North coast psychologist Denise Greenaway has written a novel that is the story of psychologist Dr Diana Verdi, who unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of the Australian desert on an Aboriginal community. At first she is distracted by her personal problems and her missing patient Artemisia – just 14 and critically ill with anorexia.
Excerpts from the girl’s diary, The Oracle, haunt Diana, even as she participates in the traditional ceremonies of the Aboriginal women.
Aunty Millie, a powerful elder skilled in traditional healing, takes an interest in Diana’s plight, and uses her mysterious ways to make an impact on her.
Greenaway’s novel is based upon her own experience. She says: ‘When I was invited to attend an inma [a gathering of people to celebrate culture] with Aboriginal women in the remote deserts of Australia, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for’.
‘I had been warned of the severe elements: the night cold, the harsh sun, the absence of water. But nothing could have prepared me for the privilege of experiencing the oldest living culture on Earth.
‘Meeting with the women who keep the Aboriginal culture alive had a direct impact on me. I was struck by their wisdom, clarity, confidence and psychological freedom. They still knew who they were, despite the horrific invasions of their homelands, their food sources and their complex family structures. And they knew what was needed for their traditions to be secured: ceremony, celebration and sharing – women’s business.
‘Although my main character is fictitious, she does follow my personal journey into the women’s ancient world, and she does discover, as I did, a healthy absence of the image issues that afflict our modern world.’
See more at denisegreenaway.com.