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Topics - Mindy Toomey

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Canberra Coven Collegiate

Among the Aboriginal tribes of the Yanjunytjatjara live great and powerful medicine men known as Dream-Walkers.  To call them wizards would be a gross misnomer; priest would be closer, but still lacks true definition.  They are much more- they are the keepers of the Dreamtime.  They walk among the Sleeping God, whose name is unknowable and unspeakable, lest he awaken and this world end.  It is their power to manipulate the Dream- subtly changing the universe one spell at a time.  The Yanjunyjatjara approach to Transfiguration is unique in the world of Wizards, their results staggering.

In a small yellowish-dirt and stick hut called a wiltja, the Trial of the Yankunytjatjara people begins in earnest come Spring.  It may never begin before the first rain of the year- that marks the cleansing of the land and the beginning of a new Dream.  The hopefuls, having spent over 15 months being taught the prayers and the formulas, having gone through the ritual cleansing and reached a state of mind where they are open to the Dream- make final preparations.

They are stripped to minimal clothing, and they grind for themselves the body paint formulated especially for them.  Red-black mud mixed with dung and smeared with self-prepared gympie gympie berries- perhaps with a trace of their extremely toxic stings intact, make key points on the body- places of magical energy unfolding endlessly in the loop that attaches them to their own songline in harmony or dissonance with the land.  There is artistry in what they do, but it is in camouflaged practicum- to hide in the Dream, to walk in it unnoticed- their goal.

In their prepared wiltja, the temperature exceeds 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65 Celsius) on a daily basis, and drops to shivering lows in the heart of the night.  Their only food for their journey is a small bowl of mashed gympie gympie and various herbs picked by hand for their dreamtime properties- which will ferment and take on new properties as the days progress; their only drink a bitter water drawn from a soak in the heart of the desert.

They begin in silent earnest at dawn the morning after the first rain- alone.  A vow of silence except for the murmured prayers in the language of the people.  The heat of the day boils down on top of them, and they endure the blaze in hopes of entering the Dream, of touching the songlines that are the lifelines of the land, brought about by the Dreaming God.

Every vision is sacred, every thought held in account.  This is magic of the most primal sort, and any exuberant witch or wizard longing for something more would be encouraged to make the trek at least once in their lifetime.

This isn't the only lesson of Canberra Collegiate Coven- but it is by far the most rewarding.  After 26 days in the heat, long after the gympie gympie had gone dry and the water stopped tasting bitter, I for one found what I was looking for.  There is a connection between the land and the sky, between the colors and the textures, between the rocks and the animals.  There is an unspoken agreement between them to remain as they are for all eternity, lest they wake the Sleeping God.  It is but a small plea to change them, to will changes and exceptions to the rules the Dream creates.  Envisioning pathways heretofore unknown is the ultimate goal.

Even without believing in the Sleeping God- and our belief is irrelevant in the bigger picture- the ability to recognize and manipulate those truths hidden in Dreamtime opens doors to alterations, transmutation, metamorphoses, and transmigrations unheard of in Western Magical arts.

My time spent at this small, privately owned college was well-worth the money.  The insight gained in the first year alone made the price worthwhile.  The second year- one learns that a lifetime would not be long enough.  It is a big dream, after all.

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