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Australian Aboriginal Spirituality

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Australian Aboriginal Spirituality Empty Australian Aboriginal Spirituality

Post by Admin Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:57 am

A long time ago when chatting with Scorpio we talked about Australian Aboriginal Spirituality. So I am posting about this Indigenous culture which is so misunderstood.

Traditional Aboriginal life is strongly governed by their approach to spirituality The Dreamtime Stories are crucial because it is an oral tradition backed up by the rock paintings scattered throughout Australia. The tradition includes many places that are sacred to them. Their view of land is very different and I was privileged to be a director/treasurer of a theatre company that presented a play about this conflict, in the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Love Land and Money. On two occasions a year apart, the most recent nearly two years ago the New Age Spiritualist Mission worked with a group on two healing days. These days showed me the strong part their spirituality plays for them and why White settlement, with the introduction of Christianity, so disrupts their inherent culture. Once again the story is the same, a belief in a Great Spirit, with thousands of years of tradition, disrupted by the attempted imposition of the patriarchal Church tradition. It also shows how the paternalism created huge damage in the current adults.

Working with them really opened my mind to their culture and its importance to their well being as people. The first visit we worked with a group who were in the process of being reintroduced to their traditional parents, having been removed very, very young(the stolen generation). Many had been through horrific experiences. We took a group of healers & clairvoyants to join the day of healing. This was a moving day the elders had given us permission to contact the ancestors (very important to their belief that we had this approval). Slowly but surely they gravitated to the healing and readings. At the end of the day both they and our people were affected by the events. The most emotional moment for me was to give a reading to a 51 year old man who gathered his courage at the last moment. The reading was intense and I found afterwards he was to be reintroduced, on the next day, to the Mother he was stolen from 50 years before.

The elders asked us to ensure that we came back to the next healing day. We agreed and a large contingent of us made our way to a beautiful centre in the lovely Adelaide Hills to work. The day was a knock out leaving all 15 of us on a high from the emotional events that unfolded. This time there was no holding back, from the start the readers and healers were fully booked and working flat out for the whole community including the elders. We were given the honorific of the New Age Mob and the readers were called Spirit Talkers

We all felt thankful to Spirit to give us the chance to help and share in such an uplifting way. Below is a short version of their Dreamtime. Remember there are many tribes across Australia with different variations of the Dreamtime, developed over the underlying concept

During the creation of our world, the ancestors moved across a barren land, hunting, camping, fighting and loving and in doing so shaped a featureless landscape.
Moving from Dreams to actions, the ancestors made the ants, the emus, the crows, the possums, the wallabies, the kangaroos, the lizard, the goanna, the snakes and all the food and plants.
They made the sun, the moon and the planets. They made the humans, tribes and clans.
Each could transform into the other. A plant could become an animal, an animal a landform, a landform a man or a woman.
Everything was created from the same source.
Everything was created in our Dreamtime.

As the world took shape and was filled with species and varieties of the ancestral
tranformations, the ancestors tired and retired into

* the earth
* the sky
* the clouds
* and the creatures to live within all their created
* In our Dreamtime

According to Aboriginal belief, all life as it is today - Human, Animal, Bird and Fish is part of one vast unchanging network of relationships which can be traced to the great spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime.
The Dreamtime continues as the "Dreaming" in the spiritual lives of aboriginal people today. The events of the ancient era of creation are enacted in ceremonies and danced in mime form. Song chant incessantly to the accompaniment of the didgeridoo or clap sticks relates the story of events of those early times and brings to the power of the dreaming to bear of life today.


The Dreamtime is the Aboriginal understanding of the world, of it's creation, and it's great stories. The Dreamtime is the beginning of knowledge, from which came the laws of existence. For survival these laws must be observed.
The Dreaming world was the old time of the Ancestor Beings. They emerged from the earth at the time of the creation. Time began in the world the moment these supernatural beings were "born out of their own Eternity".
The Earth was a flat surface, in darkness. A dead, silent world, unknown forms of life were asleep, below the surface of the land. Then the supernatural Ancestor Beings broke through the crust of the earth form below, with tumultuous force.
The sun rose out of the ground. The land received light for the first time.
The supernatural Beings, or Totemic Ancestors, resembled creatures or plants, and were half human. They moved across the barren surface of the world. They traveled hunted and fought, and changed the form of the land. In their journeys, they created the landscape, the mountains, the rivers, the trees, waterholes, plains and sandhills.
They made the people themselves, who are descendants of the Dreamtime ancestors. They made the Ant, Grasshopper, Emu, Eagle, Crow, Parrot, Wallaby, Kangaroo, Lizard, Snake, and all food plants. They made the natural elements : Water, Air, Fire.
They made all the celestial bodies : the Sun, the Moon and the Stars. Then, wearied from all their activity, the mythical creatures sank back into the earth and returned to their state of sleep.
Sometimes their spirits turned into rocks or trees or a part of the landscape. These became sacred places, to be seen only by initiated men. These sites had special qualities.

