RELIGIONS OF AUSTRALIA, Beliefs of Australian Aborigines - History of Religion


Beliefs of Australian Aborigines

The religions of the Australian continent have long been in the sphere of attention of European science and despite the difficulties in collecting the material have been thoroughly studied. In the last century, such outstanding researchers of primitive religions, as EB Tylor and JG Frazer, paid serious attention to the beliefs of Australian Aborigines in their writings. Australians occupy a worthy place in a number of general studies on the nature of early beliefs. You can name the works of W. Schmidt, E. Lang, R. Petazconi, F. Grebner. At the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. there are a number of significant works devoted specifically to Australia: in this area worked AV Howit, B. Spencer and FJ Gillen, A. van Gennep. Of great importance were the works of TG Shtrelov. There is also a lot of research devoted to individual Australian tribes or beliefs of the population of a particular Australian region or even to individual gods of the Australian pantheons.

The indigenous population of Australia are numerous tribes, preserving archaic forms of belief. These tribes speak different languages ​​and form independent ethnic groups, which means deep differences between them in cultural and religious relations; in general, the picture of the religious life of the Australian tribes seems to be quite diverse. At the same time, there is a substantial unity in the system of their outlook and ritual practice, which allows researchers to talk about the "Pan-Australian religious model".

Archaic religions of Australia have a very developed system of myths underlying the entire religious life of tribes. The core of the Australian myths are, as a rule, narratives that inform about some old, or original, time in which the heroes of sacred history lived and acted, the most significant, sacred developments. Most often, this time is associated with the beginning of the existence of the world and people, as well as plants, animals and everything that makes up human living conditions. The very concept of primacy has an important function in the beliefs of Australians. The initial, or initial, mythological time is the source of all the institutions of life, the birth of models of existence and its logic. In the initial time, the order of things is established, the sacred principle is formed, which lies at the base of all or any significant in the world of aborigines. All that really exists, - a mountain, a reservoir, a social institution, a custom - is recognized as real, valuable and meaningful, because it appeared in beginning and "came" from there & quot ;. Primality informs also the supreme authority to laws and ritual regulations. This or that situation is sanctified by the supreme authority, if it is said about it, that "so ordered Bayam"; or that "it was in the time of Althair". At the same time, researchers talk about "two types of primacy" in the Australian myth - it can be associated with either the Heavenly Father Age, or The Age of Dreams (Altjira), in which the totemic ancestors acted.

Belief in the supreme deity, to which may be referred the name of Heavenly Father, is prevalent mainly in the southeastern part of the continent. The names of this deity are different for different tribes: in the narrinieri tribe, his name is Nurrunder, in the tribes Voty-Buluk and Cousin - Bundil, Camilaroi call him Bayam, and the yuin - Daramulun. always associated with the name of this god is the epithet our father or "father of all of us", and sometimes these words become his immediate name, as Mungan-ngaua in kurnai. This supreme god once created the first ancestor of the tribe, he arranged the earth to make it suitable for life, gave people laws that are passed from father to son, founded rituals, taught hunts, etc., in other words, this The mythological character most often combines the features of the demiurge and the cultural hero. After completing his affairs, he leaves the land, which means the completion of the sacred mythological time. After that, he becomes an inhabitant of the sky (sometimes in the form of a constellation), from where he observes people and can punish them for failing to comply with the laws established by him. After the death of people, he meets their souls in the sky.

In other parts of Australia, especially in the numerous tribes of the aranda group (predominantly in the central areas of the continent), as well as the inhabitants of the Arnhemland peninsula, myths about Great ancestors (totem ancestors ), who acted in the Age of Dreams (in the language of the Aranda tribe, it is called alchere or It is noted that in some tribes stories about the era of the Great Father exist in parallel with the stories about the Age of Dreams, but the significance after days in such cases is always immeasurably higher. Heavenly Father seems to be a kind of deity, who completed his deeds, although continuing to exist; his influence on the daily life of the tribe is not very high, and there is less and less real worship. Totem same ancestors, on the contrary, and after the end of the Age of Dreams continue to be present in today's reality. They as though again and again actualize the existence in a human life, they are its source and the sample, and it is on these mythological cycles that the ritual life of the tribe is mainly oriented.

