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Evoking the Dreamtime – by Barry Martin

Just hearing or reading the word Dreamtime may conjure up surreal images of a utopian world where everything is just as it should be. But what does this word really mean and where did it come from? The answer can be as complex as the ideal. First, know that the word Dreamtime was not derived or interpreted from any Australian Aboriginal language. Rather, this evocative term was coined by early anthropologists to represent the entirety of Aboriginal mythology, law, and social structure.

aboriginal dreamtime art
In Harvey Arden’s book The Dreamkeepers, he writes, ‘… the Dreamtime was a Genesis-like epoch in which ancestral creator figures––chief among them the Rainbow Snake, the Lightning Brothers, and, in some areas of the far northwest, the Wandjina, or Cloud-Beings––traveled on epic adventures across earth’s originally featureless topography, giving shape in the course of colossal struggles and battles to each mountain and river gorge, each jutting rock and billabong, or water hole. In the process they populated the primordial landscape with the founding ancestors––part human, part animal, part divine––of today’s Aboriginal people.’

And why not? The power of all creation myths lie in the distillation of unimaginable cosmic events, the rise of supernatural beings able to harness the elements, and those entities laying down the law in order for all of us mere mortals to live and prosper. There is no wrong or right among these tales. Only story. What we take from them and what we do with them is the only thing that matters.

Harvey goes on to say, ‘…in a seeming paradox––at least to outsiders––the Dreamtime isn’t a past epoch at all. Rather, it exists as a kind a metaphysical now, a mystical time outside of time, a spiritual yet nonetheless real dimension of time and space somehow interpenetrating and concurrent with our own. To Aboriginals, it lies just around the corner of the mind and perceptions, and, in a sense, can be physically entered by initiates––and only by initiates––during ceremonies and dreams.’

Such ability… we pine for it. We all wish to be one of the initiated no matter what spiritual realm we explore. Thankfully, music helps us to awaken our existential muse. And to create your own music, well, that’s even better. The didgeridoo is the instrument most of you reading this use to charm your creative spirit sonically. Have at it. Create your own Dreamtime.

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