) every two weeks, and together seek to listen to the more-than-human world with delicate care, and to write a little of what we hear. It’s surprising, strange, and often overwhelmingly beautiful.
There’s something about the vulnerable sharing of our words, the love that pours forth when we feel we have a true and honouring way to speak with the animate earth. And it’s deeply linked to the work we’ve done together in Acknowledging Country – sitting with discomfort, learning of the wisdom of ancient Indigenous wisdom, learning too of the lost and broken European Indigenous wisdom, and seeking to come into careful, respectful relationship with this brokenness, this complexity, this beauty.
For those who do this course with me and would like to go further, there’s a path, if you’d like to journey with us, we call co-becoming.