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In Australian Aboriginal mythology, The Dreaming or Altjeringa (also called the Dreamtime[citation needed]) is a sacred 'once upon a time' [1] time out of time in which ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings formed The Creation.

Fred Alan Wolf opens chapter nine of The Dreaming Universe (1994) entitled The Dreamtime with a quote from The Last Wave, a film by Peter Weir:

Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective activity, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the "dreamtime", more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime.

WondJina Dreaming, singing, from the 'mother land of mind', creating ...


[edit] Dreamtime and The Dreaming

"Dreaming" is also often used to refer to an individual's or group's set of beliefs or spirituality. For instance, an Indigenous Australian might say that they have Kangaroo Dreaming, or Shark Dreaming, or Honey Ant Dreaming, or any combination of Dreamings pertinent to their "country". However, many Indigenous Australians also refer to the creation time as "The Dreaming". The Dreamtime laid down the patterns of life for the Aboriginal people. "The Dreaming" was the time of creation.[2]

Dreaming stories vary throughout Australia, and there are different versions on the same theme. For example, the story of how the birds got their colours is different in New South Wales and in Western Australia[citation needed]. Stories cover many themes and topics, as there are stories about creation of sacred places, land, people, animals and plants, law and custom. It is a complex network of knowledge, faith, and practices that derive from stories of creation, and which pervades and informs all spiritual and physical aspects of an indigenous Australian's life.

They believe that every person in an essential way exists eternally in the Dreaming. This eternal part existed before the life of the individual begins, and continues to exist when the life of the individual ends. Both before and after life, it is believed that this spirit-child exists in the Dreaming and is only initiated into life by being born through a mother. The spirit of the child is culturally understood to enter the developing fetus during the 5th month of pregnancy.[3]. When the mother felt the child move in the womb for the first time, it was thought that this was the work of the spirit of the land in which the mother then stood. Upon birth, the child is considered to be a special custodian of that part of their country and taught of the stories and songlines of that place. As Wolf (1994: p.14) states: "A black 'fella' may regard his totem or the place from which his spirit came as his Dreaming. He may also regard tribal law as his Dreaming." [4]

One of the beliefs was that before animals and humans and plants were created, there were souls and they knew that they would become physical,but not know when. They then knew the time was right and they all one by one all said "we will do our very best to try to help the one that takes care of us all." Then they all became animals and the plants. Then the last soul became the human. That is why Aboriginal people respect the environment and want to be with the nature because they are their friends.

Traditional Australian indigenous peoples embrace all phenomena and life as part of a vast and complex system-reticulum of relationships which can be traced directly back to the ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings of The Dreaming. This structure of relations, including food taboos, was important to the maintenance of the biological diversity of the indigenous environment and may have contributed to the prevention of overhunting of particular species.[citation needed]

[edit] The Dreaming, Tribal Law, and Songlines

The Dreaming establishes the structures of society rules for social behaviour and the ceremonies performed in order to ensure continuity of life and land. The Dreaming governs the laws of community, cultural lore and how peoples are required to behave in their communities. The condition that is The Dreaming is met when peoples live according to law, and live the lore: perpetuating initiations and Dreaming transmissions or lineages, singing the songs, dancing the dances, telling the stories, painting the Songlines and Dreamings.

The creation was believed to be the work of culture heroes that in the creative epoch travelled across a formless land, creating sacred sites and significant places of interest in their travels. In this way songlines were established, some of which could travel right across Australia, through as many as six to ten different language groupings. The songs and dances of a particular songline were kept alive and frequently performed at large gatherings, organised in good seasons.

In the Aboriginal world view, every event leaves a record in the land. Everything in the natural world is a result of the actions of the archetypal beings, beings whose actions created the world. Whilst Europeans consider these cultural ancestors to be magical many Aboriginal people still believe in their literal existence. The meaning and significance of particular places and creatures is wedded to their origin in the Dreaming, and certain places have a particular potency, which the Aborigines call its dreaming. In this dreaming resides the sacredness of the earth. For example in Perth, the Noongar believe that the Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl - a serpent being that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways and lakes. It is taught that the Wagyl created the Swan River.

