Australian Aborigines have been here for over 60 000 years and their wonderful culture is one of the oldest in the world. Today’s Indigenous population is comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Back in 1788 at the start of European settlement there was estimated 750 000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, today’s Indigenous population is around 480 000.

Aboriginals believe that the world was made by their Ancestors, back in the Dreamtime. A wide proportion of Aboriginal art relates to stories of the Dreamtime. These Ancestral Beings, often depicted in the art, can be represented in human, animal, plant or combined forms, and taught the people their laws and ceremonies. The expression ‘Dreamtime’ is most often used to refer to the ‘time before time’, or ‘the time of the creation of all things’, while ‘The Dreaming’ is often used to refer to an individual’s or group’s set of beliefs or spirituality.

“All creatures — from stars to humans to insects — share in the consciousness of the primary creative force, and each, in its own way, mirrors a form of that consciousness. In this sense the Dreamtime stories perpetuate a unified world view. This unity compelled the Aborigines to respect and adore the earth as if it were a book imprinted with the mystery of the original creation. The goal of life was to preserve the earth, as much as possible, in its initial purity. The subjugation and domestication of plants and animals and all other manipulation and exploitation of the natural world — the basis of Western civilization and “progress” — were antithetical to the sense of a common consciousness and origin shared by every creature and equally with the creators. To exploit this integrated world was to do the same to oneself.

The Dreamtime stories extended a universal and psychic consciousness not only to every living creature but also to the earth and the primary elements, forces, and principles. Each components of creation acts out of dreams, desires, attractions, and repulsions, just as we humans do. Therefore, the entrance into the larger world of space, time, and universal energies and fields was the same as the entrance into the inner world of consciousness and dreaming. The exploration of the vast universe and a knowledge of the meaning of creation was experienced through an internal and external knowledge of self.

Every land formation and creature, by its very shape and behavior, implied a hidden meaning; the form of a thing was itself an imprint of the metaphysical or ancestral consciousness that created it, as well as the universal energies that brought about its material manifestation. These aspects of the Dreamtime creation myth imply a world in which the metaphysical and physical are held in symbolic integration. One cannot consider the visible and invisible worlds separately. The Aboriginal languages that emerged from this world view are rich in a metaphoric flow integrating physical, psychological, and spiritual levels of experience.”


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