THE LAND OF SPIRITS
Going back in time to when the Australian Aborigines first settled down in the country, we studied what land meant to them and why honoring the Spirits defined the nation
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Julie Guillouzo
02 January 2019
Land was an important part and a vital characteristic of the identity of the Australian Aborigines. It was a symbol, which unified them and strengthened their notion of identity. According to the first people to ever inhabit the Australian continent, land had a life of its own. Landscapes, sea lines, coasts and even the earth have been perceived as holy.
The Australian Aborigines used to divide their land to different areas. They called those areas 'countries' and each one was a territory to a different group. Each tribe had a totem, usually in the shape of an animal, which was believed to guide the tribes and identify them. It gave them strength, as the Aborigines believed in their sacred powers and spiritual significance.
Spirits were believed to guide the tribes and show them the way whenever they were struggling or felt lost. Those spirits were believed to protect the people from all harm and were seen as forms of a higher power. In the Australian mythology, the spirits are sometimes discussed in relation to the land. The land, on its own, was a way to connect to the Spirits of the Aborigines' ancestors and an expression of what they truly believed in as a nation. The connection between land and people gave the Australian Aborigines purpose. Protecting and honouring the land doesn't come as a surprise.
Some parts of the Australian territory are considered to be sacred places. They can take many shapes - from landscapes, to hills, soil, rocks, plants and the ocean. Those sacred objects do not take a specific shape, but instead server as another aspect, which made land so important. The sacred places held the same importance as the totems. They were representing lifelong traditions, combining a kaleidoscope of believe systems in one whole. The holy objects were of an incredible importance as they were a marker of the lifetime of the Spirits. As such they were helping the tribes with timeless wisdom and guidance.
Today some of the territory of the sixth largest continent in the world is still considered holy. The tribes began laying down the fundamentals of their history, which can be sensed even to this day at specific places around the country. Australia was the kingdom of Spirits where traditions have not been forgotten and the Aborigines' culture is an element that represents the country in every step of its transformation and development.
To read more about different nations' connection to the land, order NOMADSofORIGIN's Land Issue today.