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Here I am back in 'civilization', at least in relation to the last three weeks of desert ordeals. I'm writing from the library of the odd little opal-mining town of Coober Pedy, where a motley bunch of odder ragtag bejewelled travelweary Earthdreamers have recently 'landed' and now line the cafes and streets of this outback 'oasis' (still not many trees but good cappucinos!), escaping the rain. Rain, rain... its been almost continuous for two days now, unprecedented in these barren lands, and after being stuck in the mud (literally) in a freak lightning-storm near Lake Eyre, I'm beginning to wonder just how appreciative the Rain Gods are of Earthdream's reawakening of the Songlines, as our passage is wrought with wetness, we who are well equipped for the usual desert climate with hats, sunglasses and plenty of water!

Right: The two hollow trees we camped in at Warren Gorge. Photo (c)01 Kestral.

Ordeals galore: We on the Gobblyn Bus had thought being stuck at the BP truckstop in Port Augusta while fixing the bus was bad... well that was just boring, the other extreme from that overavailability of consumer rubbish has now been experienced to some degree, with everyone running out of everything while immobilised by flooded roads. Apparently the pressure was too much for one of our (now EX-)crew members who went on a psychotic rampage when we eventually got to the little 'town' (shop and pub) of Williams Creek. But, back to the start of the journey:

Travelling on the bus was wonderfully surreal, half-awaking in the bed at the front of it in the morning as we went into motion, staying in bed half-awake as we rattled and bumped along the dusty desert roads, skulls and masks and bells and bones and trinkets hanging all around in a soft rollicking clatter and tinkle of motion, looking out the window now and then at the red dirt and blue sky. It was like a strange dream, flying just above the land on a flying bed -the Earthdream!

Two 'Ships of the Desert' - The 'Cedar Bel Seal' Gobblyn Bus and Kestral on the old-railway-sleeper camel sculpture sundial (neck casts shadows on brick mandala)

After hearing how beautiful the area around Lake Eyre was supposed to be, on first arriving at Alberrie Creek I was initially disappointed. My first thought was, 'There's nothing here.' But the next day after walking the desolate landscape for 6 hours or so I began to appreciate its subtleties -beautiful rocks of greatly varied hue, pattern and size everywhere, winding sandy old creekbeds, and the most consistently beautiful sunsets and sunrises I have seen anywhere.
The FEEL of the land is intense -almost as if the lack of physical landmarks are compensated by a more concentrated energy seeping up through the feet.

Ah, and the night sky! Nowhere have I seen more clearly the starry body of our Lady Nuit arched in glittering splendour overhead than in the deserts of Central Australia, where the great bejewelled dome of the sky is unmarred by pollution or any light or protrusions from the land, reaching from flat horizon to flat horizon and beyond out into infinite space. Even on the dark moon onwhich we arrived, one could almost read by the brilliance of the spangled starlight of Nuit!

Photo (c)01 Bonsai

We (the HarleQuintet -depicted at left- and company) arrived in Amordios's rickety old Gobblyn Bus just before dusk of the night of new moon. A Horus-Maat Lodge circle was called for that night, but three who would have otherwise attended went to a women's circle which had already been arranged, so our nu moon circle was just three men. This division seemed somehow appropriate for a Gemini (twins) nu moon, and the two circles were linked by the chakra tones chanted at each. The women's circle concerned the Aboriginal myth of the Seven Sisters, who became the Pleiades, as there were seven women involved and Lake Eyre was the area they are supposed to have ascended from in the Dreamtime. (Details of our nu moon circle are recorded elsewhere.)

The next day, as mentioned, I walked all day, feeling the land, and felt much better and more grounded for it. Far from the camp I emerged from the meandering creekbed to a whole troupe of emus standing in single file staring at me. At first I thought there were seven of them, and was astounded at the synchronicity as in the myth of the Seven sisters they are 'emu people' but then I noticed the eighth as they ran off over the rocky landscape. It was only a week or so later that I found that eight women had actually ended up turning up for the circle the night before! Over the next few weeks I made a habit of going to the creek bed every dusk to watch the spectacular sunsets while doing my yoga and meditations. This became a highlight of each day.

