Texts and Stories
Aboriginals do not really have "texts". They do not even have definite spelling rules as language was not written. Dreaming stories were passed on orally from generation to generation, using words, chants and songs. They were also passed through non-verbal ways like movement and dance.
Social organisation between the Aboriginal communities are complex. Logically, there were language groups whose motherlands are next to each other. Within those language groups are many clans, comprised of someone’s immediate family and relatives. By religious law, each clan is responsible for a specific area of land that they have inherited through the generations. Naturally, members of the same clan could not marry and so parents must come from two different clans.
People who hunted together, lived or gathered food together did not necessarily come from the same clan. These are referred to as bands or communities, usually consisting of one or more families. This was considered the basic economic unit of their society.
Initiation ceremony into adulthood:
Many rituals are unknown to non-indigenous people because their sacred nature prevent them from being discussed and learnt about. It is known, however, that many rituals involve re-enacting Dreaming stories through song and dance. Men and women had different but equal roles in the ceremonies, whether it be to guard the ritual area or to be the one instructing.
The following experience is from Vicki Walker, a woman belonging to the Muthi Muthi tribe:
Her home is Lake Mungo - that is her Dreaming, her “past, present and future”, the land is who she is. Her mother made sure she knew her home, where her spirit belonged. Her grandparents instilled in her the knowledge of her traditional Aboriginal heritage. Even her blind grandfather would tell her stories about the stars and unity with the land. When she was younger, stories of ceremonies, language, sacredness of symbols and rituals she learned to respect culture and ceremony.
Walker is also Catholic and would often study the Old Testament, comparing and interweaving the two. To this day, she goes back to Muthi Muthi, doing things her mother did and taking her own daughter back to continue the tradition. She finds a security in knowing there is a place for her and her daughter somewhere---a home where they feel at home with their Dreaming. Giver her strength to be proud of Aboriginality.
She really wanted that Aboriginal tradition because she refused to be just another “assimilated white person if I didn’t have that belonging”. She has belonged for thousands of years; Aboriginality is in her heart and spirit.
Vicki Walker with Fr Cameron OSA:
In a culture with no tradition in writing down texts, symbols play a crucial part in Aboriginal culture. Their unique sacred stories are told through symbols like these in paintings, carvings, ornaments:
Painting: "Water Dreaming" by S. Clark
Quotes by well-known Aboriginal speakers and an explanation:
This quote perfectly summarises the Aboriginal way of life and thinking. The inextricable link between land and living creature is being made to understood.
The dependancy of each living creature on the other is presented in this quote. There is an unity equality between man, animal, plant and soil. A key feature of Aboriginal spirituality is to look after the land, an obligation passed down as law for thousands of years.