THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
We take you to the cactus land of desert sun, starry nights and climable rocks, where we felt at one with everything
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Skylar Sahakian, Roberto Nickson, Dane Deaner, Gerson Repreza
29 August 2019
Going back to the very begging, we traced Joshua Tree to the core of its existence and all the way back to the first inhabitants to set a foot there.
The original name of tree was Taxonomy. It was given to the area by the Mormon settlers, who in the 19th century was passing through the Mojave Desert. The name hides a Biblical message. The name Taxonomy holds importance as the shape of the tree reminded the Mormons of the story where Joshua holds his hands up in the air, reaching towards the sky in a prayer.
The Joshua Tree symbolises beauty, combined with strength. Its shape is so meaningful because the tree stands up straight despite the unpredictable movements of the desert wind. It is understood as a reminder that beauty can survive and exist through destruction.
Two deserts meet in the Joshua Tree National Park - the Mojave and the Colorado/Sonoran deserts. Animals and desert plants from the high and low are brought together. It truly represents the desert in its reach towards people and we have found ways to establish a connection with mother earth in this place. You can drive through Joshua Tree National Park. The road starts from Cottonwood Spring Visitor Centre, situated in the south area of the park. Driving through, you will get a sense of the Mojave Desert and will probably notice the difference when being surrounded by the territory, that belongs to the Colorado/Sonoran deserts. The road trip can take up to 4 hours and the exit is taken through the town of Joshua Tree.
Cave, cactus gardens and sand build up the park's atmosphere. The most preferred things to do is exploring the Indian Cove Nature Trail and climbing the rocks of the Echo Cove. The coves together with the Arch Rock Trail summarise the national park best from a nature point of view.
Human history in the area dates to more than 5 000 years ago. Scattered over 500 000 acres of California dessert, the park holds so much more life than what is seen at first. It is interesting to know that the Joshua Trees are not actual threes but belong to the yucca family. They, alongside all other plants in the area, grow in extremely fragile soil. Micro-organisms are found to live in the ground. They have two main functions: to hold the soil together and nourish the plants. As the soil is very easy to affect, stepping on it can result in destroying those micro-organisms. This has bigger consequences because it leads to destroying the natural habitat of the plants and they may die. This is why it is crucial when visiting the park to keep walking on the specified trails and watch your steps.
The park's location situated away from city's light pollution makes it an ideal isolated space, where nature can be admired. This is a prerequisite for a front row view of the night sky. It is a place where weekly 'star parties' are held. The sky is so clear from light pollution and the climate is often generous enough for the clouds to not stand in the way. It is effortless to watch the stars from there, enjoying what is probably one of the most astonishing views that exist and are known to humanity.
Joshua Tree National Park in numbers:
Information, taken from the official website, confirms that Joshua Tree National Park treasures more than 241,000 objects in its museum collections. There are over 838 documented archaeological sites, protected in the area. With its 5 cultural landscapes and 160 historic structures, the park has become an emblematic symbol of preserving the local culture and treasuring cultural values.
There are more than 400 climbing formations and 8 000 routs to be taken by climbing adventurists. However, everyone interested in the activity need to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of the park.
It became a national park in 1994.