The moon is generally masculine, and this myth explains why the moon disappears and reappears in the sky and why, when humans die, their bodies do not come back to life.

Painting of Moon Man and Eternal Life by Paddy Fordham Wainbarrnga of the Rembarrnga
At the Beginning of the World, there were two men, Moon and Djabu, a small spotted bush cat. They began their travels and survived by catching fish, collecting yams, hunting kangaroos, and collecting goose eggs. However, one day sickness came upon the land and both Moon and Djabu felt that they would die. They put aromatic leaves upon the fire and tried to steam themselves well again. They worried that if they were to die, no one would ever come alive again.

Djabu died first, but Moon was still alive because he was a clever man [healer] and had plenty of power. He tried to revive Djabu, to make him come alive again, but couldn’t. It was Djabu’s own fault, because he didn’t believe Moon and wouldn’t help him to use his power to bring him back to life. He just lay there quite dead.

At last Moon grew tired of trying. “All right,” he said. “When I die, my body will come out alive again. I’ll come up with a new body, because I’m a clever man.” But Djabu’s body was dead forever. Only his spirit stayed alive.

What Moon said was true. After he died, people looked up at the sky and saw him coming up again like new. All the men and women and children cried out, happy to see him. “Ah!” they said. “Here’s that clever Moon! We saw him die, and now he has come back again!”

We could all have done the same as Moon. When we died, after three days our bodies could have come up new again. But Djabu made us go wrong, when he didn’t trust Moon’s power to bring him back to life. So now when we die, they just bury us. Our spirits stay alive, but our bodies can’t come back. And it’s all because of that Djabu.

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