1.3 The Dreaming


As previously mentioned, I’m approaching this with very little preconceived notion to what the Dreaming is, beyond the bare minimum that I was taught in high school. My first mistake was continually referring to this period of Aboriginal history as the “Dreamtime”, whereas the Aboriginal elders prefer to use the term Dreaming to better reflect the timeless concept of a ‘dream’, which is itself, a constant act of creation. Furthermore, Aboriginal people have multiple terms for this continuing period of spirituality, spanning across an even more increasing collection of dialects based on the geographical location of tribes speaking it. For instance, the Ngatinyin people of north-western Australia used the term ungud to echo the idea of The Dreaming, while the Arrernte people of central Australia, used multiple terms, alcheringa and alchera.

So taking a step back and looking at this from a very general sense— you can’t help but be mystified by this entire concept.

The Dreaming is continuing, and never stagnant. It’s not human-centric, it’s not physical. It’s a continually expanding collection of abstract laws which govern the detailed interaction between the sky, the stars, the cosmos, the land, the environment, the animals and us human beings. The laws, while [having very scientific based] absolute[s] in the physical world (the constellations in the sky, the winding rivers born of runoff the mountains) have their origins and continuations in a metaphysical dream world, which constantly evolves due to the very nature of the Dream. And the term for all of this, isn’t even a term. It’s untranslatable. It’s a dialect, a knowledge passed on verbally from people to people, place to place— a perfect allegiance to the concept of the dreaming being an environment, not a command.


Aboriginal spirituality does not consider the ‘Dreamtime’ as a time past, in fact not as a time at all. Time refers to past, present and future but the ‘Dreamtime’ is none of these. The ‘Dreamtime’ “is there with them, it is not a long way away. The Dreamtime is the environment that the Aboriginal lived in, and it still exists today, all around us,” says Aboriginal author Mudrooroo. It is important to note that the Dreaming always also comprises the significance of place.”

A poignant part of this outline came at the end of the article. Dreaming gives an identity.

This is the inherent problem with modern Australia. This dreaming is improperly taught, rarely celebrated and undervalued. You look back on an event such as Adam Goodes’ celebration dance, and you get a sense of having a much greater insight into what it is— Adam Goodes drawing on the passion and fire from a spiritual world, allowing it to command his body, and expressing it outwardly in manner that celebrates his people and his world.

It’s this suffocation of identity which exists in Australia, which I feel is the primary reason Aboriginal people face so many unnecessary burdens and hardships. Everyday we get stories of Aboriginal suicide, alcoholism, juvenile detention, police brutality, land closures, violence, and not a mention of the immense colourful spiritual system which unites and consolidates all nature, including mankind, together.

A current example of the extension of this suffocation is the recent Bill Leak cartoon published in The Australian— The newspaper of choice for your super openly racist pop  which you never confront him over  because he’s just gonna die soon anyway.

Police Commissioner Racist Remark“All lives matter”

The cartoon depicted a perfect analogy of the gross prejudices we place on Aboriginal males. Alcoholism, poor parenting, lack of responsibility. All unashamedly presented as some form of ‘opinion’. It’s a national newspaper. That content is toxic.

The twitter response movement of #indigenousdads was glorious in revealing how abhorrently misleading and poisonous the cartoon was, however disturbing still is the fact that it TOOK a rogue movement to actually reveal this misalignment. There should be no need for a movement like this to break down those walls in the first place. It shows how messed up our society is that a counter to that opinion is actually necessary.

Dreaming is the ultimate form of inclusion, and all we seem to do is exclude Aboriginal people. It’s miserable.