Aboriginal Mythology


Aboriginal Mythology is a complex system of beliefs.


It is passed on through generations by storytelling, and expressed in dance, song and spiritual rituals. When Europeans first came to Australia, they thought that Aboriginal People didn’t have any religion, because they didn’t believe in God. They had however, and still have, strong beliefs and mythology.

Aboriginal Ceremonial Site, West Kimberley
Sacred site. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy
 
Creation Story and Sacred Places
There were hundreds of different language groups scattered over Australian continent. Because their beliefs are connected to land and they lived in different environments, all those different groups had different beliefs. They didn’t, however, live in total isolation from each other, and there are some common things in their “religion”. They believe that in the beginning, there was a dark, featureless earth, until huge creation beings rose out of the ground and started roaming around the countryside creating mountains, valleys, open plains and water bodies. They also created plants, animals and humans. This went on during a “creation period”, which lasted for an unknown time (different sources vary).

Uluru (Ayers Rock) with Desert Vegetation
Sacred site. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

In the end of the creation period, these huge creation beings went back to the ground and turned into different landscape features, typically mountains or spectacular rock formations like Uluru, Devils Marbles, and many many more. Every tribe had at least one of them, and they believe this is the being that created them. It is the sacred place for them where they gathered for spiritual rituals, song and dance. It was like being with their ancestors.

Men in Body Paint Dance in Line in Clearing to Music of Didgeridoo
Uluru. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Different Beings in Aboriginal Mythology
They believe that those ancestors, sacred rock formations, have a soul, and they also believe that all the things that these beings created have a soul, not only humans and animals, but also plants and rocks. Everything was given a soul before they were created and then they were turned into plants, rocks, humans or animals. This is how Aboriginal people feel that they are part of the nature, part of the land. All the plants, animals and landscape features have the same origin as themselves, and being in the nature is like being amongst all the beings like themselves. They believe that in their next life their soul may go into a plant, rock, animal or another human being.

Aboriginal Dance, Australia
Dance performance. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

Aboriginal Mythology Expressed in Ceremonies
On their spiritual ceremonies, and nowadays, performances for tourists, they express all those beliefs through dance, song and storytelling. In their dance they often mimic kangaroos, emus and other animals. Their body paintings are not only decorations but consist of different symbols that tell you a lot of different things about the person wearing them; like what social status the person has in the group etc.

Australian Aborigines Filled with the Spirit of the Kangaroo, Dancing to Honor the Sacred Marsupial
Dance performance. Poster by AllPosters. Click on thumbnail to buy

What is Dreaming and Dreamtime?
Different sources contradict when they explain dreaming and dreamtime. The most usual way of thinking about these terms is that Dreamtime was the creation period, the period of time when the creation beings roamed the countryside and created people, animals, plants and landscape features. Dreaming refers to the time after it, which still continues today. Some sources however state that Dreamtime is a wrong expression altogether because Aboriginal People didn’t have a word for time, so the creation period should be referred to as Dreaming instead of Dreamtime. In any case none of the terms have anything to do with dreaming or daydreaming, they are English words with no exact equivalents in Aboriginal languages, even though they try to be as close as possible to the real meaning of these expressions in Aboriginal languages.

rainbow serpent
Rainbow Serpent in Ayr, Queensland. by Koala:Bear via Flickr.com

Rainbow Serpent in Aboriginal Mythology
Another common misunderstanding is that Rainbow Serpent was the main creator in Aboriginal mythology. While it was an important being for most Aboriginal people in Australia, it was not in the creation myths of all tribes. Rainbow Serpent (aka Rainbow Snake), was associated with water, waterholes, rivers, rain and rainbows, and it was a creator mostly for people in northern Australia where there is more water than in the arid inland. Rainbow Serpent is a huge and often dangerous snake that was believed to have come out of the water, created the landscape and the beings, and gone back to the water (as opposed to the desert creators that rose out of land and went back to the land). Today it lives in waterholes and controls and allows the distribution of the most important resource, water.




 


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well yes it is it is the rainbow in the sky after it rains apears it also is to swallow people who disobey the law

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