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Dreaming And Spirituality In The Lives Of Aboriginal People

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“Our spirituality is a oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.” – Mudrooroo. The Dreaming plays a significant role in the lives of Aboriginal people and their spirituality. The Dreaming is the creation of life and other important landforms and sites, by their Ancestral Spirits, as they passed over the land. To Aboriginal people, the Dreaming is the foundation of their religious beliefs. Dreaming is the Aboriginal understanding of how the world was created, its history and their significant stories, which are passed on generation to generation. The Dreaming influences their way of life, the regulation for how they live and interact with the natural environment. Long ago, the Dreaming was the period when the Ancestral Beings interacted with the Aboriginal people to share their past. The Dreaming explains how life came to be and represents the Aboriginal stories and beliefs behind creation. It is the link between all people and all things.

In regards to the Dreaming, totems significantly contribute to Aboriginal people and their spirituality. To Aboriginal people, the totem is the connection between the people of today and their Ancestral Being. Members of a tribe or family inherit a spiritual emblem or totem, which is usually an animal, plant or natural object. Totems define their roles, responsibilities, relationships with each other and provide the direct link back to creation, with the Dreaming (spiritual world), with all living things and the land. It is believed that the descendants of Dreamtime heroes create the totems or become totemic beings. Each family clan is responsible for the administration of their totem, the sacred site and the preservation of the flora and fauna, within their territory. They must manage the physical resources, as well as the spiritual management of the ceremonies, to ensure the adequacy of each season, for example, food, rain, etc. Based around all living things, totems link the natural world and kinship relationships, with Aboriginal spiritualities and personal roles and responsibilities. When a parent becomes aware of her unborn baby’s first movements in the womb, the baby is linked to the spirit of that area and this becomes the conception totem. Aboriginal people see their totem or the place from which his spirit came, as his Dreaming. The Aboriginal Dreaming is the link back to their ancestral Totemic Spirit Beings, who were the basis for the Creation. Each person is linked via their totem, to the Dreaming. Totems significantly link Aboriginal people and their spirituality to the Dreaming.

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In regards to the Dreaming, sacred sites significantly contribute to Aboriginal people and their spirituality. Sacred Sites are places in Australia that have a special significance or meaning to Aboriginal social and cultural traditions and the activities of their ancestral beings, the ‘Dreamings’. Sacred sites are the final resting place for Aboriginal past ancient spirits. They give meaning to the landscape, as they provide the anchor for Aboriginal cultural beliefs, back to their spiritual relationships to the land, Ancestral Spirits. Sacred Sites are the spirit centres for Aboriginal people or the connection back to the Dreaming. Their ancestral spirits left their human energy or their spirits at these sites in the form of plants or animals. They may be rocks, reefs, trees, hills, waterholes or rivers. The culture of the Australian Aboriginal is directly linked to these sacred sites. Uluru is part of the Dreaming story for the Anangu People and is linked to ten Ancestral Beings. Each Uluru region has its own ancestral spirit. For example, the rock structure on the southern side of Uluru, was the result of the war between the poisonous and carpet snakes. Sacred sites significantly link Aboriginal people and their spirituality to the Dreaming.

The Stolen Generation significantly impacted the lives of many Aboriginal people and their spirituality. The Stolen Generation was a period in Aboriginal History that saw many indigenous half cast children forcibly removed from their homes and families, between the 1890s and 1970s. Aboriginal people lost the ability to pass on to the next generation their language, traditions, knowledge, dances and spirituality. Children are considered sacred in the Aboriginal culture and their close knit communities. At least 100,000 Aborignal children were forcibly removed from their families and were forced to reject their Aboriginal heritage. Colonisation in Australia, in 1788, also saw Aboriginal people displaced from their traditional homelands. The Stolen Generation were traumatised, they lost their totem ties to their culture and were denied their connection to traditional Aboriginal Dreaming and spirituality. The importance of Aboriginal spirituality around the Dreaming, the link to sacred sites and totems plus the cultural identity of being Aboriginal, including the storytelling and ceremonies was lost to the Stolen Generation. The Stolen Generation were denied their cultural identity, something which the Aboriginal society holds sacred. The Dreaming is crucial to Aboriginal people, providing them with their social, spiritual base and the cultural heritage. The Stolen Generation lost their connection to their Aboriginal culture, their ancestral beings, spirituality and were denied their true identity.

The Dreaming plays a significant role in the lives of Aboriginal people and their spirituality. Aboriginal people have the longest continuous cultural history of any group on this Earth. The Dreaming explains the origins of humanity and nature and provides the structure for Aboriginal family life, based on their obligations to people, land and spirits. It is the belief that all elements of the Earth are interconnected from the people, to the land, to the plants and animals, to the Spirits.

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Dreaming And Spirituality In The Lives Of Aboriginal People. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
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