Standing on Their Shoulders

The Challenge is to use the word prompt list to showcase 22 Days of Positive Quotes and feature Tarot Decks. I have chosen to work with the Our Tarot by Sarah Shipman, but because Shipman does not feature any Australian women I am redressing this by showcasing Australian women who have left a rich legacy.

Note that links on the photos of influential Australian women leads to more information about them.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this site contains the names, images, and voices of people now passed and resting in the Dreaming.

Day 1 – I AM

Mantra: I am, unashamedly, the Fool, the one who is prepared to listen to the voices that are calling me and take the leap to make sure that my voice is heard.

To meet the Fool in a reading can be seen as a call to the risk-taking part of your own character. Equally it is to be drawn an individual who appears to encapsulate this archetype. Such an individual inspires one to be courageous, for she understands that every day is a chance to open up new areas in your life, and with that comes a mixture of anticipation, wonder, awe and curiosity. The Fool is there to show that you can never really tell what lies ahead, and you can only greet it with joy.

Germaine Greer and Helen Reddy stood apart as feminist warriors who never hesitated to express what were unorthodox, revolutionary ideas at time. Greer’s book, the Female Eunuch, regarded as a feminist masterpiece, led many women to take the ‘Fools Leap’ and quite literally changed the lives of a generation of women.

Day 2 – I NEED

Mantra: My potential is limitless! I am not destined to live in the shadows. I need to feel free to choose where to spend my energy.

The Keeper of Cups (King) depicts a character who has a deep understanding of themselves and their abilities. Keepers are wise and diplomatic and step gracefully into positions of leadership. This is a card that indicates you have choices and that you can create your destiny by applying choice. Eleanor Roosevelt, Hazel Hawke and Elizabeth Macquarie could have been overshadowed by their husbands who held positions of power but none of these woman lived in the shadows. Each of these women set ways of exercising her personal power. They each had an immense goodwill for others.

We need to be reminded that power lies in mysterious places and that there are many ways to prevail, exert our personal power, shine brightly and leave a rich legacy.

Day 3 – I HAVE

Mantra – I have the strength and I am able to maintain a harmonious environment, care for and nurture my private universe and all that lives within it

The Empress signifies a strong connection with our femininity. Femininity translates in many ways – elegance, sensuality, fertility, creative expression, nurturing – and is necessary for creating balance in both men and women. The Empress calls on you to connect with your feminine energy. Nefertari, Margaret Whitlam and Gladys Elphnick were each in tune with the energy of The Empress. They naturally took on her mothering nature. They felt a strong urge to nurture and care for others, from a place of loving compassion and support.

Day 4 – TRUST

Mantra: I trust that no matter what curve balls come my way, I, like the women featured here, have the capacity to make reasoned choices. I trust that like them I will prevail.

The Seven of Cups is a card of new opportunities, choices, and at times, illusion. When the Seven of Cups appears in a Tarot reading, you have many options and opportunities from which you can choose. But be careful! You are prone to illusion and unrealistic ideals. An opportunity with promises of more money, more fame, or more power may sound appealing, but as you look deeper into what is on offer, you may realise it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, Julia Gillard and Sarah Henderson were each faced with many options and opportunities. Some would question the wisdom of some of these choices but they each retained their strength in the face of adversity.

Day 5 WANT

Mantra – I want to, I can, I am daring enough to step right outside the lines as I spontaneously develop my creative projects.

The Page of Wands is all about impulsively taking action towards manifesting ideas. Even if the idea is embryonic a Page pursues this without fear of rejection. Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Dorothy Napangardi and Del Kathryn Barton each stepped well outside the lines as they produced inspired eccentric work.


The Knight of Swords rides confidently and swiftly into battle. He/She is fierce and sure of what he/she wants. She will stop at nothing to get it.

When we are thoroughly obsessed by a certain idea and strongly wish to manifest it, we are oftentimes so blinded by the actual desire for its fulfillment that we fail to note the difficulties which we may come across, or the actions and consequences that it could bring.

Read the gossip magazines and you will be left in no date that these women may not have anticipated the difficulties they would face or the consequences of their actions. Wallis Simpson is possibly the most vilified woman in history and there can be no doubt that d’Alpuget and Morosie would never have anticipated just how salacious reports on their relationships would become. Sadly their achievements have never received such attention. To redress this I share just some of their achievements.

Day 7 I LOVE

If the Ace of Cups represents the flow of love from within, the Two of Cups is the flow of love between two people. With this card, you are creating deep connections and partnerships, based on shared values, compassion, and unconditional love.

