I am descended from the race of the oppressors
by Kathy Jones, Priestess of Avalon, Priestess of the Goddess
Two weeks ago in Melbourne I went with Tricia Szirom, Jenny Cameron and Margaret DeKam, to see the first ever indigenous Australian opera, ‘Pecan Summer’, which was written and directed by Deborah Cheetham and performed by an indigenous cast. The opera tells the painful story of the exodus of the Yorta Yorta people from their homeland, and the abduction of Alice, a nine year old girl, stolen from her parents and taken by white Christian missionaries as their own child, with all the heartache and sorrow of an oppressed and displaced people. I was moved to tears and deeply affected by this opera. I had never really felt in my heart what my ancestors had done to this beautiful land of Australia.
I am British. I am descended from the race of the oppressors of the indigenous aboriginal people of this beautiful, ancient and sacred land of Australia. In my bloodlines are the memories of all that was done by my patriarchal ancestors, who travelled across the world colonizing, oppressing, and destroying so called ‘primitive’ peoples and lands, for their own good. My ancestors conquered the world in the name of their King, in the name of Jesus, and because they thought that they knew best.
I carry a sense of shame for the actions of my ancestors, for all the deaths, all the rapes and torture of women and girls, boys and men, all the maiming, cruelty, disease and hunger my people caused, all the separations and dismemberment of family and society, that was done by my people to the peoples of the world.
There is no excuse, no justification for what has been done. Only great sorrow at the unacceptable ignorance and stupidity of individuals and societies, mostly men, but also women, who here in Australia, harried and hunted a people they thought they were superior to, a people who had lived in harmony with Mother Earth for 60,000 years.
I did not do these things, but my ancestors did. How do I take responsibility for the actions of my colonizing forebears? I do not live here, I am a visitor, but I can speak of my feelings. I am sorry for all that was done by my people to the indigenous Aboriginal people and to this land of Australia. There is no reparation that can be good enough. Nothing can ease these memories of the atrocities committed. My tears cannot erase this behavior. But I am sorry.
It is hard for me to say these things to you, but I am not the one who has suffered. It is the people of this land who have suffered. And all those who live here in this land in the present who come from all over the world, must live with the results of the actions of the ancestors, trying to find the ways to bridge the gaps between peoples, to bind the schisms, to heal the deep wounds to people and land.
And this discrimination and suffering is not over now. It still exists in the present. My government is still almost continuously at war with someone somewhere on the planet, killing and maiming in the name of democracy and the defence of freedom. While we, the majority of ordinary British people are against war and the actions of our government, we repeatedly elect politicians who promote and perpetuate war. We seem unable to release ourselves from the thrall of the industrial military complex no matter how hard we might try. It is buried so deeply, so intimately woven into the fabric of death-wielding western society.
In my DNA I carry the genes of the oppressors and so must be continually vigilant in my words and actions, that I might heal and neutralize these wounded rogue elements within my own psyche. I hold my own wounding with love and compassion, just as I might hold you in your wounded places. Thus together we might be able to heal some of the wounding in the outer world. And I am sorry.
In my bloodlines I also carry the memories of a much earlier time in my own land, the British Isles, or Brigit’s Isles as we like to call them. A time when Goddess was loved and adored, when She was known to be the whole of Her Nature, the Earth, Water, Fire and Air, the Sun, Moon and Stars and the Space between all things. When She was known by many names – Brigit, Ana, Rhiannon, Banbha, Keridwen, Madron, Morgen, and Lady of Avalon.
From about 5,000 BCE during the neolithic and bronze ages in Brigit’s Isles, every few miles sacred ritual sites were created by a youthful people from earth, wood, water, stone and bone – sacred caves, hilltop enclosures, ritual mounds, holy wells, stone circles and standing stones, that all bespeak a widespread Goddess-loving culture. These people are also my far ancestors. They are the ones that I relate to.
Around 2,300 BCE everything finally changed in my land. What had once been a peaceful Goddess-loving society living in harmony with the cycles of the seasons of Her nature – much like yours, lost its way. Whether by oppression from invaders, by forgetting, through individual greed or avarice, patriarchal power-over values entered into the society. The stones at Stonehenge were capped, and the connection between the heavens and the earth was denied. For hundreds of years onwards no new sacred sites were built within a two hundred mile radius of Stonehenge. Power became centralized. Domination – power over, had entered in.
The Ways of Goddess were forgotten, gradually erased from our culture and society and lost to our memories, held only in folklore, legends, some seasonal celebrations and in the names of places. The land of the Hesperides, the Fortunate Isles, where you might eat the famed Golden Apples of Wisdom, was lost somewhere far away across the sea.
And the Isle of Avalon, the Sacred Paradise Isle, where everything grows in Her abundance, the place of our Dreaming, where Goddess has lived from time immemorial and still lives today, it too began to fade away. The Lady of Avalon Goddess of the Sacred Land, and the circle of the Nine Morgens, the Nine Sisters of Avalon, retreated beyond the mists and became hidden from our everyday view. We forgot to honour the Earth and everything She gives to us. We forgot our Mother who gives us life. We forgot where we came from, who nurtured and supported us in every breath. We forgot Her.
It was a long time until now, when we have begun to remember Her. Until now, when we are opening our hearts to Her once again, allowing Her healing, compassionate and loving energies to flow in and through us into the world, transforming the negativity within and all around us. As we become creative and generous in the ways in which She is creative and generous – as She is continuously and abundantly inventive.
She is returning as we remember Her. Each person – woman, man and child, re-membering who She is, makes a difference. In Brigit’s Isles the Isle of Avalon is beginning to appear once again, becoming visible in the landscape of the small country town of Glastonbury in Somerset, the Summerlands. Avalon is emerging from the mists to be experienced by those who love Her, as well as by those who may stumble inadvertently into Her mysteries. She is calling us to awaken and remember Her and many are responding to Her call. Just as She is calling each one of you in this great land, to awaken and remember Her here, to heal what has been lost, to forgive the unforgiveable.
This is our hope of forgiveness for the atrocities which have and are still being committed against Her and against Her lands and peoples. That we learn to love Her again. That we love each other as She has always loved us.
My prayer is that you might hear Her Call to you and answer Her with an open heart and with all your creativity, learning to cooperate together in bringing Her back in this land. For if we do not do this work who will?
We are the ones, the people who are bringing Goddess back into the world and this is a wonderful time to be alive. Everything around us is changing and we are the people of Her Change, for She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes.
Great Mother change us!!