Aboriginal Totems Essay

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Through their totems Aboriginal people were related to the land, the land wasn’t just soil, rock and mineral but the whole environment. The whole environment consisted of the earth, the water, the air and all the life they supported including women and men, all the elements, the sun, the moon, the stars and the sky; all related and linked by the Dreaming. Aboriginal people believed that they were part of the land and they were part of it and when they lost their land they lost themselves. Each clan descended from and was named from a Spirit Ancestor from the Dreaming. The Spirit Ancestor was symbolized by animal, bird or fish that was the clan totem. The totem was painted or carved on the sacred objects. These stones and boards with their secret and sacred designs represented the continuing life force of the Spirit Ancestors and the creative power of the Dreaming. The Elders kept them in secret places. It meant death and endangered land and people for the uninitiated to see them. They were used in the cycle of ritual performed around Dreaming places of the clan territory. These ceremonies maintained the life of the land and were the vital connection of Dreaming, land and people. Each individual also belonged to a personal totem, which is part of their name. The totem was identified by a Dreaming of the mother or father, or by interpreting a natural sign. The totem creature was a guardian spirit that warned of danger or communicated important news about relatives. Being part of the personal totem meant being spiritually related to other people with the same totem and was a personal and special link identifying the individual with a particular place and creature. The story Two Waratah Legends (The Black Snake Totem) is about a child of the black snake totem. While the child’s mother or the women who is in charge is asleep the child crawls away to a black snake.

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