Aboriginal tribes have been residing in Australia for more than 40,000 years. And with this long history, comes a long line of storytelling and spirituality that has been passed down from generation to generation, and is commonly known as the dreamtime.
To Aboriginal Australians, the dreamtime provides an explanation on how the land, people and animals were created by their ancestors in the beginning of time. It also provides a spiritual connection to the land, and a wealth of stories that relay the morals and beliefs linked to Aboriginal culture.
One of the most popular dreamtime stories is that of the rainbow serpent, which explains creation itself.
The Rainbow serpent lay sleeping under the earth for many years. One day she woke, and being refreshed from her long sleep she travelled far and wide across Australia leaving tracks from her large body as she slithered around the country.
She called out to the frogs “come out”, who obeyed her and woke from their slumber, with their bellies full of water they had stored during their sleep. The rainbow serpent tickled the frogs until they laughed and spilled water all through the tracks she’d made. This is how the rivers and lakes were made.
Once the rivers and lakes were full, plants and trees began to grow which woke up all the other sleeping animals. The rainbow serpent developed a set of rules so that all creatures could live in harmony, but there were some animals that disobeyed these
The Rainbow Serpent said “Obey my rules and be rewarded, I will make you human. Disobey my rules and be punished, I will turn you to stone forever.” Those who obeyed were made into humans and were given their own totem, which was the animal that they previously were. The Rainbow Serpent gave the humans land and took care of them. Those who disobeyed were turned to stone, and became the hills and mountains throughout Australia.
This important creation story has been passed down through generations across a range of Aboriginal tribes, and encourages co-operation between communities and respect for the land which gives all animals and humans life.
According to Aboriginal Australians, the Dreamtime is not linear, and occurs around us every day. It explains how and why things are the way they are, in the past, present and future. Dreamtime stories continue to be shared through dance, song, and