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Walkabout with Australian Aboriginal Mythology
Transcript of Walkabout with Australian Aboriginal Mythology
Aboriginal Mythology Walkabout by Patrick Goodness The Aborigines of Australia have lived continuously in Australia for more than 50,000 years. Until recently, most of the world considered the Australian Aboriginal culture as unworthy of consideration and preservation. However it is only when we are in danger of losing a culture that we begin to appreciate its’ value. My goal is to help you see Australia through the eyes of these primitive, clever and imaginative people who have called Australia “home” since the dawn of mankind. Dreamtime of the Aborigines Ancient Aborigines gave life and spirit qualities to nearly every inanimate object. They saw life and imagined character in the sun, moon, stars and even the rocks that filled their desert homes. Animism Anthropomorphism The ancient Aborigines filled every living creature with human features and sensibilities. In every corner of their world they found evidence of a Creator Spirit, and they dreamed of Bullima, the afterlife. Even those who lived their lives in the harsh deserts dreamed of an afterlife with abundant game, soft grass that invited them to rest, refreshing steams and gentle breezes to cool the afternoon heat. In the earliest days, there were more than 400 Aboriginal tribes using hundreds of languages. In fact, more than
Aboriginal languages have been counted. 230 Aborigines had no
written language. All myths have been passed down by storytelling over thousands of generations. Aboriginal myths give meaning and cultural nuance to the land that surrounds us. There is great variation among Aboriginal myths.
There are many inconsistencies and even contradictions among the earliest stories. However, there was a similarity among the stories of ancient
Aboriginal people that helps us understand their culture and how they viewed their world and their place in it. For the Aborigines, mythology is not just stories. Mythology is about action and life. Myths were meant to be
re-enacted. What the great heroes and legends of myths accomplished, they re-enact in ritual…to remember. Places that were glorified in myths must be visited and cared for. In essence, the details of the myths are only important because they allow modern day Aborigines to walk the path of mythology with faithfulness…
which leads them into
the sacred Dreamtime…
the source of all life. What is the
Dreamtime? Dreamtime is a sacred time when the spirit beings created the world. Dreamtime: Every person and living creature has existed for eternity in the Dreaming. The eternal part of every person existed before birth and will endure after death. None of us knows when our spirit will take physical form. The spirit of each person enters the child when the mother feels the child move in the womb for the first time. When the child is born, it is taught to be a custodian of this place where he/she has been born. The Dreamtime
tells us: 1. How the universe came to be
2. How human beings were created
3. How the Creator Spirit intended
for us to live The Dreaming
establishes: 1. The Structure of Society
2. Rules for Social Behavior
3. Ceremonies and Rituals The Human World/
Physical World and Sacred World The Dreaming lives on when people sing the songs, dance the dances, tell the stories and paint the songlines of the Dreaming. In the Aboriginal view of the world, every event leaves a visible record in the land. Everything that exists in our world, exists because of the actions of the Great Spirits whose actions created the world. While we may see these stories as make-believe, many Aborigines believe in their literal existence. The Rainbow Serpent Myth In the Dreaming, the features of our world were created by the Great Spirits. In Perth, the Noongar believe that the Darling Scarp represents the body of a Wagyl, a great serpent that meandered over the land, creating rivers and lakes. It is believed that Wagyl created Swan River. The Gagudju people of Arhemland (Kakadu National Park) believe that the sandstone escarpment near the water was created when Ginga (crocodile man) was badly burned during a ceremony and jumped into the water to save himself. He was turned to stone and became the escarpment. Blue Mountains: Legend of the Three Sisters “Meehni,
Gunnedoo” Aboriginal Myths also try to explain and help us understand the world around us. Why Koala Has a Stumpy Tail Ancient Aboriginal Stories & Fables while living with the Gagudju near Kakadu National Park… One morning, Fishing in the Desert? These ancient stories help remind us of deeper truths that surround us. That there is truth and understanding that cannot be seen from the surface. We must cast our nets into the depths of ancient mythologies to find truth, wisdom and a deeper understanding of our world and our place in it. "When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Aborigines do not
believe in natural death. All deaths are considered the
result of evil spirits or spells...
usually influenced by an enemy. Often a dying Aborigine will whisper the name of the person they think caused their death. Pointing the Bone In ancient times, many Aboriginal tribes practiced a ritual called "Pointing the Bone". This practice is still in use today in remote corners of Aboriginal culture. A person wishing to curse another and bring death to this person would use an animal bone and point it at their victim while chanting a curse. Victims become listless and apathetic, usually refusing food or water with death often occurring within days of being "cursed". "Bone pointing" is a method of execution used by the Aborigines.
It is said to leave no trace, and never fails to kill its victim. The bone is called a "Kundela" and is made of human, kangaroo or emu bone. The bone is then given to the kurdaitcha...
tribal ritual killers. These killers hunt the condemned person and then point the bone to issue the curse. The condemned man may live for several days or even weeks.
But, he believes so strongly in the curse that has been uttered, that he will surely die. It is said that the ritual loading of the kundela creates a
which pierces the victim when the bone is pointed at him. It is as if an actual spear has been thrust at him and his death is certain. “spear of thought” The phenomenon is recognized as psychosomatic in that death is caused by an emotional response —often fear— to some suggested outside force and is known as "self-willed death," or "bone-pointing syndrome" is more appropriate. In Australia, the practice is still common enough that hospitals and nursing staff are trained to manage illness caused by "bad spirits" and bone pointing. The following story is related to the role of Kurdaitcha: In 1953, a dying Aborigine named Kinjika was flown from Arnhem Land in Australia's Northern Territory to a hospital in Darwin. Tests revealed he had not been poisoned, injured, nor was he suffering from any sort of injury. Yet, the man was most definitely dying. After four days of agony spent in the hospital, Kinjika died on the fifth. It was said he died of bone pointing.