'We don't own the land, the land owns us'
'The Land is my mother, my mother is the land'
'Land is the starting point to where it all began. It is like picking up a piece of dirt
and saying this is where I started and this is where I will go'
'The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity'
'We don't have boundaries like fences, as farmers do. We have spiritual connections'
Land means many things to many people. To a farmer, land is a means of production and the source of a way of life. It is economic sustainability. To a property developer, it is a bargaining chip and the means of financial progress and success. To many Australians, land is something they can own if they work hard enough and save enough money to buy it. To Indigenous people land is not just something that they can own or trade. Land has a spiritual value.
We are the Indigenous people of Australia. Aboriginal people are those traditional
cultures and lands lie on the mainland and most of the islands, including Tasmania, Fraser Island, Palm Island, Mornington Island, Groote Eylandt, Bathrust and Melville Islands. The term "Aboriginal" has become one of the most disputed in the Australian language.
The Commonwealth definition is social more than racial, in keeping with the change in Australian attitudes away from racialistic thinking about other people. An Aboriginal person is defined as a person who is a descendant of an Indigenous inhabitant of Australia, identifies as an Aboriginal, and is recognised as Aboriginal by members of the community in which she or he lives.
This definition is preferred by the vast majority of our people over the racial
definitions of the assimilation era. Administration of the definition, at least by the
Commonwealth for the purposes of providing grants or loans, requires that an
applicant present a certificate of Aboriginality issued by an incorporated Aboriginal body under its common seal.
Sometimes non-Aboriginal people get confused by the great range and variety of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait people, from the traditional hunter to the Doctor of
Philosophy; from the dark-skinned to the very fair; from the speaker of traditional
languages to the radio announcer who speaks the Queen's English. The lesson to be learned from this is that we should not stereotype people ; that people are different, regardless of race.
Our people, of course, did not use the word "Aborigene" (from the latin ab, origin
meaning "from the beginning" to refer to ourselves before the coming of non-
Aborigenes. Everyone was simply a person.

suggest anyone interested may like to try the following link to the Australian Museum
http://www.dreamtime.net.au/ or to


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Post by petal34 Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:15 pm

The Dream Time.
That bring back memories to me of the old Aboriginal cleaner who used to come in to where I worked in Brisbane.
It was an electical company and I was on the second floor right at the end where it iwas quiet.
He often used to talk to me and tell me about the traditions of Abo culture.
He had relatives in the UK and I remember him asking me to take back a painting to send to them.
A beautiful Aboriginal painting.

My husband also owned several articles also painted by the Abos up in North Queensland.
I have never seen such beauty in all my life.


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Post by Wes Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:41 am

It would be more respectful of the Aboriginal people and their culture not to refer to them as "Abos"

For an interesting and entertaining insight into the cultural and understanding gap between their society and ours, it's worth reading the book "Dingo - the story of our mob" by Sally Dingo, a white anglo Australian who married Ernie Dingo, a well known comedian/musician/actor here. It has some rare insights into Aboriginal spirituality and their beliefs.

And while I'm on the topic, "My Place" by Sally Morgan contains enough anecdotal evidence to show that Aboriginals are born with a natural spiritual awareness that most of us would have to work very hard to attain.


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Post by petal34 Fri Nov 12, 2010 10:01 am

Many apoligies for refering to the Aboriginals as 'Abos'. I have heard the Aboriginals refer to themselves as Abos.
I also have the greatest respect for them at all time.
I was born a Geordie from the north of England but I do not take offence at being nicknamed a Geordie.
Very Happy

Thanks for the info on Aboriginal culture,my husband lived among then for a short period of time when he was visiting North Queensland and possessed a beautiful bark painting given to him by a well know Aboriginal painter.
I cannot recollect the artist's name now but apparently he also painted one for our Queen which was presented to her many years ago.
Beautiful country and beautiful people.

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