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What is the ‘Dreamtime’ or the ‘Dreaming’?

What is the ‘Dreamtime’ or the ‘Dreaming’?
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English can never capture what ‘Dreaming’ or ‘Dreamtime’ is all about. The Dreaming and its stories are linked to the creation process and spiritual ancestors, and still around today. The Dreaming' or 'the Dreamtime' indicates a psychic state in which or during which contact is made...

The Dreaming' or 'the Dreamtime' indicates a psychic state in which or during which contact is made with the ancestral spirits, or the Law, or that special period of the beginning. ‘Dreamtime’ or ‘Dreaming’ has never been a direct translation of an Aboriginal word. The English language does not know an equivalent to express the complex Aboriginal spiritual concepts to white people. 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” . It is important to note that the Dreaming always also comprises the significance of place. Hence, if we try to use an English word, we should avoid the term ‘Dreamtime’ and use the word ‘Dreaming’ instead. It expresses better the timeless concept of moving from ‘dream’ to reality which in itself is an act of creation and the basis of many Aboriginal creation myths. None of the hundreds of Aboriginal languages contain a word for time. Note that the Dreaming is not the product of human dreams. The use of the English word ‘dreaming’ is more of a matter of analogy than translation.


The Dreaming also explains the creation process. Ancestor beings rose and roamed the initially barren land, fought and loved, and created the land’s features as we see them today. After creating the ‘sacred world’ the spiritual beings “turned into rocks or trees or a part of the landscape. These became sacred places, to be seen only by initiated men.”
The spirits of the ancestor beings are passed on to their descendants, e.g. shark, kangaroo, honey ant, snake and so on and hundreds of others which have become totems within the diverse Indigenous groups across the continent. Spirits don’t belong to anyone and can be accessed by everyone. “No-one owns a spirits,” says Quandamooka woman Evelyn Parkin. “You can have what I have got if you’re in touch with the spirit. It is interesting to note that many

Aboriginal people also use the term ‘Dreaming’ to refer to their concepts about spirituality. This might be because some of them find ceremonies or songs in a state of dreaming, a state between sleeping and waking. Strictly speaking, dreaming and mythology can be considered as the same thing: the deep mental archetypes and images of wisdom which we take on to be guided by them when the conscious mind is in a state of quietness.The fact that the Dreaming is still around Aboriginal people is a fundamental difference to other spiritual beliefs. In Christianity, for example, the spiritual world is ‘heaven’, and many Christians believe it is reachable only after death and never while the person is still alive.



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