The full moon of Aboriginal Australians

In Australia, the “southern land” (lat. terra australis), full moon has been shining for millennia for its natives, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. According to estimates they inhabit this continent since more than 50,000 years, while Europeans only began to settle there 200 to 400 years ago. We would like to make a connection to the full moon, which is very much part of this fascinating culture, who, like many others, had to endure many wrongs during the course of more recent history.

The Aboriginal Australians were and are not a homogenous nation, but consist of many different tribes who had developed quite different customs, even though all their lifestyle was characterised by gathering, hunting and fishing. They observed celestial bodies and are in effect, one of the first cultures to perform astronomical observations.

The Yolngu (a tribe in the north-eastern part of the country) tell the following legend: the moon man Ngalindi passes through fateful stages with each moon cycle. Initially slim (waning moon), then turning plumper (waxing moon), he is eventually hurt by his women with an axe, escapes and then succumbs his injuries (new moon). With the beginning of a new moon cycle this development also commences.

The Boorong (a tribe in the northwest), saw in the moon Mityan a man as well, who tried to seduce the wife of another and has been on the run through the nightly firmament ever since. The moon also represents, from the viewpoint of Aboriginal Australians, a resident animal, the quoll. The markings on its fur show spots that are seen as crescents, half and full moons.

It is interesting that in both of these legends, just like the Inuit in the far north the moon is masculine. This is an important clue that depending on culture and perception, the moon can contain both sexes.

Today, the full moon in Down Under is not much different than other countries or continents. But if you listen closely, you might be able to hear one or the other sound of the Aboriginal people, that carry the secret knowledge of nature in their heart …

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