Spirit Made Flesh I moved around their vast Lands with them, visiting various physical features such as hills or large rocks, caves or billabongs (natural pools), and singing the stories associated with each one. Australia has amazingly unusual land formations, which make their roles in Lands stories highly plausible.
The scrupulous caretaking of their environment creates perfect conditions for such spiritual practices, and the climax of their human lives is their death, or the Djang, when if qualified their spirit will be released from their body and rise up into the night sky to go on travelling to other realms to learn other lessons.
One example is: there was a group of creamcoloured spherical rocks, which looked like onions, and indeed to the Pdjindjara tribe they were the onions that a giant lizard known as Wadi-Nintuka, vomited up because he ate too many. We sang the songs - repeated narratives accompanied by skirt-drumming and skillfull finger-clicking - to pay homage to this hero who is important in their Creation Myths.
One night I was sitting around a huge bonfire with the women of the tribe gazing up at the star-filled night sky. Mable, an elder, roughly elbowed me and asked what I was looking at. I said ‘the incredible number of stars.’ Mable was outraged at this reply. She said, ‘Those are not “stars!” They are the campfires of the traveller spirits as they move on their way. They get a hungry or cold and light a fire to warm themselves or cook.’
All of their hero-ancestors manifested in landforms are honoured out of sheer gratitude and awe. The omnipresence of those divine beings, which fills their daily lives, was tangible. Their seamless union with the Great Mother Nature and Father Earth replaces any kind of thinking, making their bodies strong and durable for survival in one of the harshest environments on the globe.
Artist: Mariko Kinoshita
Indigenous peoples living traditionally are ‘empty’ and living out their true nature, which is one with the divine. They believe that babies are born not of a union between a man and woman, but when certain spirits are ready to learn human lessons.
There is no word in most indigenous languages to equate with the word ‘star’ because it is merely a scientific concept. After this experience, I truly began to grasp the idea that everything we perceive through our senses is impermanent. I also was able to live in the positive knowledge of my Djang, and to long for it with joy. How glorious to be an integrated human whose spark of divinity is truly lit. Linden Thorp www.lindenthorp.wordpress.com
Published on May 9, 2014