Mens Gathering ~ 12th June 98

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Bellingen-Mid North Coast NSW is renowned for its festivals,
gatherings and the festivity of its community Markets.
From the Global Carnival, the Bellingen Jazz Festival, to Homeland Festival
in the upper reaches of the Bellinger Valley, there is always something happening or about to.

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Didgeridoo playing and drumming are natural expressions within a culture exploring
old/new forms of grounding community and ritual.

Recently in the Thora Valley - in the upper reaches of the Bellinger River,
40 men gathered in sacred space, reconnecting with our wild, connectedness as men .

It was a powerfull gathering that was felt out in the wider community.
Honouring the greater openess within the community,
a photo and an article was featured in the local paper.
The article was in the form of a letter (exerts below) that one man sent his brother.

"Last weekend I was involved in a huge mens gathering - Wild and Free.
It was led by John Douglas and supported by Thora Mens Group.
Tynon & Dr Didg (Arpana Geeta): the Didg Masters & Chinta the Drum Master.
It would take several hours to tell you our process
but I must share some aspects......"

"Thora Valley pulsed powerfully to the beat of many drums,
clap sticks and the drone of the didg- thats how we met around a big fire......."

"We went through a beautifull opening ceromony each man lighting a candle
as he announced his intention for the gathering. Then everyone lay down as four didgs played over us and guided us on a shamanic journey, penetrating our whole body BUW-WAHH, what power......."

"The next day opened to exercise and chanting, greeting the rising sun........,
before splitting into two groups exploring didg and drum........"

"Meanwhile, John and some men had been preparing the sweatlodge
situated right on the the Beach beside a quite magnificent swimming hole
on the Bellinger. It took a big lodge to fit 40 men.We came in ochre painted from the river bank and so felt the connection between the Aboriginals
and the Native Americans.

The journey I had in the third round with the heat and  two didgs sounding the darkness, was intense and almost overwhelming,releasing for me, in me,
the primitive wild nature held and repressed for so long....
we crawled out out of the fourth and last round and plunged into the cold river,
her sacredness realised and fully enjoyed......"

"Later that evening John led us in another powerfull journey with Breathwork........"

Next Day in the morning we had a time led by the writer of this letter
(‘Dennis Hopking’ - a Potter and Steiner teacher ) with clay , creating a mask.

"were led through their fingers into the clay to find the mask of initiation,
worn deep in the unconscious. In the circle there emerged powerfull beings,
smaller circles of ,Totemic beings, bird tribe,lemurians,snake tribe,sun tribe......"

"Much was seen and heard in unravelling the reflections"

" Then we brought out different coloured clay and ochre.....
we painted ourselves in tribal designs - for the Mud Dance
accompanied by drums, clapsticks, rattles and didg.
We formed a circle with the musicians as part of it, then two or more at a time
we would dive in and dance, wild and free
in that close knit energy space held by the circle of warriors.
Of course I went ballistic as a Zulu warrior (
Dennis was born in Africa - ed),
nearly fainting from tiredness but luckily
we could return to the circle to recover then go again........
Finally we all went in together, weaving and letting loose together
before collapsing on the earth, the drums fading and the didgs then coming amongst us
like the ancient dreamtime rainbow serpent massaging us renewing our spirits........"

"We closed our gathering of brothers in a circle of acceptance
and in deep accord chanted and flew into the centre and received a gift from the spirit of the East,
of new beginnings and the rising sun-an eagle feather for each man"

The above letter exerts speak of the highlights.
Our time together was also one of quitness, good raves,
shared meals, starlit nights by the fire. The weekend was full of magic.

One fella not knowing how many men were coming,
brought 40 Eagles feathers,the exact number needed
to bless the end of our gathering, a link that we each carry.
As a group we carry our eagle feather as the totem of our spirit
journeying together and the overview and vision that we fly out into
the wider world.


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Actual Mud Dance Photo Shot into Space........
Actual Mud Dance Photo Shot into Space........

Another gathering organised by us mob is happening
DEC 4th, 5th & 6th 1998.
Refer to Festivals and Gatherings Listing