As a part of my project to identify Australian women who help to explain the energetic of a Tarot Card I am endeavoring to put together interpretive drawings which help to tell stories about the women. For example, anthropologist, Marcia Langton is surrounded by Indigenous artifacts which can be found online, while the tragic legacy of the early missionaries who worked in Indigenous missions surrounds Annie Lock.
The symbolism in the Five of Wands suggests that there is form of conflict in one’s life. This may be an existing conflict or one that is brewing and may eventually blow up in one’s face. It may also depict a problem in communication, for example in a situation where no one really wants to listen to the other – meaning that no agreement or understanding takes place.
Olive Cotton Is regarded as was one of Australia’s pioneering modernist photographers.
Cotton was born in Sydney in 1911, daughter of Florence (pianist/painter) and Leo (geologist) both whom shared interest in photography. During early childhood, Cotton was privy to aspects of environment and developed a love of the world around her. At age 11, Cotton was given her first camera and her love of photography grew from this.
In 1934, Olive Cotton graduated from the university of Sydney and began working in the studio of Australian photographer Max Dupain, a childhood friend who she married. Cotton and Dupain had been childhood friends who grew up sharing a keen interest in the evolving medium of photography. Cotton and Dupain became romantically involved in 1928 and married in 1939. However marrying each other exposed them to some uncomfortable truths and they separated in 1941, eventually divorcing in 1944.
The Five of Wands shows us a battle of egos, people fighting to find out who is strongest. It may be presumptuous to suggest that a battle over egos was what divided this photographic couple, for in reality there were contributing factors outside their control. For example, in line with social convention, women were banned from working in the public service and other occupations in Australia after they married, so as soon as they married Cotton’s status changed.
On top of this was the accepted standard division of labour in which the husband was expected to be the breadwinner and the wife the homemaker and child-bearer. This meant Olive was no longer able to be fully immersed in the social and creative flux of studio life and was removed from the camaraderie and satisfaction that her work as the assistant had previously engendered.
Clearly there were other factors but the collective result was that their marriage did not last long. However, despite this, they did share a long and close personal and professional relationship. An exhibition looks of their work made between 1934 and 1945, the period of their professional association, reveals an exciting period of experimentation and growth in Australian photography. Cotton and Dupain were at the centre of these developments.
Lowitja O’Donoghue was born in 1932 at Indulkana, in the remote north-west corner of South Australia, to a Pitjantjatjara mother and an Irish father. When she was just two years old, she and two of her sisters were taken away from their mother by missionaries on behalf of South Australia’s Aboriginal Protection Board.
Renamed ‘Lois’ by the missionaries, she and her sisters grew up at Colebrook Children’s Home and did not see their mother again for more than thirty years. They weren’t allowed to speak their own language or to ask questions about their origins or even about their parents. Aboriginal girls brought up in the missions were trained in domestic service with the expectation that at age 16 they would seek employment as domestics.
O’Donoghue’s work on behalf of Aboriginal rights began in the early 1950s when she tried to extend her qualifications after working as a nursing aide at the local hospital.. She applied to complete her training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, but was refused the opportunity because she was Aboriginal. She fought the decision, which was eventually overturned and she became the first Aboriginal person to train as a nurse at the hospital. She had by then joined the Aboriginal Advancement League, to advocate on behalf of other Aborigines and specifically to ensure employment options other than domestic work for women and manual labour for men could be available to them.
Lowitja O’Donoghue’s leadership in Aboriginal rights has been highly influential. A member of the stolen generation, she has also been an advocate of reconciliation and avoided politics of confrontation, finding conciliation to be more effective.
Dr O’Donoghue has received numerous awards and accolades for her work. She was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1983 and Australian of the Year in 1984, during which time she became the first Aboriginal person to address the United Nations General Assembly. She won the Advance Australia Award in 1982, was named a National Living Treasure in 1998, and awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1999 and Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great (DSG), a Papal Award, in 2005.
