The Wollumbin Caldera has many significant Feathered Serpent Starlore, Marriage Lore, Creation Lore, Increase and initiation ritual sites from the Dreamtime Sky Ancestors…..
“I want to share with you a sacred creation Lore from the Dreamtime” ….
“We call our lore Bootheram……. This Bootheram is about one of our most important ancestral djurebil……. an increase site, located near Coowarragum, the Pinnacle, where all the old tribal clans of the northern Yoocum Yoocum moiety would gather for trade, ceremony, initiation, corrobboree, marriages, and star ceremonies” ….
“Bul” is our generic word for Tree….all of the clans of the northern Yoocum-Yoocum have their own totemic tree with ‘ bul’ as the suffix of each Clan….. Githa-bul, Ngarak-bul, Ginda-bul, Whaili-bul, etc… to identify Skinlore Kinship connections and obligations” ……
“All Bird Tribe Bootheram lore is ‘written’ across the vault of the Milkyway, Wayal Balun, and can be read like a book by the initiated… On the terrestrial plain it is mirrored as a ‘complex’ of connected Djurebil, scattered throughout the landscape, aligned with star cycles…. ever since the Dreaming” ….
“Men and Women share the same sky when teaching Lore, and so the same creation spirits, or Sky Ancestors, appear again and again throughout the Bootheram’s….but all appear in the sky together…making all Bootheram lore accessible to everyone, and totally uncorruptible…...as no-one can change the stars”….
“ In Mebbin, or Eagle Forest, down below Coowarragum, the Pinnacle, near one of the ‘gates’ of the Wollumbin Caldera Terra-Henge is a place is a we call Yerehng’[y-irrhrr-ing]…. one of the most significant ritual sites associated with the Rainbow Serpent, Warrazum, of the Women’s Water Lore ….and it was ‘sung’ by my Great Aunty Julia Charles of the Ngarakbul and Githabul Clans”……
This djurebil is sacred to our people for increasing one of our most important food sources…. This lore story is called a “Boodharam gawari”, which means story ‘run’, or Songline, with all of the associated djurebil, sacred sites, connected across the landscape and in the heavens”…..
“Flowing through the women’s water lore sites of Hanging Rock Falls, Lillian Rock, Blue Knob and down through the Nimbin Gap…following the trail of an ancient glacier which carved the ‘gate’ of the Tweed River…..then submerging and remerging at the furthest headwaters of the Tweed River, in Back Creek, under the Pinnacle…….all reflecting the Milkyway ‘river’ Wayal Balun in the sky”…..
“All of our creation Bootheram is told in metaphor…so what seems like a simple little story is loaded with metaphors of profound earth events…geological upheaval, hydrological creation, evolutionary explosion, or extinction, atmospheric, galactic and glacial events”…..
“I would like to share my Great Aunt Julia Charles’ Bootheram with you…..She was born in 1890 at the Aboriginal Station in Woodenbong… the eldest child of Doc Williams of the Githabul and Lizzie McBride [Whailibul Clan ] who had married in traditional Skinlore custom ………………..Julia married Billy Charles, who was born at Baryulgil in 1883….Julia Charles is the kinship sister of Euston Williams, my Great Grandfather, and in skinlore kinship she is actually not my great Aunt but my Great Grandmother , tribal way”….
“This is a Bootheram my Grandfather Stan Williams was also taught as a child….when the boys are jahdham’s they too learn the basics of the Women’s Lore …this same lore has been passed down in my family since the beginning of the Dreamtime”….
“It is a very old Bootheram….. about one of the sacred Lore Tree’s of Nguthungulli, God…The Eucalyptus Gum… This Bootheram’s name is “Yirrimbahm Boodjeram Gawari” , which translates as the Cicada Dreaming….. it goes like this”
“There was once an old woman named Dirrangun…..She is was ‘mindalnahgan’, an old clever-woman, a Wiyangan, a witch from the Dreamtime”……
“ Dirrangun lived with the Bird Tribes – deep in the great primordial forest amongst the ancient Eucalyptus… Gum Tree’s”….
“When the tribe went out hunting and gathering food they would leave the jahdham’s, the young children, with the old ‘Wiyangan’, until they returned”…
“One day, when the adults left the camp the children began to misbehave ‘garbalahy’….and then they began to bahmgudha, poke fun at and ridicule the old woman…this made Dirrangun very cross”…….
“So while the adults were away, Dirrangun began to dig….. a big deep hole, ‘guluy’, inside the camp”……
“Every day the tribe would leave Dirrangan in charge of the children…and every day the children became more and more disrespectful…those children didn’t respect that Dirrangan was a powerful Wiyangan” ……
“Dirrangan didn’t chase the naughty children…… instead she would just dig that guluy, hole…….deeper and deeper…..secretly, singing her magic song, ‘jingan’ into that ‘guluy’ while the mothers and fathers of all the jahdham were out hunting”…..
“One day, at the end of summer, that guluy, hole, was ready…. The old ‘Wiyangan’ waited till all the mothers and fathers were gone…….then that old Dirrangan’ pushed the disobedient children down into the jagun,……Jagun means earth”…..
