Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies
Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime - Sacred Era
For thousands of years, in the desert of central Australia, the Aranda (or Arrernte) Aboriginal people have occupied the area in and around what is now called Alice Springs. The ancient mythology of the Aranda people is still adhered to today and is closely tied in to their spirituality. This belief is called the Dreamtime -- it is referred to as the "timeless time" of creation, the sacred era.
Dreamtime, for the indigenous Australians, is Creation, which gives purpose or meaning to everything. Different groups of Aboriginals give their own meanings to Dreaming. The Dreaming is a way for each group to establish rules of relationships between spirits, people, land and all Creation. Throughout Australia, there are several different language groups, and each group has their own Dreamtime stories. These stories are filled with significant truths related to a specific language group -- which is connected to their own landscape.
The Aboriginal beliefs are based in Animism, in which all things have a spirit or soul. There is no separation between the spiritual realms and the physical world.
In normal dreaming (the English sense, or dictionary meaning), there is often a mix of things that have transpired during the day and brought together in a lump mass of confusion. Sometimes a person goes deeper and there is a spiritual quality to the dream -- images and conversations come in that may not have anything to do with the current life. These very possibly may be past life recalls, symbolism or even prophetic dreams.
Dreamtime for the Aranda people is a much different concept and has a specific, meaningful purpose and is very similar to intellectual property. In fact, the dream is owned by the dreamer. In the Aborigine belief, a Dreaming story must be respected as the knowledge held by only the one who Dreamed it. No one else can portray in any way that Dreaming story without permission. These stories are the same as if an author had written them down, only they are passed down orally from generation to generation.
To a traditional Australian aboriginal, all of life, even the unexplainable, is an immense and complex system of relationships which stem from the ancient ancestors family emblem, or totem -- the ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings of The Dreaming come down through the generations. The Totemic belief is that humans have a kinship with a spirit-being such as an animal or plant.
In the Dreaming, it is believed that the "spirit-child" exists for all eternity and only comes into the physical life when birthed by a mother. When in the fetus state there is no spirit till the fifth month of pregnancy. The very first time the mother feels the child in the womb move, the land she stands on at that very moment will be the part of the country the child becomes a custodian of. Once born, the child is taught from an early age all the stories and songlines of that particular part of the country. The "songlines" are Dream tracks -- paths that cross the land where the creator-beings left their mark during the Dreamtime. These paths, or songlines, are recorded in songs, stories, dance and painting by the child throughout his or her life.
The landscape is an extremely important part of Dreamtime. When an aboriginal has the knowledge of the marks on the land, left by the creator-beings, they can then navigate the land over vast distances by singing their song in proper sequence. Even if they cross lands of a group with different a language, this does not stop them from finding their way -- for it is the rhythm of the song that is crucial to knowing the right path to follow. The song describes the land and its particular marks, such as large depressions, which are believed to be footprints of the creator-beings. Singing the song is "walking the songline", the right path.
It is very important to the traditional Aboriginal people to continually sing the song as they travel, for all land is sacred and must be kept alive through the song.
The Dreamtime story of the Rainbow Serpent is an excellent example of a songline. The Rainbow Serpent controls oils and waters, life's most precious resources. He is gigantic and lives in very deep, permanent waterholes. This serpent is very powerful and significant, for he is protector of the people in his part of the land. He also is seen as the one who punishes those who break the law. He is related to the land, water, life, social relationships and fertility.
The land of the Rainbow Serpent is easily identified by the people. As he rose up from beneath the ground during Dreamtime (creation), huge ridges, mountains, and gorges were created. The deep channels and gullies created as he meandered in his snake-like pattern, is where the waters collect and flow to other channels or gather in waterholes. When the Sun reflects upon the waters from certain angles it creates the colors of the Rainbow Serpent.
The laws of each community are determined by the Dreamtime. When the people are living according to the law, which is embodied in Dreamtime, and they are living the lore of the stories, then they are one with The Dreaming. They follow the lineages, sing the songs, dance the dances, tell the stories and paint the songlines.
| Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map
Content copyright © 2013 by Phyllis Doyle Burns. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Phyllis Doyle Burns. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Phyllis Doyle Burns for details.
Website copyright © 2013 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.