Aboriginal Lore – The Gooyorn

www.artnet.com:artists:rosie+(ngalirrman)-karedada:wanjina-with-gooyorn-assistants-tlmQMh_OeJC4dfy_76asIg2The Gooyorn is often depicted as a bird, a creature of flight however the form of the Gooyorn is not what is important. What is important is that the Gooyorn are helpers. They are an assistant of the Wandjina and can take a form that best suits their needs.

The Lore of the Wandjina is the Lore in which the Gooyorn exist. It is a Lore as ancient as the land itself and quite possibly the oldest continually existing Lore or Religious following on Earth. It is the beginning in the story of the Dreamtime and as is told, the Wandjina is a creator and giver of fire or light and believed to be the most ancient Creator Spirit of the Dreamtime. The Wandjina are said to have come from the sky and therefore are often identified as the Sky people, however there are those legends which say they emerged from the sea but could this have been the means by which the Creator Spirit arrived into the country of the storyteller in the time of the Dreamtime.

What the stories of the Wandjina tell us though, is that the Wandjina bought knowledge to the people of the Land, they gifted fire and wisdom and their assistants the Gooyorn helped the Wandjina in their endeavours. Perhaps the most valuable lesson the Wandjina teaches is not to preach, lessons are more valuable and better remembered if they are taught or learnt in other ways. So it is that the Wandjina is never depicted as having a mouth. If the Wandjina has no mouth, then others cannot interpret what has been said nor twist words to their own ends. In this way people are more responsible for what they say or the interpretation they place on the ways of the Wandjina. Deeds speak louder than words, as words often are used to deceive others.

Sky Song Front Cover copyIn the novel Sky Song the Gooyorn are sent to help Sean and Jenna overcome the darkness they find themselves in as the different factions within the Lore of their world struggle to claim their own. Like life, the Lore is a struggle between the balance of our world… the eternal struggle and balance of justice in our world and the havoc that is wrought. It is a struggle that continues between men and women, often to the amusement of the Spirit.

The tale in the second book of the Dreaming Series concerns itself with this struggle, it is a tale of love and mastery over the influence the world of the Spirits has in our own lives. It is a story of discovery, a discovery we all share in finding our place in life.

Following is a legend as old as the Dreamtime and like all Aboriginal legends in Lore it tells of a voyage of discovery, a journey in which the storyteller weaves a world for those settled around the campfire where life becomes a struggle. The recount is drawn from the novel Sky Song, as Jenna sits around the campfire listening to the Banman Billy Black as he tells the story to the childlren of the camp.

The Legend of the Rainbow Serpent and the Wandjina – An excerpt from Sky Song, as told by Jenna a young dancer and storyteller of the Bama who has discovered she is a child of the Wandjina people.

It was as the children began to settle against each other and their parents that Billy Black began his tale. He had a low melodic voice, one that wove its own spell about our thoughts and it was clear to see that the kids often hung off the words he wove into his ancient story. I was as enchanted as they were so I settled to listen carefully.

“It was long ago, at the time of the Dreamtime…” began Billy, easily drawing the attention of all. “When the Wandjina, the Great Creator Spirit had retired to his mountain, he was so old and he had seen so much and he knew that often telling the children of the Dreamtime less, was more than enough. He knew that they didn’t need to know all the secrets in the world which Baiame had created for them.”

“The creatures of the Dreamtime still roamed the land and they all knew that one day they would gather together again. One day their time on the land would be done and they wanted this. The time for the Spirit Children to be left to their land and to become part of this land was approaching, but it was not yet.”

“The fiery Rainbow Serpent still wandered across the country, he was a good friend of the Wandjina but when the Rainbow Serpent climbed up the mountain of the Wandjina he boasted to his followers that he could bring about the great gathering of the Spirit creatures. He said that he could be the Wandjina and that he could bring the people together and he angered the Wandjina with his claim as it was not the time for the gathering.”

“The Wandjina knew that the Rainbow Serpent was wanting to be like the great Baiame, the Father and do what the Wandjina had always planned to do for Baiame when the time was right, but that time was not now.”

“The Wandjina also knew that the Rainbow Serpent could gather the people, he had many friends and many followers in different tribes and it worried him that the Serpent had this false reasoning that he was all powerful.”

Rainbow Serpent“The Wandjina thought about it for a long, long time and Dreamed about it. He worried the false reasoning would destroy the people of the tribes, because they were not ready. It troubled him deeply but he would not talk about it and he had decided to remain quiet. He is often painted with no mouth and he decided to let his friends and followers talk for him. He knew that in not speaking that this too would slow the Serpent down for he would have to talk about his plans amongst his friends and followers and could not do what the Wandjina said.”

“He decided also to remove the wings from the fiery Rainbow Serpent and throw him down the mountain. Because this would also slow him down, he would have to climb all the way back up the mountain and would not be able to move as quickly across the skies.”

“The Wandjina didn’t want to hurt him, because he was good at bringing his friends and followers together for celebrations and ceremonies. So removing his wings and cooling his fire was the only way to slow him down from reaching the mountain top.”

“He decided that he would wait for his old friend to climb back up the mountain, as this would allow for much Dreaming to take place, both good and bad. There would be more for the Rainbow Serpent and his friends and followers to think about, to reason with and to learn from.”

“The Wandjina knew that given time he would not have to force his own Dreaming and reason upon the people and that they would learn much if they had time to think about it and learn from their Dreaming.”

“He was wise in this, but the Rainbow Serpent had to remain amongst the people of the Land when the other creatures of the Dreamtime gathered and left the world of Men. Our mob, the Mimi also followed the Spirit creatures towards the Dreamtime because we also were not of the land as were the followers of the Rainbow Serpent, we belonged to the Sky people. We belonged to the Wandjina.”

Dragon 1“Because the Serpent had no wings or no fire he needed to teach his followers how to make fire and he had the brothers of lightening show them these things. The Rainbow Serpent found his way through the sacred caverns and it was a way for him to return to the Dreamtime, the place of the Dreamtime creatures. This he also taught to the strongest of his followers and they guard these secrets carefully.” 

“These are the stories of the Shaman who are friends and followers of the Rainbow Serpent and we must remember these things. We are the followers of the Wandjina, we are the sky people and we should remember that the Rainbow Serpent and her followers are our friends and they protect our secrets also.”

“We do not know all that is in our world, but you should listen to the Dreaming for this is how you find your way towards the truth. We are different, but we are all the children of Baiame like all the creatures in our lands.” 

The quiet around the campfire seeped into our awareness as we all thought about the story Billy had woven for us. Its truths and its lessons stained our thoughts and as Billy cast his glance around the gathering I became once more aware of the soft song of the Songman who sang in the background, beyond our conscious awareness. We knew because of this that he was not finished with his tale and expectantly we waited.

“We here are the Mimi, we are the followers and children of the Wandjina. The followers and children of the Rainbow Serpent are our friends also, but they have not yet climbed our mountain, it is not the time for this yet. It may never be time. The people of this land are now losing their Dreaming, it is a sad thing if they become lost.”

As the Songman suddenly stopped also, I knew the tale had finished and the note of sadness that filled the audience was edged sharply with the knowledge that our Dreaming was the most important of things.

CampfireTo learn more about the story of the Shaman, visit my web page and discover where you can find the tales of an ancient land told in storytelling.

To discover more about the Ancient Lore of the Tribal Australians, you will find the past posting about the Lore at Australia an Ancient Land

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