Sister Ancestor

I have come down the mountain naked. 
I am here to nourish life from my huge body. 
I am now picking up and carrying the brothers who most need me. 
We can no longer live in an old system that is destroying life. 
You were my big sister when I was living, but now I am big sistering you. 
Taking you under my wing.  
I am here to help you. 
Call on me, 
and listen for my guidance. 

I come down the mountain naked, 
no longer covering the body that caused me shame while living. 
I spent my living life preparing to be an ancestor.
A life lived in hardship was my preparation. 
The dream announces my arrival. 

The dream was set in a bleak and austere landscape on a treacherous mountain path, steep, frozen and rocky. On both sides of the path were violent humans and animals. The only nourishment available in the harsh tundra climate of the deep winter were humans, cows, pigs  and horses.  There was an utter standstill, unconscious memories dangerously frozen in time, with humans and animals devouring each other. 

In the midst of this bloody and brutal dream my sister Pamela thundered down from the mountaintop as a large earth woman with huge breasts, naked in the freezing cold. She was enormous as she moved with power down the path, her astonishing presence a strength greater than cruelty. Two grown men were withering from malnourishment and hypothermia on the side of the icy path. Their refusal to slaughter the animals for food meant they would not survive in the harsh environment. They could no longer stand up and were frozen almost to death. Pamela picked the men up, put them on her breasts and carried them down the mountain, her milk nourishing them and nursing them back to life. She covered her naked body with a sheet to protect the men from being seen by the other humans and animals. These sensitive men would die rather than follow the rules to dominate and kill.


Pamela died 35 years ago after living 34 years with obesity, epilepsy, diabetes, and knees that could not support her weight. Over the last three years I have been inviting her in as a sister ancestor—to  learn from her, to see what she sees now and what she saw when she was alive. Before I could have this bond with Pamela on the other side, I needed to honor her and give her the respect she deserved by fully bearing witness to her pain.  I had to let in the truth of how she suffered and begin to fathom what caused her suffering. 

My sister was a big woman. She was taunted and bullied for not fitting into the narrow mold of Southern Belles as her three older sisters did. I needed to ask her forgiveness for ways I was unconsciously complicit with Southern etiquette at that time. Because she did not fit in, she absorbed our shame so we could maintain the facade of a well-heeled, flawless family. 

Pamela died in the middle of the night, surrounded by her rescue dogs.  Most say she died alone…but she was not alone. The abandoned dogs that she had taken in and cared for were with her on that night.

Pamela’s voice has come in subsequent dreams after this first powerful dream. She comes in lucid moments when I hear her speaking directly to me, the wind on my face, the sound of a pheasant’s sudden thwack the bushes, a shooting star in the night sky. 

Please do not pity me, she says to me. I carried the family’s pain inside my body while I was living. 

The time would come when I would ask you, my dear sister, to be my microphone, that I could speak through you. I have been waiting for you. I want you to forget everything you know and open your ears to hear my messages in other dimensions. Something new is being born. Nourish this. The power of the imaginal realm is great and as strong as primal instinct. Follow its relentless rhythms. I will come in images and dreams. Make images, make altars, assemblages, ceremonial environments for the sacred to dwell. They will become containers to anchor the mythic and spiritual energies in time and space. In collaboration with the natural world make art that will venerate a multi-dimensional experience of reality. 

The images you receive will carry power from beyond to alter consciousness the same way primitive art in caves carries the Spirit of the image through the ages. I will come to you in dreams. Write them down as soon as you wake and trust them, live with them, let them reveal themselves, and once the river fills and flows it will carry the messages from beyond through your art into a world that is dying, is starving and needs nourishment. 

Pamela’s instructions are alive in me; art-making has become an abode for the sacred to dwell, a portal to infinite dimensions where consciousness can be changed.  She gives me courage to follow a deeper river within where she abides with me. 

About the Author

Briggs Whiteford is a visual artist and writer engaged in the restoration of language. Her visual work is focused on creating images as portals to the sacred. She has participated at the New York Studio School as board member, artist in residence, advisor to the dean, and is currently working on a lecture series on the history of images as mythic, magic and ancient activations to other realms. Briggs has been a painter for over 35 years and her artwork has been in museums, public spaces, and private collections all over the world.

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