Inspiring people to re-imagine their relationship to their world

Cave work - with Jethro Boetman Louw

Mbali Marais
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Return to Origin offered myself and my fellow leader Arnoldt Michaels, the opportunity to do cave work with khoi artist- Markus and bowmagician, medicine man and story-teller-Jethro Boetman Louw. Above the milkwood trees, with Oudekraal Beach and the great ocean waves swelling, slapping and lapping at boulders below, we made our way into the hollow of a cave to make offerings of music. Echoing from within the cave’s walls were flute sounds and sweet vibrations of strings- plucked and strained with the shake and rattle of cannabis seeds in a plastic container. Filling the hollow with song and story, music, laughter and poetry, we made our offerings of prayer in honour of our ancestors, to the bones of the earth and to the spirit of the land at Oudekraal.

There is something distinctly enigmatic and numinous in the hollowed-out intimacy of a cave; in the dark depths of its tiny apertures and the womb-like, tomb-like magnetic pull of its interiority. To enter it, is to enter part of the heart of the earth. It is to be close to the first gasp of a baby’s breath and the final beat of an old, departing heart. It is to be close to the first pulse of life and closer yet to its cessation.

I felt as though I could feel the flow of my own water and blood and hear the rattling of my bones echoing in the cloistered clatter and clunk of the cave. Here, in the hollow, sights and sounds out there are muffled and made obscure in contrast to the immediacy and fullness of experience. Cradled in the dark of a hollowed-out rock, I felt as though I had dropped down, down, down into both a burial and a birthing chamber where the boundaries between life, death and rebirth for a moment blur and dissolve. Lucid and evocative was the music emanating from Jethro’s bow. With every strain, pluck of string and stream of air, I felt myself sink and be submerged in vision, dream and memory. The images, impressions, recollections and dreams snaked and swirled, coiled and curled with life and heat inside me.

I remembered a half-forgotten dream of stifled strength, unclaimed authority, and power smothered by fear. I remembered a journey etched and burnt like a map into skin to show where I had been. I remembered a dream of a lynx with tall, tufted ears and a playful presence enter home and circle to chew on the worn leather of my medicine bag. And I remembered coming home, again and again. I am reminded of the power in both solitude and community. I am reminded of the necessity of deep inner work if I am to truly be of service to others and most importantly, I am reminded, that there are still many more journeys to embark on and homes to return to… For there is still work to be done.

Angelique Michaels Return To Origin Leader.

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