The Dreamtime, also known as the Dreaming, is the ancient time of the creation of all things by sacred ancestors, whose spirits continue into the present, as conceived in the mythology of the Australian Aborigines.

The Aborigines owe their existence to the Spirit Ancestors of the Dreamtime. Spiritual or ritual practice is the main integrating force of Aboriginal culture and is relevant to all aspects of living since it is believed to be necessary for both physical and spiritual survival. The Aborigines have lived in Australia for some 60,000 years.

There were over 500 different clan groups or `nations` around the continent, many with distinctive cultures, beliefs and languages. Australia is the planet`s sixth largest country after Russia, Canada, China, the USA, and Brazil. At 7.7 million square kilometres, it accounts for five percent of the world`s land area of 149.4 million square kilometres. It is a continent and is also the world`s largest island.

There were some 250 Aboriginal languages spread over this vast continent, but similar stories existed in each language albeit with different names. Dreamtime is a word first used by a European anthropologist in the early 1900’s to define what he perceived, as a religion. He used this word to describe the all-encompassing mystical period of Aboriginal beginning.

However, the Aboriginal people do not worship any single Deity or other Gods. They built no monoliths, memorials or idols, nor did they have an organized religion. They lived by the lores of the Creator and Ancestral Spirits of the diverse.

A book, Gadi Mirrabooka, explains this and provides thirty-three Dreamtime stories, or stories from the Dreaming as well as chapters on mythology, culture and legends. This is a classic book in schools and libraries around Australia. This Australian book is part of a World series of folklore published by Libraries Unlimited division of Heinemann.

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  © Francis Firebrace