Following from Parts 1 to 5 in previous blog posts...
At the end of May 2021, shortly after the roads around the Forest of Dreams have been fixed, along with my car, and with three more community members having had returned to the farm, my parents, based in Namibia, informed me that they were both diagnosed with Covid. My father rapidly deteriorated to the point where he was hospitalised for ten days, which, for him, constituted the characteristic attributes of a vision quest to the point where we all feared for the worst. At this stage he was permanently receiving oxygen as well as other standard procedures and protocols, with barely enough energy left to communicate over the phone and with his mental faculties severely impaired. Before my father’s hospitalisation, my mother was taking care of him, while being sick herself, and after he was admitted, she was still sick and now home alone, going through her own dark night of the soul. I felt utterly helpless in being so far away and with no way to help other than to offer emotional support (even if I had to travel there, I would not have been able to be in the same physical space as my parents).
During this excruciating period, another reality came to life, that being one of a five-day birthday celebration for our one brother. This entailed warm, balmy weather (very unusual for that time of the year), friends joining from afar, live music, a revered vinyl DJ playing exquisite tunes, and beautiful lighting on the dancefloor, which happened to be under the stars on pine needles, next to the river. It felt as if I was participating in two realities, a distant one being that of sickness, exacerbated by a life subjected to the eternal rat race, with subsequent isolation in a clinical setting and with Western medical intervention versus one of dance, plant medicine, freedom of expression, and entrainment to the natural cycles and rhythms, and with my heart center being at the intersection of these two realities. The split between these realities was pronounced by me having had to climb a hill, ascending on the vertical plane to the space where I had cell phone signal for communication with my family, and then again descending from that elevated headspace, to a body space of being completely embodied in dance and celebration of life with the festivities representing nothing short of a utopia. I battled with feelings of guilt of my enjoying the music when my father is on the brink of dying. I allowed the music to transport me to this realm of completely “embodied sensuality” by means of dancing and channelling ancient mudras and dance postures. At the same time, I felt that in doing this, I was upholding a template, that of “honouring life”, for my father, mother, and in the face of all of humanity going through this massive confrontation with death.
Fortunately, my dad’s health took a turn for the better and he was rehabilitated and released from hospital, after which started the slow and arduous recovery process. This was also round about the time when I realised that I could not sustain myself financially for much longer on the farm as my savings were running out. Coupled with this, was the absence of my moon time and other signs of hormone imbalance caused by adrenal fatigue, which by now has progressed to stage three/four. After another solo plant medicine journey, I decided to stay on the farm until just after our quiet winter solstice celebration, for which my friend, a systemic constellations facilitator joined. She suggested that we as remaining community members partake in a constellation for the land there, but not everybody was on board. At this point, the intricacies around land energetics and reconciliation became a recurring theme for months to come…
After very reluctantly packing up my home of the past four months, it came as no surprise when my car presented with problems, yet again, this time is was caused by a short which drained its battery power. Low and behold, I managed to get to Cape Town in one piece, followed by a week of sleeping in four different places, while co-facilitating a workshop, sorting out storage and traveling documentation, a saliva Covid test, and other logistics. With my whole life reduced to a single suitcase and hand luggage, I landed in Namibia a day before further lock-down restrictions were implemented, and I literally collapsed! Using a) a detox regime alongside a hormone-balancing diet and herbs, as well as by b) one evening of intensive energetic practices and shadow work around the themes of money and worth, I managed to bring back my moon time (the first flow in over four months) with the former, and removed the painful energy block in my spine with the latter (see Part 3).
A big piece during my time of off-grid living and subsequent travelling involved the acceptance of not always being able to acquire the “niche/alternative products and resources” I insist on and value greatly, such as Chinese medicinal herbs, home-made or affordable smudge bundles, organic vegetables, access to free spring water, plant medicine, natural cosmetics and good quality incense. In aid of this acceptance is the notion that what is locally available and/or produced, may, in fact, offer location-specific benefits, such as adaptation to local climate-related challenges/requirements. A case in point is the use of local, unprocessed, raw honey: the pollen local bees collect is all sourced from local plants and since many seasonal allergies are caused by these types of pollen, consuming honey which contains these pollens can help keep seasonal allergies at bay due to a desensitisation against the pollen.
Being based in Namibia especially introduced challenges in the up-keeping of my previous lifestyle, however, I was introduced to, for example, plant-based products with amazing anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These include the resin, kernels and fruits of plants which are wild harvested in the Namib desert and Northern regions by indigenous women (thus also creating a financial income for them), such as Namibian Myrrh essential oil, and the oils from the !Nara and Ximenia plants. Also, some organic vegetables are available from farms such as the Rudolf Steiner-inspired Krumhoek farm where they make use of biodynamic principles.
In line with the above, I have come to leant that once you surrender into the support offered by Mother Earth (whether this be via a conscious, energetic shift or by means of a process of gardening, for example), somehow, there is a relationship of reciprocity created and you receive exactly what you need, often in the most surprising ways. For example, on the farm, on the evening I used my last smudge bundle during a mushroom ceremony, an unknown brother walked over and gifted me with a big, unused Paolo Santo stick, and the weekend I ran out of masala incense, a sister visited and gifted me with very good quality incense and a smudge bundle, without me even having to ask! On one such an excursion to obtain smudge paraphernalia in Windhoek, which was made possible only by way of a friend of my mother informing me of this lady selling such things from her home, through the shop owner, I was introduced to Namibia’s underground alternative and “hippie” community as well as alternative events and workshops, local healers and Shanti workshop venues on farms around Namibia.
