Archive for the ‘The Armchair Tourist’ Category


What three books would you NOT take?

September 11, 2011
a bonza Aussie bloke Rod Taylor in The Time Machine, 1960

Enquiring squirrels would like to know.


Things that hurt my womb

September 4, 2011

Secret Women's Business ~ Jenny Bowker

Photograph by Kate Andrews

Jenny Bowker on the inspiration for her quilt:

My daughter brought an encyclopaedia of contraception home for a school project. I was fascinated by the range of shapes and played with them – using fleshy colours for backgrounds, and colours which do not belong in the body in the IUD’s.

My son commented that they looked like an explosion in the Barbie aisle. I worry that Barbie is teaching our children the wrong values – a need for a long thin body with big breasts, a wardrobe full of satin gowns, a palomino horse, a caravan, and Ken, forever sealed into his jocks.

In looking for a different symbol of fertility I used images of old symbols – the Venus of Willendorf and others like her. To further emphasise the fertility theme you will find the phases of the moon, quilting to suggest the tree of life in some places and a uterus and ovaries in others, and cowries – symbolising woman in the South Pacific where I grew up.

View the fruits of Australian quilter and textile artist at her website  Jenny Bowker  and  Postcards from Cairo – Jenny’s blog 

I am an Australian quiltmaker married to a diplomat (retired now). I have lived about fifteen years of the last thirty in the Middle East. This blog started in Egypt, and has morphed back to Australia with our return”

Jenny’s quilt was the first example of Goddess-themed contemporary textile art I had ever seen.  It left a huge impression….possibly reopening my eyes as an Artist and Scamp and tilling the soil for the idea (at least) that such creativity is also within my grasp. I had to get over my emerald green envy first of Jenny’s talent and that of all the other textile artists. 

Actually it’s not their talent I was formerly envious of………it was the income level of their husbands that allows them to spend all day quilting, and many other things that I could not have languaged back then, 10 – 20 – 25 years ago. 

Is quilting a spiritual path?  I dunno, I’ll ask my cat who sleeps under the hoop.

Image and all text nicked from Jenny B’s website.



September 4, 2011

  In most Aboriginal cultures, the sun is female and the moon is male.

 The Yolngu say that Walu, the Sun-woman, lights a small fire each  morning,  which we see as the dawn. She paints herself with red ochre, some of which spills onto the clouds, creating the sunrise. She then lights a torch and carries it across the sky from east to west, creating daylight. At the end of her journey, as she descends from the sky, some of her ochre paints again rubs off onto the clouds, creating the sunset. She then puts out her torch, and throughout the night travels underground back to her starting camp in the east.

The Yolngu tell that Ngalindi, the Moon-man, was once young and slim (the waxing Moon), but grew fat and lazy (the full Moon). His wives chopped bits off him with their axes (the waning Moon); to escape them he climbed a tall tree towards the Sun, but died from the wounds (the new Moon). After remaining dead for three days, he rose again to repeat the cycle, and continues doing so till this day. The Kuwema people in the Northern Territory say that he grows fat at each full Moon by devouring the spirits of those who disobey the tribal laws.

  Because the Australian Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous culture in the world, it is probable that the Australian Aboriginal people are the world’s oldest astronomers.

 The Boorong people see in the Southern Cross a possum in a tree

 The rising of Venus marks an important ceremony of the Yolngu, who call it  Barnumbirr (“Morning Star”) They gather after sunset to await the rising of the planet. As she approaches, in the early hours before dawn, the Yolngu say that she draws behind her a rope of light attached to the island of Baralku on Earth, and along this rope, with the aid of a richly decorated “Morning Star Pole”, the people are able to communicate with their dead loved ones, showing that they still love and remember them. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

 Explore the beliefs of the oldest astronomers at Australian Aboriginal Astronomy

Image Credit: Voyages Indigenous Tourisim, Australia

Plain Talk

August 31, 2011

The following text has been purloined from A plain man’s transpersonal notebook.  Christopher Wynter is a Tasmanian Transpersonal Therapist and his take on enlightenment (and the whole bellybuttonlintsorting deal) is the sanest, and most practical, I have ever come across.  For the beginner who is exploring the Transpersonal, this bloke knows his stuff and there’s no New Age bullshit.  For the folks who think they know a thing or two, surfing the plain man’s site is like a glass of fine Cognac beside an open-fire.  Offerings include:

enlightenment is never complete — the transpersonal joke

Learning for me is an evolutionary thing. Quite often, when I write from the “Transpersonal Space” to the list – or to somewhere else – there is something in what I write for me – perhaps something that I have not yet put into words – perhaps another perspective from which to view life.

