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July 6, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Heeling Circle

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In honour of a truly unique individual

Some people make an impression. Heeling Dean was one of them.

Sadly she died last week, and I wanted to dedicate my Soapbox to her in honour of a truly unique individual. In honour of a woman who was seemingly unself-conscious. Who was witchy wise but childlike at the same time. Who was raw, and honest, and both ordinary and unusual. Who was serious and funny. Who could be as easygoing as she could be difficult. Great women are complex. And Heeling was a properly complex woman.

A woman who knew how to be a friend to other women. Her friendships were deep and passionate. You were either in her sunshine or her shade – there wasn’t really anywhere else. 

She was drawn to community. She told me once she’d been in the JWs. I could see how she would have loved the fellowship but I couldn’t imagine her sticking to the rules. I couldn’t imagine her pink hair and her fuck-you attitude being dominated by a doctrine that dictated life choices. I guess that’s why spirituality was so important to her. She had a connection but she found a way to live it without the restrictive rules. Free spirits don’t do well living in jars with the lid tightly shut.

After leaving the Jehovah’s she found her place in our esoteric spiritual community. A place much more resonant for someone like Heeling. A place where a naked Heeling would comfortably wander on her verandah chatting to friends on her Facebook Live about whatever her latest clay workshop had brought up or issue she was working through. Nothing was off limits. I relate to that. I share the same lack of filter. It draws people in. There is a certain radiance in the dangerous open-hearted full-tilt approach to how she lived her life.

I remember going there for a tarot reading she had gifted me for my 50th birthday. I was a few years late in showing up because it’s not something I am comfortable with. I turn up at her gorgeous shack in the hills and she asks me to change a lightbulb because at five foot nothing she can’t reach. Then she said, ‘Well you have to go out and come in again! We can’t do a reading when you’ve done a job for me.’ So I leave and turn up a second time. Then she asks, ‘Have you ever had a foot reading?’ No, I have never had a foot reading. She takes in my feet and admires what she calls my ‘power toe’. Apparently it’s quite something. She made me feel nurtured and cared for, something she put a lot of her self into. She made me love my big toes.

Every show I did around here she would be in the front row. Even though I often make jokes about some of the ideas she held dear, she never took it personally. She could laugh at herself. The new-age punk priestess gathered an entourage for every outing. She laughed with her whole body. She saw her role as some sort of divine glue – connecting those who may have never connected. Drawing in people who may not have even liked each other, but were united by the fact Heeling had invited them in: to a show, to a clay-making circle, to a lunch. They dare not say No to Heeling! She didn’t wait for life to happen; Heeling orchestrated it. She was no bystander. She was right there in the middle of the action.

Even when she was unconscious the woman was making waves. International headlines just a few weeks ago read ‘Prominent Byron Bay anti-vax tarot reader in ICU with COVID’. 

I felt protective of Heeling. It felt wrong to write about someone who was unable to defend themselves or give consent. To criticise her choices when she was paying so heavily for them. I was appalled at the lack of privacy, and the opportunism of the media singling out  Heeling, but for a moment she was famous. And her tribe gathered around her.

I write this as one of her vaccinated friends, who respected her choice, but dearly wished that perhaps she had made another. I write this because she was an extraordinarily kind, eccentric, generous-hearted, and kooky-as-Fuck kick-arse woman. 

Goodbye, Heeling Dean. 

I get the feeling you’ll be back

See Echo Vale Heeling Dean


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26 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely on point Mandy!

    The opportunism/sensationalism was appalling and distasteful. An article could have been written omitting names and photos/videos snatched off Facebook profiles.

  2. You couldn’t just make it about her, you had to poke at the vaccination topic, lame and distasteful, but I spose its ok at least you waited for her to pass.😔

    • To not mention it would not br truthful to who I sm and the fact we can have differing view points and still love and care for each other. I don’t lnow about you- but I don’t care about this fight over who is right – I just don’t want my friends to die. I honoured her with honesty- i did it on full knowledge that there would be those who would not be able to see past that and attack me. But I am honoureing Heeling- her life – her choice and her death. She didn’t get hit by a bus. She died from Covid / -and I wish she hadn’t

      • Amazing, honest, real tribute of a very dear friend Heeling. Thankyou, Mandy.