Day 8 I KNOW

I know all about the Wheel of Fortune and the cycles it creates. Change constantly flows and encircles us. Everything is in a state of perpetual motion and we may all experience lucky and unlucky breaks.

From the time of her birth Elizabeth 1 rode the Wheel of Fortune. We are all familiar with her story, the stuff books and films are made of.

But me, I am fascinated by the lives of the more hidden folk like my great great grandmother who was transported to Australia and forged a new life for herself. Or the very colourful ‘Buzzwinker’ Ellen Miles, child convict, goldfields pickpocket and vagrant who was transported to Australia. And if, like me, you have never heard of Gladys and Valerie Van Tassel, who teamed up with Park Van Tassel follow the links. In February 1890 Valerie became the first woman in Australia to make a balloon ascent but its hers, and her sisters life story that makes for great reading.

Day 9 I CARE

This card often shows a juggler – someone who is holding more than one ‘ball’ at once. Here, the juggler’s balls, or pentacles, represent projects, roles, responsibilities. There’s magic in being able to spread your focus, in not dropping one ball while you concentrate on another. In a general context, the Two of Pentacles can indicated that you are trying to find balance between various parts of your life.

Florence Nightingale, Vivienne Bullwinkle and Catherine Hay Thompson each put working for the greater good above conventional pathways set for women of this time. They each cared greatly and made life choices accordingly.

Day 10 I WILL

Unlike the Page, the Knight of Cups is taking their journey very seriously indeed. It may even be all they do, as they are consumed by this experience of following their heart and soul. When faced with an actual decision, the Knight of Cups is going to listen to his heart, regardless of whether this is actually a logical choice or not.

Day 11 I HOPE

The Magician displays – willpower, desire, being resourceful,, skill, ability, concentration, manifestation

The work of Elizabeth Kenny transformed the lives of poliomyelitis victims. In 1932 Sister Kenny established a backyard clinic at Townsville to treat long-term poliomyelitis victims and cerebral palsy patients with hot baths, foments, passive movements, the discarding of braces and callipers and the encouragement of active movements. At a government-sponsored demonstration in Brisbane doctors and masseurs ridiculed her, mainly because they considered her explanations of the lesions at the site of the paralysis were bizarre. Thus began a long controversy at a time when there was no vaccination for poliomyelitis. The strong-willed Kenny, with an obsessional belief in her theory and methods, was opposed by a conservative medical profession whom she mercilessly slated and who considered her recommendation to discard immobilization to be criminal.

Elizabeth Blackburn has evolved from a self-described “lab rat” to an explorer in the realms of health and public policy. She discovered the molecular structure of telomeres and co-discovered the enzyme telomerase, essential pieces in the puzzle of cellular division and DNA replication. Her research offers hope for cancer treatment, clues to the mystery of ageing and even biological links between life circumstance and lifespan. Wherever her curiosity leads her, Blackburn insists every conclusion be backed with data. “You have to get the science right.”

Day 12 I ALLOW

to allow is to give permission for someone to do something, or to not prevent something from happening:

When we meet the Keeper of Pentacles we immediately feel her regal and generous presence. She is a provider and protector, for under her care is a flourishing kingdom that she has built from little.

Day 13 I WISH

I am wishing and hoping that voices of intriguing women will keep drifting through the ether to capture my attention.

The general meaning in the Eight of Swords is that of a feeling of being trapped and victimized. You may feel powerless because, in your mind, you feel that changing the situation might be beyond you. This feeling of helplessness that you have, the feeling that you have no agency in your life, has played a major role in making your situation worse.

Surrendering one’s power to an unknown entity, whether it’s fate, or God, the government or something else means that you are giving away your own personal responsibility to affect change. You have willingly relinquished the driver’s seat in the journey of your own life, and it isn’t going well for you. It is advisable for you to avoid making an important decision at this time since your judgment is likely clouded.

My wish was granted when Juanita Neilsen and Margaret Clement presented themselves for consideration. Sydney heiress, journalist and activist, Juanita Neilsen was the subject of a two-part ABC miniseries investigating her presumed murder. Just as fascinating is the story of Margaret Clement, who fell from fortune and became known as The Lady of the Swamp. It is, quite literally, the stuff that makes for nightmares and Edgar Allen Poe or Stephen King style storytelling.


Mantra – I cherish memories of quiet childhood play and of those special people who nurtured my imagination.

The Six of Cups encourages us to spend some time in a rose coloured world even if that was not our experience.

Beloved writers such as Beatrix Potter, May Gibb and Ruth Park provided such places to dwell.

Pick up a cherished childhood book and spend some time with beloved characters such as Parks Muddle Headed Wombat.