In the Rider Waite Eight of Cups, we are confronted with the moment of transition. We see a cloaked figure taking off to a barren land leaving behind eight golden cups. He is tired of what those cups, that he has spent so much time collecting, represent and is now setting out seeking a higher purpose. It may come from boredom and restlessness or from sheer necessity.
One extraordinary woman who kept reinventing and re-imagining herself, who filled many cups with fascinating stories, became known as the Eulo Queen. She is remembered, her infamy, celebrated in Eulo, Queensland, to this day.
Isabel Gray (1851?-1929), hotelier and storekeeper, was the daughter of James Richardson, army captain, and Priscilla Wright. On her first marriage certificate in April 1869 she was recorded as being born eighteen years before in England. When she married again in 1871 she claimed to have been born in Mauritius. Said to have been well educated in Switzerland, she was sent to Australia, probably in 1868. On 29 April 1869 at Warialda, New South Wales, Isabella Richardson married the 32-year-old Scots superintendent, James McIntosh. He died soon after. On 2 March 1871 at Roma, Queensland, Isabel McIntosh, widow and governess, married Richard William Robinson, station-manager of Spring Grove, Surat.
Her life was a series of re-imaginings and reincarnations, never sullied by her previous endeavours or what the gentle folk thought of her. Although short in stature, the tall tales of the Eulo Queen live on at the Eulo Queen Hotel and she imbues every hall of the pub itself today.
By 1886 Isabel and her second husband Richard William Robinson were hotel-keepers at Eulo (on the Paroo River) in Southwestern Queensland, an important Cobb & Co. staging post between Cunnamulla and Thargomindah and the coach junction from Hungerford. A few years later they had obtained the freehold, hotel and billiard licences of the Royal Mail Hotel and acquired the Empire Hotel. They also ran a store and butcher’s shop in Eulo and thus controlled most of the town’s economy. Eulo had fast become a gathering-place for travellers, graziers, Opal miners and merchants.
About this time the legend of the ‘Eulo Queen’ began. Although short, Isabel probably possessed some personal beauty with the physical sumptuousness so esteemed by contemporary males, and a complaisant husband enabled her to operate as a successful courtesan. Her bedroom was a scene of great activity. A stock of liquor there helped her to entertain groups of gentlemen with conversation and gambling. More intimate entertainment was available.
Opals were the key to her heart; she was captivated by these fiery gems. She used them as currency and for adornment, including a fantastic girdle of alternate large opals and nautilus shells. Some say she styled herself ‘Queen of Eulo’, but others consider admirers conferred the title. The 1893 financial crisis and the 1896 failure of the Queensland National Bank reduced her wealth.
On 18 October 1902 Robinson died at Cunnamulla. On 31 October 1903 Isabel married, at Eulo, a 29-year-old Tasmanian, Herbert Victor Gray. The bride was about 53 but claimed she was 35. She recouped her fortunes and in 1913 went to Europe where she lived lavishly. On her return she quarrelled with Gray; he beat her, and was charged with assault, convicted and fined £25. Isabel paid the fine but thereafter she denied Gray her bed and board. He joined the Australian Imperial Force, but died before going to France.
World War I ended with Eulo’s importance lost to railways and better roads, the opal industry in deep recession and the young men away on war service, many never to return. The Eulo Queen’s remaining enterprises withered on the vine. By 1926 she was living in poverty at Eulo, the military pension as Gray’s widow her sole support. Later she was admitted to Willowburn Mental Hospital at Toowoomba and died there on 7 August 1929. Buried in Toowoomba cemetery, she left an estate of £30
A Surveyors Perspective of This Region
The following comes from the writings of my great great Grandfather, George Chale Watson who was surveying the Eulo region in the decade prior to the Eulo Queen’s reign.
