Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime - Sacred Era of Creation

Dreamtime Story

Dreamtime story, stencil art
Dreamtime story, stencil art | Source

Sacred Era of Creation

Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime is as old as the land, it is the Sacred Era of Creation. For thousands of years, in the desert of central Australia, the Aranda Aboriginal people have occupied the area in and around what is now called Alice Springs.

The ancient belief system of the Aranda and other Australian Aboriginal groups 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. The 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 Aboriginal 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.

Australian Dreamtime Petroglyph

Creator God and Sky Father, Ku-ring-gai Chase-petroglyph, via Waratah Track,   depicting Baiame.
Creator God and Sky Father, Ku-ring-gai Chase-petroglyph, via Waratah Track, depicting Baiame. | Source

Totemic Belief

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 that 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 that has a different 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, like musical notes on a scale. Singing the song is "walking the songline", the right path.

A 19th Century Engraving of an Indigenous Australian Encampment

Indigenous lifestyle in the cooler parts of Australia at the time of European settlement.
Indigenous lifestyle in the cooler parts of Australia at the time of European settlement. | Source

Map of Australia Showing the Land Formations

Topographic map of Australia
Topographic map of Australia | Source

Footprints Record History of the Land

The Aboriginals believe every event that has happened has been embedded in the land, like a record of history. The world is in constant creation by actions of the ancestral totemic spirit beings -- their memories, universal ideas and interpretations are representations, patterns or a motif that shape the world.

The Noongar people in Perth believe that the Darling Scarp (the low escarpment that runs north-south in Western Australia) is the body of the Wagyl, the dreamtime serpent that created the Swan and Canning Rivers, other waterways and land formations. The Gagudju people of Arnhemland believe that this same escarpment was formed when Ginga, the crocodile man, turned to stone because he was burned in a ceremony. When he jumped into the water to save himself, he turned to stone. These happenings created a song at the time of a creation, such as when the Darling Scarp was created. Even though the two groups have a song of different words because their ancestral totemic spirit is different, the shape of the land forms the same rhythm.

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. This shows great respect to the creator beings.

Australian Darling Scarp From South West Highway Between Armadale and Pinjarra

The Darling Scarp
The Darling Scarp | Source

The Rainbow Serpent

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. She is gigantic and lives in very deep, permanent waterholes. This serpent is very powerful and significant, for she is protector of the people in her part of the land. She also is seen as the one who punishes those who break the law. She is related to the land, water, life, social relationships and fertility.

In many cultures around the world there is the deity of the serpent. The Rainbow Serpent can be found in Native American cultures as well as in Australian Aboriginal beliefs. Each culture has their own name for their Rainbow Serpent. The Noongar people call her Wagyl. The Rainbow Serpent in Australia is the Supreme Creator of all on earth and in the Universe.

The land of the Rainbow Serpent is easily identified by the people. As she rose up from beneath the ground during Dreamtime (Creation), huge ridges, mountains, and gorges were created. The deep channels and gullies came into being as she meandered her way over the land in her snake-like pattern, causing the waters to 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.

Rock painting of the Rainbow Serpent

Australian Aboriginal rock art of the Rainbow Serpent.
Australian Aboriginal rock art of the Rainbow Serpent. | Source

Laws of Each Community

For each culture (community) of the Aboriginals, society social behavior and the structure of that society is determined, or established, by the Dreaming.

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.

© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns

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Comments 25 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

Phyllis thank you so much for this history lesson .. it was interesting and so much information you scored an A this should be hub of the day


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

You are most welcome, Frank, and thank you for your ever kind words. An A, huh? Awesome ! HOTD? hopefully if it comes to the attention of the right person behind the scenes. Thanks again, Frank. I always appreciate your visits and you.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

A wonderful hub explaining Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime and their view on creation. A very interesting aspect is how their stories were portrayed and spread both throughout the land and onto future generations by painting, song and dance, rather than written language. You did a great job with this Phyllis as with all your hubs. Voted up.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jodah. My goodness, thank you so much for that wonderful compliment. I always love to read your comments and appreciate them. Thanks and have a wonderful day !


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Aborigines known as the stolen nation I have watched movies based on true events and read about the hidden skills of this nation your hub provides so much more.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi DDE. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate your praise on this hub.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I've read a lot about Native Americans but one or two books about the natives in other lands. Thanks for sharing this information which is new to me.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Sheila. You are most welcome. I find the cultures of the Australian Aboriginals very interesting. Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting.


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

That was a great read indeed. It reminded me of our bushman. I voted interesting. Well done


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Another winner Phyllis, hard to keep up you are spinning them out so fast. You should have saved this for tomorrow, aren't you entering the contest? You could win! ^


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Nadine. Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate your comment and vote.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jackie. Thanks for the visit, read and vote. Yes, I have entered the contest. Do articles published on the weekends not count in the contest? In Robin's notice it says "just publish an article a day to enter" -- I do not recall anything about if you publish on the weekends. I published another article just a few minutes ago. All the work ! and these last two (Saturday and Sunday) do not count in the contest? ! OMGosh !!!! I have to go check out the rules again. Thanks, Jackie.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Ok, Jackie -- I am fine. I just checked the rules and Saturday and Sunday published hubs will count in the contest:

"Daily Prize winners will be announced the following day at 2:00pm (PT). Saturday, Sunday, and the Weekly winners will be announced the following Monday at 2:00pm (PT)"

I'm cool. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States

This is certainly a fascinating hub. I have been interested in the Aboringal people, but I learned so much from your wo9nderful hub. Rated awesome!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Pamela, it is nice to hear from you. Thank you for reading and commenting, and for the awesome rating. I appreciate it very much.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

This was very awesome and interesting Phyllis. In several movies which I have seen I have heard of the Aborigines people. The films did not tell much and I became more interested. Today when I read this I learned a good bit more than I had known. Voted up and more.

Kevin


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Kevin. Thank you very much for the great comment. Years ago I saw a movie that had a little bit about Dreamtime and it did not register too much with me then. Several months ago I started researching on cultural customs in Australia and came across the Dreamtime. It fascinated me and I took notes. I finally wrote this article and found even more that fascinates me about Dreamtime. I am glad you found it interesting, too. Thanks again, for reading, commenting and the votes. I greatly appreciate it.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Sorry about that Phillis I just thought that was the way it was. I am not entering or I guess I would pay more attention. I will get by later and read your new hub, I have missed the last two, I mean they must have taken them from you? Happened to me a few days ago. A real screamer, lol.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jackie. No they did not take any from me, I just did not submit any for two days. And I missed a few more days in between. I am trying to publish one a day, but that is pretty hard to do for me. I will get back on track very soon I hope. I did have to revise two hubs and that slowed me down a lot, they were unpublished during revision, but are back up now. Yes, a screamer for sure when something disrupts my routine like that. :)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Well that must be it. I got a notice you had published twice but when I clicked on it - it said unpublished so probably no one is seeing those. I have to get offline awhile but when I get back I will look for those.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thanks, Jackie. I have to go take a nap -- mind is overloaded. I will hop over to your pages when I come back.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

This was an interesting topic and you covered it so well. Thanks for sharing the history and belief on aboringinal dreamtime and creation.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

You are most welcome, teaches. Thank you for your kind praise. I appreciate your reading and commenting.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 11 months ago from Queensland Australia

Phyllis I just reread this, and found out that I used a couple of the same images..oh well. At least most of our information is different and compliments the other. I will put a link to this on my hub. I enjoyed reading this again.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 11 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hey, Jodah - thank you for reading again and putting the link on your hub. I so admired your beautiful images. It is really nice that the two hubs compliment each other. Thanks again.

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