How can we become future ancestors and utilize the power of hope and ceremony to heal ourselves? Aboriginal teacher and healer Annabelle Sharman shares.
Annabelle Sharman is a proud Mutti Mutti woman who honors her ancestral cultural heritage through her work as a multi-disciplinary artist and healer. A certified social worker, reiki master, and holistic counsellor, her work is located at the intersections of art, culture, community, health, and wellbeing.
At the core of Annabelle’s methodology is the YUMA Spirit Cloth Healing Process, a unique merging of therapeutic practices, cultural knowledge, storytelling, and art that cultivates a deeper connection to self and others, that often leads to improved wellbeing and emotional healing. We spoke to her about her book The Future Ancestor.
You can find our review of The Future Ancestor here.
You introduce yourself at the beginning of the book as a “Cultural Conservationist.” Can you explain what this means and how it’s reflected in your work?
Sharman: My passion is to bring people together—all people, all cultures. I have a dream, and that is to heal Australia. What I mean is, when we can all sit in a circle or at the same table and have those conversations, they ignite and heal.
As an Aboriginal Australian woman, I have witnessed and experienced intergenerational trauma since colonization. When I facilitate my Spirit Cloth gatherings, many questions are asked about, “how do I stop feeling white guilt and shame?”
My response is this: You be YUMA [the Mutti Mutti word for "be"] and all that represents and is healing for you. You be the generation and the ancestor that will be a part of humanity where there is no more harm.
As a Cultural Conservationist, it’s important for me to hold sacred space and allow healing connections and conversations to exist.
Can you elaborate on how the practice of Reiki has informed your thinking and your work?
Reiki has been part of my healing journey, personally. At the time, it was not a term I used or was familiar with. I was curious to learn more, and as I healed, there was a deep remembering and knowing for me about my own ancestral healing energy gift. It is energy, and to be honest I don’t think about it and my work is not based around it.
You often refer to the power of hope. What role has hope played in your personal and professional life?
My whole life is hope, and as the 10th and final child born in Australia during the assimilation time, I believe my hope was just to survive, to stay with my family, to be connected to my community and culture and not be removed, to stay Black, and to be alive and not a statistic. I grew up an orphan as you would have read in my book, and I remember I had to invoke a feeling of hope instead of fear every day.
You mention keeping a diary since the age of 13. To what extent has this informed the writing of your book?
I just knew I had to write—as the youngest sibling of 10 and living in challenging times in Australia, writing was hope for me. My oldest siblings did not receive an education; they may have gone to school, but they were not taught anything about reading and writing and were always at the back of the class and ignored. So I had this opportunity to record my history and lived experience. I wanted to ensure that this Aboriginal story was told and written by an Aboriginal being, as the history of my country and my people is tarnished and poisoned by mistruths and hate since colonization.
During the Water Ceremony you lead, you have participants put their feet in the Murray River or in vessels filled with gum leaves, salts, oils, and water from the river. You use the term "sacred sensations" to describe what people feel during this experience. Can you elaborate on what this means?
Sacred sensations is just what it sounds like: It is sacred. And usually, people go into their own special experience and sacred place. Sometimes it is unexplainable—it is a feeling, a knowing. I invite all the ancestors to step into this sacred space of time to support a shared healing experience with the intention for us all to be better humans and future ancestors where there is no harm.
There is something very special about witnessing all who choose to be part of the Water Ceremony. I do this so it equalizes us all. We are all the same, just sitting here with our feet in the water; there is no separation, and this is a beautiful sacred kind of oneness.
YUMA is a feeling of knowing and oneness. And sometimes there are no words and no need to explain—sometimes we need to learn and just be. The Water Ceremony activates this feeling and knowing of YUMA, a welcoming.
Your book includes some of your original poems. Is writing poetry a regular part of your life?
I actually didn’t realize it was poetry until I wrote this book. It is my expression from a deep soul spirit space. This expression throughout the book forms my YUMA brand and medicine.
It comes from a deep feeling and sense of knowing from within—sometimes I feel like I’m dancing and singing with my ancestors when this happens, and the written words find themselves on the page. It’s a beautiful thing and for me, and has become the form of hope that I want to be, live, inspire, and empower in the world; a blessing and dreaming for my grandchildren.
When and why did you choose The Future Ancestor as the title of your book?
The title was originally The Pot of Soup, which is now a chapter in the book. I have always considered myself a future ancestor. So, as I was on my writing journey and healing, along the way I turned 50 years old. In my culture, often this celebrates an eldership: being able to share my story and wisdom in this creative form, and importantly honoring my own self-worth, love, and the messages and simplicity of the YUMA way of being. To be self, Spirit, and Mother Earth; to be my own healer and the medicine is the reason I chose this title: The Future Ancestor.
Read our review of The Future Ancestor here.