ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITYJun 19, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Aboriginal Spirituality has close ties in at least many respects with the mainstream religions
Aboriginal Spirituality is not very easy to explain, and this is certainly not an exhaustive study. Rather it should be read as a broad outline.
When non-Aboriginal people think of spirituality, they usually associate this with a personal spirit or soul due to Christian or similar religious influences.
Aboriginal spirituality is more holistic as it is connected or related to five main areas of Aboriginal life: 1) Spirits and Ghosts; 2) Land, Country and Place; 3) Dreaming and Lore; 4) Family and 5) Taking Care. In other words Aboriginal spirituality is the basis of personal beliefs and practices of Aboriginal people and some expressions are found in their paintings, engravings, stories and ceremonies.
The Aboriginals believe that the 'world' was created in the Dreamtime by ancestral spirits such as heroes and heroines or creators. The creators were powerful beings who had the ability to shape-change. During the Dreamtime Men and Women who were 'just like us' often took the form of animals or other forms of life .
Other creators were supernatural beings. Every-thing had been made to a plan and purpose. The people knew this from their Dreamtime or creation songs and stories.
Part of the Dreamtime plan established that human and other life was the result of the creation of spirits that came to life over different generations. The Spirits were believed to live in secret places throughout the tribe's territory in places like caves, waterholes and crevices. Birth was considered to be the result of a spirit entering a female's body rather than just as a result of sexual intercourse. The actions that had been ordained by the creators was an essential requirement, as many Christians thank God for their baby.
The essential part is the fact that Aboriginal people identified with the power that had created them. In fact individuals were a reincarnation or an embodiment of a particular and identifiable spirit or power.
At death the spirit was believed to return to the place where it originally resided which often resulted in a deceased person being buried facing in a particular compass direction. In some tribes it was believed that a spirit went up into the sky on death. This resulted in burial in a sitting or squatting position so that that spirit could 'jump-up' into the sky.
The inadequate word ghost was given by Europeans to the Aboriginal belief that a person's personal spirit could harm others. Supposedly the harm was particularly after death which resulted in the Aboriginal practice of removing a deceased person from a campsite immediately after death. In doing so they often used a zigzagging route to the burial site to confuse the person's spirit about the location of the camp. Or they crossed a stream to make it more difficult for the spirit to return.
Ghosts is also a very general term that has been used to describe a number of evil spirits or creatures of Aboriginal belief. Today, it is quite common for Aboriginal people to get 'warnings' from 'ghosts' when in a particular geographical area. This may include smells or such phenomena as the hairs standing up on their neck. When this happens they may talk to the 'ghost' or interpret the message being received as a warning to leave the area. To ignore such a warning is to invite trouble.
Spirituality of any type, be it Aboriginal, Indian or Caucasian requires a huge leap of faith.
Essentially whether the Spirituality is called "Dreaming", Christianity or any one of other scores of variations, all seem to have one thing in common. That is a belief in some version of superior being or creator.
The main problem of attempting to describe a Spirituality not normally of the English language is that the words lose a great deal in the translation. Therefore I say again, any such attempt should be read generally rather than specifically.
Any reasonable, intelligent person should therefore see that whatever you believe in, assuming you believe in something, Aboriginal Spirituality has close ties in at least many respects with the mainstream religions of Christianity, Buddhism and many others.
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