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Aboriginal stories of the Dreaming - Lightening Spirits

THEME: Creepy Crawlies
TOPIC: Aboriginal stories of the Dreaming - Lightening Spirits

Stories of the Dreamtime reflect the relationship of the various Aboriginal groups to the surrounding environment. These stories often involve weather patterns as well as insects and animals native to the region. Today’s Dreamtime story reflects our daily theme of ‘Creepy Crawlies’ by having as its main character a grasshopper, common insect in the Top End of the Northern Territory. It also centers around fierce lightning storms, which are beginning to occur as the Wet season approaches. Images of the Lightning Spirits can be found throughout this region in caves and on rock surfaces.

“The sacred site of Namarrkon, the Lightning Spirit for the Kunwinjku people…is about fifty-six kilometres (thirty-five miles) away to the east of Nimbuwah rock, which towers into the sky from the surrounding plains. It is here that Namarrkon dwells throughout the dry season. Sometimes he assumes the form of a grasshopper to forage for food among the cabbage tree palms and bush shrubs growing nearby. He is also said to have created ‘aljurr’, (Leichhardt’s grasshopper) who goes looking for Namarrkon during electrical storms.

When the wet monsoon season starts to build up in November, Namarrkon flies up into the sky and sits on storm clouds made by the Rainbow Serpent. From there he emits deep growls of thunder and sends lightning flashes across the sky, although no rain falls until the Rainbow Serpent releases it. This high vantage point allows Namarrkon to keep a close watch on the Aboriginal people living below to see if they are observing codes of good behaviour, conducting sacred ceremonies, and passing on history and religion to the uninitiated in their tribe. If Namarrkon sees anything which displeases him, he plucks one of the stone axes from his knee or elbow joints and hurls it at the offender. Sometimes he misses and cleaves a tree in two.” (Wisdom from the Earth, Voigt&Drury)

Suggested learning activities: Create your own Dreaming story using your favourite insect as the main character. How do they represent a natural phenomenon such as the weather? How do they utilise this phenomenon to carry out their story? (a Dreaming story could correspond to another tribal legend of creation from the various indigenous groups from around the world)



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 11, 2001 8:49 AM.

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