Mantra: I collaborate with my genie, my muse and receive messages from the galaxy. I literally swim in the waters of Castalia and dance, naked with no identity with Duende.

Traditionally the Three of Pentacles invokes a team approach. While many writers appear to be solitary folk, when pressed, most will talk about their relationship with the divine, their muse, the personal genie who drives the creative process. Writers connect with forces like Duende when they are seeking to be taken to another time and place.

Joan Lindsay transported us into an imaginal world when she wrote Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is an Australian classic.


Mantra – I remind myselff to follow my heart no matter the price.

The Six of Cups reminds us that we may need to move direction and make momentous change in the face of opposition and criticism. I doff my hat to these personalities who made life changing choice, in a very different era, and contributed so significantly to their communities.

Rose Jackson was born Barry Charles Jackson on September 11 1935, in Paddington, Sydney, the son of Trevor Jackson and his wife, Ruby and she knew ‘from the minute she was born’ a male body was not right for her. She was trying on Ruby’s clothes and make up from the age of five.

The distance from Balmain to Kings Cross might not seem that far, but in the conservative atmosphere of the early 1960s it was a massive leap, especially when you were a young boy determined to live your life as a woman.

Carlotta, born Ricky Byron, began her career in the 1960’s. She began her career as an original member of the long-running Les Girls cabaret show, performed entirely by heavily costumed males, which started in 1963 in the purpose built Les Girls building which stood on a prominent corner in the heart of Sydney’s Kings Cross, New South Wales.

Carlotta’s sex-change operation in the early 1970s was not the first such procedure in Australia, but due to her celebrity status it became the first to receive publicity there. Carlotta was also one of the inspirations for the film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.


Mantra: I welcome the support of kindred spirits who support my creativity and nourish the creative pulse.

The Three of Cups is all about supportive collaboration. Arguably the most famous Art Collective in Australia was the Heidleburg School in Bulleen, Melbourne. It was known as the Heide Circle.

Sunday Reed is usually described as an art patron. She and her husband John championed a new generation of Australian artists, including Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Charles Blackman, and most famously, Sidney Nolan. Nolan met the Reeds in 1938 and became Sunday’s lover. He lived at Heide through his formative years as an artist and later, from 1946 to 1947, painted his celebrated Ned Kelly series on the Heide dining room table.

Between 1938 and 1947 Joy Hester was part of a stimulating and innovative circle of painters—among them (Sir) Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and John Perceval—which was colloquially known as the ‘Angry Penguins’, after the art and literary magazine of the same name published by John Reed and Max Harris. She was the only woman artist in the group. It met regularly at Heide, the home of the art patrons John and Sunday Reed. Sunday was Hester’s closest friend, encouraging her work, supporting her financially and later adopting her first son Sweeney.


Mantra: No matter how hard to face, no matter how shocking, I welcome the truth about the impact of colonialism on the indigenous peoples of Australia. I choose to face truth.

Typically the Death Card implies the end, possibly of a relationship or way of life, and therefore implies an increased sense of self awareness.

Truganini is arguably the most well known name in Tasmanian women’s history. Her life epitomises the story of European invasion and the clash of two disparate cultures.

Born in 1812, she was the daughter of Mangerner, Chief of the Recherche Bay people. By the time she was 17 Truganini had experienced the violent death of her mother, stabbed by a party of sealers, the death of her intended partner, Paraweena, drowned while attempting to save her from abduction, and the abduction and subsequent death of her sister Moorinna.

Pearl Gibbs grew up in the Yass and Brewarrina areas. After attending racially-segregated schools at Yass and Cowra, she worked as a maid and cook and married an English sailor named Gibbs. They later separated, leaving Pearl to raise their daughter and two sons.

From the late 1920s Pearl started organising Aboriginal protests and from 1937 became a major figure in the Aboriginal political network. She was an early member of the Aborigines’ Progressive Association, appearing at meetings in Sydney’s Domain and drawing large crowds because a woman speaker was rare and because Pearl spoke with such fluency and passion. During the campaign for full citizen rights and an end to the Aborigines Protection Board, Pearl concentrated on women’s issues: ‘apprenticeships’ (’employment’ of Aboriginal girls as domestic servants by the Aborigines Protection Board), school and hospital segregation, health and the meagre Board rations on Aboriginal reserves. She successfully lobbied many women’s organisations, including the Sydney Feminist Club, and made wider alliances with centre and left political groups than other Aboriginal activist in New South Wales at the time.


Mantra – No matter the trials and tribulations life continues. Unless we are dead we wake to another day and must find a way to live.


Mantra – I embrace and fight fearlessly for what I believe in.


Mantra – I release you from stereotypes and forge well made pathways for others to follow.