Standing on Their Shoulders

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 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.


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 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 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: 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 – 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.