Earth Treasure Vase for Yuin Country, South East Coast, Australia

Earth Treasure Vase atop its handmade box along the shores in Walbunja Country.

Introduction from Earth Treasure Vase Steward, Ben Manbulloo Emery

‘’My life purpose is to listen more deeply to the words and lessons our ancestors and old spirits are speaking and teaching. Through building, allowing and honoring connection to my Aboriginal Elders and Teachers and deepening my connection to Country, I have become more able to hear and embody these ancient ways. It has been my honor to have this “Old Man Vase” hanging out with me and my family. He has seen many places and many things, and now it’s time for him to return to his Mother and bring with him all our stories and prayers which he can pass on to Her. It is my commitment to return him back Home.’’

Benjamin Manbulloo Emery
Earth Treasure Vase steward, pilgrimage leader and outback guide.

  Clyde River at Shallow Crossing

The South-East region of New South Wales is a rich cultural area commonly known as “Yuin” Country, which is a term that a number of South Coast Aboriginal people use as a collective term, when referring to various traditional groups between Nowra and the Victorian border. It is derived from the language of the South Coast region and literally translates as “Man.” There are many smaller clans/groups within this region, like the Walbunja people, Black Duck Mob (colloquially used to mean a group of Aboriginal people associated with an extended family group, clan group or wider community group, from a particular place or “Country”), Ngunnawal Mob and others. During the pilgrimage, the group followed pathways and songlines that have been traveled for millions of years, and they camped in many areas where Ben’s ancestors have camped before.  

Didthul Mountain

The journey culminated with a vital Earth Treasure Vase placement, held on the Equinox and carried out in the shadows of the wondrous Didthul (Pigeon House) Mountain.

Ben writes,

’The Earth Treasure Vase practice is all about bringing our heart’s love and blessings back to the people and the local areas. This practice brings an opportunity to reconnect with Mother Earth. The Earth Treasure Vases bring healing powers wherever they go. The Australian Aboriginal Culture IS this to me, in the purest essence. Our people are totally connected to our Mother all of the time; her power, blessings and teachings run through us every moment we breathe and through the Earth Treasure Vase practice we are able to give back our gratitude, blessings and prayers.’’

Burial Ceremony: Old Man Vase Enters the Dreaming

  Sacred Didthul Mountain in Yuin Country where the ETV was placed.

At dawn on the Full Moon of October 2018  in Australia’s Yuin Country, the Earth Treasure Vase stewarded by Ben Manbulloo Emery, his wife Brooke, their son Judd, and a group of dedicated Earth Treasure Vase pilgrims, buried the “Old Man Vase” at the base of an old Ironbark tree, facing Southeast upon Didthul Mountain in the Budawang wilderness of Walbunja Country, Yuin Nation, southeastern Australia.

As the trip began, Ben wrote:
‘’We are now together! The group is now a mob! Through all the challenges we have faced getting here with weather, illness, aviation difficulties and energetic imbalances to address, we have prevailed to bring us all together, with the wisdom, the dedication, the heart, the blessings and the guidance of the “old man vase“ and we now are as One. With a good night’s rest and full bellies we begin the wondrous journey from the mountains and fresh water to the saltwater sea. I thank my ancestors, I thank my fellow travelers, I thank my family, and I thank my sister, bungann Cynthia, for the honor to embark on this pilgrimage.’’

Ben Manbulloo and Julian Silburn (playing didjeridu) in ceremony with Old Man Vase

Ben had stewarded the Vase since our first Earth Treasure Vase pilgrimage in Australia in 2013. When he got back home to Yuin Country with the Vase after that life-changing time, Ben’s elder, Aunty Helen spoke to him:

“Now” she said, “Your sister gave you something real important (the Earth Treasure Vase) to her and to her spirit.  So when it’s time, and when that Old Man Vase you are carrying needs to come to me, you tell me, my boy, and we will start to prepare. You know where it needs to travel to, and you know who needs to be there. Our country has been waitin’ for you to come back home, back to your place, back to where you belong.”

It took five years and many life changes to bring the Old Man home. This journey was a great fulfillment for all. The burial place was located high up on a ridge on Didthul (meaning, ‘woman’s breast’) Mountain in what is considered women’s country, sacred to the local Walbunja People. It was buried deep in the base of an old ironbark stump facing southeast, dug in by all hands, accompanied by the sound of Julian’s crystal didjeridu.

