Scar Trees and Battle Coats

Scarred trees are trees which have had bark removed by indigenous Australians for the creation of bark canoes, shelters, shields and containers, such as coolamons. They are among the easiest-to-find archaeological sites in Australia.

I have been out and about with the dogs and while they sniff map I am capturing images of some (modified) scar trees. The scars on these trees, as they age, have a poignancy.

I have always been fascinated by Clarissa Pinkola Estes idea of making a full length scapecoat to detail one’s scars in painting, writing, with all manner of things pinned and stitched inside. It is the perfect place to pin all that one has endured, “all the insults, the slurs, all the traumas, all the wounds”. Such a coat is a way of visually portraying one’s endurance and the victory of still standing tall.

I really love what Alice Wellinger has done here. This beautiful piece truly resonates and fuels the desire to do something using a grey coat that I have had hanging, unworn for many years.

2 thoughts on “Scar Trees and Battle Coats

  1. Making a scar coat sounds like a brilliant way of processing life’s trauma. I think it would be good to do within the safety of a group or to have some kind of vibrant spiritual life to nurture the self as the layers of scarring are exposed.

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  2. Estes writes of groups she worked with and I always had a yearning to do something like that. Personally I have trouble finding words to depict deep personal and intergenerational scars. My placement in a psychiatric unit, as a part of my Masters of Social, affirmed my desire to work well upstream in the field of mental health. I agree that it would be good to work on things like this within the safety of a group where trust has been established. This would be very nurturing. I have had the vision of forming a While Waiting group since I claimed this space a couple of years ago. But I have been occupied studying and it had been on hold. Now I can feel a shift and little by little I am moving towards being who I am; doing what I do best.

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