Dreamtime

The Australian outback under a red sky.
Illustration of how one plays the didgeridoo.
Two Yirrganydji Aboriginal Australians play music. One of them plays the didgeridoo.
Four indigenous Australians dancing.
A Yirrganydji Aboriginal Australian woman explains about indigenous Australian culture.
Silhouettes of people in twilight.

The Aboriginal Australians believed that their ancestors had created the continent of Australia during a period known as the Dreaming. The same creator ancestors, it was said, moreover, though long-deceased and no longer existing as physical beings, still remained as spirits inside the trees, the rocks and the rivers that they had created. In the mind of the Aboriginal Australians, therefore, the ancestors’ time had never stopped.

The idea of ancestor time, which is best described as an idea of a dimension of time that living and breathing people could visit, linked the past with the present, and was called Dreamtime. Within the concept of Dreamtime, if entered into, the Aboriginal Australians believed that living and breathing people could connect with and even take on characteristics of the creator ancestors, leading the Aboriginal Australians to habitually conjure up dreamtime.

The didgeridoo

The mystical Dreamtime was conjured up through music, dance and art. A typical instrument used for this purpose was the didgeridoo, a wind instrument made from hollow tree trunks. The didgeridoo is still played today during Aboriginal Australian ceremonial events, and just like in the old days, the sound produced by playing the instrument is a constant droning at various pitches.