“Having made my measurements and adjusted the boundaries to the satisfaction of the runholders I retraced my tracks as far as Eulo, where I turned off to Cunnamulla, en route to this eastern part of the district, where I had some work. I reached Cunnamulla in November 1874 and found it a lively and pleasantly situated township. Being on the intersection of two main lines of traffic – namely the road along the Warrego into New South Wales and the route from St George to Cunnamulla – a fairly constant stream of traffic was passing through consequent upon the travelling of stock, the cartage of wool and the delivery of station supplies, whilst an increasing occupation of the West involved the moving about of all classes and grades, from rich squatter to the swagman and bookmaker. The principal occupants of the place were the Huxley’s (who kept the Hotel, exceedingly well conducted), Fred Ford, a storekeeper, the local blacksmith and their contemporary, the sergeant of police.
Finding some instructions from the Surveyor-General to extend the survey of Cunnamulla I diversified my feature surveying by the marking out of a few sections of town allotments, which occupied me a week, during which time, putting up at Huxley’s Hotel, I met with many denizens of the West, representative men who had won their spurs as pioneers, and whose preliminary exploits have proved the foundation of the Commonwealth in this part of the continent of Australia.
From Cunnamulla I proceeded further east and affected the survey of Noorama and Widgeegoara Creek where stations had been formed by Mr Edward Brown, the Messrs Howie and Mr John Bignell, the latter in Widgeegoara Creek. He was married to the eldest Miss Williams of Coongoola, one of the first white women who entered the Warrego District and certainly one of the bravest. Some years previous to 1874, when just married and residing on the Upper Bulloo at Tintinchilla station, of which her husband was the manager, upon one occasion a blackfellow stealthily crept into the dwelling and was in the act of tomahawking her when she flew out the opposite door, which fortunately happened to be open, and reached within sight of the stockyard, where Mr Bignell and his men were working.
Upon reaching Mr. Bignell’s station on the Widgeegoara I found Mrs Bignell upholding the traditions of pioneering, for she was living in an improvised shelter of a few sheets of corrugated iron. However, she found means, even in those primitive conditions to extend the traditional hospitality of Coongoola.
The whole of the Widgeegoara and Noorama country was like a luxuriant wheat field, covered with Mitchell grass. The Widgeegoara and Noorama creeks are actually billabongs which run out of the Warrego on to an immense southern plain which runs along the boundary of Queensland and New South Wales, extending from the Condemine waters to Grey’s Range on the west of the Bulloo River. It is only in a very high flood like that of 1874 that the Warrego overflows into the Widgeegoara and Noorama so that until dams were made and wells sunk the waterholes would remain for years unfilled. A few hundred yards of the canal cut out of the Warrego into the head of the Widgeegoara billabong would obviate this serious drawback. In fact the billabongs which break away from the Warrego, Paroo and Bulloo might be utilised by the extension of canals to irrigate the immense Southern plain referred to.
These surveys completed my work for 1874. I had located and classified about 200 runs and in the classification had materially augmented the revenue for many of the runs had been held throughout as half unavailable, which meant the rent was only paid on the available portion.
Source: G. C. Watson Building the Commonwealth
Van Diemen’s Land was the colonial name of the island of Tasmania used by the British during the European exploration of Australia in the 19th century. A British settlement was established in Van Diemen’s Land in 1803 before it became a separate colony in 1825. Its penal colonies became notorious destinations for the transportation of convicts due to the harsh environment, isolation and reputation for being inescapable. Macquarie Harbour and Port Arthur are among the most well-known penal settlements on the island.
“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.” – Susan Gale
Between 1788 and 1868 more than 162,000 convicts were transported to Australia. Transportation as a form of criminal punishment emerged in the British legal system from the early 17th century as an alternative to execution.
Many of the crimes for which they were transported are considered minor offenses by today’s standards. The most common crime by far was stealing—food, clothing, money, household items—mostly items worth no more than £5.
One can only imagine how my great great grandmother, Mary Ann Maule, had been living prior to her sentencing after a series of petty thefts. Clearly Mary was no angel but conditions in Liverpool were particularly harsh. Houses were severely overcrowded and the impact of the Great Famine, known as the Irish Famine was profound.
