OLD MAN ROCK SPEAKS. The cover of John Altomonte's book, 'One Kilometre.' All photos courtesy of Sylvia L. Mayuga
[Continued from part one published on December 18]
MANILA, Philippines - Upon first arrival on holiday in Darwin, Jon had “an uncanny sensation of coming home.” After that visit with Bilawara, Mary and the Lee family, he and Amalia decided to settle in Darwin.
“Our arrival and the unfolding of stories are a continuation of what I had been going through all my life. A story, I feel, is not just a narrative tale — it’s the transmission of a reality that has the power to initiate transpersonal growth for the listener.
“Darri-ba Nungalinya, the spirit being who watches over the earth and seas of Darwin, is revered by the Larrakia people. Taking form as a rock that rises from the sea during low tide, Darri-ba, or Old Man Rock, revealed himself to me.
“Not much is written about Darri-ba... the lore is handed down through storytelling. There are constraints in passing on sacred knowledge. Almost all arcane systems hold on to a tiered practice of mystical lore; permission has to be granted by keepers of the stories, understandably. However, the Larrakia people I work with believe that dreamtime is everyone's legacy.”
Having won the trust of the revered elder Bilawara and her psychic mother Mary, they left Jon free to explore the fiercely protected reality of their ancestral spirit. So began the book “One Kilometre: Conversations with Darri-ba Nungalinya.”
Produced by Omnisoma in record time, it’s a strangely moving book. At first it seemed to be only a small travel book illustrated by nature photographs. But matching the pictures with its simultaneously sober and light-hearted text, realization slowly dawns. Jon was writing the book in Dreamtime! In the foreword, he recounts his entry into this other reality. Biliwara Lee follows with acknowledgment of John Altomonte as a “Wawa” (brother), “a fellow-custodian” of Old Man Rock.
The book begins as he sits still on a white sand beach, contemplating Darri-ba Nungalinya across the waters. Walking up and down that one-kilometer stretch of beach in the Nightcliff Foreshores of Southern Australia, his inner eye begins to sees images emerge from the rocks. And Old Man Rock begins to speak!
His words recorded in the book are neither poetry nor fancy but a retelling of what he heard in trance. In the “hi-tech meditation” mode of his encounters with Darri-ba, John captured the images that struck him with a sharply polarizing filter in his digital SLR camera. Getting home, he quickly transcribed the notes he took of thoughts that came to him in trance.
The images he captured first were the head of the Rainbow Serpent and a Dancing Lady in the rocks. At this point Old Man Rock begins to speak:
“This is my body; what I will show you are all parts of me...you will see my various forms; my blood my heart and veins and arteries...they all have stories to tell...The waters of the sea wash me and paint me each time the tide rises and ebbs so my form is constantly changing...
“It is said that I am visible when the tide is low. That is a partial truth because I am always visible. Where you sit is also part of my body and you can see and communicate with me as I am showing you now. My form is rock and the colours that express who I am and my meaning to you when you see and communicate with me. Therefore you will see what my body portrays as part of you as well...
“Show all these images to those who feel for my presence and seek me out. I need their songs and dance in order to stay alive within them as I do now within you. We are all brothers and sisters...”
I read and stared at the images in “One Kilometre” 4 times, marveling, and then began asking Jon if I was seeing right. These were all rocks, a tree, the waters, I wrote him, but the names you gave them are so precise — “Bird Dreaming,” “Temptress,” “Colonial Master,” “Shaman,” “Spirit Stories.”
He saw them in his inner eye. Did he also produce this book in an altered state of consciousness?
He e-mailed back, “This book breaks down the walls that separate us from the spirit world in a radical manner. It is, in a way, a primer for growth. It does not belong to me; it’s a story within stories told by the powers resident in the land. It is a gift that I have the honour of sharing with those who care to accept it.”
Wow! What next? “The journey of unfolding continues for me and others like Bilawara. We understand that it does not end at some point, as one mystery leads to another, while consciousness continues to expand on the personal as well as the collective level. There is mutual acceptance among us here in Dreamtime that there is much to learn as the ability to grasp the essence of realities and truths depends on our willingness to create them.”
Is this how he heals? “I have come to this understanding: I do not heal others. I help those ready to realize that they have the power to cut through darkness by ushering in light. I help others experience their potential by understanding how to use facilities they always had.”
Remembering his earlier art, I asked, “But what about your painting, Jon, are you giving it time too?” He replied: “As a painter, I continue to explore the world of phenomenon and noumenon through the images that appear on my canvas. In this way, I can share my personal energy with those who care to be exposed to the spatial changes that occur when communication of this sort occurs.”
“What about Banahaw, are you abandoning it?” I asked.
“In the light of Darri-ba Nungalinya, my relationship with Banahaw will always be the same. I see no difference in the language through which knowledge is transmitted. I learnt this a long time ago when I first went on walkabout in the South Eastern coastal region of New South Wales and the borders of Victoria.
“I had to drop all preconceived notions of communication and just open myself up to the language of Spirit. The Earth, Gaia, is after all, one being. And we are part of that being, as others are part of us. No beginning, no end…”
Here are other photos from the book 'One Kilometre':
'The Colonial Master'