The Dreaming goes by many different names throughout Australia but they have a similar meaning. The Dreaming refers to the ‘Spirit World’ that accompanies our physical one.
It is believed that our Creator Spirits and Ancestors reside there and that we too will eventually go there when we pass away. The Dreaming is the basis for all the beliefs and Lore that we as Aboriginal people chose to live our lives by.
What is the Dreaming?
In the beginning the land was flat and empty. There were no trees or mountains, no animals and no people. The Dreaming signifies the time when our Ancestral and Creator Spirits emerged from the land, the sea and the sky and began to form our Countries. The landscape was changed as these Spirits lived out their lives. They left their imprint on the landscape. The rivers, mountains, rocks and lakes were all created during their travels.
Country was also shaped by their ceremonies. The different components of these ceremonies became rocks, trees and plants which can still be seen. For example, if a battle took place the blood from the wounds of the Warriors would seep into the land and become red ochre. The places of these ceremonies and battles are usually sacred sites to the people of that Country.
The Spirits also created all other forms of life. The birds, the kangaroos, the emus, the fish and even people are all a result of the Spirits.
Life after death
When human life was created it is believed that the Ancestors and Creator Spirits returned to the land, sky and the waters where they had originally come from so they could watch over their creations.
Just as some people believe that when you die you go to Heaven, for a lot of mobs in Australia it is believed your spirit returns to the Dreaming. This is because our spirit still holds connection to the Creator Spirits and will return to them when our time in the physical word is over.
Some believe that when you go back to the Dreaming you are then reborn as an animal and, like the Spirits, you watch over your family as that animal.
Differences between Mobs
The Dreaming and how it is viewed changes between mobs throughout Australia. For example the Creator or Ancestral Spirits of a mob in Victoria will be different to those of a mob in far North Queensland. However this does not make them any less important. It is important to always remember to respect the people of the Country you are on and their Spirits and Lore even if it is different to that of yours.
Dreaming Stories and Art
Many mobs have different stories relating to their Dreaming, they might be about how fire was created, or how the birds got their colours. They are usually be told by family members and are also collected and put into books. A lot of artwork also depicts the Dreaming and different creations stories with certain symbols representing certain animals, people, Ceremonies and Spirits.
*Artwork by Emma Bamblett