Friedrich Engels was shocked when he visited Liverpool in the 1840s. “Liverpool, with all its commerce, wealth, and grandeur yet treats its workers with the same barbarity. A full fifth of the population, more than 45,000 human beings, live in narrow, dark, damp, badly ventilated cellar dwellings, of which there are 7,862 in the city.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”– Arnold Schwarzenegger
Having survived the long, perilous journey on board the convict ship, there can be no doubt that life would have been no easier when she arrived in the colony. However, the scarcity of women opened up opportunities for convict women as servants and wives. Many, including Mary Ann, successfully merged into colonial society, creating new families, and through good conduct and hard work forged new lives. Convict women, like my great great grandmother, demonstrated a diversity of character, aspirations and behaviour, which contradicted their stereotype as ‘damned whores’.
Her legacy of strength and fortitude has been far reaching.
“The Tower – whatever it represents in your reading – comes crashing to the ground. All that you held to be true is suddenly…not true. The world looks different, and it can feel like a disaster. This card’s usual image of lightening destroying a tower is incredibly scary – destruction is all that we can see. The ground is unsteady beneath our feet. We don’t know what to hold on to”.
Little Red Tarot
Back in the 1950’s, when dinosaurs may have still roamed the world, on a humid summer afternoon, I could not have been aware that events would mean that my world would look very different for awhile. I can only have been two or three at the time, so all I have are the stories that were subsequently told.
My father loved his sport and he was a keen cricketer in the summer and a football umpire in the winter. Clearly my brothers went to the cricket match with him on this fateful day. My eldest brother was in the car watching from a distance while my other brother was on the side lines. When the storm came in and the thunder cracked the team and my brother sheltered under a tree.
The lightning that struck the tree must have looked spectacular. My elder brother was certainly traumatized by having witnessed this.
“It looks like somebody threw a cannonball through it.”What happens when you are struck by lightening
The whole team, including my father and brother felt the full force of the lightening as it struck the tree they were sheltering under. I can only imagine their shock when it hit like a cannonball. Have you ever got a static electricity shock? When lightning hits the same thing happens, but on a much bigger scale. The majority of injuries and deaths are caused by a ground current, where lightning hits a nearby object and then travels through the ground in all directions.
Amazingly they all survived but at the time, the local doctor in our small country town struggled to know how to treat them. My brother was sent, repeatedly, to Melbourne for skin grafts, the scars of which remain to this day.
Lay out a collection of Tower cards and make a spontaneous list of Tower moments that come to mind. Write in the first or third person about this event.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this site contains the names, images, and voices of people now passed and resting in the Dream
“just keep filling our lives with truth,
reading more exciting than fiction,“
Examining Tarot through the Aperture of Significator Cards and Real Life Stories
Every Tarot or Oracle card has its own story to tell, and every card is open to one’s personal interpretation. Despite what purists might have you believe, no matter what “meaning” experts or books may ascribe to a particular card, no one definition is correct for everyone or every situation. Tarot cards may help to explain a situation or describe a person. In this case a significator Tarot card has been consciously chosen to represent an individual and pick up on an aspect of the energetic of a woman who has made a significant contribution to Australian culture. The cards chosen for these women seemed appropriate at a moment in time. The reader may well differ and dispute the connection being made and offer alternatives.
The Fool – Germaine Greer
The Magician – Elizabeth Blackburn Scientist
High Priestess – Barangaroo
The Empress – Catherine Helen Spence
The Hierophant – Two Extraordinary Women
Lovers – Aunty Oodgeroo Noonuccal
The Chariot – Judith Durham
Strength – A Test of Endurance
The Hermit – Bronwyn Oliver
The Wheel of Fortune – Julia Bishop
Justice – Elizabeth Andreas Evatt
The Hanged Man – Charmian Clift
Death – Lets Talk Death
Temperance – Women’s Christian Temperance Union Australia
The Devil – Anne Hamilton Byrne
The Tower – Ultimate Tower Moment
The Star – Fay Catherine Howe
The Moon – Joan Lindsay Picnic at Hanging Rock
The Sun – Olivia Newton John
Judgement – Annie Lock Missionary
The World – Nancy Bird Walton
associated with the emotional realm. Connection, love, dreams and wishes. Happiness as well as sorrow and vulnerability.
