Are you a possum or dingo?
Milton Black's dreamtime zodiac explores the amazing
insights into Aboriginal astrology
In this 21st century there are still hundreds of spoken Australian Aboriginal languages, as well as various legends, myths and folklore stories. Since coming to Australia somewhere between 35 and 40 thousand years ago, the Aborigines have handed down their tribal laws and customs to their clans, generation after generation through oral transmission. Those laws, customs, myths, paintings and stories have changed little over the years and Aboriginal elders and parents still delight in telling their young children the many traditional stories of the Dreamtime.
Australia 's indigenous people have always looked to the heavens intuitively for direction from the Sun, Moon and stars. When travelling on walkabout, they seem to have a metaphysical knowledge of the four points of the compass: North, East, South and West, by direction of the cosmic wind. The Aboriginal medicine men, in particular, have for centuries mastered the art of mental suggestion and intuitive insight.
The Southern Cross is known as one, if not the most outstanding constellation of the Southern sky. Because of its shape and stature, it is associated in some Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime stories concerning the foot or claw. The desert Aboriginal believes it is the footmark of the huge souring native Wedge-Tail eagle named Waluwara, while the pointer stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri, are naughty spirits throwing sticks at the eagle, and the coal-sack in his nest.
The Vast Milky Way holds many intriguing Dreamtime stories and to the Australian Aboriginal, the heavens are invariably a spiritual river with many linking landmarks to assist our personal guidance through the sea of destiny and dreamtime.
There are many Aboriginal stories associated with the bright Southern constellation, Orion and the Pleiades (the seven sisters). In most stories the sisters were always running away from the unwelcomed and usually illicit advances of the pursuing horny male, often associated with Orion.
Scorpio, another prominent constellation, describes in Aboriginal Dreamtime as the story of the two lovers who broke tribal law and made mad passionate love before marriage and were condemned by the rest of the tribe.
In early natural Aboriginal life, especially in the arid and desert areas, Australian natives slept under the stars with little shelter and only their make-shift humpy's protecting them from inclement weather and the scorching sun. Over time some Aboriginal elders became extremely knowledgeable about the universe and were aware of nearly every major star cluster in the heavens. In most of these star galaxies elders found there was a Dreamtime story associated with each of them.
All over Australia, it is believed by many of the Australian Aboriginal community that the stars and planets were once men, women and animals in creation times, who flew up into the sky, due to some fire, event or mishap on earth, and took refuge up there in the heavens for peace in their present form.
Australian Aboriginals see the Sun as Woman and the Moon as Man, and when there is an eclipse of the Sun, it means the Sun Woman is uniting with the Moon Man. Many stories have been told about the Moon as he dies and is reborn every month. The haunting heavens are full of native spirits, which Aboriginal people believe is their permanent home.
Elders of Dreamtime believe that Gnowee, the Sun, was once a woman who lived upon earth many Moons ago when in those years there was no light, it was dark all the time and people had to find their way around the place with the aid of bark torches. One day Gnowee left her little boy asleep whilst she went looking for food and in her long and tireless search she wandered to the end of the earth, and continued her wanderings until she passed underneath it and came up the other side of the globe. When Gnowee
returned, she was absolutely lost and could not find her son
anywhere, as it was so dark. Aboriginal storytellers say she
then went up into the sky for a better view, carrying her bark torch to show the way. To this day it is said, Gnowee still wanders across the face of the earth and underneath it, looking for her son and this is why the Sun rises and sets every day.
Bahloo, the Moon, throughout the daylight hours is always trying to hide and elude the Dreamtime spirits and take refuge on earth. The spirits who live and camp on the horizon are in league with the Sun goddess Gnowee and are always turning him back to the heavens when he tries to return in the daytime.
It is only at night when the spirits and Gnowee are asleep, that Bahloo the Moon can creep past them all. Some Aboriginals believe one should never stare at the Moon, especially when Bahloo is full and bright, as he may come down out of the heavens and furiously set upon you.
The Dreamtime horoscope is written month by month from beginning to end, including leap years. Unlike Western astrology, it does not have a cut off date for the zodiac signs in the middle of each month. Its four main elements of continuous, rotational, seasonal change are Fire (Desert), Air (Mountains), Earth (Rainforest), and Water (Ocean). Every element has a Dreamtime story association. The zodiac consists of centuries-old Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, incorporated with modern constellation interpretation, as seen from Australian southern heavens and incorporating global axis. When reading your Dreamtime horoscope, remember if you were born either in the first or last week of any month, you are a "cusp person" and you should read either the month before or the month after as well as your original birth month, as you may find a little of the associated sign's personality in your own Dreamtime birth story as well.
Many thanks to my late Aboriginal Elder mate and Dreamtime story teacher
Ben Blakeny AO, and the staff members of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Acton House, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Appreciation also to the library staff of the Australian National Library
in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. Without their cooperation, this Dreamtime horoscope would have been a difficult task to complete.