Placing the Old Man at the base of the Ironbark tree

Ben invited everyone to, “Take a moment to feel into this big event in the life of our community and take a breath into both the Old Man Vase and the Country he now rests in. Feel how his call sings out strong and true.  He, myself, my family, my country and my ancestors all thank you deeply for helping us during this special time doing such special work. It has been a spectacular trip – deep, connected and wonderful. Old Man Vase has now joined his sisters, aunties, grandmothers, in the whole Earth Treasure Vase global mandala. Thank you! Thank you all for your support, love and grace, and the privilege to have been able to lead this journey.”

The Continued Tale of Old Man Vase

Murramarang (meaning ‘ceremony’) Camp where the saltwater and
freshwater meet at the end of the Old Man’s journey. Photo by Julian Silburn.

Magi Whisson, Louise Gilmore and Julian Silburn are a few of the pilgrims who joined Ben in the burial ceremony of the Vase for Yuin Country. They all played significant roles in the burial the other Earth Treasure Vases in Australia as well. On these kinds of journeys the group functions as one organism, although everyone experiences and perceives the unfolding in their own unique way. What follows are personal perspectives from Magi, Louise and Julian.

A New Dreaming

by Magi Whisson

The Earth Treasure Vase pilgrimage to south coast Australia was the fifth journey here in Australia, culminating with the burying of the fourth Australian Earth Treasure Vase on this continent. Following the burying of the first of these Australian Vases, which was also the last of the original, first generation Vases, indigenous elder, Aunty Margaret Katherine knowingly said, “A new Dreaming has been created”. Whilst each journey taken has been profound, beauteous and world-changing, there was something particular, accumulative and inexplicable about this recent journey.

Ben Manbulloo Emery offering a kata scarf to the old man vase in its handmade burial box.

From the opening of our first circle, there were present with us a vast number of ancestors, spirit beings.  Whilst their presence is always part of each pilgrimage, on this particular journey, their gathered numbers were beyond measure and included the overarching Great Ancestor or Spirit of Australia; that Being that guides the destiny of this ancient land in relationship to the planetary whole. From the very beginning and continuing throughout the journey there were also obstructions to be managed.  This land was where the colonizers first landed, there was the ever present world pain of our times and the polarized forces of resistance that come to bear when a “new dreaming” seeks to enter. But in a very informal, quiet and graced way our group held an enduring place of coherence, unity and direction. We each seemed to be and to bring that which formed and held the whole.

With right relationship held by this small group representing greater humanity, with hearts and souls open to the gathered ancestors and the work of transformation, this Old Man Vase was buried at the base of an old ironbark tree. Yet even here there was some initial resistance to the Earth receiving this Vase.  It lingered within the surface layer of the Earth.  The chanting and the playing of the Didjeridu had to gather in greater intensity and duration to further initiate its penetration.   The group continued until all was ready, until the moment came when “it was done”.  Old Man Vase was deeply received into the depths of the Earth and into those other realms. It was then that a deeper Mystery began.

Burial of Old Man Vase

It has been quite difficult for us all upon returning home to integrate, to move out of this Mystery and its enshrouding mists. The unknown lingered. There is that which is beyond our understanding that has proceeded from this placement. Personally, the most that I can perceive is that this Vase has been received, taken by ancient, ancestral, primal beings; that whilst they can be witnessed and honored from the edge of the veil it is not appropriate to seek or follow them further. The Mystery is to be honored. Yet sitting on this side of the veil and tending the Earth fire, it is my heart sense that indeed this “New Dreaming” that Aunty Margaret named, has, with the placement of this Vase and supported by the many Vases, incepted something quite wondrous and exceptional; that the alchemical fires of transfiguration have been ignited and are being woven into the fabric and consciousness of Mother Earth.

Traditional Smoking Ceremony to prepare for the pilgrimage
with Ochre painted on Milwanga Wurrben’s hands – photo by Eva Iken

Whilst at the burial of another of the Australian Vases at the ancient 60,000 year-old rock shelter of Gabarnmung, the ancestors whispered to follow and understand “white fire”. I do not profess to know the truth of “white fire”. I see it acting like a koan, a mystical question or puzzle, ushering an invitation to us to explore and reveal. About this, these words seem significant and revealing;

“The day will come when after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire”. (Teilhard Chardin)

Perhaps within the Mystery of this Earth Treasure Vase placement the workings of “white fire” are being gifted as part of the Great Solution.  A new Dreamtime story in Creation. May it be so.

