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Dancer

Shadow Dreaming

Book 1 of the Dreaming Series

Prologue

Tom:

Our journeys throughout life are different, so very different from the roads others around us will travel. It was like that for me. I was lost in a way really when my story began although I didn’t know it. Others knew it.

Others like my eldest brother, Taipan, who found that lost child in the middle of our mob and my Mother who drew Taipan to my side, swayed as I was by the tides of the day and the lives of those about me. It is important to find and help that lost child. It is the most important of things. Children are the most important of all things.

My story doesn’t begin with myself though, like all of us our stories begin where we have no place in the beginning. I can’t tell you my story without telling the stories of my brothers and my mob. Without telling you the story of those who came before me and the story of my country and my culture and it’s very hard to find the beginning in that. You see my country and my culture has no beginning and no end, it has no boundaries or borders. It is simply who we are and sometimes that is collective. I belong to my World - my World doesn’t belong to me.

Where I am now though, is timeless and filled with events of my life and the lives of those before me, around me and even ahead of me. This place has no time and yet it changes constantly. It is all time, all together all at once and it changes because of the things that you do and I get to deal with that, so it is constantly changing. And yet it remains the same because of the things I do and the things others like me do. We are the guardians, the Shadow Walkers, and we follow the Lore that governs our Land, a land that is yours also.

There is an order to things and I help to keep that order. I might be anyone of you really - I could be the person sitting beside you or the person you spend your life with. I could be you, only you would never know it because that is the order of things. I am the one who whispers in your ear.

Where am I? How did I get here?

This is my story.

I got here because someone helped me to find my way and that person was my eldest brother, Taipan. That is why children are so important, you see, they govern our future. This is also why I shall begin my story with what is Taipan’s story. Not because his story is the most important but because it is a beginning, a place where I will begin.

There are others in this telling, my brother, Sean, and his friend Andrew and others I won’t name now but if you listen, you will hear their stories and between the lines of the telling, you might hear my story and you may hear the stories of others, including the story that is your own.

Think of yourself as being around a campfire, there is no boundary here, you may be anywhere, but around a campfire you can hold a conversation with what is timeless. The flicker of the flame will mesmerize you and it will whisper your story in your ear. It is not hard for me to see and to feel these things and the things which are life because this is how I and others like me keep order. We are like a voice in your thoughts and we dance about you like the flicker of a flame, enticing you, encouraging you, or destroying you.

When I first found this place, I wanted to know what you would want to know which is... When will it all end?

It never ends, nothing ends and you should know this. There is nothing in your life or mine which ends. Each act, each thought has consequence. Each thing has a presence and it is something which neither you, nor I, can destroy. We can merely change it and we do this all the time by just living. We are all part of the past, and a part of the future.

The blood of my parents runs through my veins and the blood of their parents before them and so on, like the endless flow of a stream, like a drop of water which travels the world in many forms never being destroyed, never being created, but simply constantly changing. Our Ancestors live on in me as yours live on in you, as when a single cell divides and grows to become a child. Nothing is created or destroyed it simply changes and we all have an ancient knowledge bought with this change. It’s an awareness, a gift. It is a voice which is not heard by everyone unfortunately.

Some would say that I am not an Aborigine; in fact, some will say this because their view they consider to be pure. But in belonging to my world I do not need to be aboriginal for my Aboriginality belongs inside me. It is not the colour of my skin or how I talk or act. It is simply who I may be and that too changes.

This however is my story and my world and I would like to tell you about it so that we can all get on in this place together. So you see, you change your world as I change mine so we are equally the same. The difference is… I can see you.

Chapter 1

Dawn

Taipan:

The Dreaming was so much part of my life that at times I wasn’t sure if I preferred the world that was the Dreaming, to that which was the world of day to day events. At least in The Dreaming, you have some form of control. You can leave when you choose and return back to the life you were living. In life itself, it isn’t so easy to leave. You are bound by so many other things, expectations and the demands of others.

The life I had chosen, the one that had been offered me as a leader among my mob often had demands which imposed themselves upon me and it was hard to separate what I am from what I want to achieve in my life. Perhaps I had come to this life too early in my time?

Our People though, have such a need for their leaders while we struggled to find our way in this new world. The Old Men had been right in times past; our Council of Elders had known that this could come about and it was these thoughts that at first filled my mind as I emerged from the Dreaming, to the first breath of day. I enjoyed my journeys into the Dreaming a great deal and I was reluctant to wake.

It was warm, almost a stuffy feel to the closeted air which was as unfamiliar so much so as to be disturbing when I began to wake and the constant buzz of noise intruded. I listened to the city’s hum and then I remembered where I was, or rather, where I was supposed to be. The memories bought me back to my surroundings and as with every day, despite last night’s party that ran into the early morning hours, I opened my eyes to the piccaninny dawn… it was the spirit hour.

