First, some thoughts on this ritual, and at the end of the page you’ll find the calendar of dates with your names attached. We are all now familiar with this ritual, and the key requirements — to acknowledge the specific Aboriginal group who have irrevocable connection to the land you speak from, and to acknowledge their sovereignty and ongoing relationship. Many Aboriginal people also ask that, in an Acknowledgement, we find our own way to speak to the importance of justice and repair, and our commitment to work towards these ends.
And while all of this is important, and often powerful, there’s so much more we can hold in our awareness, can cultivate in our presence, and perhaps find a way to speak to.
This work we are doing is done ‘on Country’ – an Aboriginal English word meaning the alive, animate systems of ecological interconnection and kinship. Co-becoming seeks to do with work ‘in’, ‘with’ Country — acknowledging, respecting, tending, courting this animacy, this intelligence. But we cannot expect to be able to easily, innocently access such knowledge.
We know that the venerable history of deep kinship and communication between peoples and the places we live includes the legacy of violence, colonisation and trauma. There is no level on which this can be ignored. I will quote again the resonant words of Rudolf Steiner – each step in spiritual development requires three steps in moral development. Our ability to allow space for the painful, complex, conflicting emotions of being here on stolen land is a doorway into more deeply knowing it, and loving it. And, perhaps, being trusted by it, by Country.
When we engage in the work of co-becoming, all of this is here in the room — as ghosts or spirits perhaps, or perhaps as bodies that unconsciously store and accumulate experience from many many generations. The point is not to try to make all of this conscious, but rather allowing space in our bodies to be present with the immensity, complexity and intelligence of feeling. With compassion and deep listening we seek to be present to the legacy — the the cultural achievement of Aboriginal Australia, the vast loss and pain, this confusing time of reckoning and re-membering.
To Acknowledge Country is, in its very nature, acknowledging animacy. And as a ritual, spoken aloud, it is addressing directly the more-than-human world. It is stating aloud to all that might be listening that we are seeking to come back into an ancient way of relating — talking with, rather than about, the world.
Some might think that to talk about animacy is a distraction from feeling the impact of the human story, the shattering and ongoing results of colonisation. This is a fair concern, given how in denial and anti-feeling our culture has been. But the intention is to pay the utmost respect to Aboriginal culture by taking seriously the importance, in their culture, of Country — of animate earth. The challenge is to speak in a way, with the appropriate depth, breadth and spaciousness, to allow room for all of this.
I had the experience the other day of a five hour road trip with Tyson Yunkaporta. I learned a lot. Mostly about the impossibility of getting any of this work ‘right’ all the time in the face of ongoing trauma and injustice. The paradox I feel that we’re working with is allowing ourselves to be with this discomfort and, at the same time, relaxed enough to feel the grace of the more than human world. Which, in my way of understanding, is the only thing big and wise enough to guide us into different ways of knowing.
Therefore, I hope this work might skill us for making cultural change that supports and resources Aboriginal people to access and lead from this space. Trauma and injustice create barriers for Aboriginal people that we all seek to dismantle. May this work increase our resilience and moral capacity in this space. Steiner’s quote again – every step in spiritual development requires three steps in moral development.
If all of this feels daunting, I want to say that some of the most beautiful Acknowledgements I’ve heard have come from a space of vulnerability, not-knowing and confusion — people being true to how all of this feels in them. It’s not about perfection, it’s about honesty, and cultivating the capacity to be present with the full range of emotions this ritual brings forth. There is no way to do it ‘wrong’ with such an intention.
Week 4. March Wednesday 1 — Stacia
Week 5. March Wednesday 8 — Kazzie
Week 6. March Wednesday 15 — Amie
Week 7. March Wednesday 22 — Kairava
Week 8. March Wednesday 29 — Rosie
Week 9. April Wednesday 5 — Kelly (Easter week April 12th off)
Week 10. April Wednesday 19 — Leesa
Week 11. April Wednesday 26 — Lisa
Week 12. May Wednesday 3 — Sarah Hardgrove
Week 13. May Wednesday 10 — Sarah Roseth
Week 14. May Wednesday 17 — Yonke
Week 15. May Wednesday 24 — Julie
Week 16. May Wednesday 31 — Kairava
Week 17. June Wednesday 7 — Amie
Week 18. June Wednesday 14 — Stacia
Week 4. March Friday 3 — Cat
Week 5. March Friday 10 — Rahme
Week 6. March Friday 17 — Kate
Week 7. March Friday 22 — Phoebe
Week 8. March Friday 31 — Sage (Easter week April 7th off)
Week 9. April Friday 14 — Maia
Week 10. April Friday 21 — Gabby
Week 11. April Friday 28 — Jess
Week 12. May Friday 5 — Julie
Week 13. May Friday 12 — Maya
Week 14. May Friday 19 — Jess
Week 15. May Friday 26 — Rahme
Week 16. June Friday 2 — Kate
Week 17. June Friday 9 — Phoebe
Week 18. June Friday 16 — Maia