Recently I have been seeking to add an Australian aspect to my European-pagan-esque spiritual practice. I have been researching- did you know that here, in south-west Australia, we have six seasons?- the land, the people, the language, the beliefs of the land and her people. I feel distinctly disconnected from any real ‘roots’ for my spirit. Am I English? A Viking? Anglo-Saxon? Australian? Does my biological grandfathers blood-only relation to me give weight to my interest in Welsh mythology? What about the language, the culture, the things that are the meat to the bones of cultural behaviour and belief? Do I have a connection, a right, to any of these things simply because of birth or blood?
I find blood relation, land relation, to be deeply important. So I looked into this wide, sunburnt land I have been born into and love with all my heart. I have researched it’s people. Now… I am troubled. Conflicted.
“Noongar people lived under severe restrictions whether on missions or reserves. This included not being allowed in towns at certain times (we could be arrested if found there after 6pm) or having limited access to services. See the Perth prohibited area map. Noongar people mostly weren’t allowed to drink alcohol, unless we had citizenship. But even citizenship brought with it restrictions on our freedom and identity. Those who had some access to towns had to go to a window at the back of the pub where ‘blacks’ were served, and then you could get one bottle of beer.”
– Identity, Noongar Culture.
I have seen buildings, especially old pubs, with the one random window up the back. I’ve always wondered why, and now I know.
The history here is… horrific. I keep reading and I feel like I’m standing in pools of blood. I often think about what it is to be white Australian, to be the offspring of the people who invaded here. We don’t have Stories. We don’t have Dreaming. Then I read, and I don’t think we’d want them even if we could.
We came here and we killed a lot of people. We caused, and still cause, unforgivable suffering. As much as I might wish sometimes that I had the same connection to the land as our indigenous population do, the same understanding of the Stories, a Dreaming… What history have we got but that of blood and death and cruelty? We have no right to this beautiful land. We certainly have no right to adopt the beautiful world of the Noongar. I feel the rootlessness my ancestors condemned me to is deserved, a fitting punishment for what they did and still do.
I am neither here nor there, and that is how it should be.