Dreaming, the

Dreaming, the
or Dream-Time

In the religion of the Australian Aboriginals, the mythological time of the Creation.

In the Dreaming the environment was shaped and humanized by mythic beings who took animal or human form or changed their form at will. They took long journeys and created human life and the social order. In Aboriginal belief, they are eternal and continue to exist, although they may have traveled beyond the lands of the people who sing about them or may have metamorphosed into natural features such as rocky outcrops or water holes. The landscape is thus sacred to Aboriginal peoples. See also Australian religion.

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▪ Australian Aboriginal mythology
also called  dream-time , or  world dawn Australian Aboriginal (Australian Aborigine) languages  altjira,  altjiranga,  alcheringa,  wongar , or  djugurba 

      mythological period of time that had a beginning but no foreseeable end, during which the natural environment was shaped and humanized by the actions of mythic beings. Many of these beings took the form of human beings or of animals (“totemic”); some changed their forms. They were credited with having established the local social order and its “laws.” Some, especially the great fertility mothers, but also male genitors, were responsible for creating human life—i.e., the first people.

      Mythic beings of the Dreaming are eternal. Though in the myths some were killed or disappeared beyond the boundaries of the people who sang about them, and others were metamorphosed as physiographic features (for example, a rocky outcrop or a waterhole) or manifested as or through ritual objects (see tjurunga), their essential quality remained undiminished. In Aboriginal belief, they are spiritually as much alive today as they ever were. The places where the mythic beings performed some action or were “turned into” something else became sacred, and it was around these that ritual was focussed.

      The Dreaming, as a coordinated system of belief and action, includes totemism. Together, they express a close relationship: man is regarded as part of nature, not fundamentally dissimilar to the mythic beings or to the animal species, all of which share a common life force. The totem serves as an agent, placing man within the Dreaming and providing him with an indestructible identity that continues uninterruptedly from the beginning of time to the present and into the future.

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Universalium. 2010.

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