        It is the mystery question whether she was vaxxed would it have been the same outcome? as she had pre existing health conditions.
        Ps. To be clear, Heeling did not actually die from Covid, she had it and was tested negative when she left Lismore to Tweed hospital, she developed ventilator induced pneumonia, infections, kidneys failure etc this led to her death from a massive heart attack.
        Bless her big Lioness heart ♥️

    • The column was all about Heeling . It is relevant to know how she died and that she had made some waves world wide around her stance . ‘Poking’ at the vaccination topic was relevant and right to do . Mandy did it with love and respect .

    • But you did anyway .. write about her with your OPINIONS even though she can’t defend herself .. maybe you should have written her an I “told you so “speech like some of her other so called friends … you don’t come back from that .. She chose Freedom for everyone and I’m sure she doesn’t regret it …

    • I think her article was done by nothing more than grace, honesty & dignity.
      The V topic had to be brought up bcos we all read the disgusting article & making her a target when she was unable to defend herself..Why make this an argument? This is a tribute! She deserved it & she’d have accepted the honesty.

  3. A lovely tribute. I did not know Heeling but by all accounts she was amazing and loved by many. I was appalled that a l journalist who lives locally chose to minimize Heeling’s contribution to this world to her choices around vaccines and at at time when she was unable to speak for herself ( a story that was picked up world wide). I am pro vax ( triple dosed) and cannot understand the polarization in our society over this issue.

  4. Thankyou for this interesting article. I was not aware of Heeling Dean and I did not see the media articles of when she was in ICU. However, this article spoke to me. I am a person who is fully vaccinated and I have a friend who passionately against being vaccinated for COVID. Though I do not agree with my friend’s views regarding COVID and the vaccine I fully respect that she has the right to her own opinions and choices and reciprocates by respecting my views and choices.

  5. Once again Mandy Nolan needs to be divisive on the subject of vaccination status… Mandy, can you please write an article about the double/triple vaccinated person who died of/with/from/despite covid – (you don’t need to search too deep – there are many thousands of them) and how they should have made ‘another’ choice. (its very clear to most people by now that the vax really isn’t doing what its purported to do) Nah Mandy…I didn’t think you would. It wouldn’t fit your one eyed view of the world and doesn’t allow you to take a dig at those you don’t agree with – does it..?

  6. Vaccinated are passing away too, not cool to say she paid heavily for choice. It’s also untrue that she died of covid.

    Pity the real truth didn’t come out in the media.

  7. Crossed paths with Heeling over the many years, as always she was a delightful presence, I was always in awe sharing heart felt moments and some lightness and laughter. Feeling her Sunshine upon us …<3

  8. When they walk into a room some people make a good impression.
    Heeling Dean was one of them in high heels or low, she makes a room bright, warm and aglow. She is the one you want to know.

  9. Once again Mandy tells a truth some don’t want to hear. Lying
    is weak & lousy. Think about it. . . the truth takes guts.

  10. Well done Mandy. Written with respect and love and I entirely disagree with the disparaging comments above. You had to mention the elephant in the room and you did so carefully and with love and respect. I am sorry for your loss. I’m sorry we all lost Heeling.

  11. A beautiful tribute that Heeling would have been ticklied pink until the health topic was brought in .
    It’s patronising to write yr opinion in a tribute
    It’s bad taste

    Leave it alone before many of us completely drop from yr readership and echo push
    Unfortunately the echo has playef a huge role in further polarising it’s community…

    Hereing would have possibly burnt the back end of yr tribute Mandy ….For the record Herling didn’t die from Covid truth be known .. best to get the facts straight before publishing ..its what keeps lawyers in business with articles and comments like this ..
    Shame on you journalists…respect those past and present and future…

  12. Here again, the truth is the truth & it doesn’t lesson the care & love shown by so
    many. Dean was a fine woman . There ought to be more like her.

  13. Beautiful and respectful article Mandy. Heeling herself made a big deal out of being antivax; you didn’t create that image and legacy, she did. She wore that stance with pride. To not mention that would be not honouring the relationship between you and her.

  14. RIP Heeling. Long lunches at the poinciana after markets. A complicated mixed up
    Soul who found her place. Whatever that means in this navel gazing place. Loved a home cooked diner, as long as she didn’t have to cook. The selfie queen . Seeyalatermate xo

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