Aboriginal peoples across the world have a rich wealth of traditions and spiritual beliefs, many of which modern cultures are only vaguely aware of.
Here is a look at some of the aboriginal spiritual beliefs that most people don’t know about and how they can help guide and change your life.
7 aboriginal spiritual beliefs you probably don’t know about
Aboriginal peoples exist across the world from Australia to Canada and Russia to Africa. They have many varied cultures and spiritual beliefs.
Here are some of the spiritual beliefs from various aboriginal cultures which you may not know about.
1) The law of Kanyini
The aboriginal peoples of Australia stretch back 60,000 years in their history. One of these people is the Yankunytjatjara from southern Australia.
They follow the law of Kanyini which is focused on solidarity and interdependence.
Essentially, Kanyini holds that we are all obligated to care for each other’s well-being and that all humanity is connected.
We rise or fall together, not individually.
The core of Kanyini is community and putting those around you in first place, not just your own interests and ego.
“The law of Kanyini implies that everybody is responsible for each other. It is a principle of connectedness that underpins Aboriginal life.
And because of connection, Kanyini teaches to look away from oneself and towards community.”
2) The principle of animism
Animism underpins most aboriginal belief systems. Unlike Abrahamic faiths and many other religious paths, animism doesn’t differentiate between sacred and secular.
Everything is part of a circle of life that’s interconnected and infused with a spirit. This includes the frogs and trees all the way to the Creator itself.
In animism, humans are not above nature but are simply a certain unique part of nature with their own intertwined spirit. The healthy relation of the human being to nature is one of stewardship and veneration.
Even the animal who is hunted and killed for survival is thanked for giving its life for the survival of others. Nothing is mechanistic or purely material.
This veneration also extends to ancestors, who are a sacred heritage that’s part of our nature as individuals and groups.
3) Detachment and disconnection leads to weakness and misery
Aboriginal people around the world believe that living too much in our heads and abstractly causes misery.
Although the advancement of modern technologies considered itself clearly superior to the nature-focused traditions and beliefs of aboriginals, there is a growing interest in many modern countries for the simple wisdom of the first peoples.
These days we live so much in our heads, often putting ourselves at the mercy of social, political and economic forces beyond our control.
The feeling of being a victim of an unjust “system” starts to cause enormous pain.
But what if you could change your relation to the flawed modern world around you and stop having it victimize you?
The truth is, most of us never realize how much power and potential lies within us.
We become bogged down by continuous conditioning from society, the media, our education system and more.
The reality we create becomes detached from the reality that lives within our consciousness.
I learned this (and much more) from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandé, a Brazilian shaman who draws on ancient aboriginal wisdom and applies it to our stressful modern lives.
In this excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can lift the mental chains and get back to the core of your being.
A word of caution – Rudá isn’t your typical shaman.
He doesn’t paint a pretty picture or sprout toxic positivity like so many other gurus do.
Instead, he’s going to force you to look inwards and confront the demons within. It’s a powerful approach, but one that works.
So if you’re ready to take this first step and align your dreams with your reality, there’s no better place to start than with Rudá’s unique technique.
4) Creation of the earth hasn’t finished yet
In Judeo-Christian and Islamic tradition, the earth was created by God from His divine will and is a finished creation.
In aboriginal beliefs, the earth and everything on it is in an ongoing process of creation which hasn’t finished.
In fact, the creation of the earth is still taking place and time itself is not linear or able to be quantified in the ways modern cultures like to tell ourselves.
The aboriginals of Australia call this the Dreaming, but it exists in many different cultures.
“The Dreaming does not assume the creation of the world from nothing; however, landscape is conceived of as having been formed from and through the activities of Spirit Beings…
In communities throughout Australia, whether these are in remote, rural or urban locations, many Aboriginal people continue to acknowledge the presence of Ancestral Beings by “calling out” or by throwing a stone into lakes or rivers, etc.
In tradition-oriented communities, of course, more complex rituals and ceremonies continue to take place.”
Creation is a living process taking part in a cosmic time of which many of us are only dimly aware.
This process isn’t finished, nor will it ever finish in a linear sense. We all play a part in this process and are linked to it.
Aboriginal peoples consider creation to be a dynamic dance that is still taking place and links all things together in a process of co-creation, along with various spirits and the Creator who also participate.
5) Death is part of life
Aboriginal cultures see death in a very simple way: as part of life.
Death is what happens before rebirth. The plant must die and scatter its seeds so pieces of its soul can grow up in its place.
The circle of life continues, and the preciousness of life is enhanced by understanding that our own slice of experiences is short.
For this reason, we should always strive to do good to all beings and give more than we take.
Material possessions won’t be there for us when we are gone.
Holy man Lame Deer (Miniconjou Lakota) lived from 1821 to 1877 as the vice-chief of the Wakpokinyan band of the Lakota tribe in present-day Montana.
“A man’s life is short,” Lame Deer said. “Make yours a worthy one.”
6) Environmental harm causes spiritual harm
Aboriginal peoples consider nature and the spiritual world to be one and the same. For this reason, resource exploration, development and industrial uses of land can often conflict with their spiritual beliefs.
From Brazil to Antarctica, aboriginals have often been relegated to small reserves and coaxed or forced to sign deals that grant rights to large oil companies and industrial interests.
In Canada, I watched native bands in Saskatchewan pressured to sell off lands for the sake of timber logging and uranium mining, for example.
Chiefs who wouldn’t do so were simply passed over for other tribal council members who would be bought off.
This process of exploitation of nature goes directly against the spiritual beliefs of the land as sacred and something that we exist in symbiosis with, rather than in a master-slave relation with.
We are co-creators and protectors of life, not owners of it. This fundamental split between materialism and aboriginal systems is crucial.
Even though it can sometimes be over-romanticized or idealized by non-aboriginal commentators, it does still form the bedrock of many aboriginal spiritualities, even more so before first contact and the introduction of modern technologies and economic models.
7) Rites of passage are crucial
Various aboriginal peoples place a strong emphasis on rites of passage. These depend on tribe and tend to vary by gender, tribal role and individual calling and the guidance of elders.
One example is the vision quest. This is a time in which a young person discovers their unique mission in the world and relation to the spirits by praying alone in the wild until the spirits talked to him or her.
Depending on tribe, vision quests were for all young people, whereas others were only for young men, with childbirth and motherhood considered as the equivalent transcendent experience for young women.
“The quest itself typically involved going to an isolated location and engaging in prayer while forgoing food and drink for a period of up to several days.”
Upon seeing an animal behave in an unusual way or appear to communicate with various signs, the vision quest participant would return to the tribe and receive advice from elders and the chief about what it meant.
Signs could mean that you were a warrior, a holy man, a patriarch of a future large family or an explorer. They could also relate to unique challenges or opportunities you might face in life or experience in relation to the needs and challenges of the tribe and the collective.
Finding your path
Learning more about aboriginal spiritual beliefs is a wonderful process for everyone to do.
Getting out of the box and opening our mind to a less linear and abstract way of thinking can be one of the key ways we may be able to find solidarity and meaning in our current polarized and alienated modern societies.
The first peoples have a lot of wisdom to share in this fractured modern world if we would just slow down for a minute to listen!