The "Dreamtime" in a Nutshell

Aussie Thoughts

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I'm certainly guilty of thinking that all the different tribes shared the Rainbow Serpent.
Actually, since the advent of the English language, Aboriginals do share the term Rainbow Serpent, but it seldom means the same thing region to region or tribe to tribe.

In my area for instance, the Angel of Creation is often depicted as a multi-colored snake, being the most beautiful of all the angels. So, using the term Rainbow Serpent to describe the Angel of Creation is common here, but travel a few kilometers north and Rainbow Serpent is used to describe the creator God, (not the same as the Angel of Creation). Head northeast from there and you'll often hear it used to describe a rain yielding prosperity. Then go west and it's a fertility symbol.
Not to discount anything you've been saying, but do you think the Aboriginal story of creation may have been influenced by the Old Testament?
That's a fair point and one I've pondered myself from time to time, but here's the thing. The Aboriginal story of creation is primarily based on ancient paintings and artwork that predate the OT and the arrival of the white man.

Now, the interpretations of those paintings may well be much more recent than the paintings themselves, but I honestly doubt the OT had much influence. For one thing, aside from cultural variation in the way the stories are told, they're otherwise very consistent among all the different tribes, yet they're not consistent with traditional Biblical teachings. I should think if the OT was the influence behind Aboriginal interpretations, it would be otherwise.
 

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Not to discount anything you've been saying, but do you think the Aboriginal story of creation may have been influenced by the Old Testament?
Yeah, I would think some....but there are half dozen archaeological sites over 40,000 years old....missionaries didn't get there till 150 years ago.... Christianity influences local culture as they convert folks and some of the old stories get watered down by the combination.... Like Brazilian Catholicism.... I don't know how much Catholicism influenced the local spirituality...but what is accepted in Catholic churches their has been highly influenced by indigenous culture...
 

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Christianity influences local culture as they convert folks and some of the old stories get watered down by the combination.... Like Brazilian Catholicism.... I don't know how much Catholicism influenced the local spirituality...but what is accepted in Catholic churches their has been highly influenced by indigenous culture...
There's a Catholic church here that's very proud of their record for converting those poor heathen Aborigines and saving them from sin. They even allowed the Aboriginal community to decorate the church with native artwork to boost attendance.

If you go there you'll see the Aboriginals with their children sitting calmly during the sermon. Afterward they often stay behind to look at the artwork. If you look closely though, you'll see that the artwork depicts the Aboriginal story of creation and some other dreamtime events. The only reason the native people are attending that church is to teach their children their own story and the church officials are oblivious to it. Bloody marvelous!
 

Senthil

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3) The ability to communicate, with both divine spirits and departed ancestors via dreams. Hence the term dreamtime.

Some, but not all regions and tribes also use the term dreamtime to describe recent history.

I'm curious about the nature of the divine spirits. I fully realise you can only talk the specifics of what you heard from the one family, mostly, or communication with others? My questions arise through the lens of mystical Saivism.

1) Is there variety, for example groups or tribes of inner beings? (I don't mean departed ancestors here ... they would naturally be in the same tribe/group
2) Are the divine spirits considered benign, or active, with souls that are in bodies?
3) Are particular spirits intertwined particularly with individuals? (guardian ones)
4) Are the spirits confined to the aborigines? For example, did anyone ever point out spirits around you?
5) Are there times of the year or natural causes when the spirits get more active? rains, lightning, drought, equinox

Thanks.
 

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I'm curious about the nature of the divine spirits. I fully realise you can only talk the specifics of what you heard from the one family, mostly, or communication with others?
I'm not sure I can fully answer your questions, but I'll do my best. My knowledge of native Australian culture comes from those I know personally, those I've met in my travels and those I've knowledge of through others.

From an Aboriginal standpoint the true nature of the divine can not be fully explained other than to say it just is and has always been. One supreme entity having unlimited attributes yet no physical mass.

