The Aborigines had, and still have, a complex belief in creation, spirits and culture, that gives a definite distinctiveness from any other religion in the world. Thousands of years ago, Australian Aboriginal people were living in accordance with their dreamtime beliefs- today, a majority of the Aboriginal community profess allegiance to Christianity, and only 3% still adhere to traditional beliefs. These beliefs have provided the Aboriginal people with guidance and perspective on all aspects of life. There were many variants to these beliefs and practises throughout the many Aboriginal tribal areas, but all Aboriginal people have developed an intimate relationship between themselves and their environment. They see themselves as spiritually bound to the natural world.
The basis of Aboriginal religion revolves around their sacred mythology known as “The Dreamtime”. The Dreamtime specifically refers to the period of time when the creators made the territory of a tribe and all it contained. It was a period when patterns of living were established and laws were laid down for human beings to follow. The Dreamtime is linked with many aspects of Aboriginal practise, including rituals, storytelling and Aboriginal lore, and explains the origin of the universe, the workings of nature and the nature of humanity, and the cycle of life and death. It shapes and structures Aboriginal life by controlling kinship, ceremonial life, and the relationship between males and females with a system of responsibility involving people, land and spirits. The aim or objective of traditional Aboriginal people was to live the exact lifestyle that had been created for them by the creators thus, the Aboriginal people strive to perpetuate and continue the never ending dreaming.
The creators were the ancestors of all living things, including the Aborigines themselves. Sometimes human, sometimes animal, they were possessed of miraculous powers. Their deeds on earth are enshrined in Aboriginal mythology and are closely associated with animals and other features of the natural environment. Each tribe had it’s own creation myth. For example, the people of the Arunda tribe believed that the spirits cut them from the earth in the Dreamtime.
Originally, myths, or Dreamtime stories, were not expressed simply in verbal or written form but were enacted, chanted, painted, costumed, danced, sung and imagined. Without these the Dreamtime would not be alive today. Every tribe had these, so it was part of the land, their totem, belief system, culture and the community they’d grown up with. These stories had an enormous impact on their thinking and were responsible in many ways for them being the oldest surviving race in the entire world. These forms of Aboriginal tradition were often sacred, because they were associated with the Dreamtime beliefs and Aboriginal spirituality. Also, some of these are sacred in the sense of being exclusive only to initiated males. Some stories were secular and included stories for children and those that recorded great battles, memorable hunting expeditions or the arrival of white men into the tribes’ territory. These enactments were also seen in Aboriginal dances, called corroborees, which involved elements of song, music and movement. They, along with activities mentioned above, also imitated or replicated animal movements and ceremonies of initiation that had been conducted for thousands of years. An example of a Dreamtime creation story was the story of the Arunda tribe. The Tnatanja Pole is said to have been responsible for creating ridges and gorges throughout the area. The Pole existed long before men and women were created- It was very tall and reached up to the sky, but the wind often blew so hard, that the pole snapped. As it crashed to the ground it formed deep depressions in the earth, but then reformed again into one pole.
When people were born, their parents gave each child a...
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