Ace of Cups – The Promise of Happy Ever Afer
Two of Cups – Soulful Connections
Three of Cups – An Artistic Collective
Four of Cups – Ash Barty
Five of Cups – Red Flags to Address
Six of Cups – Custodians of Memory
Seven of Cups – Smorgasbord
Eight of Cups – Picking up the Pieces
Nine of Cups – Dame Nellie Melba
Ten of Cups – Miles Franklin Award
The Page of Cups
The Knight of Cups
The Queen of Cups
King of Cups – Sandra Pankhurst Trauma Cleaner
associated with the material realm. Physicality, the body, work, environment. Abundance as well as scarcity and greed.
Ace of Pentacles –
Two of Pentacles – Poh Ling Yeow
Three of Pentacles
Four of Pentacles
Five of Pentacles – The Lady of the Swamp
Six of Pentacles – Ruby Hunter
Eight of Pentacles – Productivity
Ten of Pentacles – Mary Reiby
The Page of Pentacles – Teal Independents
The Knight of Pentacles
Queen of Pentacles – Margaret Fulton
King of Pentacles – Christine Holgate
associated with the mental realm. Rationality, logic, communication. Useful thoughts as well as anxieties and fears.
Ace of Swords – Catherine Hay Thomas
Two of Swords – Julia Gillard.
Three of Swords – Grace Tame
Four of Swords – Monica Tan
Five of Swords
Six of Swords
Seven of Swords – Christina Macpherson and Jessie Hickman
Eight of Swords – Lindy Chamberlain and Schapelle Corby
Nine of Swords – Trails of Trauma
Ten of Swords – Catherine Folbigg
Page of Swords
Knight of Swords
Queen of Swords – Mary Gaudron
King of Swords – Marcia Langton
associated with gusto and life force. Excitement, exploration, creative pursuits. Passion as well as grandiosity and impulsiveness.
Ace of Wands – Tilly Aston
Two of Wands
Three of Wands
Four of Wands
Five of Wands – Warrior Spirit
Six of Wands
Seven of Wands
Eight of Wands
Nine of Wands
Ten of Wands – Charlotte Allingham
Page of Wands – Inventive Creatives
Knight of Wands
Queen of Wands – Margaret Throsby
King of Wands – Margaret Olley
The Six of Cups symbolize the joy of nostalgia, the comfort of home and childhood innocence. In the card itself, there are six cups filled with white flowers. Two children are depicted in the foreground, and one is passing a cup to another. This handing of the flowers from the boy to the girl shows the passing of traditions and happy reunions. The children seem to be in a castle of sorts, that we can imagine give them a sense of security and comfort.
If the Six of Cups has presented itself to you it may be a good time to reminisce about childhood and the books that made a deep impression on you and have, in some small way, influenced choices you have made. While you cannot bring the past back you can revisit and experience the joy of escaping into a fantasy world.
Children’s Literature is extremely vital as it provides the child with the chance of responding to literature and developing personal opinions. Moreover, it encourages deeper thoughts and emotional intelligence and imagination; it cultivates growth and development of personality and social skills. Those, like Ruth Park, who write for children, generally provide an escape from reality for children, taking them into exciting fantasy worlds that they might never know otherwise. The impact of their work is almost impossible to quantify.
Rosina Ruth Lucia Park was born in Auckland, on August 24, 1917 but spent most of her life in Australia. Her Scottish father had migrated to New Zealand to work as a labourer on road- and bridge-building projects. Park spent her early years as the solitary child in camps for road workers. Romping in forests she developed a fertile imagination, also inspired by her father’s tales of Scottish heroes.
In a piece that she wrote to tell children about her life she wrote that “many years ago I was born in that green, snow capped archipelago called New Zealand, and I’m very glad I was. Probably I am a writer because I had a singular childhood. My first seven years I spent all alone in the forest, like a possum or a bear cub. It was rain forest, pathless, dense; its light was a dim green twilight. How did I get there?