The Heart of the Journey is a Powerful Little
Container of Personal and Global Hopes

by Louise Gilmore

  Yuin Country Earth Treasure Vase – photo by Magi Whisson

Taking the vase to bed with me in Canberra and allowing the dream to arise enabled its message, or opened me to receiving it—and showed me that the vase is not only a receptacle, a container, or a hub on the mandala of light, but also a being of light. The vision was the radiating light, which, of course is in the meditation, but I hadn’t felt or seen this before. An ancient flaming torch lighting the vast cave that is the energy field of Mother Earth; holder of things as yet unknown, unseen. This opened me up to a sense that the vase not only holds healing and protection, but is also fierce; no nonsense. Having the vase as my nightly companion enriched the practice so much. Light, mandala, songlines, constantly changing—enlivened, re-spiritualised by the heartfelt love of the monthly meditators.

The first night camping at Charleyong, beside the Shoalhaven River, started out warm, but then by morning there was a thick, cold mist. Although my tent flap was oriented east, the sunrise hid in a disorienting curtain of swirling, thickening patterns and hollows, suggesting unseen energies. Concealing not only the day but maybe the past? I gradually felt drawn more fully into this land, which has been inhibited by a violent history. It seems significant that this area is the place of ‘first contact’ with Europeans and that the local tribes saw the ships, knew this meant trouble and lit signal fires to warn the other tribes further north.

      Kangaroos at Charleyong Camp in the morning mist – photo by Eva Iken

I’m reminded of the ancestors in the far off high plateau who first conceived of containers for ‘treasure’ and their always mystical and sometimes very practical contents. “Our” vase brings mystery and teachings that seem to be specific to each of us. The mist plays with the mind, offers mysteries, suggests stories. Surely the tribes were here or the ancestors of tribes, or the ancestors of the ancestors. We go for a swim and a king brown snake drops into the river, signaling transformation. Look out for change as time shifts! A mob of wallabies emerges through the mist on the nearby rise. They look steadily at us, then disappear.

Great Mother Tree, a 500 year-old Spotted Gum (left) Great Mother Tree blessing
Milwanga Wurrben (right). Photos by Julian Silburn and Eva Iken.

The Sacred Treasure of the Practice

by Julian Silburn

Julian and his crystal Dijeridu – photo by Magi Whisson

Being the ceremonial musician for all the sacred Earth Treasure Vase placements in Australia has been an absolute honor. Since 1997 I have been involved in Earth Healing using my Didjeridu (also called Mago) to send healing vibrations and heart centered prayers into the collective field. This was the same year I was living in the Northern Territory with Aboriginal people and learning the ancient Mago and Yidaki sound traditions from my teacher, ceremonial Elder David Blanasi. It is my experience that the Earth Treasure Vase practice creates an amplification of this healing energy by the involvement and cohesion of like-minded individuals who come together as a team to care deeply for the collective health of our family of light.

We come to be of service for our beloved Mother Earth. When we chant the Tara mantra and I support this through playing the Mago, I feel the Earth receive our prayers. I sense all the beings connected with our shared prayers for healing are with us as an Earth Treasure Vase family—the Ancestors, Lineage Masters, Elders and many more. I feel the vibration go tangibly deeper and deeper through any layers of resistance until it reaches the light grid of the other Earth Treasure Vases. Once it joins this collective grid the feeling of resistance subsides and the feeling of completion gains in energetic strength and perceptibility. Then the feeling is clear: the healing is done.

I made a prayer as a child that if I could somehow be of assistance to relieve the suffering in this world I would do my part. I believe many of us feel this calling. These Earth Treasure Vase journeys are so reassuring as we get to meet our family of fellow caretakers who are so deeply called to Country. It is really a joy and so very rewarding to share this service and love for our Great Mother, giving back and offering our highest prayers and healing for all beings. This is the sacred treasure of the practice. Our hearts are healed in the process as we listen, resonate and feel the heart prayers of others. It is a deeply moving and empowering journey to be part of.


Monday Mindfulness Meditation