In one version (there are many Aboriginal cultures) Altjira was the god of the Dreamtime; he created the Earth and then retired as the Dreamtime vanished. Alternative names for Aktjira in other Australian languages include Alchera (Arrernte), Alcheringa, Mura-mura (Dieri), and Tjukurpa (Pitjantjatjara).

The dreaming and travelling trails of the Spirit Beings are the songlines (or "Yiri" in the Warlpiri language). The signs of the Spirit Beings may be of spiritual essence, physical remains such as petrosomatoglyphs of body impressions or footprints, amongst natural and elemental simulacrae. To cite an example, the Yarralin people of the Victoria River Valley venerate the spirit Walujapi as the Dreaming Spirit of the black-headed python. Walujapi carved a snakelike track along a cliff-face and deposited an impression of her buttocks when she sat establishing camp. Both these dreaming signs are currently discernible.

[edit] Dreamtime in creative art

[edit] Literature

[edit] Film

Also, the 1986 film with Henry Thomas (E.T.) titled "Frog Dreaming" (renamed "The Quest" in the USA) included certain aspects of aboriginal Dreaming.

[edit] Television

The MTV animated series The Maxx predominantly revolved around dreamtime elements.

[edit] Other media

"Project Alchera" from the computer game Dreamfall: The Longest Journey draws heavily from the concept of Dreamtime, as well as from other Aboriginal mythologies.

During the 1980s, the UK band The Stranglers recorded an album called Dreamtime and its title track in particular was inspired by the Aboriginal concept.

The Dreamtime is featured in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves.

In the episode "Walkabout" of the animated series Gargoyles, an Aborigine mentor to Dingo teaches him of the Dreamtime. In the same episode, Goliath and Dingo enter the Dreamtime in order to communicate with an AI nanotech entity called the Matrix.

Kate Bush's 1982 Album is entitled The Dreaming. The title track deals with the upheaval of the Aborigine people.

In the episode "In the Dreamtime; The Unfair Pair" of the animated series "Rugrats", Chuckie experiences wild dreams. As a result, he becomes confused about what is and is not a dream. The title is clearly a reference to The Dreamtime.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The English phrase 'once upon a time' is employed in a culturally sensitive and intentional manner as it is frequently used in oral storytelling, such as retellings of myths, fables, and folklore.
  2. ^ The Australian Aboriginal dreamtime: an account of its history, cosmogenesis, cosmology and ontology
  3. ^ Bates, Daisy (1996), "Aboriginal Perth and Bibbulmun biographies and legends" (Hesperion Press)
  4. ^ 'Fella' is a colloquial contraction of 'fellow', though like the Australian colloquial usage of 'guys', often refers to women as well as men.
  5. ^ Smith, Jeff. Bone #46, Tenth Anniversary. Self-published. Bone-A–Fides section. 

[edit] Other sources

  • Wolf, Fred Alan (1994). The Dreaming Universe: a mind-expanding journey into the realm where psyche and physics meet. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-74946-3
  • Australian Dreaming: 40,000 Years of Aboriginal History. Compiled and edited by Jennifer Isaacs. (1980) Lansdowne Press. Sydney. ISBN 0-7018-1330X
  • C. Elbadawi, I. Douglas, The Dreamtime: A link to the past
  • Max Charlesworth, Howard Murphy, Diane Bell and Kenneth Maddock, 'Introduction' in Religion In Aboriginal Australia: An Anthology, University of Queensland Press, Queensland, Australia, 1984.
  • Anna Voigt and Neville Drury (1997). Wisdom Of The Earth: the living legacy of the Aboriginal dreamtime. Simon & Schuster, East Roseville, NSW, Australia.
  • W.H. Stanner, After The Dreaming, Boyer Lecture Series, ABC 1968.
  • Spencer, Walter Baldwin and Francis James Gillen (1899; 1968). The Native Tribes of Central Australia. New York, Dover.
  • Stanner, Bill (1979). White Man Got No Dreaming: Essays 1938-1973. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press.
  • Lawlor, Robert (1991). Voices Of The First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal dreamtime. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, Ltd. ISBN 0-89281-355-5

[edit] External links

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