The divine spirit consist of God and all manifestations of God. Including angels and individual souls. Angels act as God's operatives while souls are the divine spirit within.
1) Is there variety, for example groups or tribes of inner beings? (I don't mean departed ancestors here ... they would naturally be in the same tribe/group
If by 'inner beings' you are referring to the soul, yes, like souls are grouped together. Your family and close friends are usually all from the same group, but what group your soul falls into has nothing to do with your current ethnicity or nationality.
2) Are the divine spirits considered benign, or active, with souls that are in bodies?
To the Aborigine the soul is a divine spirit and therefore interconnected to every other divine spirit, regardless of it's current status.
3) Are particular spirits intertwined particularly with individuals? (guardian ones)
Souls in transition sometimes choose to act as guardians, spiritual advisors or protectors, but generally that task is assigned to angels.
4) Are the spirits confined to the aborigines? For example, did anyone ever point out spirits around you?
Aborigines claim no exclusive on the spirit world. No one has ever specifically pointed one out to me.
5) Are there times of the year or natural causes when the spirits get more active? rains, lightning, drought, equinox
Sure. Many Aboriginals believe this is the case.
 

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Thank you. When I was referring to inner beings, I meant other inner being separate from the souls that inhabit human bodies. These beings no longer need to inhabit or don't need to inhabit. In mystic visions, they would look different, like balls of blue light, or some such thing.


Just a couple more?


6) Are there specific people who are more respected as religious leaders or the shamans? Here in North America amongst some societies it was called Medicine Man or Medicine Woman? Or, on the contrary, is each individual a contributor?
7) Is there a defined gender role? Would you say aboriginal society is more matriarchal, or patriarchal?
8) Do people go off to be alone for significant lengths of time?
9) Is it only in dreams, or also in visions while in a waking or semi-awake state?
10) Did they use hallucinogens, fasting, sleep deprivation of any type of mental altering in all this?
 

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When I was referring to inner beings, I meant other inner being separate from the souls that inhabit human bodies. These beings no longer need to inhabit or don't need to inhabit. In mystic visions, they would look different, like balls of blue light, or some such thing.
There's a notion that various spirits may follow along with us from time to time, but no concept of other beings tucked inside ourselves that I am aware of. There is a concept of demonic procession though. It is said that a number of the angels, lead by the angel of creation, turned rogue after the creation and wreak havoc to this day.
Are there specific people who are more respected as religious leaders or the shamans? Here in North America amongst some societies it was called Medicine Man or Medicine Woman? Or, on the contrary, is each individual a contributor?
Generally the elders of the community fill that role. The feeling being with age comes wisdom. The dreamtime is also used for that purpose.
Is there a defined gender role? Would you say aboriginal society is more matriarchal, or patriarchal?
Women bear and raise the children, men provide and protect. Patriarchal in tradition, matriarchal in practice. Modern society has made a mess of native traditions though.
Do people go off to be alone for significant lengths of time?
Some do. Usually after a certain age or life event. Other times to enter the dreamtime. I've gone walkabout myself a time or two.
Is it only in dreams, or also in visions while in a waking or semi-awake state?
It's not dreaming in the traditional sense, like going to sleep. It's more like getting in tune with the collective spirit. Some are better at it than others. You haven't lived until you've seen a pair of Abbies having a chat without saying a word!
Did they use hallucinogens, fasting, sleep deprivation of any type of mental altering in all this?
Hallucinogens are not used traditionally. That's a recent development that's had disastrous results. Some native people will go for days on end without food or water to enter the dreamtime realm. Others will just sort of zone out for a while to find what they seek.
 

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Thanks again. Sounds comparable to trance states to me. Either that, or for some, samadhi states, but more likely trance. In Hinduism, some sects induce altered states by firewalking, or kavadi. The Hindu priest operating in a mystical temple also get 'zoned out' to use that term. They can't talk of regular stuff at that time, but you can see it in their eyes. I was a priest for a few years, in temporary duty in place of a Brahmin, and I know the feeling well. Boss couldn't talk to me. It's somewhat like the intense concentration a golfer or other athlete might get into, but 'things' happen during those times.

