Valuing One’s Unique Identity
Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week one and the creative force has produced the Superb Blue Wren to provide some lessons!
“The Arrernte word Awelye, from Central Australia, describes the interrelationship of everything; plant, animal, earth and language. Aboriginal knowledge about plants, animals, non-living things, spirit, economy, aesthetics, kin, responsibility and journeying bind types of information with one another.
In other words, everything informs us about everything else and nothing can be considered in isolation. By contrast, non-indigenous knowledge structures involve hierarchical and increasing separation of information into ever smaller parts for detailed examination. Aboriginal knowledge stems from the practical experience of natural resources. Like all people that live with and close to the land, they have developed an understanding of the interrelationships between ecological functions and broader patterns in climate and geophysical features. Understanding and learning the signals of change is indicative of the depth of knowledge that Aboriginal people have achieved.
Totems are a significant symbol of Aboriginal people’s inextricable link to the land. Aboriginal people gave recognition to the power of the plant and animal spirits by wearing skins and masks of ceremonial paint, and by mimicking, singing praise and dedicating prayers to specific plants and animals.
They painted and engraved them in caves, rock overhangs and on rock platforms, on bark and burial trees and asked Mirrirul4 to guide them to plant and animal foods and to bless the spirit of the plant or animal that was killed. These acts allowed people to remain linked to the plant and animal guides and to accept the power they offer in lessons, in life, and in death. It reminded people that all animals are our sisters, brothers, and cousins and most importantly our teachers and our friends.” Source: Murni Dhungang Jirrar Living in the Illawarra
The Ngarrindjeri people of the Murray River and Coorong regions called the Blue Fairy-Wren, waatji pulyeri, meaning “little one of the waatji (lignum) bush”, and the Gunai called it deeydgun, meaning “little bird with long tail”. Both it and the variegated fairywren were known as muruduwin to the local Eora and Darug inhabitants of the Sydney basin.
This Aboriginal Dreaming story about waatji pulyeri (blue fairy-wren) reminds us that while we are all interconnected we each have unique characteristics. It also cautions the creative of the dangers of engaging in competitions to prove one’s worth! We are reminded that individuality is a very important part of our identity. Blue Wren’s story tells the creative that they do not need to engage in a competition. They only have to be their unique self!