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Australian Aboriginal Spirituality. The Dreaming. Origins. Aboriginal Spirituality is founded in the dreaming stories of creation.

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Australian Aboriginal Spirituality


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origins
Origins
  • Aboriginal Spirituality is founded in the dreaming stories of creation.
  • The Dreaming is the central and deepest reality of the Aboriginal world. This spiritual reality has existed from the beginning and exists within and beyond the ordinary world.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the dreaming includes
The Dreaming includes:
  • The reality of the spirit ancestors which was active in the creation time and continues to sustain events and places in the present.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

historical origins
Historical Origins
  • Australia is the most ancient land on earth.
  • For tens of thousands of years, the indigenous inhabitants of this country have felt that the land is sacred ground.
  • The first Australians were semi nomadic hunter gathers with Stone Age technology. The arrived from South East Asia at least 60000 years ago.
  • The word ab origine means ‘from the beginning’

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

historical origins continued
Historical Origins (continued)

Indigenous Australians adapted to the land with its unique food and climatic conditions.

They spread across the land, finding ways to survive even in the harshest climate.

Aboriginals spoke approx 250 languages. Before European settlement, Australia could be considered as containing more than 250 separate nations. There are many differences in language and culture.

Each language group comprised numerous ‘mobs’ that occupied various natural catchment areas that could support around 500 people.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

historical origins continued6
Historical Origins (continued)
  • Groups came together for ceremonies, marriages were arranged and knowledge was passed on to members of the group depending on their age, gender, status and relationship to certain sites.
  • Male and female elders were custodians of their tribal knowledge. Some knowledge was taboo to members of the opposite sex ie. Women’s business.
  • Some knowledge was passed on in general life while other knowledge was only available during ceremonies such as initiation ceremonies.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

historical origins continued7
Historical Origins (continued)
  • As hunters and gathers, the Aboriginals would move systematically within their tribal lands to take advantage of the seasonal availability of things to eat (animals and plants).
  • As groups travelled, they would come across familiar features of the landscape such as rock and hillside formations, rivers, waterholes and trees. These were usually known by name. These features would act as a roadmap to where they could find food resources.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

supernatural origin
Supernatural Origin
  • In traditional Aboriginal society, human culture and the natural environment are intimately linked.
  • The life of Aborigines was governed by the movements of animals, the seasons and geographical features and therefore culture became integrated with the environment.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

supernatural origins
Supernatural Origins
  • Over thousands of years, Aborigines developed a personal relationship with the generative (creative) forces that produced the natural orders and rhythms of the land.
  • The Universe came into being through the creative activity of primordial spirits. The natural world was filled with signs of the spirit’s kindly intentions.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

supernatural origins10
Supernatural Origins
  • Aboriginal people themselves see themselves as being created by the same spirits.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

spirit and reality
Spirit and Reality
  • The world of Aboriginal culture affirms the sacredness of nature. Therefore, Aboriginals do not make a sharp distinction between the sacred and secular.
  • The creative spirits are present in, throughout and beyond the physical realm they have created.
  • The natural environment is therefore saturated with sacred significance and spiritual life.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

spirit and reality12
Spirit and Reality
  • Transcendence is from their life and environment not from a separate sacred space.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the nature of the dreaming
The Nature of the Dreaming
  • The Dreaming is the central and deepest reality of the Aboriginal world; it is the spiritual dimension of reality which has existed from the beginning and continues to be present in all aspects of life.
  • It can be considered to be the essence of Aboriginal beliefs about creation and existence which gives meaning to all life

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the dreaming
The Dreaming
  • It establishes the rules that link the relationship between people, land and life.
  • It is not time specific. It involves past, present and future.
  • It provides knowledge about territorial rights and boundaries, spirit beings and their lives, rituals and ceremonies, technology, totem plants and animals, Sacred sites, forms of art, songs and stories and all aspects of intra and inter-tribal social organisation and kinship obligations

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the dreaming15
The Dreaming
  • Is used now rather than the English expression ‘Dreamtime’, which suggests a fixed chronological time or event.
  • Some Aboriginals prefer to speak of “the Law”.
  • Try and understand how the Dreaming compares to the real-time to cinema-time illustration (p.18-19).

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the dreaming16
The Dreaming
  • Each Aboriginal is intimately related to the spirit ancestor and to the totemic animals or plants associated with that spirit. Through this spirit and its creations the particular Aboriginal group has a spiritual relationship with a particular area of land and with defined sites within that land. This land then represents their personal identity and religious belief.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

the dreaming17
The Dreaming
  • The Dreaming encompasses everything to do with the spirit ancestors, including the first beings (creators), their creative activity in forming the world, and the continuing relationship between the ancestors and the natural environment they created.
  • The Dreaming stories of creation differ from one language region to another, but each story consists of a founding drama that has a certain general pattern.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

dreaming creation stories typical format
Dreaming Creation Stories (Typical Format)
  • Before time began, there was only a formless mass of dark and featureless matter.
  • The spirit ancestors arose from out of an eternal sleep from the earth.
  • These beings took on various shapes, traits and appearances (human or animal).
  • They then moved over the featureless earth, shaping the contours and details of the landscape.
  • The spirits then brought into being all living creatures
  • A line of descendants comprising a natural species and corresponding human group is founded by the spirits. The are linked with a single totem or dreaming.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost

dreaming creation stories typical format19
Dreaming Creation Stories (Typical Format)
  • The spirits negotiated the terms of existence (law and morality) as they encountered each other in their travels.
  • Each spirit gives each line of descendants the most appropriate way of life (how to hunt, make fires and perform ceremonies etc) and the behaviour (law) to follow. This was set for all time and written on the landscape.
  • When finished their tasks they became weary and returned to their slumber. Some disappeared into the earth while others became features of the landscape. The spirits left trails of their existence which are marked by monuments of geography in tribal lands and are recreated in traditional songs and ceremonies.

Summarised from Spotlight (SOR Prelim) by N. Coleman. Prepared by Adam Frost