Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Songs from the place between sleep and awake

You can tell how actively a culture is engaged in dreaming by the words they use for "dream" and the varieties of dreaming. The Yanyuwa of Australia's Northern Territory have several words for dreams and dreaming, making important distinctions between different types of experience. Almirr is the term for a personal dream. Almirrngantharra is “seeing into the dream”, a dream of consequence that may reveal the future; it will be shared with close relations and tracked through unfolding events
 is “seeing into the spirit realm” in an altered state in which you are “deaf” on the physical plane.It is a higher state of consciousness and it is entered in the space between wakefulness and sleep. 
This liminal state is viewed in many Aboriginal traditions as a privileged place of encounter with ancestral spirit. The Yanyuwa prize "dream state songs". These are given to them during encounters with the spirits in this state of consciousness beyond both ordinary dreams and prophetic dreams.
    A person who enters the higher dreaming finds that boundaries between humans and spirit realms are fluid. The Yanyuwa say that a person in this state has “left the world” and is “deaf” to it. Through contact with ancestral spirits in this state, new songs are created. They are regarded as exceptionally powerful. 
    A mermaid song may rise from the deep in this way, and become part of sacred ceremony. Through dream songs, the relationship between humans and the spirit world is maintained and refreshed.


Source: Elizabeth Mackinlay and J.J. Bradley, “Many songs, many voices, and many dialogues: A conversation about Yanyuwa performance practice in a remote Aboriginal community” (2003) in Rural Society, vol. 13, pp. 228– 243



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