Every culture or belief system in the world has its own version of the creation story, some countries hatched from a giant egg, were created by thought or, as below, were fished out of the sea.
Something they all tend to have in common is that they usually feature a god or animal turning a vast emptiness into a world appropriate for human use. Oh, and devils. Just because life was never meant to be easy.
Australian Aboriginals use the term Dreamtime to describe the time when their world and ancestors were being shaped. One of the most famous and important Dreamtime characters of Australian Aboriginals is the Rainbow Serpent.
According to myth, the slitherings of this giant snake created the mountains and valleys. This story is probably the most well-known and widespread of all the Dreamtime myths.
Of course, Australia is well-known for its unusual, and at times dangerous, animals but I think that we are pretty lucky we don’t have giant, valley carving snakes travelling around the countryside today!
This post was inspired by this interesting article in the Herald-Sun about the discovery of giant snake skeletons in outback north Queensland. These snakes weren’t just big.
“Dated back to the Pleistocene epoch, between 2 million and 11,700 years ago, the fossils are believed to be akin to a constricting python, a predator that grew up to 7m long and as thick as a telegraph pole.”
Bushwalking wouldn’t have held the same kind of pleasure in those days would it? Although I love the comment from Dr. John Scanlon, one of the finders of giant snakes, who said;
“Serpent myths are universal, but whatever way you look at it, the world was a far more interesting place with giant snakes in it.”
Yes. It probably was. Although that kind of sounds like that old curse, ‘may you live in interesting times’. If there was a chance of coming across one of these guys in your garden (or a 5 metre Megalania, giant lizards and giant snakes at the same time, eek!) I think that Australians would be known for living in bunkers and having a tank parked in every driveway….
For those of you who have never heard of the Rainbow Serpent or Dreamtime myths here is a clip of the Rainbow Serpent story. It is narrated by the famous Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil and features the 1975 art of David Roughsey.