By Al-Lisa McKay —

I don’t know what you did for New Year’s eve, but I found myself cuddled up to a box of tissues and crying my eyes out watching displaced kangaroos, koalas, and bats get bandaged up from severe burns as wildfires raged across the beautiful gem of Australia. I felt so helpless and had a deep yearning to find a way to be of service.

Follow the Rainbow Serpent. Acrylic on canvas by Al-Lisa McKay / Miss White Spider Arts
Follow the Rainbow Serpent. Acrylic on canvas by Al-Lisa McKay / Miss White Spider Arts

I sent out a message on the Australian Animal Rescue Facebook page, enquiring about the possibility of there being an existing Canadian page working on behalf of Australia’s aid, and to my delight a woman replied that she had just started a Canadian page and needed administrators. I jumped on board and found myself with a new full-time volunteer job for the next three weeks.

The Canadian Animal Rescue Guild on Facebook, was created so that Canadians could get organized and help with items such as sewing, creating, designing, and recycling to make products such as joey pouches for orphaned baby kangaroos, bat wraps for orphaned baby bats, various crocheted bird nests, and other items to help animal rescue efforts in Australia. From this effort sprung different Canadian hubs where items could be dropped off, delivered to main hubs, and then flown to Australia, compliments of Air Canada. From there items were distributed where they were most needed. The page quickly grew to over 10,000 members, creating, donating, and distributing. Canada made a big difference to many precious lives down under.

Hub and drop off locations are now closed. To everyone who jumped on board to make a difference for the cause, deep bows of respect to you, and thank you.

As of January 2020, it was estimated that 10.3 million hectares of forest burned in Australia’s wildfires killing an estimated 1 billion animals.

I created this painting, Follow the Rainbow Serpent, with the thought of solidifying my prayers for protection for the animals, the people, and the environment. I wanted to honour the First people of Australia and their beloved ancient ancestral grounds.

The Rainbow Serpent is an immortal being and creating God in Aboriginal mythology—it is depicted in the shape of a rainbow and a snake.

The connection between snake and rainbow is the bringer of water and the cycle of the seasons in life. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is said to be the Rainbow Serpent travelling from one waterhole to another.

In my rendition of the Rainbow Serpent, since the rainbow cannot not be seen in the sky due to smoke, the Rainbow Serpent goes underground to pull down the rains and continue to lead the animals towards safety.

Spirit is all around us, it is us.

According to the first peoples of Australia, an individual’s entire ancestry exists as one, culminating in the idea that all worldly knowledge is accumulated through one’s ancestors.
I could explain every nuance of the painting, but I will leave the rest up to your own imagination. -GG

Al-Lisa McKay operates Miss White Spider Arts in Williams Lake, BC—a fine arts business offering workshops, travelling theater, paintings, puppets, music, dance, installation art, murals, and other fine arts. Find her on Instagram, Facebook or on her website at www.misswhitespider.com

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