Totemic ancestors also perform the functions of the demiurge and cultural heroes. A characteristic of the Australian myth is the notion that the act of creation was not a creation "out of nothing", but only a transformation, a design of the previously existing medium or material. Even the totemic ancestors themselves possessed some age-old, primordial existence (most often underground), from which they awaken to an active life with the beginning of the Age of Dreams and into which they once again sink at its end. Thus, according to the ideas of the Aranda tribes, at the beginning of the Age of Dreams, the totem ancestors (as it is said in the myth, "born out of their own eternity") awakened from the dream in which they were under the earth and came to its surface. The earth was absolutely flat and was in total darkness. With the awakening of the totem ancestors, the sun rose for the first time. Most of them had zoomorphic as well as anthropomorphic features, or they could have turned from person to animal and back. They went to wander the earth (most of the myths of this cycle are a rather monotonous narrative about the movements of these creatures from one place to another), making various transformations: giving a concrete look to the landscape, populating the earth with plants and animals. On the creation of the same person, we can say that they not so much created, how many completed it, giving the person its present appearance. It is believed that before the emergence of totemic ancestors on earth, there was something like a human "germinal mass", or a kind of "larvae" of people. They were unformed babies, unable to move and not developing at all (that is, they could not grow old and die either). They cut the embryonic human mass into separate children, then separated them with the help of a web of fingers and hands and opened their ears, eyes and mouths. " Then they taught the man to make tools and hunts, to obtain fire, to cook food. When their wanderings came to an end, their strength was exhausted, and they again plunged into the original state of sleep. Their bodies either retreated to the ground, or turned into stingrays or stones, or become so-called churings (churinga is a ritual object, correlated with this or that supernatural being and endowed, as it is considered, his strength).

It is characteristic that many Australian myths link the end of the Age of Dreams with certain events, as a result of which death came to the earth. As in many other mythologies, here there is a tacit assumption that death is not inherent in being originally introduced into the world of some of the events which in one way or another are not due (accident, mistake, misdeed) or caused by acts of hostile people characters acting contrary to the original design of the creation. Most Australian myths consider mortality to be the only thing of earthly existence, and existence in the sky (the sky seems to them full of fresh water and quartz crystals) should be tantamount to immortality. The inevitability of the death of living creatures on earth is due to the fact that the normal connection with the sky is interrupted, which was previously available only to totemic ancestors, but also to people. According to the beliefs of the western aranda, the totem ancestors had intercourse with the heavenly world, climbing there on a high mountain, but the Heavenly Hero made so that this mountain went to the ground. The southern aranda tells of two giant casuarian trees, one of which could serve as a "ladder to heaven" and for people, but some hostile forces cut down this tree, and the bridge to the sky for people is destroyed forever. Aranda also tell the myth of the brothers Ntikantya, to climb to heaven on the spear stuck in the ground, and then pull out this spear and lifted up, speaking a spell that condemns people on earth to be mortal (according to the version of a similar myth, people could not climb a spear to heaven, because it was smeared with blood and became very slippery from this). It is characteristic that this interruption of the connection between the earth and the sky signifies the impossibility of reaching heaven as well for totemic ancestors who, while remaining on earth, are considered to be in some sense immortal, but in a certain sense: myth can tell of the death of these heroes or even about their death at the hands of people, after which sometimes the resurrection follows, but more often than not in the original form, they continue to exist as chicken or as spirits who can observe the behavior of people, judge them and punish them for not observance of laws established by them; moreover, their spirit is embodied in children born in a tribe. The last belief is especially noteworthy: Australians believe in reincarnation, understanding it in such a way that every child born into the world bears a particle of the soul of the totem ancestor, i.e. to some extent, he is this pervopredok, although he himself and the ns suspect this, until they open it in initiations. In other words, each member of the tribe feels not just a kinship, but his identity with the primordial supernatural being, and this identity is revealed to him more and more deeply and fully as he becomes acquainted with the myths and rites of the tribe.

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