ABORIGINAL RELIGION - PART 1

 

Ceremony

Traditional Owner Charlie Mangulda
with a Rainbow Serpent in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.
Photo: David M. Welch

 

 

Aboriginal religion, like other religions, is characterised by having a god or gods who created people and the surrounding environment during a particular creation period at the beginning of time. Aboriginal people are very religious and spiritual, but rather than praying to a single god they cannot see, each group generally believes in a number of different deities, whose image is often depicted in some tangible, recognisable form. This form may be that of a particular landscape feature, an image in a rock art shelter, or in a plant or animal form.

 

Wanjina heads

Wandjina bring the Wet Season rains to the people of the Kimberley
Photo: David M. Welch



 

Landscape features may be the embodiment of the deity itself, such as a particular rock representing a specific figure, or they may be the result of something the deity did or that happened to the deity in the Creation Period, such as a river having formed when the Rainbow Serpent passed through the area in the Creation Period, or a depression in a rock or in the ground representing the footprint or sitting place of an Ancestral Being.


Aboriginal people do not believe in animism. This is the belief that all natural objects possess a soul. They do not believe that a rock possesses a soul, but they might believe that a particular rock outcrop was created by a particular deity in the creation period, or that it represents a deity from the Creation Period. They believe that many animals and plants are interchangeable with human life through re-incarnation of the spirit or soul, and that this relates back to the Creation Period when these animals and plants were once people.

 

The Lightning Brothers

The Lightning Brothers in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory
Photo: David M. Welch

There is no one deity covering all of Australia. Each tribe has its own deities with an overlap of beliefs, just as there is an overlap of words between language groups. Thus, for example, the Wandjina spirits in the northern Kimberley of Western Australia belong to the NgarinyinWorora andWunambal tribes. These Wandjina are responsible for bringing the Wet Season rains, as well as laying down many of the laws for the people. As one travels east, this function is taken over by Yagjagbula and Jabirringgi, The Lightning Brothers of the Wardaman tribe in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory, then by Nargorkun, also known asBula, in the upper Katherine River area, and by Namarrgun, the Lighning Man in the Kakadu and western Arnhem Land regions.

 

READ MORE ... PART 1 PART 2 PART 3

Aboriginal Culture Topics...


INTRODUCTION


REGIONAL
VARIATIONS


RELIGION

 


SOCIAL
ORGANISATION

Art


Bags, Baskets, and Containers


Body Adornment

Bush Foods

Ceremonial Life


Fishing
Methods


Fire
Making

Housing
and Shelters

Stone
Tools


Tree
Climbing


Wooden Tools
and Weapons

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