My first thought was to stretch, but the unfamiliar weight at my side stopped me. In the darkness of the room my first thought naturally was that it could be a woman who had been looking for comfort in the night, or a camp dog seeking warmth, but I knew the revelry of the night before had not been around a camp and I knew with a certainty I was in an unfamiliar room. This wasn’t the forest, the light and smell was all wrong and city intruded again on my senses and when I felt the cushioning beneath me I knew immediately I was definitely not even in a familiar place.

The light hadn’t yet reached into this room. The sun was still stretching its fingers through the night, though none had yet reached here so it was still the break of dawn where the shadows held a grip. I wasn’t alone, I had known it before I stretched and when my eyes settled on the shape curled into my side; curiosity stilled my movements.

To first feel and then see the tussled cascade of strawberry blonde hair which spilled over my arm and chest was a surprise. I didn’t know who she was and in this light her hair looked whiter than gold against the copper of my skin. She was very pale but my body recognized hers readily in the moisture of our skin, a shared heat. She looked tiny in comparison to my length now stretched out on the bed we shared. Her presence was a pleasant memory of my senses though, even if my mind was robbed of the detail in the moment.

I felt a thrill skip through me. A thrill any man would feel in appreciation at the now obvious womanly shape tucked into my side, my arm nestling about her comfortably, but where was the memory? Despite this my body warmed and I needed to struggle to quiet its demands. My body wasn’t usually so demanding, I had thought wisdom and maturity had gained me more control and to discover that I could still be as irrational as Sean in his youth, was annoying.

Settling my head back into the pillow, easing my position, careful not to disturb her, I searched my mind. It too was a familiar haze, familiar because I recognized the quality of the dream and I began to step my thoughts back through the previous day as I gathered what I could. Knowing that in the night, in my Dreaming, there would be things I would have discovered instinctively which would not imprint on my conscious. Such is the power of the gunjie weed I had shared with Sean in the night. A special mix meant to teach him, help him reach his Dreaming and show him that this was our culture and it needed due respect.

I had never taken a woman to bed in my Dreaming before though and the thought bought conflict to my mind. Where was Sean anyway...? Quickly I searched with my senses and knew he was close by and likely still sleeping as a sense of stupor washed over me. So I let that awareness go immediately, releasing the sense of stupor. I could deal with my younger brother later. The girl at my side had me more concerned and once again I returned to the confusion at hand.

I knew where I was, the city. I had arrived into Brisbane at dusk but Sean had not been home, not that this had disturbed me much. He had arrived later, as I had known he would. I knew how to get into the house as it wasn’t the first time I had visited my younger bother to check on the progress of his study at University. Keeping his mind on track was always a struggle; but he was coping and this bought pride and a sense of achievement to all of us on his behalf.

The family and those from the Community had always found it difficult to find their way amongst the white society, trying to mesh living with those who had arrived in recent times from the northern lands with those indigenous to the southern continent; it was still a struggle and often a conflict. The cultural influences of the rest of the World were powerful and we each had to find our way.

Though there would be some things that could not be meshed, we managed to live alongside each other, each to our own. As a people we would just have to wait for our land to claim its own amongst their society. We could wait.

It was an epoch of change for us but what was important was that we held our histories, guarding the Dreaming allowing these to live and thrive in this new world for to lose them would be the death of our world and our way. Others had survived in the past and it was now our time to find our way and many I knew struggled with it. It could be done, and I believed this wholly. It was the one thing I had an ultimate faith in; our Mother, our land would win in the end as she had done since time before time. It was just for us to find our place.

The woman who lay tucked into my side presented me with a problem. I knew I didn’t have time for this and women took time, you couldn’t treat them dispassionately. It was not in their nature to easily accept the things which were demanded of men, things to them that might seem unimportant. I couldn’t simply just leave her without explanation and if she was a friend of Sean’s then he no doubt would feel the fall out. That wasn’t something I wanted in my life. I had other more urgent commitments at the moment. As I waited for her to stir I considered the problem she was to my plans.

For a moment my thoughts flicked to the Yamuti Tribes who lived scattered deep in the forests along the Great Dividing Range stretching the full length of the Eastern Coastline. They had succeeded in surviving where others had failed and this was where I was headed now on sacred business. As a Karadji, a Shaman, I have a responsibility to these people who had ancient links to our skin and I could now help deal with their conflict. I knew I only had a few days at the most with Sean before I needed to continue north and go into ceremony.

The way of the Shaman had been Sean’s choice too, or rather the Dreaming had chosen him as is the way and helping him with his knowledge is in part my place in the scheme of his learning, a responsibility to prepare him to be all that he could be and this gave us a kinship closer than that of brothers.