“‘Dirrangun jundah jahdham guluy jagun’, means the old witch pushed the children into a hole in the earth”…….
“When the Dirrangun had pushed all the children down in the hole, she got the bark ‘dangeh’ and grass ‘wudhung’, from her own bed, and she covered over the ‘guluy jagun’…..Locking the children into sunless darkness inside the cold earth…..then she sat on top of her bedding, and continued her magic song”…..
“When the tribe came home they saw no children playing around the camp”…..
“But ‘Dirrangun’ was there….and she was sitting on top of that hole…..hiding it from the tribe”…….
“The mothers and the fathers asked the old Wiyangan woman “ where are the children, why are they not here?”…..
“Ah”, said Dirrangun…., “I don’t know where they have gone…….. Maybe they have wandered somewhere out of the camp.” ……..
“Old Dirrangun was pretending to cry for them – ’nyungduhwena’ ..She told the tribe she had been looking for the jahdham’s, but couldn’t find them…then the tribe became angry at the old woman so they sent her away to the west”..
“The children could hear the adults and they started screaming to be saved, but the Wiyangan’s magic song, ‘jingan’, and the bark and grasses had sealed the hole tight, so no matter how loud the children screamed the tribe could not hear them”……
“The youngest children, the jahdham’s, began to weep……they were cold and hungry…..they began to freeze”….
“The oldest children started digging a passage….they were trying to get out….but the darkness of the earth and Wiyangan’s powerful song caused their legs and bodies to shrivel, their fore arms to grow into long digging claws and their heads to sink into their shoulders”….
“Old Dirrangan’s jingan’ had bewitched the children …… they had become ’duragal’- bug nymphs that ‘birihyn’ burrow in the ground ”…
“Transformed, the children dug and dug…making more and more passages…they were desperate to come out into the warmth of the sunlight”…
“For seven years they burrowed ….lost in the Jagun, ….the earth….with only milk from the roots of the Gum Trees for their food”…..“Many of the little children did not survive and died in the Jagun”…….
But when seven years had passed, the children came up and out of the earth…into the warmth of the sunlight, they had turned into yirrimbahm, Cicadas….and they began to scream loudly for their parents”…….
“When the Wuyans, the clever-men of the tribe, found out what had happened they decided they would punish the old Wiyangan, Dirrangun”……
“The Wuyan [Whi-ann] found that old Dirrangun sitting by her fire, trying to keep her cold old bones warm”……
“It was you who killed those Jarhjam’s the Wuyan cried….”You hid them for seven years from their family…you must die for your crime”…..
“No said Dirrangun…..those children broke lore , they were disrespectful to me ….I am ‘mindalnahgan’, a Wiyangan…you cannot kill me”…..
“She is right, agreed the Wuyan, but you must pay a penalty for the parents suffering…….so they talked to the djurevil, where the yirrimbahm, Cicadas, had emerged from the earth,……. “Now, punish this old woman as she punished you. Chase her away” said the Wuyan and they began to sing and corroboree, dragging that old woman to her feet to spin her quickly around the fire until the yirrimbahm djurevil spirit grabbed Dirrangan, and spun her around and around, then cast that old Wiyangan up into the sky where she became a wandering star”…….
“The djurevil, the spirit-place of the cicadas is at Back Creek, under the Tweed Range …we call that place ‘Yerehng’[y-irrhrr-ing] – it mean’s scream…there is a great hole there…. with ’waguy’, vines, growing in it…Nguthungulli, God, made that great hole in the Alcheringa, in the beginning of the Dreamtime” …….
“When the old people want a lot of cicadas to eat, they go to this djurebil and pull the vines to wake up that old ‘Dirrangan’,and they call out, “Bunjarrbar yirrimbahmo” – this means cover this place all over with cicadas….Bunjarrbar means “in abundance”…..
That Old Dirrangan’s star is still spinning quickly across the sky, trying to stay warm near the sun as she is watching all the jahdham’s …… sometimes we see in the morning and sometimes in the evening…..throughout the year ….And every seven years she stops at her sky Djurebil to signal the moiety that the yirrimbahm clutches will soon be emerging”….
“ October to January is when the Cicada’s clutches come out, screaming loudly for their parents, suckling guruhmbil, milk, from the Eucalyptus, emerging in great abundance, reminding us of our sacred lore’s and obligations to one another….. and that wandering star?……It is the planet Mercury…… she’s that old ‘Wiyangan ……her presence reminds children everywhere to never be disrespectful of Elder’s”…….
This illustrates how Boodharam gawari links people to country, and metaphorically relates complex scientific evolutionary processes…this wealth of living cultural knowledge survived invasion and was maintained through proper Skinlore Marriage given to us by our Sky Ancestors…because we followed the natural lore our ancestral ties remain unbroken right across Australia”
“That’s the creation Lore my Great Aunt Julie Charles taught the Ngarakbul and Githabul women and children about “Yirrimbahm Boodjeram Gawari”……..
-Allan Euston Williams-
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