The “Dreamtime”

In Australia, “The Dreamtime” or “The Dreaming” is the name that was given by early English-speaking anthropologists to refer to the creation stories of Aboriginal Australia, which date back perhaps as far as 50,000 years. Stories passed down through oral tradition tell of The Dreamtime, which was an ancient time of creation in which Spirit Ancestors in human and animal forms made long journeys across the land, creating rivers, plants, and rocks, and creating all of the conditions for living that Aboriginal Australians lived by thereafter. The Dreamtime continues now as a spiritual practice in which stories are re-enacted. The meaning of the English name given to this mythology and subsequent re-enactment is not entirely clear; while some have called it The Dreamtime, others have suggested a better translation of the original Aboriginal word would be something like “everywhen”, “eternal”, “uncreated” or “ancestral past”. Bear in mind that until European colonisers arrived, Aboriginal Australia would have had hundreds of different dialects, so trying to put the correct English term to this concept is difficult linguistic feat. Some have argued that the term “The Dreamtime” is, in fact, inadequate. You can read more about this topic here, here, and here.

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