The "Dreamtime" in a Nutshell

Aussie Thoughts

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I grew up in Southern Australia on a large barley farm that employs a number of Aboriginal men and women. In the evening after dinner there were 2 options at my house; listen to my dad bitch about his day or sneak on down to the Aboriginal camp and listen to stories and songs about the dreamtime. I elected to do the latter.

Actually, dreamtime is not Aboriginal at all. It's the result of a rather poor attempt at consolidating a number of different Aboriginal languages and dialects into a single English translation. You see, all Aboriginal languages are similar, but vary region to region and tribe to tribe within a specific region. To complicate matters, up until about 100 years ago, Aboriginal society had no written language. They communicated via the spoken word, songs and their artwork.

Today, English is rather commonplace in Aboriginal society and many Aboriginals use the term dreamtime themselves. While it's still subject to local and regional interpretation, it basically describes 3 things:

1) The story of creation, which aside from timeline, (1 day vs 6), is remarkably similar to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. Christianity was an easy sell in some Aboriginal communities because of this.

2) The state of the soul, both prior to entering the body and after leaving the body as one life cycle ends and another begins. (Some Aboriginals believe the soul may also inhabit inanimate objects)

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.

To this day the dreamtime is still passed one generation to the next via stories, songs and artwork. Traditions fade however and oddly enough, as written communication becomes more and more relied upon, many stories have been lost.

So, if there's any interest I'll do my best to answer any questions you might have.
 
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StevePame

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I'm glad that you started this thread.

Traditions fade however and oddly enough, as written communication becomes more and more relied upon, many stories have been lost.

To your knowledge, has there been any attempt to record these stories, knowing that they're disappearing? I'd think this would be something a theology student or anthropologist at university would have jumped on.

1) The story of creation, which aside from timeline, (1 day vs 6), is remarkably similar to the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. Christianity was an easy sell in some Aboriginal communities because of this.

Are there Adam and Eve-like figures in this history, and if so, are they created anew during creation or are their existing souls simply entering new bodies at the time?
 

farhan

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so how do people reach there, the dream time/space. Is there some initiative process/curriculum, or are you just born to travel through the non-material realms?

And what does the soul do, before and after material life?
 

Aussie Thoughts

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To your knowledge, has there been any attempt to record these stories, knowing that they're disappearing? I'd think this would be something a theology student or anthropologist at university would have jumped on.
Yes, the stories are being recorded, but that's actually the problem. You see, there's still a tendency to consolidate all Aboriginal languages into a single translation. So many of the traditional stories, especially regional variations, are being recorded incorrectly or not at all.

As new generations adapt more modern lifestyles, there's a tendency to rely more and more on the written word rather than the stories being told by the elders. So, when the elders die out, the traditional stories die with them. What ends up being past on is fragmented at best.
Are there Adam and Eve-like figures in this history, and if so, are they created anew during creation or are their existing souls simply entering new bodies at the time?
Yes, there is a concept of Adam and Eve, but not as the first man and woman. From the Aboriginal standpoint, all came from the earth itself. Animal, vegetable and mineral. All came from the earth. All are sustained by the earth. All will return to the earth.

In Aboriginal culture, this all took place long before Adam and Eve. In other words Aborigines were the first human beings, not Adam and Eve. They come much later.

The Old Testament actually bears this out. As part of the 6 day creation Genesis 1:27 states:

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

Adam was not refereed to until the 8th day as Genesis 2:7 states:

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

If this is correct, just as the Aboriginals say, human life existed prior to Adam and Eve. This also ties in with another Aboriginal belief that man has both an individual and a collective soul. The individual soul having entered with the advent of Adam.
Was so hoping those underlines were links....
There are countless websites these days describing the dreamtime, but I've yet to find one that aligned with any of the stories I've heard directly from the Aboriginal people I associate with.
so how do people reach there, the dream time/space. Is there some initiative process/curriculum, or are you just born to travel through the non-material realms?
Some enter the dreamtime through deep meditation alone, but many older Aboriginals will go off by themselves for days on end, braving the elements without food or water to achieve this state. At some point in the process the conscious mind shuts down and the sub-conscious takes over. The Aboriginals believe that it is in this state that one enters the dreamtime. This is very dangerous of course and some have actually died in the process.
And what does the soul do, before and after material life?
This is one of those areas that vary region to region and tribe to tribe. Some say it returns to God and awaits reincarnation. Others say it walks the earth temporarily inhabiting objects, both living and non-living prior to reincarnating. Still others believe it reincarnates immediately. Many are of the belief the reincarnation process is endless while others believe there is an end game. The native peoples I associate with say it all depends on circumstance. Sometimes it's one way, sometimes it's the other.
 
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Thomas

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Yes, there is a concept of Adam and Eve, but not as the first man and woman. From the Aboriginal standpoint, all came from the earth itself. Animal, vegetable and mineral. All came from the earth. All are sustained by the earth. All will return to the earth.
Genesis 2:7? There is an etymological link between the Adam and adamah (ground).

If this is correct, just as the Aboriginals say, human life existed prior to Adam and Eve. This also ties in with another Aboriginal belief that man has both an individual and a collective soul. The individual soul having entered with the advent of Adam.
I think there is evidence to suggest that prior to the fall there was a collective identity, and in fact the fall is the emergence of the individual identity.
 

wil

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That is what always leads to the who begat who with who conundrum.... a. there is lilith...who was tossed from the garden before eve.... b whe did cain and abel have children with (sisters? mother?) the contention as i understand it is humans were around....adam differed in that he was made in G!ds image, Eve was made with/of him and they were both blessed to stay in the garden.... they were tossed out after 'the incident'...

Then they and their children commingled with the natives....