The Cosmic (Transpersonal) Joke

One thing I have learned during my own Journey is NEVER to say
“I have completed all there is to complete of my own Psychology” and/or “I know all there is to know” and/or “I am enlightened, illuminated or spiritually evolved”

Firstly this is to say there is an end to the Universe. 
Secondly, this is to say “my life is complete and all that is left for me is death” ..

and ..

if neither of these apply, then your ego is doing a good job on you and the very next lesson will be the Cosmic Joke –

The lesson of Humility

You will either come down to earth with a very big jolt –
or you will have a great bout of depression –
or you will conspire with yourself to ensure that your next Transpersonal experience is waking up dead.

In the past we have “gurus, teachers and sages” who are quoted as being the definitive authority on the subject of quot;Enlightenment”.

There are not too many of them that are still alive in the Physical body – in fact, when you have a good look at who they are and their life story, most have given up the body, for one reason or other, very shortly after their greatest period of illumination.

That’s the ego for you.

With the flow of the Tao – the simultaneously fractally evolving and involuting Universe – how can one imagine that one can possibly know all there is to know – and say their “illumination” (or their psychology) is complete.

The Illusion

If your illumination (or your psychology) has been the purpose of your life’s living experience – if be-ing is all the “be-all and end-all” objective,

then what you will become is a very bright vegetable existing in a self-induced mesmeristic or stuporific delusion the pseudo spiritual like to call “Blissed out”

There are plenty of stories about the bodies who exist in this state in the caves of the Himalayas – and in some of the Ashrams and Monasteries.

There are even a few Psychologists (including the Transpersonal ones) who claim they know all there is to know – until they have a nervous breakdown because the nerves that tried to maintain that illusion of grandeur finally gave up the ghost.

quite often because (and the picture I get is) they walk round with their heads up their own backsides – thus becoming very constipated .. and .. without a properly functioning anal sphincter, the brain dies ..

This of course, is the ultimate “no-mind” experience.

NOTHING is ever complete

and just to confuse some of you, there is no path that lead to any destination apart from death – with a subsequent re-birth in some other state which depends on your attachment to the regrets of your past experience of what you once thought was your life.

What do you envision for yourself?

Do you have a purpose – or an end goal in what you are trying to achieve? If so, you will, one day, eventually fulfil that purpose – until there is nothing left.

Or – is your definition of being – one of continually living life as an experience of the moment – without attachment – allowing the flow of the Tao – the rise and fall of the tides – the in-breath and the out-breath –

to flow through you – without attachment – continually growing in the fractal evolution which is “Enlightenment” ..

This is the practical application of Transpersonal – The Psychology of ALL expressions of the Unified Field that is Consciousness ..

Just remember – shortly after the moment you (your mind and your ego) thinks you have done “it” .. that there is nothing more left to “do” .. IT will do you .. and you will become the embodiment of the Cosmic Joke

God's Cooking Class


From the Quaballa,
Enlightenment comes when the Crown meets the firmament (or when Malkuth meets Keether)
From Christopher Wynter,
enlightenment comes when your third eye meets your turd eye and you can see all of your own shit
However, as Enlightenment is a cyclic thing
just like the Moon and the Sun,
so the moral of the story is ..
don’t let your head get stuck…
enlightenment is understanding THAT 


The information contained in this site comes from original research carried out over a number of years and is published to encourage debate and self inquiry. Points of view expressed are not taken from any source other than the results of personal research or experience and are not attributable to any other author unless indicated.

Everything we have put in this site is here in good faith:

The material contained in this site and/or provided in any interaction you may have with us is not a substitute for professional advice.

We can only take responsibility for having put this material here for you to read. What you do with it now is up to you. In fact, we don’t need you to believe any of it. We would prefer if you would use it as a guide to you finding your own conclusions about the Possible Human within you.

  … copyright 1997-2011 Transpersonal Lifestreams, Hobart, Tasmania
  … updated 21st March 2011.

