Australian Aborigine Creation Stories: Rainbow Serpent and Emus in the Stars

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Bradshaw rock paintings found in the north-west Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Australian Aborigine Creation Stories: Rainbow Serpent and Emus in the Stars

Down under all is still and dark, the spirits of the Earth are sleeping. It is the Dreamtime. There are many different Dreamtime stories that vary from region to region and from people to people. Mostly they are stories that explain life and its peculiarities but there are those that stretch out into the cosmos and talk of stars and supernatural beings. Dreamtime is a difficult concept for many of us to deal with as it is not a linear passage of time but rather an all-encompassing state of being, and so the Dreamtime is both past, present and future all at the same time.

Indigenous Australian art.

Indigenous Australian art. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Father of all the Spirits and Sun Mother

All was still in the darkness until the great Father of all Spirits woke the Sun-Mother. As she opened her eyes so the sunlight washed away the darkness that covered the entire Earth. The Earth was a bare flat circular body covered with a concave sky which reached down to the horizon. The sky was the earth of another world above this one, a rich land with a plentiful water supply where many ancestral beings dwelt. The stars are said to be their campfires. The Father of all Spirits told the Sun-Mother to wake the Spirits. She came down from the sky and as she walked around so she gave life to all the plants and grasses. After her work she rested until the Father of all the Spirits told her to go into the caves and wake the Spirits there.

The Sun-Mother went into the caves in the mountains and there her light awakened all the insects. The Father of all Spirits wasn’t finished and he called the Sun-Mother to carry on. This time she went into a very deep cave and there her golden light melted the ice and so were created all the streams and rivers of the world. Then she created fish and frogs, lizards and snakes, then she woke the spirits of the birds and the animals. The Father of all Spirits saw that all was good with the world and he allowed the Sun-Mother to become the Sun.

Sunset, Maralinga, Australia

Sunset, Maralinga, Australia (CC BY 2.0)

All the living creatures watched the sun cross the sky and as she disappeared below the western horizon so all the animals became afraid, afraid that she would not return. Eventually morning came and the Sun returned and all was well again with the new children of Earth. After a long while these same children began arguing with each other and the Sun-Mother had to return to Earth to sort it all out. She decided to allow each creature to change its shape but that went wrong too and the world was overrun by bats and giant reptiles. Afraid that the Father of all Spirits would not like what he saw the Sun-Mother decided the world needed new creatures and so she gave birth to two new children, a God and a Goddess; The God was the Morning Star and the Goddess was the Moon. The Morning Star and the Moon had two children and the Sun-Mother sent these two to Earth to be the ancestors of all mankind.

Sculpture of an Aboriginal Australian man. 

Sculpture of an Aboriginal Australian man. (CC BY-SA2.0)

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