The Myths of the Aboriginal Dreamtime
The Creation Epoch of Aboriginal Australia is known in English as the eternal Dreamtime
- During the time of Creation, Spirit Ancestors defined all space and time out of a dark, formless matter. They populated the land with animals and plants and created features of the land necessary for human life, such as waterholes and rivers. Throughout this period of creation, the Spirit Ancestors often assumed the form and essence of the things they produced. This is the origin of totemism – the close relationship between humans and other natural species and objects.
- The Spirit Ancestors also created the aboriginal people to inhabit the land and established the foundational pattern of living for humans to follow
- Many of the Spirit Ancestors eventually grew weary and some disappeared into the earth, while others returned to the sky. However, their spiritual powers are present at the locations of their resting places and can still be tapped through rituals.
Even though the Dreamtime that encodes the exploits of the Spirit Ancestors is located in the Creation of the past, it is also embodied in the present – in the land and in the descendants of the original Beings. Therefore, the Dreamtime encompasses past reality and future possibilities in a sacred present. To the Aborigines, the Dreamtime lies just around the corner of the mind and perceptions, and, in a sense, can be physically entered by initiates during ceremonies and dreams. All aspects of life are eternally interconnected in a web of relationship, since all creatures and things have their origin in the sacred events of the Creation.
Aboriginal people believe that their “Dreamings,” generally some animal or natural feature, are the origins of their spirits and the name of their totemic clan. Totem beings, the Spirit Ancestors, descended into the earth at certain locations associated with a particular species. These places are where those belonging to a particular totem or Dreaming go to activate the life force which ensures that a particular species continues on in Nature. Each totem and the person associated with it are connected, and he or she is responsible for continuing the totem species. Totems link people to the sacred landscape and are a way of ordering the universe.
Click here for more information on the impact of the Dreamtime on the lives of the Aborigines
The Creation myths of the Dreamtime provide an account of how things came to be and have been passed down through many generations
Created by Jennifer Sumner