28 Degrees Pisces

August 23, 2011

Nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing so gentle as real strength

excerpt from Pilgrimage to Melangell’s Healing Centre by Noragh Jones
Third day –  arriving at Melangell’s shrine and Cancer Help Centre, nestling at the head of a green valley. The church stands in a pre-christian circular enclosure. There was a healing well nearby, but now it’s been fenced off and privatised by a new owner.
This is the end of my solitary pilgrimage. I meet friends and talk too much the way you do when you’ve been alone. Then we catch ourselves out and sit quietly in the church for an hour – praying or not praying according to our lights.
On the oak rood screen Melangell is saving a hare from the Prince of Powys’s hunting party. All around the church are carvings of happy hares finding sanctuary under the saint’s cloak. (The locals call hares wyn bach Melangell – Melangell’s lambs).
I read in the visitor’s book a moving record of hundreds of pilgrims who have come here and found the help they needed – to go on living or to face dying. I am lost for words. I go and sit in silence at Melangell’s shrine.
ar ei allor                                   (on her shrine
hen gath yn eisted                       an ancient cat sits
ac yn canu grwndi                       purring)
Later we go out into the churchyard. The yew trees they say are two thousand years old. Their broken trunks bleed red sap. But they go on offering shelter to whoever comes – faith or no faith.
rym ni’n cymry ein tro                 (we take it in turns
profi tragwyddoldeb                     trying on eternity
yn yrywen gau                               in the hollow yew)
[Re-blogged from Musings from Gelli Fach]

A Gift of the Desert

August 22, 2011

The symbolism embedded in the archaeological record of Nabta Playa in the Fifth Millennium BC is very basic, focussed on issues of major practical importance to the nomads: cattle, water, death, earth, sun and stars."

Oldest Astronomical Megalith Alignment Discovered In Southern Egypt By Science Team
March 31, 1998

On the dusty planes of Nabta in southern Egypt, ancient nomads stopped for a short time to bask in the Nile’s intense summer sunshine. Beneath the Tropic of Cancer, they erected stones that cast no shadows, aligned with the rising and setting of the sun.


A large basin known as Nabta Playa, located about 100 km west of Abu Simbel near the Egyptian-Sudanese border
Latitude 22 32 00N. Longitude: 30 42 00E

The site, known as Nabta, is between 6,000 and 6,500 years old, or about 1,000 years older than Stonehenge. The Nabta site was discovered several years ago by a team led by Southern Methodist University anthropology Professor Fred Wendorf. It appears to have been constructed by nomadic cattle-herders living in southern Egypt. The complex isn’t circular like Stonehenge. It is .8 miles wide and 1.8 miles long. It includes 10 slabs some 9 feet high, 30 rock-lined ovals, nine burial sites for cows, each under a pile of 40 to 50 rocks weighing up to 200 or 300 pounds apiece, and a “calendar circle” of stones. Many of these features line up in five radiating lines, one of them running east-west. The calendar circle is a 12-foot-wide arrangement of slabs about 18 inches long, most of them lying down.

Nabta Playa

Because Nabta lies near the Tropic of Cancer, the noon sun is at its zenith about three weeks before and three weeks after the summer solstice, preventing upright objects from casting shadows. “These vertical sighting stones in the circle correspond to the zenith sun during the summer solstice,” said Malville, an archeoastronomer at the University of Colorado. “For many cultures in the tropics, the zenith sun has been a major event for millennia.” Two pairs of upright stones stand directly across the circle from each other, defining a view that would have displayed sunrise at the summer solstice. The circle also contains two other pairs of standing stones that defined a north-south view. {read more]


The Travelling Vintage Show

August 18, 2011

Kangaroo Ground, Victoria

The History of Trish Hunter Finds.

Since I was very young, I’ve always been playing shop, though I never treated it like a game.  I took it very very seriously.  It was business after all! I remember reading a diary entry where I’d sold Dad a pet rock and I made a note saying “Reminder, get 25c from Dad” The next day’s entry was “Got my 25c from Dad”  So so serious.

I was doing anything and everything to create little businesses, from dog walking for $3 per hour, to holding market stalls selling beaded jewellery and doing wraps in other kids hair.

I remember in perhaps year 7, buying two garbage bags of books from the local opshop which cost me a whole $2, and lugging them up to the second hand book shop selling them for $40. It was always all about business.
I always wanted to be a shop owner.

I began to take the idea seriously about 6 or 7 years ago. I wanted to start a shop selling vintage band t-shirts with a cheap recording studio out the back.
It was about the same time that I began seriously trawling the Opshops finding cool things for myself. It quickly got to the stage where I’d bought so much that I couldn’t move in my house. The vintage band tshirt shop idea morphed into a vintage shop, and there the dream began to unfold.

Vintage Blythe Doll

Vintage Blythe Doll

Dreaming of owning a shop for my whole life, gave me a narrow view.
Every shop is in a building! That’s what you do, and that’s what I was aiming for. I didn’t consider that there could be a different way to do things, which was very unlike me – I was always one to think outside the square.

