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What is Wayapa Wuurrk and NAIDOC Week - and why do Elders matter to both?
Wayapa Wuurrk was the first Indigenous wellness modality registered with IICT in 2014.
Wayapa Wuurrk translates to “Connect to the Earth” in the languages of the Peek Whuurrung People of the Maara Nation in south-west Victoria and the Gunaikurnai Peoples of Gippsland, Victoria.
Wayapa Wuurrk is an earth connection embodiment modality based on Indigenous wisdom which focuses on respecting and looking after our environment in our daily lives as the starting point for holistic health. It combines the ancient practice of embodied storytelling with earth mindfulness and reciprocity.
Co-founded in 2014 by Gunaikurnai and Maara descendant Jamie Marloo Thomas and Welsh Canadian Australian Sara Jones, Wayapa Wuurrk challenges the very definition of what it is to be healthy by asking the question, can we truly be healthy if our environment isn’t?
Ancient peoples lived in harmony with Mother Earth, knowing they were divinely interconnected with her and all other species. We all descend from ancient peoples so Wayapa invites us to tap into our own cellular memory and knowing as hunters and gatherers.
This knowing exists within us but it is also passed on by our Elders.
Image from https://www.naidoc.org.au/
What is NAIDOC Week?
NAIDOC Week is a designated time in Australia when we honour and celebrate the Original (First Nations) Peoples and culture of this country - one of the oldest living people and cultures in the world dating back 100,000 plus years. Each year, NAIDOC Week has a different theme and this year it is “For our Elders”.
Why do Elders matter?
Elders are an integral part of all connected communities and living systems offering a lifetime of wisdom.
Within connected systems, Elders are neither hidden away nor part of a hierarchy of authority rather they are revered and respected. They hold space for others.
Elders are our original universities. They are knowledge holders, teachers and sharers, offering deeper reflection and wisdom to those who seek it.
Elders remind us of our roles and responsibilities, inspiring and guiding us to grow in our own journeys of being part of the collective whole. Integral to this journey is understanding our reciprocal relationship with nature, giving us all purpose as stewards of the earth.
Most importantly, Elders teach us to be knowledge sharers to our next generations of how to live life well, in harmony with our Mother Earth and all her species. This knowledge has been passed down from the Creator, from the Spiritual Ancestors from the beginning as creation stories. This knowledge is held within Country.
The wisdom of Elders cannot be Googled, it is absorbed by spending time with them to listen deeply, to observe and to reflect. This time spent with Elders, guides and nurtures the next generations which in turn, enriches the entire community. The next generation becomes the Elders and then they too pass on their knowledge and so on for future generations creating intergenerational wellbeing.
Elders of Mother Earth
Ancient and Indigenous peoples viewed everything in their environment as kin, as family. The sun, the tree, the rock, the water, the kangaroo are all kin. They are also revered as Elders of Mother Earth, holding space and wisdom for all who seek it. Through the 14 Wayapa Elements, Wayapa Wuurrk embodies this connection and wisdom.
When we connect with these Wayapa elements they teach us, like Elders of Mother Earth - they journey us through our lives.
We all need many cycles of the sun and the moon to even become an Elder.
The Tree Element teaches us that Eldership comes in many forms and species. Trees are ancient wisdom keepers that we can learn so much from if we open ourselves to the experience.
The Air Being Element teaches us to look down from our perch at the legacy of our Elders, to walk gently on this earth.
The Land Being Element shares the wisdom of making the time to stop, look and listen to our Elders.
The Water Being Element reminds us that we all have ancestral knowledge within us that we can learn to connect into.
Our Elders teach us that ultimately, our Mother Earth is our greatest Elder as she grows up all her children, all species, holding space for all on their own journeys whatever they may be. This is the essence of intergenerational wellbeing.
We, at Wayapa Wuurrk, are forever grateful for the love and support of the Elders who share their knowledge and wisdom with these Earth connection practices and principles for the whole world.
Wayapa Wuurrk was the first Indigenous wellness modality approved with IICT in 2014.
Find out more about how to get your modality, Indigenous or otherwise, recognised by IICT for professional recognition by becoming an IICT Training Provider here, or learn more about IICT by visiting www.myiict.com.
IICT acknowledges and pays respect to the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, the Traditional Owners of the land on which we live and work, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging. IICT supports and respects the continuation of cultural, spiritual and education practices of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Article written by:
Wayapa Wuurrk Co-Founders Jamie Marloo Thomas and Sara Jones supported by the Wayapa Wisdom Circle
Shelly Hood Photography, Wayapa Wuurrk Practitioner.
About the Authors:
Co-Founders of Wayapa Wuurrk, Jamie Thomas & Sara Jones have shared Wayapa throughout Australia and around the world. They have also trained hundreds of certified Practitioners to help them deliver Wayapa Wuurrkshops to a wide variety of audiences.
They are regular speakers at conferences and events and are published co-authors. Jamie and Sara would also like to acknowledge the contribution of the Wayapa Wisdom Circle Practitioners to this article.
Jamie, Sara and their team of Wayapa Practitioners are passionate about helping people tap into their ancestral knowledge to create purpose, belonging and intergenerational well-being for a healthier, more connected planet.