The Dreaming

Aboriginal dancers telling Dreamtime stories at the Sydney Olympics opening ceremony. Image source unknown.

‘See and understand the law.’

Dreaming stories pass on important knowledge, cultural values and belief systems to later generations.

Through song, dance, painting and storytelling which express the dreaming stories, Aborigines have maintained a link with the Dreaming from ancient times to today, creating a rich cultural heritage.
Aborigines have the longest continuous cultural history of any group of people on Earth. Estimates date this history between 50,000 and 65,000 years.

The Dreaming is never ending, linking the past and the present, the people and the land.

Traditional knowledge, law and religion relies heavily on the Dreaming stories with its rich explanations of land formations, animal behaviour and plant remedies.

The protocols for social behaviour and consequences, including punishments and disciplines learnt, are also evident in Dreaming stories.

‘Virtue lies in the obligation to follow ancestral precedent’

This involves keeping the Dreaming stories alive. This takes the forms of painting, song, dancing or ceremony – all of which are therefore necessarily inextricably linked. This is part of a living tradition based on ritual practices. Traditions and practices also merge with economic and ecological responsibilities for ‘looking after country’. Looking after country means to continue to express these ritual forms of the Dreaming. Clan groups have the right to use the land regarded as their ‘territory’ and any of its products, based on their duties to tend the land through the performance of ceremonies.

The travels and adventures of the ancestral heroes are sometimes told in a sequence of ceremonies, performed by individual clan groups across a large geographic area.

Source: The Dreaming | australia.gov.au