So about two years ago, I finally had a lease for the shop I’d always dreamed about, in my hand and ready to sign, however in the end it fell through.
Being denied the shop of my dreams, though completely devastating at the time, opened my mind up to new things. My narrow view widened.

I remember before I even had my drivers license, bringing up with a friend the idea of  selling out of a caravan, taking the shop with me everywhere.  That was kind of laughed off at the time, and forgotten about until…

I began to have regular market stalls, to clear out some of the vintage collectables and clothing that I’d accumulated over the years.
I did quite well.  So I had more stalls, and more!

It almost became a little shop!
I had regular customers, and I got to continue to do what I love which was to buy and sell, however there were flaws. I was constantly being rained on, blown over and having stock get ruined. I couldn’t do marvelous displays that I’d always dreamed of placing in shop windows, or dress mannequins in stunning evening gowns & fur stoles.

Then, that idea I briefly raised those years ago about the shop in a caravan was brought back and not laughed off. See, I was trying to come up with ways to further my stall, and also still had the dream of having the shop in the back of mind, it became clear what I had to do –

The shop in a caravan!


[read further]

Our first shoot out at Yarra Glen.

Woke up this morning,
from the strangest dream
I was in the biggest army,
The world has ever seen
We were marching as one,
on the road to the holy grail

Started out,
Seeking fortune and glory
It’s a short song, but it’s one
Hell of a story, when you
Spend your lifetime trying to get
Your hands on the Holy Grail

Well have you heard of the Great Crusade?
We ran into millions, and nobody got paid
Yeah, we razed four corners of the globe,
For the Holy Grail.

All the locals scattered,
They were hiding in the snow
We were so far from home,
So how were we to know,
There’d be nothing left to plunder
When we stumbled on the Holy Grail?

We were full of beans
But we were dying like flies
And those big black birds,
they were circling in the sky,
And you know what they say, yeah,
Nobody deserves to die.

Oh I,
I’ve been searching for an easy way
to escape the cold light of day
I’ve been high, and I’ve been low
But I’ve got nowhere else to go
There’s nowhere else to go

I followed orders
God knows where I’d be
But I woke up alone,
all my wounds were clean
I’m still here
I’m still a fool for the Holy Grail
Oh yeah,
I’m a fool for the Holy Grail

~ lyrics “Holy Grail” ~Hunters and Collectors


Heart Full of Soul

August 15, 2011

After 100 years of trying to claim the land, white Australians felt that they’d not occupied the centre of Australia, they’d not occupied the north, and that history would move on to its next phase, and a people with more ingenuity would come along and take the land off the whites just in the same way that the whites had taken off the Aborigines.

Rare event: Flood waters from Queensland and NSW fill the vast expanse of Lake Eyre, April 2011

And this is not helped by the fact that Professor Gregory, briefly a professor of Melbourne university, goes to Lake Eyre in the early 1900s, comes back, and writes a book called The Dead Heart, in which he describes the area around Lake Eyre as a dead heart. And he literally means us, or wants us to take this as an image of a heart that is dead, and that all those veins that come out from the heart are withered arteries. Now this is a country that has just federated. It’s looking for a sense of national purpose, and one of the most powerful statements about our geography is this damn book that says, ‘We have got a dead heart.’

~ Michael Cathcart, author of The Water Dreamers.



August 15, 2011

Historian and broadcaster Michael Cathcart explores the ways in which Australian life has been fundamentally shaped by water — or rather by the lack of it.

The First Fleet January 1788

When Governor Phillip arrived with the First Fleet, in the Eora country at the place he called Sydney Cove, this is how that event was described by David Collins, who was on the First Fleet.

‘The spot chosen for this purpose was at the head of the Cove near the run of fresh water, which stole silently through a very thick wood, the stillness of which had then for the first time since the Creation been interrupted by the rude sound of a labourer’s axe and the downfall of its ancient inhabitants. The sound of the axe,’ he goes on, ‘broke the stillness and tranquillity which from that day would give place to the voice of labour, the confusion of camps and towns, and the busy hum of its new possessors.

Now hear what the imagery there is. The idea is that you go into a silent forest. It’s silent, it’s timeless, it’s still. The Aborigines, if they’re there, are padding about noiselessly, locked in a kind of eternal yesterday. And the image is that you chop down a tree, the tree crashes through the forest, and with that almighty crash it announces that history has arrived in the silent land. The clocks have started to tick. The place is acquiring a story. The place is acquiring language: this is the bringing of civilisation and sound to the silent land.