He struggled with it as we all do and knowing some of his struggles made me smile. Soon we would need to head north into ceremony again together, but for now, his studies were also important. It wasn’t yet the time for his full initiation into the Lore of the Shaman, which would come.

This brought my mind back to the girl at my side, still sleeping, and I wondered who she was. It was strange not to know, not something I was comfortable with. There had been many of Sean’s friends about last night, both young women and men, but most had left or were sleeping by the time I had bought out the gunjie mix. Those who had remained had not the sense to know what it was we were using.

As is usual for the uninitiated, they were ignorant and had their own weed and their own drugs, many of which were destroying them. They wouldn’t bother with ours and even if they remained they would not know of our Dreaming and would care even less, absorbed with pursuits of their own kind and with their own friends.

Our ways to help reach the Dreaming were steeped in Lore, governed by tradition and ceremony. There was very little in common with the drugs the kids used today. It was the difference between feasting with friends and enjoying a bottle of fine wine with a woman who fired your blood and waking up on your own with your head on an air pillow which once held a cheap plonk and having no sweet memories to entertain you.

I couldn’t recall anyone who remained around the small fire pit in the tight back yard when we had embarked on our journeys. I knew now it would be a few hours still before Sean joined me in the day, he was still relatively young. Even though there was only six years in age between us, my Dreaming had begun much earlier and under the guidance of the Elders, my path had been very different to Sean’s. We all take our own paths in gaining our knowledge and this bought us our own skills and power.

The girl beside me stirred, stretched and then settled again, her arm drifting across my chest, her hand splaying over my skin and gentling, she was still lost to the night. It was nice the way she tucked into my side and I liked it, perhaps a little too much. This would not be the way but I wondered again about her, wishing I could better see her face, her eyes, and her spirit. Perhaps when she wakes?

Maybe this was her room and I wondered. It looked like it might be I realized as the light began to slowly fill the space. It was feminine, no sign of any man about but myself and that I liked too.

I knew Sean shared the house with students from the University nearby. It was an interesting experience for him to meet people of different places and for a moment my thoughts flicked to my own University years. I certainly hadn’t expected to benefit so much from his experiences though. In the past few years as he studied, my visits had barely touched his friends and I preferred it this way usually.

The room about me was small really I noticed as the light began to creep into the space and it seemed more cluttered. Almost a tidy mess in its own way, then I realized the clothes scattered around the floor were both mine and hers. Once more I found myself wishing I could better remember the night. The bed clothes were a tangle and most had ended up on the floor joining our clothes, perhaps it was the need for warmth which had found her cuddled into my side. Giving a careful kick to the remnant of the sheeting at the end of the bed with my foot I managed to drag up a covering without disturbing her too much. She shifted, muttered something that I wish I could understand but I could make little sense of what she had said, she then rolled onto her back still in the shelter of my arm as I pulled the sheet around her.

The sight and shape of her though, quickly warmed my blood again and for a moment I considered waking her, the thought bringing a smile to my lips... but one quickly controlled as I realized I could study her more easily as she slept.

She was very light skinned, a very pale honey where exposed to the sun, but mostly the colour of fresh cream where the eyes generally couldn’t travel. But it was her face which arrested my thoughts. Her skin was perfect, a light sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose, her features almost elfin, no hint of the makeup which most women now chose to hide behind and her lips were generous and well-shaped, flushed with a delicate pink. Then I realized that this also could be the slight swelling from the night and the thought made me smile again...her lips looked more than inviting to me now.

The gentle contours of her neck and shoulders flowed down over her breasts. I felt the sight quickening my blood yet again, but her tussled hair was lovely despite its riot, framing her face and this distracted me. It was a natural colour with no darkening around the roots, almost the same as on the rest of her body and the fine strands were now slowly turning a strawberry honey shade as the early light filled the room. She had an unusual beauty about her. Though not conventional her features were still arresting in their own way and that thought settled in my mind with the feeling that I knew her well, yet I had never met her before. If I had, I would remember her features I was certain.

Easing myself back down onto the pillow I gently shuffled her body into my own protectively as I turned on my side towards her, encasing her in my arms so she could scarcely escape even though I knew she wasn’t mine. I told myself this had more to do with the narrowness of the double bed, given my length than anything else.

I wasn’t accustomed to waking with women I didn’t know well; it had never been my way. I had learnt the cost of commitments of a physical nature and it was many years since I had taken a woman with such cavalier attention. I was no longer a man discovering the fascination of women for the first time. Then again, I found the temptation to wake her intriguing, to learn more about how I had found my way to her bed.

I felt the need to remind myself that she wasn’t mine, I had no claim here and I would have to let her go. Holding her felt good though and I drifted back into a dreaming state again, the warmth of her now razing my skin where we touch along the slender length of her. I could wait till she woke I reassured myself.

 

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