Yes, I understand communication without talking.

Love the term 'walkabout'.

As for spirits, in mystical traditions, we Hindus have guardian devas ... spirits assigned to us at the namakarana (baptism). They stay with us. So all in all I see some similarities, especially with the mystical sects. You were very lucky as a child to listen in on the elder's stories.
 

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Aussie Thoughts, if you don't mind my asking, were you able to enter the dreamtime when you went walkabout? And if so, could you describe some of the experience? I know some don't like to speak of sacred experiences, but I thought I would ask anyway.

Some do. Usually after a certain age or life event. Other times to enter the dreamtime. I've gone walkabout myself a time or two.
 

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Aussie Thoughts, if you don't mind my asking, were you able to enter the dreamtime when you went walkabout?
No mate, my walkabouts were for different reasons.
Is entering the dreamtime a regular practice among Aborigines?
Actually, though quite adept at utilizing the collective spirit within, very few Aboriginals ever attempt to enter the dreamtime realm. The majority rely on the teachings of those who did long ago. That's what the dreamtime stories, songs and artwork are all about.
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Just an update. Last night our Nanna Gymea gave me a very good explanation of how the term dreamtime came to be. Nanna Gymea is an elderly Aboriginal lady that's worked for our family nearly her entire adult life.

She explained how the dreamtime spans several different ages starting with, the time before there was. This is when God came up with the plan for all that is. In other words, God's idea or God's dream.

When several different Aboriginal languages were combined into a single English translation, a number of different concepts ended up being referred to as the Dreamtime.
 

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She explained how the dreamtime spans several different ages starting with, the time before there was. This is when God came up with the plan for all that is. In other words, God's idea or God's dream.
Things seem so simple when explained from the proper perspective. Wish I had a Nanna Gymea.
 

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In Hinduism, before emanation, there is only God. Then, for some odd reason, manifestation occurs out of that (Big Bang). But then eventually it all returns. So that would be comparable to 'the time before there was'.
 

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Wish I had a Nanna Gymea.
She's set my sorry behind straight on more than one occasion. Just look at those soulful eyes.
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In Hinduism, before emanation, there is only God. Then, for some odd reason, manifestation occurs out of that (Big Bang). But then eventually it all returns. So that would be comparable to 'the time before there was'.
In the dreamtime story, The Time Before There Was, there was only God in a universe without form. Nanna Gymea likens it to a flat piece of paper, explaining how the planets and the stars could only be seen from above and below. Viewed sideways they were virtually invisible. Suddenly and without warning the corners of the page came together forming a ball.

Simultaneously, all was revealed for the first time, but only from inside the ball. God, who remained outside the ball, could not be seen. That's when a great plan was devised for God to enter the ball and life as we know it began.
 

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Wise looking lady.
Despite having no formal education whatsoever and an inability to read or write, she is indeed one of the wisest people I've ever met.
I love that shot. She looks great for her age.
Thanks mate. That one took first prize in a local photo contest almost 20 years ago. She was about 60 when I took it. She's in her 80's now.
Well, one night when I was about 15 or 16, she caught me and a couple Abby boys behind the main barn smoking some wacky weed. She told me if she ever caught me doing that again she'd reach up my bum, grab hold of my tongue and pull me inside out! :eek: Needless to say, I never touched the stuff again.
 

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Despite having no formal education whatsoever and an inability to read or write, she is indeed one of the wisest people I've ever met.
in my 20's I discovered that anyone who lived half a century had some wisdom to impart if you were willing to listen (that was right after I got over the 'don't trust anyone over 30' stage
 

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She told me if she ever caught me doing that again she'd reach up my bum, grab hold of my tongue and pull me inside out! :eek:
Yikes!!! It's going to take a while to get that image out of my head!
Despite having no formal education whatsoever and an inability to read or write, she is indeed one of the wisest people I've ever met.
My father-in-law was like that. He could read and write a little, but he too had no formal education. Nevertheless, I learned so much from that man.
 
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