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.
THE LAST EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH POLE
Eric Larsen and his colleague Ryan Waters travelled 500 miles across the melting Arctic Ocean to complete the last human navigated expedition to the North Pole ever. We take a look at the challenges they faced, the reason for the Arctic ice to be melting with record rates and the consequences of this phenomena to humankind
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Bao Menglong
12 December 2019
Reaching the North Pole has always been a difficult task. It is a challenge that not many are ready to face. In the past, there have been numerous expeditions to this Arctic destination, mainly for scientific purposes. All the experiences and facts travellers have gained regarding the North Pole are precious. The knowledge scientists have accumulated on expeditions could not have been recorded in any other way. Yet, recent expeditions to this far-away land have become harder. It is even possible that in the near future visiting the North Pole would simply be a memory of something that could only have been done in the past.
There is a simple explanation of why this is happening. The North Pole is known for its rough climate. Usually, a trip there could take up to 50 days. That part of Earth is a cold place with severe climate, covered in white snow and thick ice. Surviving in these conditions for so long is difficult enough, but it would still be manageable, if the land would welcome visitors. However, the ice is recorded to have slowly begun to wear out. Today going to the North Pole is much harder compared to 8-10 years ago. The temperatures in the North Polar region are increasing because of the global warming.
Adventurist Eric Larsen has visited the severe area in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. He documented how different his last trip was compared to the two he undertook earlier in the decade. Eric’s mission was the subject of his book On Thin Ice: An Epic Final Quest Into the Melting Arctic. The book tells the story of Eric and his colleague Ryan Waters, who travel 500 miles across the Arctic Ocean aiming to reach the North Pole from Northern Ellesmere Island.
"To think about something that's so big and so huge and that's identified exploration for centuries, one of the last great unexplored places ... what would you say if Mount Everest got bulldozed and was no longer there? […] It's a sad thing."
- ERIC LARSEN on the melting of the Arctic ice
Their journey is made even more challenging by the melting ice that didn’t allow them to move quickly. In some areas, the ice surface was so thin that they could even feel it break under their skis. Eric and Ryan found themselves forced to drag all of their equipment alongside, including sleds, in almost inhumane conditions. This astonishing two-men expedition is a historical one. Pastel images and GPS maps help the book readers follow the author’s journey through this icy kingdom where the temperatures would sometimes drop below 70°C.
Larsen and Walter’s visit to the Northern Pole is also called “Last North Expedition”. Their journey is likely going to be the last ever human-navigated expedition to this Arctic place in the history of all mankind. The North Pole is a piece of land that remains frozen for the better part of the year. The ice of the Arctic Ocean expands and shrinks with the seasons’ change. Today the ice is melting faster than ever, making the North Pole out of human reach. Mark Serese, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Bulder, Colorado, stated that this year the ice cover has reached record low levels and the number is only expected to decrease. NASA reported the same conclusion.
Reading “On Thin Ice” will give you an exclusive insight at what Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters experienced on their ambitious journey to the North Pole. From swimming in below zero degrees waters to escaping from polar bears, the two explorers were unstoppable in the face of challenge. Larsen and Walter were on a mission to visiting this magnificent Arctic destination one last time for the sake of all mankind.