After some settling in in Windhoek, there was a month of travelling, which also constituted a pilgrimage of sorts. With my parents, I visited the Etosha national game park, which neighbours Tsumeb, the small mining town where I was born and spent the first five years of my life. In a very condensed nutshell, camping at one of the three rest camps opened up a Pandora’s box of me missing community life, and me being triggered by the sense that all of my earthly possessions are scattered in different places in both South Africa and Namibia now, and where these possessions once gave me a form of identity, I am now essentially identity-less. Accordingly, I felt the need to hang on very tightly to the few possessions I still have with me, and with my passport and my cell phone being my “lifeline” as these enable me to travel to where I can find community, and to be connected to community, respectively. Low and behold, to rub salt into my wounds/triggers, my phone seized to work while being at Etosha, with still a week of traveling ahead, not knowing if I will be able to retrieve my contacts which connect me to my tribe… Visiting the old Namutoni Fort built during Namibia’s colonial times in 1896 by the Germans, echoed this theme of protecting or forging a sense of self and sense of belonging: In 1904, unrest among Namibia’s Herero population led to rebellion against the German colonial regime, supported by the Ovambo, 500 of whom subsequently launched an attack on Fort Namutoni. After a long fight leaving around 200 Ovambo dead, the German occupants vacated the site. Visiting the fortress again after so many years, caused me to look at my history and heritage in relation to the indigenous people of Namibia, specifically, with different eyes… it then became almost an obsession to learn more about Namibia’s history.
To this day, I do not know why my father decided to book us into a resort at Tsumeb, on route back to Windhoek. Knowing that Namibia’s top museum resides in Tsumeb, it was a given that we paid a visit. The division between the indigenous tribes of Namibia, and the German colonialists was very tangible and apparent to me, from a cultural, an anthropological and an energetically-perceived perspective. This division is on the backdrop of a history of so much war in the North of Namibia, from the first world war, to the Namutoni war, to the Herero genocide by the Germans (for which Germany is still contributing retribution funds), to the Ovambo war involving SWAPO and in which my father was obligated to partake as a youth, and with the former trade in copper of the San and Ovambo peoples having been hijacked and subsequently commercialised into a mining industry by Europeans, hence Tsumeb having originated as a mining town. Having said this, it is not my intention to exempt the traditional people of Namibia from the hostility towards and fighting between different tribes in the past. In the same vein, I have much respect for the progressive and environmentally conscious Germany of today. What is unsettling to me is the loss of culture of essentially all of Namibia’s indigenous peoples, with the exception of a handful of Ovahimba people and a few San members, who managed to retain most of their original culture and traditions. Also, the notion that land ownership and war culture has been and still is the tool in the hands of patriarchy since the dawn of patriarchy, is upsetting. I have experienced first-hand how the new generation of non-white people in Namibia have no awareness of and no desire to discover their heritage.
After the museum experience, and with memories shared by my parents of my birth trauma as well as other stories I heard for the first time, I felt very strange in my being – a mixture of feeling faint and of being in an altered state of consciousness (in the absence of any mind altering substances), a feeling of being in between worlds. While being out for supper, I could barely keep it together and once alone in my resort room, I made use of smudging, dancing and divination to transmute what I was experiencing. In hindsight, based on this experience as well as a stomach/liver condition which arose in Etosha and is still lingering, my friend, a death doula and Sangoma with special interest in systemic trauma and land reconciliation, who happened to be in Windhoek during this time, suggested that I may have experienced an ancestral calling. This theme of disharmony between indigenous peoples and their customs versus Western influence (Patriarchy in general, as a power-hungry, controlling and conquering force) and subsequent alienation from one’s lineage was underscored for me with various synchronicities, one being my brother coming to visit from Germany. From a young age he was always drawn to German speaking people and to the culture – for one school project he built the Namatoni Ford to scale - so much so that he picked up the language in record time and decided to immigrate to Germany in his thirties. Even though he is an extraordinary and wise man, and I love him dearly, as much as I have always resonated with tribalism and earth-based practices, he very much always associated himself with Western standards and lifestyle, and so we come from two very different worlds, even though we share fifty percent of our genes and were raised in the same household.
The next part of my travelling involved a trip to the coast with my brother, where I connected with family on my father’s side whom I have not seen in over ten years – the virus taught me anew the value of spending time with loved ones. There, I also connected with Ovahimba women in their traditional attire who were selling crafts at a market, which spurred on my desire to live or visit with them in a traditional village, for a period of time. After this coastal experience, and with my brother being back in Germany, I am currently sending down some adventitious roots in Windhoek for the time being and making local connections in expanding my network here. I have managed to have my cell phone fixed and to retain my contacts, as well as obtain my Namibian passport which has given me the literal green card of dual citizenship and the facilitation of the building of bridges between South Africa and Namibia, as far as my calling in the healing arts is concerned. Who knows where the road will take me next – I am open to opportunity and to receiving, as I trust in my inner navigation system and the Divine on this epic initiatory heroine’s journey.
Part 6b, with a psychological take on the initiatory themes of this time is provided in the next blog post…