My father was a bridge builder and road maker; he drove some of the first roads through the forested Crown lands of northern New Zealand. My mother and I travelled with him, living in tents beside mountain streams lively with trout and eels. My father’s head was crammed with the savage hero tales of his ancestral land, Scotland. How lucky I was that he had the gift of storytelling! You must imagine lamplight, owls hoo-hooing, the tent fly cracking with frost, and myself, this bear cub child, listening to the stories I would play out by myself in the bush, next day. I developed an imagination both rich and rowdy. But there was one thing I had not imagined. When I went to school at last, I was totally astounded, almost frightened, to see children playing together. I hadn’t known they did that!
Although I loved school, I wasn’t at all interested in children’s games. However, I learned how. to pretend, and became on the surface just another kid, though inside I knew I wasn’t. This didn’t make me happy. I really believed I was a changeling. (We didn’t know the word ‘alien’ then, otherwise I would have thought I had been dropped by a Rigelian spaceship.) I longed to be like everyone else, but my solitary early life had made me different somehow. My friends were almost all Maori children, little forest creatures like myself.
By the time I was eight I was writing. I entered all kinds of verse and story competitions, and when I was eleven I won one of these. My story was published. This went straight to my head. I saw my life’s work laid out before me, and have never stopped writing since. I think, even at the age of eleven, I felt comfortable writing, more the real person I knew I was.”
From Becoming a Writer by Ruth Park
Within the Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie May revealed herself as a committed conservationist with the opening inscription ‘Humans Please be kind to all bush creatures and don’t pull flowers up by the roots‘.
May Gibbs (1877 – 1969) is one of Australia’s most treasured illustrators, artists and children’s authors. Her bush fantasy world has captured the imaginations of Australians for over a century, creating a uniquely Australian folklore that holds a special place in the hearts of a nation. May was to say in later life ‘I’ve always had the greatest pleasure in thinking of all those little children who enjoyed my books. Everything became alive for me, it was just a fairy tale all the time.’ Born Cecilia May Gibbs in England on 17 January 1877, she was the only daughter of artist, cartoonist and public servant Herbert William Gibbs and Cecilia Rogers.
May emigrated to Australia with her family in 1881 aboard the Hesperus at four years of age. First trying their hand at farming in South Australia, followed by two years at Harvey Cattle Station in Western Australia, the Gibbs family eventually gave up on the farming life and settled at ‘The Dunes’ in Perth.
Over this time the young May spent many impressionable years observing the beauty of the Australian bush. In later years May was to say ‘It’s hard to tell, hard to say, I don’t know if the bush babies found me or I found the little creatures’. Raised in a creative household, May demonstrated artistic ability from an early age – ‘I could draw before I could walk,’ May was to recall. May excelled at botanical drawings and in 1892 at just fifteen years of age May won her first Art prize at the Perth Wild Flower Show, the first of many throughout the 1890s.
For the full online autobiography and to learn about the diversity of Gibb’s work, visit the official May Gibb website
Key word associated with the 5 of Cups include – Sadness, loss, grief, despair, abandonment, guilt, remorse, regret, trauma, bereavement, mourning, heartbreak, unwelcome change, emotional instability, focusing on loss, focusing on negative emotions, isolation, loneliness, emotional baggage, divorce, separation, anger, disappointment
Sometimes when we work with Tarot and Oracle decks cards appear that mirror feelings we may have been trying to submerge. When the 5 of Cups shows up we can either slip it back into the pack or face and work with the kind of feelings that are frequently associated with it.
Beth from Little Red Tarot writes that “the Five of Cups shows us a moment of pure sadness. There’s very little here, but a figure, standing sadly beside overturned cups. What happened? It doesn’t really matter. Whatever those cups held is now gone, and this person is left to deal with it.
What is impressive about Beth’s post is that she gives permission to grieve when she says things like “let yourself be sad. If you’re putting on a brave face or being strong for someone else (or for yourself), now is the time to drop the act. Really give yourself the space to feel what you feel. It may be simple grief. It may be a complex mix of things. Go with it.”