Thomas would your collective identity only been in Adam and Eve? and if so wouldn't that have been blown by Eve's choice to convince Adam to eat of the apple? Which is the fall? Eating, or listening to the snake or the decision?
 

Thomas

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That is what always leads to the who begat who with who conundrum....
I think this is the problem with too literal a reading.

The story is the result of a contemplation of human nature. The background is simple, and gives rise to a question that has vexed man from the beginning. If God is good, where, and how, and who, does evil arise? That's the focus. Issues of Lilith (a character from a Medieval satire?), or who Cain and Abel married, misses the point. These questions are a 'finger and moon' kinda thing.

the contention as i understand it is humans were around....adam differed in that he was made in G!ds image...
News to me. I've never heard of that before.

Thomas would your collective identity only been in Adam and Eve?
Again, in the context of the thing, who else is there? It's a rhetorical question.

... and if so wouldn't that have been blown by Eve's choice to convince Adam to eat of the apple?
I find it interesting that 'the eyes of both of them were opened' after they'd both eaten the forbidden fruit.

Which is the fall? Eating, or listening to the snake or the decision?
I would have though the decision.
 

Senthil

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The outsider POV of any culture is totally unreliable, and marginal at best. This list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indigenous_Australian_group_names indicates the complexity you refer to. So too with maps of the peoples there. Same thing with North American indigenous peoples. There were at least 500 languages, and the variety in food, clothing, houses, boats etc. is astonishing. We have to remember at that time there was no such thing as globalisation, so within 50 kilometres, across a river, over a mountain etc., there would be a new culture.

They were all lumped together as one group. In school when I learned about Australian aborigines, there was no mention of there being more than one group. So too with Africa. South America, and the Indian subcontinent. Heck, according to one definition of 'Hindu' it means people east of the Indus. This oversimplification is not only incorrect, but also disrespectful.

http://www.mappery.com/map-of/Australia-Aboriginal-Tribes-Map

I hope some stuff gets recorded though, and in it's original form as best as possible, not clouded through some non-native lens.

Or ... if it's meant to be a secret story for that culture, then it's none of our business. Let's respect that.
 
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Aussie Thoughts

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I recalled the title...it was popular in America...how did it fair in Australia and what were the thoughts on it?
I've never read it myself, but down here it's considered complete and utter nonsense.
as i understand it is humans were around....adam differed in that he was made in G!ds image
In the Aboriginal story of creation, like the OT, all human life is made in God's image. The difference is God himself breathed life into Adam.
Eve's choice to convince Adam to eat of the apple?
No forbidden fruit in the dreamtime tales. The way the Aboriginals tell it. Their reference to Adam and Eve basically had a 3 way with the angle of creation who is often portrayed as a serpent. Eve believing the serpent was God. The result was the birth of twins, one of man and the other of the serpent. Sounds a bit like some interpretations of Cain and Able to me.

Similarities to the OT sort of trail off after that and go off in different directions depending on region and tribe.
Then they and their children commingled with the natives....
That's how the Aboriginals tell it.
Were the dreamtime stories told in English, or do you understand Aboriginal tongue?
No, the stories were told in their native language. I understand a few words and a phrase or 2, but I'm not fluent by any means. Many of my Aboriginal playmates attended public school though and would interpret for me.
They were all lumped together as one group. In school when I learned about Australian aborigines, there was no mention of there being more than one group. So too with Africa. South America, and the Indian subcontinent. Heck, according to one definition of 'Hindu' it means people east of the Indus. This oversimplification is not only incorrect, but also disrespectful.
Very true. Worse yet, spiritual beliefs were jammed into a single translation making them almost meaningless. Then they have the nerve to categorize them as myths! Bloody insane.
 
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Senthil

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Very true. Worse yet, spiritual beliefs were jammed into a single translation making them almost meaningless. Then they have the nerve to categorize them as myths! Bloody insane.

If it's within your own tradition, it's history, but when it's outside your tradition, it's myth. I prefer, "Maybe. Maybe not."
 

Namaste Jesus

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No, the stories were told in their native language. I understand a few words and a phrase or 2, but I'm not fluent by any means. Many of my Aboriginal playmates attended public school though and would interpret for me.
Oh, so I guess all of those Aborigines are from the same tribe?
Their reference to Adam and Eve basically had a 3 way with the angle of creation who is often portrayed as a serpent.
Is that the 'Rainbow Serpent' I've heard about?
 

Aussie Thoughts

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Oh, so I guess all of those Aborigines are from the same tribe?
Actually, the native people that work on our farm are all from the same family.
Is that the 'Rainbow Serpent' I've heard about?
That's another of those poor attempts at consolidating a number of Aboriginal beliefs into a single English translation. This time Aboriginal paintings.

Rainbows are often depicted in Aboriginal artwork to represent different things. Life, sustenance, abundance and so forth. Snakes are also depicted quite often. Usually to represent the angel of creation. When the so called anthropology experts looked at these they assumed they were one and the same and labeled them the Aboriginal mythical creator god, Rainbow Serpent. There is no such being in Aboriginal culture.

It's perpetuated however, because like the term Dreamtime, Aboriginals have begun using the term Rainbow Serpent themselves, but it seldom means the same thing between any 2 tribes.
 

StevePame

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Rainbows are often depicted in Aboriginal artwork to represent different things. Life, sustenance, abundance and so forth. Snakes are also depicted quite often. Usually to represent the angel of creation. When the so called anthropology experts looked at these they assumed they were one and the same and labeled them the Aboriginal mythical creator god, Rainbow Serpent. There is no such being in Aboriginal culture.

I'm certainly guilty of thinking that all the different tribes shared the Rainbow Serpent. This thread has been a nice reminder to me of the dangers of discounting the nuances between different groups that appear, to the ill-informed, to share a lot in common. Similar to what Senthil noted earlier.
 
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