Sunday, 15 May 2011

How the Waratah Became Red

Way back in the dreamtime when all the plants and animals, trees and humans were being formed there lived an Aboriginal Tribe in the shadow of a story mountain.

On the side of the mountain there were flowering plants and among them the waratah which shot up above the other plants looking bold and beautiful. Most of the flowers were coloured white. Among them lay a red-bellied black snake called Gurri-Gurri. He found a nice warm spot on the top of the waratahs in the sun.

The women of the tribe came to dig for yams. A young baby girl had seen the snake laying in the sun and crawled towards him. She need not have feared Gurri-Gurri though because he was her totem and her protector. A woman saw Gurri-Gurri just as he lifted his head into the child’s lap and she hurled her digging stick at him.

Quickly Gurri-Gurri wrapped himself around the infant so the sticks wouldn’t hurt her. But the women threw more and more sticks and Gurri-Gurri’s blood began to spill on to the waratahs as he crawled away.

The sun came out and shone down on the waratahs, making them grow tall and strong. Their vivid red colour still marks the connection of plants and animals to mother nature. The red-bellied black snake still lies among the waratahs looking for his sun spot.

Story told by Kevin Smith from the Murramarang Tribe Southeast Coast, NSW, Australia.

This Aboriginal dreamtime story and many others, we relate each week to the children who attend Mt Druitt Learning Ground in Sydney. The stories take my breath away.

"When I dream, I am ageless."
~~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

Above photo taken in Canberra, Australia in October 2010. - Waratah (Telopea, Shady Lady)


McMGrad89 said...

Wonderful story.

You would love this one:

It is available in a beautiful book as well.


T's Daily Treasures said...

It's wonderful to pass on these tales of lore to the children of today. Hope all is well in your corner of the world. Best wishes, Tammy

Cozyflier said...

That is a lovely folk tale Peggy. Thanks for sharing.

Hope you are doing well.

Hugs, Carrie

Mike Smith said...

I love your stories Peggy. Hope you have a great Monday.

Christine said...

thanks for sharing this folk tale! Beautiful plant and I love your header photo.

Stoneweaver said...

Such a sad story - the snake died trying to protect the child. Is it a story about ignorance? - they killed the snake without realising that it was actually doing the girl no harm.

I love the idea of 'story mountains' - any more about them?

Lilly said...

Peggy, how are you? Thanks for your kind words re my Dad. I have lots of reading to catch up on.

What a wonderful dreamtime story - I wonder if these are in book form, I guess so. Are you doing work in Mount Druitt? You are an inspiration, truly.

Love the photo - Canberra too.

Missed you, your writing and that damn fine musical taste of yours.

miruspeg said...

Annemarie, Tammy, Carrie, Mike, Christine so pleased you all enjoyed this Aboriginal dreamtime story and thanks for leaving a comment.

Also thanks Annemarie for the link to the enlightening story of the "Legends of the bluebonnets" will certainly miss them when you leave Texas.

Stoneweaver the snake didn't die it was only wounded and if the women has known it was the child's totem they would not have harmed it.

These dreamtime stories are to educate about Aboriginal history, culture and laws. The Elders have the obligation to pass the stories along ensuring that young people build and retain a sense of who they are.

I will check out and see if there are any 'story mountain' stories.

miruspeg said...

Hello dear Lilly so lovely to hear from you.

There are many Dreamtime story books we use to teach the Aboriginal and non Aboriginal children at Learning Ground (the Mount Druitt alternative school). We set up this school 5 years ago and it is finally being acknowledged by the government schools in the area as a helpful place to send kids who refuse to behave in their school.

At Learning Ground the kids learn the 3R’s........Reading, Rhythm and Respect!

The photo of the waratah was taken when my mother and I went to Floriade in Canberra last year. What a gorgeous day that was.

Glad to hear my music taste is still in tact!!

Big hugs xxxxxxx

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence -I posted a photo of a waratah on my flickr stream a few days back! It was the Gippsland Waratah -Telopea Oreades -and it was a long way from home at Wakehurst Place in Sussex -but it was thriving!

Cameron said...

Stories of mistaken intent and misunderstanding always make me uncomfortable....they make me sad.

My dad told stories like this as I was growing up...there's one where the family dog is jealous of the new baby, a scuffle is heard, the baby is not in its bassinet and there is blood on the dog's muzzle....the father is enraged and kills the dog only to find the baby safe under some blankets with a dead wolf nearby...

My heart just clenches in anguish over these kinds of tales. What a lesson they tell, though, don't they? I'll certainly never forget them.

miruspeg said...

Cazjane (CJ)- I saw your lovely Waratah photo over on Flickr. So pleased to hear Waratah's thrive in Sussex, UK as well as in Australia. :-)

miruspeg said...

Cameron - Thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly about this dreamtime story. It is always interesting reading different interpretations/reactions about the stories.

The Aboriginal people have never used a written language. To communicate, they talked, but they never wrote letters or books.

Dreamtime is important to Indigenous communities like history is important to us including evolution and why we are here.

Dreamtime is their history, their culture, the reason why things exist.

I find the stories fascinating. :-)

Chapter Forty said...

My kids love a series of scholastic books they have retelling aboriginal stories like 'How the kangaroos got their tails' and 'Warnayarra the rainbow snake'. B particularly loves the stories, I think its because they offer him explanations for things, danger and conflict, but also a realness to his Aussie environment.

miruspeg said...

Chapter Forty - How wonderful that your son loves the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. I am not surprised as B is a wonderful artist and has an inquistive mind.

I recently read the school curriculum now includes Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, Chinese medicine and natural therapies. The Indigenous strand is part of a topic called Science and Culture examining different cultural groups and their perspectives on science.

I came across an interesting website called GECKOS (Growing Enriched Cultural Knowledge in Our Schools)
I hope the school are utilising the site.

Stoneweaver said...

Was I a bit dramatic!?

miruspeg said...

Stoneweaver you were just being your kind, caring, tender, sensitive self, my lovely friend.
I love your dramatic side! :D)

Roban said...

This is a lovely story. When my students and I study myths, I like to share a variety, not just the Greek and Roman myths they're more familiar with. This would be a good one to include if you don't mind.

miruspeg said...

Hello Roban
I feel children of all walks of life would enjoy dreamtime stories and I am sure your kids would be no exception.
Here is a link to other dreamtime stories you may be interested in.

Hope all is well with you and your family dear friend.

Much love xxxxx