Land is the starting point to where everything began’ . (S knight, page 1 – www. creativespirits. com) Aboriginal people make no distinction between the secular and spiritual life. Aboriginal spirituality is a total way of life, with their total regard and respect of the land as the centre point of their spiritual existence. The basic principle that supports the Aboriginal spirituality is a notion commonly referred to as the Dreaming. The Dreaming is a term referring to Aboriginal spiritual beliefs about origins of the universe and existence of all life and objects.
It determines all relationships, responsibilities and laws which must be adhered to for living harmoniously and with reverence for the land. The Dreaming is therefore inextricably connected to the land, because as previously mentioned the land is the physical medium through which all aboriginal spirituality is based. The Dreaming is communicated between the believers through art, song, dance, story and ritual and therefore instills the knowledge and understanding to all Aboriginal societies about creation. It is the responsibility of elders to pass on the knowledge of the Dreaming to the younger generations.
Because the Dreaming is an all consuming belief incorporating the past, present and future into a total and present reality it is completely relevant to the Aboriginal believers today. According to Aboriginal belief, ‘all life as it is today whether it be human, plant or animal is a part of a vast unchanging network of relationships which can be traced to the ancestral spirits of the Dreaming’ (Religion & Belief Systems in Australia, page 1, para 1).
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Aboriginal people regard the process of Dreaming as a life-long quest.
Once this life-long quest is over in this realm, an Aboriginal person’s soul or spirit is believed to “continue on after our physical form has passed through death”, (Eddie Kneebone – Aboriginal Reconciliation Campaigner and Painter – Creative Spirits).
After the death of an Aboriginal person their spirit returns to the Dreamtime from where it will return to the land through birth as a human, an animal, a plant or a rock. The shape is not important because each form shares the same soul or spirit from the Dreamtime. On analysing Aboriginal Spirituality I believe it to be unique.
Some people may argue that it is a religion similar to Christianity, Islam and Judaism because like these religions the Aboriginal person’s foundation for life is taught through historic stories, paintings and rituals. However, unlike the mainstream religions, Aboriginal Spirituality is forever evolving and therefore the stories, paintings and rituals constantly growing. In addition, Aboriginal Spirituality is all encompassing and totally dependent on the land, this earth. Unlike mainstream religions which acknowledges this earth as only being a stopping ground, a portions of our soul’s existence.
Mainstream religions do not embrace this earth with the same reverence which they embrace heaven. These religions see this current dwelling place as a holding ground, as an abode where people will be tested. According to how well they live their life and how much they adhere to the teaching of their religious faith will determine their eligibility to enter and experience the glories of heaven. Conversely, should they be a poor parishioner and not follow the teachings of their chosen faith then they will be an outcast for all time exiled to hell.
The Aboriginal people see the whole cycle of life as sacred. From being created of the land, to being absorbed back into the land, and then beginning all over again. The stories, paintings and rituals which have been passed down for the last 40,000 years are about cherishing this land, our earth, which we dwell on here and now. They see this land as their heaven and also their hell. They do not dismiss this land as being a passing port in their soul’s journey; they believe it to be the owner and keeper of their soul.
... have undergone a major development. Initially Christian relations with Aboriginal spirituality was mainly on an anthropological level, if it ... ly the Aborigines divided means of riding these 'returned spirits'. Similar to their traditional a nit-spiritual rights ... religion and their culture. Another factor that contributed to this sense of loss was the horrible toll disease played upon the Aboriginals ...
Without the land, their soul would cease to exist and the foundation for the Aboriginal way of life would disappear along with their spirituality. ANNOTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Creative Spirits website “What is Aboriginal spirituality? – Updated 8th November 2012. Contributors – Mudrooroo, ATSIC, S Knight, Eddie Kneebone, Oodgeroo Noonuccal. In this article the contributors point out relevant facts to do with Australian Aboriginal Spirituality. The authors use information gained through long entrenched knowledge and express it via poem, story or dialect.
Their comments focus mainly on what Aboriginal Spirituality is, and what it means to the Aboriginal person. The article on the Creative Spirits website was of great interest to me, as it gave me a very relevant overview on my subject and a starting point to begin my assignment. The main limitation of the article was that it just gave overviews and statements and did not go into any real depth. This website was useful because it gave me an insight into Aboriginal Spirituality and made me curious to learn more. Study Mode website “Religion & Belief Systems in Australia Post 1945” Last updated January 2011.
Contributors – various not cited This website consisted of essays which various people had written on Aboriginal Spirituality. Much of the information was very similar, and many of the references the same. The authors had appeared to have gained their insight from studying articles on the internet. The many essays varied in their opinion and differed on focus points. Each essay was relatively in depth in regards to the focus topic. It was rather limiting because I was not a member of this site therefore I was only able to examine a very small part of each of the essays.
However it gave further understanding of the aboriginal Spirituality and gave me more information which I was able to research. Study of Religion 1 and 2 website “Aboriginal Spirituality Determined by the Dreaming” – Catholic Education Office in conjunction with Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta. (no date cited) This website reviews all mainstream religions and spirituality within Australia. It is predominately a course website and offers information on many areas of religious study. The website has been put together using factual information.
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The information I obtained from this website was mainly from the Definitions and Content Description sections. It was an interesting site, but very limiting for a research project. The information it did provide was very pertinent to my paper and it assisted me in streamlining my thoughts. Academia Website – Discussion Paper – Series No. 9 – Aboriginal Spirituality: Aboriginal Philosophy, the basis of Aboriginal Social and Emotional Wellbeing. – by Victoria Grieves – 2009 In this article Victoria Grieves reviews all the influences relevant to Aboriginal Spirtuality.
It would appear from the reading and also from her citations that she has gained her information from indepth research and renowned sources. The paper examines ‘What is Aboriginal Spirituality? ” and ‘Cultural Expressions of Spirituality”. This paper was exceptionally useful to my research topic as it covered in depth many aspects of the Aboriginal Spirituality. It not only looked at the Spirituality as a whole but also looked at individual aspects of this spirituality from Creation, Law, Role of Women, Connection to the Natural World and Aboriginal Spirituality and Christianity.
There were very few limitations with this article because although I did not cite anything directly within my essay, it allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of my subject. INQUIRY QUESTIONS 1. What does Aboriginal Spirituality offer in today’s mainstream contemporary Australia? 2. How is Aboriginal Spirituality determined by the Dreaming? 3. What methods are used in communicating the Dreaming in regards to Aboriginal Spirituality? 4. To what extent, if any, has Aboriginal spirituality enhanced Australia’s religious beliefs today? 5. Is there any other religion that could be considered similar to Aboriginal Spirituality?