Come with me to the point and we’ll look at the country. We’ll look across at the rocks. Look, rain is coming! It falls on my sweetheart.
(Song from the Oenpelli Region, Australia)
During the years I lived in Australia I had a privilege to be able to “look across at the rocks” of this majestic land and see it through the eyes of a lover watching the sweetheart. And I had only a glimpse of a deep connection which had existed between the land and the Aboriginal people for a very long time, the connection mostly lost to a modern (wo)man. Even if only a glimpse, a fleeting feeling of Oneness I experienced, in particular one hot day, tramping the rocks of Palm Valley, by myself but definitely not alone, was very strong and transforming. It changed me and it stayed with me. I continue to come back to that experience, as one of the most cherished treasures among the memories of my life. I loved that landscape. The love I experienced was ecstatic. I hugged the land, the best I could, spreading my arms wide and turning around, feeling my love pouring to it. With tears of joy I realized that it hugged me back! Thank you, my sweetheart, love for you I carry always in my heart.
For Aboriginal people, religious beliefs are derived from a sense of belonging to the land, to the sea, to other people, to one’s culture. Being human is defined by where we have come from, who we are, and where we are going in relation to country and kin. For these people who have lived and loved here since the creation times, the land is more than a physical place; it is a moral sphere, the seat of life and emotions and place of the heart.
This is encapsulated by the ‘Dreaming’ – a complex network of knowledge, faith and practices derived from stories of creation, which dominates all spiritual and physical aspects of Aboriginal life. The ‘Dreaming’ sets out the structures of society, the rules of social behavior and the ceremonies that need to be performed in order to maintain the life of the land. It governs the way people live and how they should behave.
A central concept of Aboriginal life is the notion of the spiritual continuity of present and future with the ancestral past. The ancestral beings create a continuing and interconnecting relationship between past, present and future. As part of the ritual ceremonies, the human mediators are reminded of their responsibilities, of the need to mend and preserve relationships between people and country, to care for country and care for kin.
most photos by Alemka
Ceremony is a time of communicating with the ancestral beings and the creation powers as well as other people.
“When we are able to sit on our land in contemplation and hear, feel or see the spirits of our old people, then we have been to a place within ourselves of great depth and connectedness. It is this place that we need to go to in order to truly heal ourselves; and once we have learnt how to do that, then we can move forward.” (Clarke and Fewquandie, 1988)
This is done through the practice of ‘Dadirri’. ‘Dadirri’ is a special quality, a unique gift of the Aboriginal people. It is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that dwells inside us.
“It is something like what you call contemplation.” (Miriam Rose Ungunmerr, 1993)
“The result of Dadirri’s profound, non-judgemental watching and listening is insight and recognition of the responsibility to act with fidelity in relationship to what has been heard, observed and learnt.” (Judy Atkinson, 2002)
(excerpts from the article Constellation Work in Central Australia, written by Alemka, published in the International Constellations Journal The Knowing Field, issue 10, June 2007)