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Aboriginal Belief Systems and Spirituality

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* The nature of Aboriginal spirituality:

- The dreaming as being fundamental to Aboriginal Cultures and societies:

 A complex network of faith, knowledge and practices derived from creation stories which in turn dominate all aspects of Ab. Life.

 Is the unseen spirit world expressed through song, dance, ritual, symbols.

 Fundamental to ab. Spirituality.

 Encompasses physical and spiritual aspects of Ab. Life.

 Symbolic of creation phase- believe land created in present shape by journeys of ancestor spirits.

 Believe ancestor spirits still present in land features e.g. rocks, trees.

 Believe when created land, spirits left sacred sites. These sites used for rituals--re-establish a link between the tribe and dreaming.

 Dreaming is LAW- governs ab. behaviour, sets out structure for society, rules for moral actions, instructions for religious ceremonies/rituals etc.

 Acts as guide for ab. Person throughout life.

 Sacred stories- justification for law- discuss how land formed and life founded by ancestor spirits. All things explained in these stories.

 Oral tradition, passed down by word of mouth through the generations.

 Concept of time is cyclical, not linear- meaning dreaming is past, present and future. (Always present.)

 Main religious rituals are to do with preserving and renewing life.

 No sense of first creator, issue of who made ancestors of world does not arise.

 Dreaming is reflected in land- see land as "whole environment" e.g. water, air and other features are all unified by the dreaming.

 Nature of dreaming varies for each individual and community.( personal and communal)

 Is an offence to claim dreaming of another clan.

 Story telling- vital- pass on to younger generations- to follow examples of ancestor spirits.

 Ceremonies performed bring to life power of dreaming (as performed by ancestor spirits).

 Ancestors seen as metaphysical (things that relate to the origin and structure of the universe) - world derived from travelling of ancestor beings.

 Dreaming stories of each area- reflect plants, animals etc. as everything has meaning through the sacred stories.

 Are not to be discussed publicly.

 Elders possess knowledge of sacred stories- differs for male and female, passed down through generations through rituals, song, dance, art.

 ELDERS AND LAW: society ruled by elders, power based on knowledge of law ( sacred stories)-

 Responsible for wellbeing of land and ppl.

 Arrange marriages, initiations and ceremonies, fixed problems, arranged punishments.

 Empowered with dreamtime, never ending cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

- Aboriginal Spirituality and its inextricable connection with the land ( links with dreaming, totems, spirit ancestors, kinship and rituals)

 Land is whole environment, linked by dreaming.

 Believe they must live in harmony with the land; it does not belong to them.

 Every aspect ab. Culture- spiritual and physical.

 Ab. Are part of land, and it is part of them, thus if loose part of land is like loosing part of themselves.

 Is sacred and provides everything.

 Living Reality- ancestor spirits continually present in land forms.

 Is core of all spirituality, full of life and power.

 See "country" (refer to place where they belong and their place of dreaming) as part of identity- children taught from early age through stories, songs etc. Identify with it on spiritual, emotional and physical levels.

 Special ritual sites, reconnected ab. With dreaming.

 Ritual Estates- area of land tribe or totem has ritual responsibilities- responsibility to care and nurture land- spiritual use.

 Economically use land for food, water etc.

 Today great care still taken if approaching sacred land of another clan or totem.

 Sacred trust of o/ship of land to be passed on to future gen.

 Ab. Connections with spirits gained through land. Is central to spirit life as identify with land considered image of sacredness formed by spirits, remaining in land.

 KINSHIP- fabric for ab. Society, individual/clan. (Systems of r/s accepted by culture and rights and obligations they involve.)

 Each person defined role, in terms of relationships with other members. E.g. man not allowed to talk to mother in law.

 From early age children grow up with knowledge of their position in clan/ society and its rules.

 All relationships are respected, everyone belonged.

 Isolation rare, unless break law.

 Is all inclusive network of reciprocal obligations of giving and receiving, reinforces bond of kinship. - based on sharing of resources to benefit group.

 TOTEMS: animal, landform etc ppl symbol of particular spirit ancestor.

 Belong to clan/ individual totem.

 Belong to totem according to where conceived or born.

 "Guardian spirit"- individual totem.

 Related to others of the



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