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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The magnificent rock paintings of the Kimberly range in northwestern Australia are among the most ancient in the world, going back tens of thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of a fossilized wasp nest built over one painting places the nest itself at more than 17,000 years ago, so that the painting must be older -- possibly much older -- than that. Aboriginal people in this region call the paintings, or rather the Beings in them, Gwion Gwion, Giro Giro, and other names.

While making my Woman Shaman dvd, I did a lot of research on rock art around the world. These paintings grabbed my attention, not only because of their tremendous beauty, but because they show dance and ceremonial regalia. Aboriginal tradition says they represent ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. Because human ceremony celebrates these beings, and reenacts their primordial creative acts, we come around full circle to a likely reflection what extremely ancient rites might have looked like. But from North America it was next to impossible to find Aboriginal testimony about these paintings.

While I was in Australia last year, the very knowledgeable Chris Sitka shared a book with me that contained such testimony, from several senior Law Men. (We know that Aboriginal women have their own Women’s Business in Western Australia, but the book-makers were all men, in the manner of old-school anthropologists who did not understand the implications of this; and so they had no access to the female-only traditions.) The book's title is Gwion Gwion: Dulwan Mamaa - Secret And Sacred Pathways Of The Ngarinyin Aboriginal People Of Australia (Köln: Konemann, 2000). The Law Men who testified are Ngarjno, Ungudman, Banggal, and Nyawarra of the Ngarinyin people (with background added by editor Jeff Doring).

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It is one thing to sing of the beloved. Another, alas,

to invoke that hidden, guilty river-god of the blood. 

-- Rilke

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  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    This is a wonderful post. I love your statement that NeoPagans are modern society's "shadow." I will proudly take that title! I al
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I agree with everything you said about the Horned God. It's still true that the Neopagan Horned God derives from the Wiccan Horne

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