Wikipedia suggests the English name of the concept is imprecise and provides no evidence of a relationship with dreaming:

The term is based on a rendition of the indigenous (Arandic) word alcheringa, used by the Aranda (Arunta, Arrernte) people of Central Australia, although it appears that it is based on a misunderstanding or mistranslation. William Stanner remarked: "why the blackfellow thinks of 'dreaming' as the nearest equivalent in English is a puzzle". It has been argued that the word's meaning is closer to "eternal, uncreated."

Dreamtime. (2017, August 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:40, August 31, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dreamtime&oldid=797624857

Do dreams play as significant a role in Dreamtime stories as the term suggests?

1 Answer 1


I think in it's entirety the term Dreaming or Dream-time has more to do with consciousness than dreams during sleep. However if you've ever travelled you'll know that spending time in a place will make that place enter your dreams. The original term has to do with awareness, wisdom passed through DNA and ways to express a strong connection with Nature from which all forms mysteriously arise.

I had a book once, a huge book written by an artist who lived with the aboriginal people for more than a year but it was a long time ago and destroyed in a flood, actually a hurricane when I lived on a house-boat. There were as many shocking facts in this book as humbling ones. Nevertheless, in a native culture as this one sometimes God is too great to be named or approached directly. There are many ways to worship and the spirit is shared by all.

The Dreaming is the passing of the living spirit for a tribe with no written language. It is a moment-to-moment practice and encompasses all aspects of life. This may seem strange to those familiar with organised religion who attend rituals or set time aside for contemplation. The Dreaming is ongoing all the time, before birth and after death.

Honestly it would take a thousand pages to even begin to do justice to the depth of the concepts involved. The Bible has an equivalent to the Dreamtime in that all beings were in harmony before the apple was tasted and God tossed them out of the garden. The Dreamtime is so no-one forgets the actual state of harmony which can be lost in the fog of survival and daily needs.

Here is a poem written by some Aboriginal children:

My culture is my identity.

Dreamtime stories tell the life of my people.

Growing older.

Hearing stories of my ancestors living off the land

Becoming one with the creatures

Even though I haven't met them

I feel this unbreakable connection

Through the stories I have heard.

The stories that have been passed down through generations.

These stories are living through us.

Without our culture we have no identity

And without our identity

We have nothing.

  • Do you have any sources to back this up?
    – Tom Sol
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 17:15
  • @Tom - I don't own any specific sources
    – Wookie
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 22:07
  • 1
    I don't know whether that is incredibly beautiful or incredibly ugly. I can't imagine what it would be like to have that attitude. My first thought was how awful it must be to think so little of oneself, to idolize the past and not search for the future. Personally I care about my current and future self, family, and descendants; I barely even think about my ancestors, dead people whose past actions, good or bad, can no longer affect me or anyone else."Without our identity we have nothing." is the basis of racism, tribalism, and various other evils. Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 12:13
  • Good point Ray. Clinging strongly to identities divides us and creates the ‘us and them’ problem - probably the greatest source of conflict on the planet so far. It’s difficult to know though what impact our ancestors have had on us and what mannerisms we and genetic commands our bodies have inherited from them. Those who live in cities for example have a clear picture all around them of what has been done in the past. Someone built roads and pavements, buildings and wired the lot together. The nomadic Aborigines don’t have those remnants so perhaps they connect more spiritually with founders
    – Wookie
    Commented Aug 18, 2020 at 14:59

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