Temperate forest, Sydney

Now it’s my view—in fact it’s more than a view, it’s what I have found through years of research—that in the 19th century this is one of the dominant ideas that’s shaping the way in which these colonists think about Australia. I’m not imposing this idea on them, I’m saying to you that Australia was the silent continent to these people.

Joseph Lycett (c.1775–1828) Aborigines Hunting Waterbirds c.1817

So where are the Aborigines in all this? This is one of Joseph Lycett’s wonderful paintings of Aborigines. How do they fit in to this idea of silence? Well, the Durag people of Sydney have lived there for thousands of years. They, of course, like Aborigines all over the country, have immense skill at finding water. Water, we know, is central to Aboriginal spirituality. The explorers, we know, depended on Aboriginal skill to find water. And in the early phase of exploration it was always possible for the explorers to strike up a relationship with Aboriginal guides who quite willingly it seems would take them through country and negotiate rights of passage across other people’s territory.

Forest Sculpture by William Ricketts

But the country was full. That’s the thing to grasp. Aborigines had been here for whatever the figure is, 40,000, 60,000 years. They had filled the continent up. Every waterhole was occupied. It was named, it was owned. Every drop of water that fell on a rock in the Western Desert, every pint of water that went down the Yarra River—these were all accounted for. The country was full.

So when the whites arrived to take land, it couldn’t happen peaceably because the country was full. There was going to be a battle over water. Sure as eggs, it had to happen. There was going to be a battle.

Aboriginals in police custody 1906

Now let me come back to this idea of silence. If you think about the Aborigines as here but not here; as silence present but not present, as somehow locked in the past, you’re looking at the way in which Terra Nullius works. Some people say that Terra Nullius is an idea that the Aborigines weren’t here. The lives of the Aborigines weren’t here. Terra Nullius never meant that. Terra Nullius was the idea that the Aborigines were here but they somehow didn’t count…because they were living in a different dimension. They weren’t living in the now. They weren’t in the present, and they didn’t own the land in a way that white law was prepared to acknowledge.

Rainbow Valley, Red Centre, Australia

So my central claim is really this: we think of colonial Africa as the dark continent, and that’s got all sorts of resonances of the idea that the west will bring the light of civilisation into the dark continent. My claim is that in exactly the same way, Australia was the silent continent. So I’ve bodgied up a book cover there, put my name on the cover…because that’s the story we’re telling. Just as Africa was the dark continent, Australia was the silent continent.

In the 19th century, European Australians came to equate the continent’s dry interior with ’emptiness’ and ‘silence’, and also with the notion of aridity in both a material and metaphorical sense.

Cathcart suggests that from Federation onwards, spirited nationalists such as Alfred Deakin sought to change this earlier ambivalent relationship to the land by overcoming it — and that they attempted to do this through water. Irrigation became a symbol of this new belief.

Michael Cathcart argues that today Australia is witnessing the emergence of a new nationalism shaped by environmental consciousness and global responsibility. [Click here to read full interview transcript]


Princess Karma

August 12, 2011

Harmandir Sahib ~ Amritsar, India

Kaur is a name used by Sikh women either as the final element of a compound personal name, or as a last name. It cannot be regarded as a true surname or family name. Among Sikhs, first names are often unisex, however, gender distinct by the addition of Singh or Kaur.

The tenth guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, made it mandatory for Sikh females to use the name Kaur and for Sikh males to use the name Singh, when he administered Amrit (baptism) to both males and female Sikhs. All female Sikhs were asked to use the name Kaur after their forename and males were to use the name Singh.

Since ‘Kaur’ means ‘Princess’ it acts as a symbol of equality among males and females. This custom further confirmed the equality of both genders as was the tradition set by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. It was intended to give women a sense of self-respect.

Kaur provides Sikh women with a status equal to all men. This was also intended to reduce the prejudice created by caste-typing based on the family name. Prejudice based on caste was still rampant during Guru Gobind’s time (17th century). This particularly affected women who were expected to take their husband’s family name upon marriage. The British required women to take on their husbands’ names.

Sikh principles believe that all men and women are completely equal. Therefore, a woman is a princess and can lead her own life as an individual, equal to man. She does not need a man’s title to raise her own status. Saying this would go against the principles stated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the religious scripture of the script. Guru Nanak Dev Ji states:

From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.

When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.

So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.