By contrast, Elliot says that “when the Five of Cups comes up in a reading, its message is to “Snap out of it!” Admittedly he does offer a strategy for shifting focus from negative thoughts. He suggests that you “remember the details of your favorite place” saying that “this may be a park you visit, or a particularly beautiful place you traveled to”. He encourages you to think about “your happiest memory of a place to close your eyes and remember each of the details of the place”.
Of course, doing this may prove challenging if you are in the grips of a major bereavement. Being told to snap out of it may distract you momentarily and allow you to discharge some anger as you slap the person dispensing such advice. In fairness to Elliot he is writing about more mundane matters of the heart and his advice is very sound in such situations.
Likewise, working with gentle Tarot and Oracle decks is another soft option if you are caught in a whirlpool of disappointment and heartbreak. Wicked Moonlight has a great video where she talks about her top gentle decks.
Personally I have a couple of readily available mass market decks that I turn to when I am in a 5 of Cups state, just “want to suck worms” and have no capacity to talk to another person about whatever is bothering me. Each of these decks have wonderful guided books and the Barbieri guidebook includes highly creative guided imagery exercises which are perfect for when you are lying in a foetal position under the doona cover.
The Six of Pentacles represents compassion, generosity, and cultivating good karma. This card reminds you that your true quality as a person is not measured by how much you impress the powerful and influential people of society. Instead, it is measured by how you treat the outcasts, the penniless, and the “least of these.” When you show kindness to those who you would probably gain “nothing” from, you may find that you walk away with a gift far greater.
Caroline Chisholm was born in Northampton, 30 May 1808. This was a time of turmoil. On the continent, Napoleon was wreaking havoc, and the wars undertaken to defeat him were sapping Great Britain of her resources. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing, and by the late 18th century there had emerged a massive underclass of “deserving” poor, many without means of subsistence. To deal with the poverty, a support system loosely based on the Christian principle of charity was espoused.
Born in 1808 into the reasonably well-to do family of William Jones, a yeoman farmer in Northampton, Caroline Chisholm received an education that reflected the times. As a young girl, she visited the sick of the neighboring village, providing them with help and care, and was, in the words of one biographer, educated to “look on philanthropic labor as a part of her everyday life.”
At seven, she displayed a passionate interest in immigration. Having heard wondrous tales of far-off lands in what has been characterized as an enlightened household, she invented an immigration game. Using a wash basin as the sea, she “made boats of broad-beans; expended all [her] money in touchwood dolls, removed families, located them in the bed-quilt and sent the boats, filled with wheat, back to the friends.” This early interest in immigration would later provide a focus for her rising philanthropic passion.
When she arrived in Australia in 1838 she was horrified by the desperate situation of single emigrant women who were exploited when they first arrived. Often when emigrants arrived they were taken advantage of by people who would rob them or take their money on pretense of getting them accommodation or employment. The situation was particularly bad during the depression of the 1840s. Her advocacy for homeless girls and poor families during Australia’s formative years caused her contemporaries to see her as ‘the indispensable woman of the time’.
Fast forward to 2022 and one cannot help but wonder what a woman like Carolyn Chisholm, whose name is used by so many organizations working to address homelessness, would make of the situation facing so many people. In Victoria alone, on any given night, there are approximately 1,100 people sleeping rough and older women are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia.
What would Caroline Chisholm do?
Suggestions Caroline Chisholm might offer about making a difference to homelessness in Australia in 2022
Imagine you are a journalist and you have the opportunity to interview Carolyn Chisholm. Research and find out more about her, the opposition she faced and the contribution she made. Upon meeting with her, ask five open ended questions about actions she would take to alleviate homelessness. See if what she says to you resonates with the suggestions being proposed here.
This image, depicting women defending the castle with bow and crossbow comes from The Medieval Woman – Illuminated Book of Days. Set yourself the task of learning more about the role women have played in society and art. Take the time to look at works of art which were created by or feature women. Think expansively and don’t forget to look at ancient and indigenous art. The art you choose may be a song, a hand crafted item, a carefully prepared food, a character from mythology, or even an image as recognizable at the Mona Lisa.