Almost every dusk seems to feature a band of colours on the horizon, and on my third night at the creek this was especially vibrant -every colour in the spectrum was there in a rainbow band. Somehow I happened to time it that sunset so that as I got to each new chakra progressively in my breathing up the spine, the corresponding colour would become more evident in the sky. As this rainbow band sat low on the horizon, it echoed my own chakric spectrum perfectly -as Within, so Without. Doing these exercises there at this time of day felt like a real key to resonance with the cycles of the land and the sun. And the stars and moon, already up and whitening to full brilliance as the sky darkened to indigo, provided the colour reflections for the culminating crown chakra breaths.

Faery Moon had called a Wishing Circle for later that third night. This was quite magickal, with about twenty people assembling under the sprawling stars in a large stone ring she had made, with little circular hollows with tealights coming off the larger circle, inwhich we all sat together, discussing our dreams and hopes for the Earthdream trek and our planet in general. I presented the chakra tones as a unifying chant, then we moved out to our little tealight hollows to-which we offered our individual wishes before all coming back together in the larger circle to offer our wishes (along with a pinch of copper and some other flame-colouring substance for visual spectacle) to the central fire. By the end of this the flames blazed irridescent green and blue, while we stood around it, unified against the uranium mine down the road by our desire for the wellbeing of our planet and its inhabitants.

Then someone unravelled a large stuffed fabric rainbow serpent from its bag, and we carried it on shoulder out from the circle and across the land on our shoulders, I chanting didgeridoo sounds (often people hearing this from a distance think I'm actually using a didge) all the way to the creekbed. The little bridge there was painted in fluro chalks with aboriginal and earth-healing icons, glowing in the black light stationed there. As we approached, the serpent we carried -painted in flourescent diamonds and swirls- also burst into a vibrant glow. We left our wishes there in the creekbed to be carried over the world through its waterways...

Lying out under the stars one night on the verge of sleep I felt enraptured by their sparkling panorama. I could see clearly the great figure of Nuit (Egyptian stellar Goddess) arched from horizon to horizon, the Milky Way cluster forming the graceful curve of Her body. In the middle of the sky was Hunab Ku, the Mayan's term for the Galactic Core at the centre of the milky way. They also consider this dark rift (very evident in the desert night sky) the 'Womb of the Great Mother' and indeed it looks like a vast vaginal opening. So this was just the vulva of Nuit above, not her entire figure. Then again, She is infinite, this is just two ways of representing Her celestial form from a geocentric perspective.
Seen as forming both arched figure and vagina, the infinite clusters of twinkling stars were devastatingly beautiful, and I soon found myself making love with Nuit -to All there is, rather than any single part thereof.
Only a few minutes after an expansive orgasm a huge raincloud formed over the camp, coagulating from nowhere into a clear sky; but only a light trickle of rain (just enough to make me pack up my bedding and head back to the bus) ensued till the gentle orange breath of dawn.

Gradually the little camp grew over the week and a half or so we were there, blossoming into a little village as more people arrived from here and there, eventually about sixty or seventy being present for the party.
Communications between different camps seemed minimal, most people more engaged in setting up their own shelters and adapting to an unfamiliar and quite harsh environment than in socializing.
Days were long and hot and after the first couple, a gusty wind arrived and blew all day almost every day. Not much could be done in that weather but attempt to escape from the dust and wind. The wind would calm at dusk and as the beating sun descended over the flat horizon a sense of relief would spread across the village.

Amordios had to redesign the Gobblyn Camp -the first stage shelter he set up being useless except as a windbreak once the winds started. He reconstructed everything tight and compact against the side of the bus, with as much of the musical equipment as possible onboard so as to avoid the swirling torrents of fine dust.

With flags flying everywhere, velvet drapes and Amordios' Chaichino (truly the elixir of life in the desert!) skull-bedecked alchemical lab -(see picture at top of page)- he even makes his own soy milk therein; it was still a beautiful camp -I remain awed at his adapt-ability to set up a practical and aesthetic wonderland in any environment. I set up a little altar on the edge of the stage, chanting appropriate mantras for each talisman displayed.

