Many Tracks, One Dream

This prayer service has as its focus the Aboriginal concept of creation, beginning with the story of Bunjil the Creator Spirit of south-eastern Australia. Traditional Aboriginal symbols are incorporated into ceremony. The use of the Christian Scriptures signal an alignment between both spiritual traditions.

This prayer service begins with an acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land we on which we gather.

Preparation

  • Identify and find out about the traditional owners of the land on which your school is located.
  • Gather a collection of symbols that would have been important to the traditional owners. If you are on Wurundjeri land, for example, you may gather some rocks, wattle, gum leaves, soil, sand, water, bark, wood, or reeds. (These symbols will be later returned to the land.)
  • Ask students to reflect on and find out about the symbol and what it means to Indigenous people in connection to the land.
  • Reflect on the importance of land to Indigenous peoples' spirituality.

Setting

To create the setting for this liturgy, it would be preferable to have the participants sitting in a circle. In the centre of the circle, place a red cloth, or the Aboriginal colours, and either a single candle or cluster of candles to represent a traditional gathering around the campfire. Such a setting also symbolises the fact that we are one as we gather together.

Process

1. Acknowledgment of the Kulin Peoples

When Europeans first settled the Port Phillip region it was already occupied by people of five Aboriginal language groups. These groups spoke a related language and were part of the KULIN (Koolin) nation of peoples. They are the:

  • Woiwurrung (Woy-wur-rung) - Wurundjeri people
  • Boon Wurrung (Bun-er-rong) - Boon Wurrung people
  • Wathaurong (Wath-er-rong) - Wathaurong people
  • Taungerong (Tung-ger-rong) - Taungerong people
  • Dja Dja Wrung (Jar - Jar wrung) - Dja Dja Wrung people

Today we respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of this land we are on, the land of the ............ people/s.

Creator Spirit, challenge us to open our eyes to see the world from another's view. Though change has occurred, the story and spirit of the ............ people will always be written in this land.

We all have a story to tell and this is the story of the Indigenous peoples of this land; past, present and with dreams of a future.

2. Reading - The Story of Bunjil, the Creator Spirit of the Kulin Peoples

It was Bunjil the Great Creator Spirit who made the mountains, the rivers, the rocks and the stones and created all living creatures and taught them how to behave. Bunjil, through the Dreaming stories, taught all of creation to live in harmony.

The Dreaming story tells us how Bunjil had two wives. He also had a son named Binbeal the rainbow spirit, whose wife was the fainter image beside him in the sky. After Bunjil had completed his work on the land, he gathered his family together and called on Bellin-bellin the musk crow, who was in control of the four winds and kept them in bags to be released at Bunjil's command. "Bellin-bellin!" he said, "release the winds to take my family and I in lofty flight to the ends of the earth so that I might rest and watch over all that I have created."

Bunjil, the Great Creator Spirit soared up into the sky and was pleased with all he saw. At night when we look skywards, we see the eyes of our Great Spirit Ancestors as stars in the sky at night. Look up into the night sky and see the eyes of our Spirit Ancestors and know that we are never alone.

Clap sticks (which were the musical instruments used by the Wurundjeri People) could be used to introduce the story and again at the end of the story.

3. Response in Song

After the telling of the story sing a song together.

Suggested Songs

  • We are on Holy Ground, Marty Haugen (AGAPE),GIA Publications Inc., 1993. There are a number of songs related to this theme which you may like to use.
  • Land of the Southern Cross or Spirit Land by Michael Mangan on the Sing Jubilee CD, 1998, Litmus Productions.
  • We Come To Share Our Story, David Hass, 1989.

During the singing encourage the students to use the clap sticks.

Either just before or after responding in song, mention the image of Bunjil which is in the forecourt of St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne. For more information, click here St Patrick's Cathedral Representation of the Bunjil Story

4. Reflection: Tracks on Sacred Ground

We remember the Indigenous way of being where all is connected - land, spirit, people. To understand this we must understand the Indigenous peoples' relationship with the Creator Spirit, with the land and indeed with all of creation. Everything is sacred - the animals, plants, hills, mountains, trees, leaves, rocks, stones, river, lakes, oceans, everything. All have as much right to exist as we humans do. If we dishonour their right, we dishonour our own right to be.

Spirituality is where you make you tracks in the land... it is the place where your story is told. It is a place that speaks to you, a place where you are the centre of the universe where you can go deep into sacred wells of knowledge that is deep within us, and come up with new vision. It is a place that tells you 'you are mine and I am yours.' A place we feel ourselves called by the land to enter the land, where there is a spiritual wilderness that awaits our tentative steps to go further into the vastness of God. It is a place where the Creator Spirit tenderly stirs our inner tranquillity, without taking away our peace.

5. A Reading from Scripture - Joshua 1:6 & 9

Verse 6 - Be strong and courageous; for you shall put this people in possession of the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Verse 9 - I thereby command you: be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord our God is with you wherever you go.

6. Acknowledging Symbols

The symbols of the Kulin People are placed on the cloth at the centre of the circle. Students are encouraged to say something about their symbol and the land from which it came. This may be simply a word or a phrase.

7. Conclusion

Conclude with a song, such as Our Home, Our Land by Lou Bennett from the Our Home, Our Land: Something to Sing About compilation CD by various artists, ATSIC - CAAMA, 1995. Other appropriate music may be used.

St Patrick's Cathedral Representation of the Bunjil Story

The Catholic Church of Melbourne honours the traditional owners of the land by presenting a portrayal of Bunjil the Eaglehawk, the totem of the traditional peoples on which the Cathedral is built.

Totems have great significance to Indigenous spirituality. They link humans and all things in nature to the Dreaming Stories.

  • Snake - Myndii, the great snake that punished unlawful behaviour acted under the power of Bunjil. The snake also represents the rainbow serpent which represents the creator spirit for other Indigenous Australian groups.
  • Dove - the dove represents the breath of the Holy Spirit.
  • Trefoil - this gothic symbol represents the trinity. The snake forms the trefoil.
  • Bluestone Lines - the lines are based on the five language groups within the Kulin Nation: the Woiwurrung, the Boonerwrung, the Wathaurong, Dja Dja Wrung and the Taungerong.
  • Water - the source of all life. A common understanding that water is the symbol of purification in both Indigenous spirituality and Christianity.

The artwork was designed and produced in collaboration with Aboriginal artists Glen Romanis and Megan Evans.