One of the most striking things about legends from across the world is the similarities they wear. Always of an interest to me I have now come to search for these markers in legend and lore. From serpents to dragons and the snakes of Eden, all noted as the bearers of knowledge or evil, which can often be considered the same.
Other bearers of knowledge in our histories are extra terrestrials, or Gods by another name, which generally speak or make their thoughts known through other intermediaries. The intermediaries are the angels and demons, as with those who visited men and women in biblical studies and who were generally bearers of advice etc. and the prophets of the religious doctrine, regardless of the doctrine or sect they are inevitably there bearing knowledge.
We all assume that they are ‘better informed’ but have we considered, what if they aren’t?
Can you honestly recall when such a visit was truly a plus … The opportune visit that comes most readily to mind is the angel who visited a biblical Moses and restrained him from killing his son, a son that his God commanded him to kill. Hmmm … leads you to question the whole episode as it usually does with such events where the gods create the problem and then proceed to resolve it for us as though endowing us with miracles. They do like to fool with our lives.
Angels and Gods don’t generally bring good news so it’s no wonder history fears these visitations. My favourite ‘miraculous’ visitor though is the ‘Dove of Peace’ truly a welcome paranormal visitor and it seems in legend that birds are often the bearers of good news or messengers from the gods, news not rimmed with ill fate or condemnation.
In ancient Australian Lore there is the Kitji, a spirit that makes a visit through the intermediary of animals, more often birds and in particular crows. The Kitji is a mischievous spirit and one that inspires a person to fear or certain wariness. That the Kitji is even present means that the spirit world is paying attention and this is enough to inspire a certain degree of care and concern if not outright fear.
Introducing the world of spirits, shades or paranormal creatures drawn for the Ancient Australian Lore is something that is done in my novels from The Dreaming Series. The Kitji is part of the tale told in Sky Song, book 2 and it is Jenna who the Kitji follows. Jenna is a young woman of the rainforests, who has a mixed history and complex tribal connections. She is also a holder a ‘Skystone’, a fire opal gifted to her to help protect her from the Kitji and the gaze of other’s from the spirit world. Book 2 is in part the story of how the Skystone comes into her possession and the powers that such a talisman has.
The opal has always been part of Aboriginal Lore in that it is the most precious of stones and rare in other parts of the world. It is also the stone used by the Kadaitcha Men of Lore and in legend it is where the ancient Spirit creatures first touched the Earth, forming the stone at the very end of the rainbow. To possess an opal is to draw the attention of the ancient Kadaitcha Men to yourself under what is their ancient lore for it is a stone like no other.
In the tales of The Dreaming Series, Jenna is the storyteller. The storytellers amongst the tribes are those with a gift of history, heritage and knowledge for it is they who have a unique role in a world where the written word is unknown. That the written language was never developed in Australia amongst the tribal people is not indicative of ignorance because what they did develop was a complex system of symbolic and pictorial language attached to their storytelling. They also developed what is a little known and understood ‘language of the fingers’, a form of sign language that is something which is explored more deeply in the upcoming Spirit Children series.
Australian Aboriginal lore and legend, or storytelling was never meant to be stagnant but is what could be described as a living and evolving lore, one kept more relevant to its followers. It was the moral or the meaning of the story which remained the same and that which was the most important factor. Stories and story telling amongst the tribal aboriginal people of Australia was as relevant as the written text was to other nations. The ability to tell stories in an entertaining and memorable way was very important, as important as dance was in telling stories that had a need to be told.
Storytelling within dance is a practice that is also not well understood in the westernized world of today and it is a gift that has been lost largely, aside from within the theatre. Storytelling within dance is now commonly contained within the steps of ballet and other similar entertainments and sadly it is not commonly found elsewhere in our rather banal world and understood even less. In watching a tribal performer dance, you should look for the story within the dance for this is the meaning of the performance and this is often forgotten.
Possessions also were of little account to a practical people whose world was very much part of their ancient experience in a deeply spiritual realm, as well as a physical one, so they had little use for books. They found more value in cave paintings and etching which became part of the earth, the world or the rocks where spirits dwelt. The Australian tribal Aboriginals lived very close to their land, sharing a bond with their country and the other animals and spirits who were so much part of their existence and lore. Dance became a way of communicating with these ancient touchstones of story, history, morale and emotion. The world of the tribal Australian was made up of creatures from the spirit realm as well as the physical plane and that those from the world of spirits would often touch them through the medium of animals was not a strange concept. No stranger than that in which the ‘Spirit of God’ would touch the scribe as he writes a sermon or biblical text or does a kind deed.
The Kitji was a spirit such as this, a forbearer of omen and commonly a mischievous spirit bent on harassing and stirring up the object of its attention and this spirit commonly took on the form of the crow. I have had little experience of the ‘black birds’ behaviour in other lands, but in Aus. we consider them big black beasts of birds, which are truly mischievous and really quite smart. They can lift lids off large bins, steal food and are disliked by most other birds. They are also noisy bugga’s and their call is ear-splitting. It was the crow, or the blackbird that the Kitji most commonly would possess in interacting with people of our world.
Every Aussie kid who has ever played in a school playground is aware of crows and in holiday it is a time where the crow who are like children themselves leaves the playground too, which is their natural hunting ground in most cities and towns. The bird ranges out over the parks and public domains in search of food having been deprived of the school day lunches it is in our world well accustomed to.
To see these birds take to the wing en mass, on the high hot winds of summer just before one of our magnificent electrical storms hit is an eerie thing. They spiral in the hot lifting winds and call to their mates as the electricity in a summer storm builds in the air … just like kids do in a mob or pack that has been stirred up. It is enough to put your hair on end across your body and indeed it will put the whole school population of tetchy kids into an electric frenzy all of their own. It is no wonder that the crow holds a special place in lore and legend when it comes to a spirit presence.
We need to be more connected to the world around us, the same world we experience every day and it is these legends, these same stories which we often discount that have the ability to connect us to a world we have largely lost touch with. That we little understand the meanings behind many legends, stories and tales is a loss to our ability to engage our kids in history and their heritage. They are more than children’s stories, or fairy tales, they are a way to connect your world and they are our links to a world that came before us. It is perhaps the saddest thing in our society today that we are losing these links.
Happy reading everyone!
To read more travel tales, or explore the world of the Australian Aboriginal Shaman told in a fictional tale and to discover other works on traveling around Aus. visit my web at http://janhawkins.com.au and check out the discounts available for my readers and friends on ‘Where to find Jan’s Books’.
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