Shamanic Voices – Australian aboriginal


pp. 53-54 – 2.3 (Alfred W. Howitt : The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. London : Macmillan, 1904. pp. 406-408) [Wiraj^uri]

[how narrator became a mulla-mullun (shaman) :]

p. 53

"My father ... When I was a small boy ... placed two large quartz crystals [wallun-s] against my breast, and ... I felt them going through me like warmth. ... He also gave me some things like quartz crystals in water ... and the water tasted sweet. After that I used to see things that my mother could not see. ... These were the Jir (ghosts) which I began to see." "When I was about ten years old ... my father ... showed me a piece of quartz crystal in his hand, and when I looked at it he went down into the ground and I saw him come up all covered with red dust. ... I saw him standing by a hole in the ground, leading to a grave. I went inside and saw a dead man, who rubbed me all over to make me clever, and who gave me some Wallung. When we came out, my father pointed to a Gunr (tiger-snake) ... . There was a string tied to the tail of the snake, and extending to us. It was one

p. 54

of those strings which the Doctors bring out of themselves, rolled up together. He took a hold of it ... . The tiger-snake went through several tree-trunks, and let us through. Then we came to a great Currajong tree, and went through it, and after that to a tree with a great swelling round its roots. ... Here the Gunr went down into the ground, and we followed him, and came up inside the tree, which was hollow. There I saw a lot of little Daramuluns, the sons of Baiame. After we came out again the snake took us into a great hole in the ground in which were a number of snakes, which rubbed themselves against me ... . ... My father ... got astride of a Mauir (thread) and put me on another, and we held by each other’s arms. At the end of the thread was Wombu, the bird of Baiame. We went through the clouds, and on the other side was the sky. We went through the place where the Doctors go through, and it kept opening and shutting very quickly. My father said that, if it touched a Doctor when we was going through, it would hurt his spirit, and he would ... die. On the other side we saw Baiame sitting in his camp. he was a very great old man with a long beard. He sat with his legs under him and from his shoulders extended two great quartz crystals to the sky above him. There were also numbers of the boys of Baiame and of his people, who are birds and beasts."


pp. 124-125 – 4.8 (Alfred W. Howitt : The Native Tribes of South-East Australia. London : Macmillan, 1904. pp. 408-410) [Kurnai]

[how narrator became shaman through dreams :]

p. 124

"When I was a big boy ... I dreamed ... they tied a cord made of whale’s sinews round my neck and waist, and swung me by it and carried me through the air over the sea ..., and set me down ... at the front of a big rock ... . I noticed there was something like an opening in the rock. My father tied something over my eyes and led me inside. ... Then he uncovered my eyes, and I found that I was in a place as bright as day, and all the old men were round about. My father showed me a lot of

p. 125

shining bright things ... on the walls, and told me to take some. ... He also taught me how to throw them at people. After that, he and the older men carried me ..., and put me on the top of a big tree. ... now I was a Mulla-Mullung. Then I woke up ... . ... From that time I could pull things [ailments] out of people, and I could throw the Kiin [magical quartz] like light in the evening at people, saying to it Blappan (go!). ... I used to keep it in a bag made of the skin of a ring-tail opossum."


pp. 159-162 – 6.1 (W. Lloyd Warner : A Black Civilization. rev. ed. NY : Harper & Row, 1937. pp. 212-214) [Murnin]

[how narrator, a man of "unusually god disposition" (p. 159), became a shaman :]

p. 159

"He felt a pain in his right leg near the hip. He knew afterwards that the familiars with he later acquired had given it to him. ... The two familiars, who were a little boy and girl, started talking to him ... .

p. 160

The sound was like a small frog out in the lilies." {cf. frogs in S^emo^t 8:3-4}

"I kept listening to that noise they [the spirit familiars] were making. ... When it was night and dark those two spirits flew in the tops of the trees. They had the sound of a quail flying. {cf. quails S^emo^t 16:13} They sat on the top of my head and on my shoulders. ... I could only feel them ... . ... I saw them out in the bush then for the first time. Their bodies looked like jabirus. ... Their face and stomach looked like a man[’s] and their legs look the same way. ... I caught them and put them under my arms. ... Before they left they said to me, "... We are two na-ri [familiars]. ..." ...

p. 161

They said, "... You must not go in the salt water and get covered with it. ..." ... These two spirits come around at night, usually in the middle of the night. ... When I treat people those two go right inside a man. ... Sometimes I can look right through a man and see ... inside. ...

p. 162

Sometimes I am sitting with a man and I look at his head and I can say to him, "You think so and so." The man says, "How do you know that?" and I say, "I can see inside your mind.""


pp. 163-164 – 6.2 (W. Lloyd Warner : A Black Civilization. rev. ed. NY : Harper & Row, 1937. pp. 215-218) [Murnin]

[how narrator became a doctor :]

p. 163

At a water-hole, a "doctor soul caught my nose and made me sink down in the water. ... The doctors, they were two boys and a girl, ... opened my eyes and nose and mouth and made me well. Then they blew in my mouth. ... They looked like opossums. ... They said to me, "... Don’t you eat dog {cf. opossum eaten by hound, Sahagu`n lib. 6, pt. 7, cap. 28 (JP, p. 110)} any more, ... and don’t sleep near the fire." ... These familiars hit their arms against their sides and made a popping noise. ... Those two spirits sit down on my shoulders. Sometimes they sit on my head. I call them my children. Sometimes they used to come to me in the night. ...

p. 164

Those doctors of mine were sitting on my head and shoulders."

JP = Claude Le’vi-Strauss : The Jealous Potter. U of Chicago Pr, 1988.


Joan Halifax (ed.) : Shamanic Voices. E. P. Dutton, NY, 1979.