The Dreamtime is the central, unifying theme in Australian Aboriginal mythology. The Dreamtime, also called the Dreaming,
consists of four aspects: The beginning of all things; the life and influence of the ancestors; the way of life and death; and
sources of power in life. Dreamtime consists of all four of these aspects at the same time because it is a condition beyond time
and space where all things exist at once.

Aboriginal people call Dreaming the all-at-once time because they experience it as the past, present, and future co-existing.
The anthropologist and historian, Professor W.H. Stanner called it the everywhen. This does not mean that they did not have a
concept of linear time, but they considered the everywhen of the Dreaming to be objective, whilst linear time they considered a
subjective creation of wakeful consciousness of one's own lifetime. This is in the reverse of the European concept which views
dreams as subjective and linear time is considered objective. The condition that is Dreamtime is met when the tribal members
live according to tribal rules and traditions and are initiated through rituals and the hearing of tribal myths.

The creation was believed to be the work of culture heroes (or heroines) that in the creative epoch travelled across a formless
land, creating sacred sites and significant places of interest in their travels. In this way songlines were established, some of
which could travel right across Australia, through as many as six to ten different language groupings. The songs and dances of
a particular songline were kept alive and frequently performed at large gatherings, organised in good seasons.

They believe that every person has a part to them that exists eternally. This eternal part existed before the life of the individual
begins, and continues to exist when the life of the individual ends. Both before and after life, it is believed that this spirit-child
exists in the Dreaming and is only initiated into life by being born through a mother. The spirit of the child was believed to enter
the developing foetus at the 5th month of pregnancy. When the mother felt the child move in the womb for the first time, it was
thought that this was the work of the spirit of the country in which the mother currently stood. Upon birth the child was
considered to be a special custodian of that part of their country, and taught of the stories and songlines of that place.

Thought to be the oldest continuously maintained cultural history on Earth (50,000 years or more), the Dreamtime explains the
origins and culture of the land and of its people. It presents in a number of inter-related narratives (or myths) explaining
Aboriginal Australian origins and culture, it thus has a complex relationship to the prehistory of Australia.

Most Aboriginal people believe that all life as we know it today (human, animal, or plant) is part of a vast and complex single
network of relationships which can be traced directly back to the great spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime. This structure of
relations, including food taboos, was important to the maintenance of the biological diversity of the indigenous environment and
prevented overhunting of particular species.

In the Aboriginal world view, every event leaves a record in the land. Everything in the natural world is a result of the actions of
the archetypal beings, beings whose actions created the world. Whilst Europeans consider these cultural ancestors to be
metaphysical many Aboriginal people still believe in their literal existence. The meaning and significance of particular places
and creatures is wedded to their origin in the Dreaming, and certain places have a particular potency, which the Aborigines call
its dreaming. In this dreaming lies the sacredness of the earth. For example in Perth, the Noongar believe that the Darling
Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl - a snakelike being that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways
and lakes. It is taught that the Wagyl created the Swan River.

In one version (there are many Aboriginal cultures) Altjira was the god of the Dreamtime; he created the Earth and then retired
as the Dreamtime vanished. Alternative names for Aktjira in other Australian languages include Alchera (Arrernte), Alcheringa,
Mura-mura (Dieri), and Tjukurpa (Pitjantjatjara).

There is much in C.G. Jung's work on the Collective unconscious and Synchronicity which touches upon these dreamtime
Aboriginal concepts as being functional theories.

Australian Dreaming: 40,000 Years of Aboriginal History. Compiled and edited by Jennifer Isaacs. (1980) Lansdowne Press. Sydney. ISBN 0-7018-1330X
C. Elbadawi, I. Douglas, The Dreamtime: A link to the past
Max Charlesworth, Howard Murphy, Diane Bell and Kenneth Maddock, 'Introduction' in Religion In Aboriginal Australia: An Anthology, University of Queensland Press,
Queensland, Australia, 1984.
Anna Voigt and Neville Drury, Wisdom of the earth: the living legacy of the Aboriginal dreamtime, Simon & Schuster, East Roseville, NSW, Australia, 1997.
W.H. Stanner, After the Dreaming, Boyer Lecture Series, ABC 1968.
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