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It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I am hoping that I will get back into the blogging swing and post more regularly. The truth is I have about 3 posts sitting in my drafts folder detailing various projects I’m currently in the middle of. Apparently, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Coupled with the fact I’ve been a little bit busy these last few week.

Regardless, people have been liking on my Facebook page, clicking and checking out items available at my etsy store (links to the left) and commenting and liking here. It’s very exciting and encouraging. And as a result of following the threads of the cyber web I’ve found many people doing similar things all over the world, incorporating age old European practices and merging them in new places around Australia and the Americas. And that’s inspiring.

Increasingly we are all concerned with using things, natural things, sustainable things that occur in our own environments. Connecting with the vital force of the places we live, and preserving it. As we in the Southern Hemisphere approach Rosemas (Beltaine), I’ve been considering the 9 Sacred Woods of old used to build the Sacred Fire at Rosemas. The Anderean Coven incorporates both Traditional Woods that can be found all over Hobart, thanks to over 200 years of European settlement, and Natives in a combined 9 that honour both our Land and our Ancestry. Revisiting this in the last few weeks, I found a number of people posting online about the trees of their immediate environments that they have come to work with and now incorporate into this old practice. Particularly in North America. What great work this is! Collecting and working with place to empower others with this Wisdom, pulling on our European threads and weaving them anew into places, places as majestic and awes-inspiring, as powerful.

Rosemas is certainly the theme of the moment. I’m particularly excited because the Tasmanian Flax Lilies are all starting to show new stems ready to burst in flower. 2 years back I potted a little flax lily after I learned of their significance, and this year is the first year it will flower and produce fruits. I’ve begun experimenting with a craft project I’ve had in mind since last year.

Dianella tasmanica – Tasmanian Flax Lily (blueberry) with berries

There is unfortunately much less of Tasmanian Aboriginal Lore available then there is for other nations around Australia, who, for a witch in Australia, provide a great source of Lore, particularly regarding flora. For myself, I have a great interest and much of how I have come to use things has developed from an Indigenous start point, shared by friends, and in various places by Elders from Nations all over Australia. We are greatly blesses that our First Nation kin have preserved their Lore, against ongoing resistance, and have been so generous with it.

I was first introduced to Indigenous Tasmanian basket weaving through tayenebe in 2010, having just moved from Sydney to Hobart, standing in TMAG and looking at a basket woven by Trucanini. Such intricate work, so skillfully executed, and a tangible link to the heritage of this place, so beautifully articulated. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the weight of the historical implications of this seemingly simple object, the physical link to the strong women who have inhabited this land, the work they did, and contributed to their communities, the other artisans who had now taken up the threads and re-invigorated this craft and Art for a new generation with pride. Most Aussie school children are introduced to some form of basket weaving in the Arts and Craft section of their primary education, but I found myself thinking of the embroidery, crochet and knitting of my Mum, and Grandmothers, and how vitally important it was too me to have these items of theirs from 3 generations, two continents, to have learned to knit, sew, cross-stitch and embroider from them.  Of the simple loom my Swedish Grandpa had made me so I could learn to weave even when I was very little. How I had neglected these skills.

Mother sea, 2008, Nannette Shaw, Dianella tasmanica, photograph – Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Suddenly we were linked across traditions and continents by these arts, by weaving. In the last few years I have made small headway in flexing these skills, and the older I get the more important these skills are to me, to keep them, to practice them. The winter is always when my knitting comes out, and I’ve been practicing. Now with the rushes and flaxes exploding in the Spring, I want to give another kind of weaving a try.

The berries of the flax lily are a deep purple and besides learning to weave the flax myself, I also want to try my hand at colouring the flax and rushes with the dye made from this fruit as the women of the First Nations are said to have done. I have probably a good couple of months before the berries will be ready to collect, in the meantime my lounge-room floor is currently littered with flax and rushes as I’ve been experimenting with softening, splitting and weaving them together.

It’s a slow process. But things worth doing are worth doing well, and so take time to practice. I may never be an expert, but the idea of being able to make items like this, both beautiful and practical that have the power to weave us into the currents of Land that have been participated with for thousands of years is worth it, even if I shall never be proficient.

Basket, 2007, Colleen Mundy, Dianella tasmanica
photograph – Tasmanian Museum and Art gallery

And there could be no better time, when we celebrate the Spring at it’s fullest, and the Great Lady, our Rose Queen, who blooms and makes ready the next generations of all with her secret weaving, infinitely diverse and beautiful.

It has also put me in mind of a larger project, which I hope to begin in the coming weeks; that is to start a glossary of Native Flora here on Australis Incognita, to share how I work with and why I work with various native plants, as I weave them into my Craft.