Many years ago, the Old Year was symbolised by an old man with a scythe, leaving, and the New Year as a baby entering the world. Of course, there is a clock about to strike midnight. These memes are still used today – often as cartoons and with a political theme.
In my mind, New Year is to do with reflection on the past year. A few years ago I found a letter in the Weekend Australian that more-or-less sums up some of what I mean. The gist of the letter, by Rachael Krinks from Trevallyn, Tas., goes like this, “… reflect for a few minutes … what things are you grateful for? What did you achieve? What could you have done better? …” and so on and so forth. So, it seems to me that the resolutions we make at new year may not be generalisations about ‘giving up’ anything or ‘losing weight’ or going to the gym but rather thinking more about how we conduct ourselves day-by-day. To begin and end each day with a feeling of gratitude is a fine way to start. Can you read? Can you write? Have you got food in the fridge? Have you got a fridge? Running water? Air to breathe? Shelter? Clothes to wear? All these – and more – are things we can be grateful for. To whom or what are we grateful? Now this is tricky … the Universe, The Goddess, God, your own self? Just offering the thanks in a non-directed way seems to work for me! In our house we are grateful every day that we live in Australia. Roland often says that when we were accepted as migrants into Australia, it was like winning the lottery.
When I think of my family and friends all over the world this New Year, I wish them this Australian Blessing by Aunty Betty Pike, a Noongar Elder. She was originally from Perth, and now lives in Geelong, Victoria. I copied it down and it goes like this,
May you always stand tall as a tree. Be as strong as the rock Uluru. As gentle and still as the morning mist. Hold the warmth of the campfire in your heart, and may the Creator Spirit always walk with you.
So, here’s a Noongar painting ‘Learning Circles’ by Alta Winmar, to reflect upon. I think it is appropriate for the time of year and the wishes that I send to family and friends.
This art represents life, learning and acquiring and passing down knowledge.
The centre image is a tree showing the cycles of life with many branches of people coming together, connecting to each other, mother land, sea, and sky above. The flowers are the outcomes of people from many areas coming together in peace to talk, think and share knowledges. The cycles of life hold us, the people, all the animals, all the plants, the living earth, the seas and the sky together and throughout time. The cycles of life hold all living things together from the past to now in the present, and into the future.
It is through the cycles of life and understanding that a small ripple from a centre moves through, connects, and is absorbed like knowledge is acquired, to be shared for the growth of all mankind.
About the Artist
Alta Winmar is a Balladong/Koreng Noongar woman living in Perth, Western Australia. She is a Noongar artist who has exhibited works in Western Australia and art pieces in other parts of the world. Alta is a proud Noongar Yorga (woman).
Above all, as Natalie Goldberg says, “Let us always be kind in this world”