Our story of Sacha Boodja begins years before we bought the land, in fact it is hard to say when it truly began. Was it in the desire to bring into being the wishes of our Guru (ShantiMayi) for a place in Australia or to live a truly meaningful life with nature, to give back to life, to leave this planet a little better than it was when we came , to heal ourselves and aid in healing of our Mother the earth and all who live on her?
These were the longings of the heart, but we could not imagine how any of this could come into being. We were living a hand to mouth existence, any money we made was immediately spent on living or on air tickets to India.
Then in 2008 ShantiMayi was travelling to Peru to meet with a Shaman (Don Americo) who could speak the language of the Stones. Along with a small group of ShantiMayi’s students we were invited to come. Peru was amazing, incredible people dedicated to the sacredness of all of life, for whom the spiritual permeated every aspect of living. Then there was the land itself Pacha Mama (Earth Mother) Apu (the masculine, the mountains ) overflowing with potency. We met many wonderful rock beings. In some marvellous way Peru was to shape the way we perceive the world. So it was that we arrived back in Oz, filled with the insights of Peru and a deep reverence for rock.
Perhaps it would be possible for us to buy land and work towards the vision. ….
We asked for signs to guide us and so we set off looking for land. The moment we first arrived here, Mandakini jumped from the car and ran to the top of the hill filled with joy and laughter. This land had stolen our hearts. As a confirmation Eagle came and hovered directly overhead. It has been said that the land called us to it. Still we were determined to look at more land before making a decision and looked at many more blocks. But in our hearts we knew that this was a place where we could dive deep into ourselves and nature. Besides we were in Love.
When we first bought the block we lived in a rented house in Baldivis, an outer suburb of Perth and we would come here at every opportunity, sometimes a weekend, sometimes a few days staying in Shanti Bus an old Nissan Urvan that was parked on top of the hill under the shade of an old York Gum.
In that first year we walked the land, we came to know every square inch of it, every tree and every rock. We observed the flow of water, the direction of the winds, the sun, the moon and the stars. Ah the stars.
We started to do ceremony, prayed over the trees and rocks, on our walks and wished to make the incredible experience of this land available to other like minded people.
Then the work begins
Then one weekend in the middle of summer we spontaneously began to build dry stone retaining walls on the outcrop near the bus, so it was into rock collecting and carting soil uphill in the wheel barrow. This area would evolve into the vegetable garden(which is still evolving and under construction six years later).
The first tree planting was inspired by the neighbour, it seems we had some weeds on our land that he didn’t want on his and he wanted to let his sheep in to eat them, along with everything else that was going to become a huge fire danger. As for us, we were overjoyed with the weeds and the last thing we wanted was sheep back on the land. After a sleepless night worried about our responsibilities as landholders and considering the best outcomes for all concerned we hit on an idea, Lets plant a wind break, we can slash the weeds until the trees grow and no weed seed blows into the neighbours property. A great idea lets whip down to the nursery, buy a thousand trees and plant them out, simple. After all we have a spade and a pick. Oh did I mention that the ground was heavily compacted and as hard as rock? Then there was the watering, the neighbour said we could use his dam to get water, so ten litre containers in hand we climbed over two fences filled them up from the dam and back over the fences again. Three trees to the container and all the while singing hundreds of Medicine buddha and Gyatri mantras.
At the end of the day we would fall into bed bone tired having planted and watered thirty trees an hour. That first night we lost two hundred trees to rabbits. We planted that wind break three times and by the end of summer eighty seven were still alive. We don’t do it like that anymore!!
But those early experiences were filled with really wonderful lessons, both from a physical and a spiritual perspective. We lived the life of pioneers, days filled with hard physical work, nights at the campfire or under the stars, then back to “civilisation” to go to work to earn the money to go back to Sacha Boodja to work some more and dreamt of the day when we would be able to move out to “the Block”.We were at the limits of our physical and emotional endurance. It was a strong testing, as if the land was demanding proof of our commitment.
When we tell this story some people think we must be mad, are we? Probably, but Love can be like that.
A great blessing comes our way
For some time we were wanting to spend more time at Sacha Boodja in fact we wanted to shift out here but couldn’t see how that was possible. After all you can’t just put all your stuff in the middle of the paddock and we had a whole household full of it. We were also quite comfortable in Baldivis. Then on the 1st October 2010 the house burnt to the ground. All the household stuff was gone, nothing left to shift except the piles of recycled building materials we had been collecting and Rumi’s tools which were with him at work at the time of the fire. At Sacha Boodja we had Shanti Bus the camper van and “the shed” a roof over our heads. Moving became very easy no stuff to worry about.
Sure loosing everything in a fire is not fun and it does present its own set of challenges, for example getting all your identity papers back. The typical answer we got from government departments went something like this, “so your house burnt down and you have lost all your identity papers, that must be terrible for you and we can help you with that. All you need to do is provide us with one hundred points of ID and we will replace everything.”
Then there are all the times that are spent looking for something, only to remember Ah gone, oh well in that case I will use that, Oh also gone.
The great Blessing in all of this was that it was very freeing, we were no longer weighed down by things, we didn’t need to consider what to do with it all, there was nothing. Moving to Sacha Boodja became very easy. Within one month we had shifted out to Sacha Boodja.
The fire got us out here.
We have the great good fortune to be blessed with wonderful friends, who have supported us and the vision of Sacha Boodja in so many ways. They have always been there when we needed a hand, encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, to perform ceremony, to celebrate or provide new challenges to face.
With the Baldivis house burning down our friends really came to the fore. They were so supportive in so many ways. They took us into their homes, gave us clothing, donated money, building materials and cared for us in every way. When it came time to move to Sacha Boodja they all gave of their time and energy. A busy bee was organised and a convoy arrived here with all the recycled building materials needed to build a small cottage.
That weekend we began work on Phoenix House.
Without our friends the transition to Sacha Boodja would have been much more difficult and taken much longer.
It is in times of adversity that the value of good friends
becomes so apparent.
Thank you all Beloveds.
We are and always shall be extremely grateful to you all.
Having you in our lives is truly a great blessing.