The first time I wandered far from the entire village at night I was touched by its beauty on return- a little hive of gentle lights reflecting the stars above, vehicles and tents and other makeshift shelters nestled in the scrub - a testament to communal adaptability. And the near-half moon slowly angled itself to appear as a great chalice on the horizon, glowing orange-golden as it sank...

The Peace Bus, an inappropriately-named mega sound machine from Sydney, arrived several days late - a miracle that it arrived at all being unroadworthy and unregistered with bits held together with coathangers and gaffer-tape. The party had already been delayed awaiting their arrival with the main sound system, and when they turned up at about 2am and started pumping out beats most people were already over it and in bed. So the next few days were a series of staggered half-parties rather than one cohesive gathering.

The Peace Bus parked away from the main village up near the great Planehenge sculpture (two small planes standing on their tails, wings joined, with winged serpents -black and white for reconciliation- painted on their backs and wings) Robin Mutoid had installed on Earthdream last year. A small cyber camp of flashing lights, electronic wails and thumps and industrial scrap sculpture sprung up around them, like some kind of demented desert disneyland, a stark contrast to the mellow encampment further down the track.

The spectacle was fun for a while -I had a good manic dance- but I found the noise abrasive in its continuity and lack of resonance with the land there. The latest Gabba breakbeats from the Paris underground would make a lot of sense in that Urban environment, but they didn't really cut it in the Australian desert. I'm sure the DJs would have realized that if they'd stopped long enough to feel and 'hear' the silent beauty of the land.

We jammed some live music intermittently on our own little system for a few nights too, but didn't go into a full stage show as there wasn't the audience to warrant it. Thinking everyone must be up at the main floor, I'd wander up there to find only a handful there also. It seemed people were still just adjusting themselves to the environment and doing their own things. Apparently it was pretty scattered this early in the trip last year too -I see Earthdream 2001 slowly pulling together now a month or so later, as the different clans get to know each other better after adjusting to life in the desert and on the road.

There was a half-decent gathering at dawn on the second night of music at Alberrie Ck., for a spectacular fire performance. As a soft orange luminescence heralded the sun's imminent appearance behind them, great flames billowed from the tops of the two upright planes, while between them Minna stood on the joined wings with jets of fire projecting from the pointed breasts of her metal chest-piece, fueled by a gasjet backpack. Below someone twirled firesticks upside down from a trapeze hung from the wings. Corruscating techno provided a backbeat for the whoosh and roar of Robin's giant fire organ.

That night we hosted a cabaret night in the Gobblyn Camp. A slideshow of the peace walk from Lake Eyre to Sydney last year, and we (the HarleQuintet minus one) played a mixture of improvisational music and some of our more carnivalesque songs, including the first performance of my new 'HarleQuins Parade (Who's afraid of the Masquerade?)' piece, for-which Aros wore the Skork (skeletal elephantine mask with vertebraeic trunk) mask and blew its trumpet eyepiece on cue. With our Circus song Rusty ate and spun fire. It was a nice mellow night.

Then it was time to start packing up -something Amordios has not as much relish for as his exuberant setting-up intricacies -slowly over several days. By the time we got out of there most people had already moved on to the old Keepers of Lake Eyre camp up the road. I'm glad we were still there to experience the water -in this dry desolate area Jacob discovered a big damp patch on a mound just at the edge of our makeshift settlement. It didn't go away, it was seeping up from the earth and will probably become a mound spring - a source of water for future Earthdream gatherings. After our second annual gathering there, it was a wondrous sign -that the Earth was somehow appreciative and supportive of our mission.

Up the road at the camp opposite Lake Eyre there is a mound spring too, that's been there for a while. Undeterred by the Uranium Mines trashing the place with bulldozers (inc. elder Kevin Buzzacott's special camp after all their talk of respecting the aboriginal landrights), it didn't take us long to realize that rather than prevent us from camping there anymore as they had intended, their work has provided the churned earth necessary to start vegetable gardens from this abundant mound water, turning the area into a desert oasis. A handful of people have remained there to get this going.

Above photo (c)01 Bonsai. All other photos except as noted and text (c)01 Orryelle.


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