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Belief in reincarnation and spirit children entering women prevalent over great part of Australia.--Distribution of this belief.--Arunta belief.--Port Essington tribe.--Mungarai tribe.--Traditions of ancestors.--Spirit children in trees, etc.--They only enter the eight lubras.--Yungman tribe.--Nullakun tribe.--Sexes changing at successive reincarnations.--Waduman and Mudburra tribes.--Tradition of Idakulgwan, Imumdadul, and Ibangalma.--Distribution by them of spirit children.--Kakadu beliefs. -Yalmura and Iwaiyu.--Spirit entering animal or plant in form of a small frog.--That animal or plant becomes its totem. Spirit child entering the mother.--Account given by Ungara, a Kakadu native.--The old Yalmuru disappears and the Iwaiyu becomes the new Yalmuru.

ONE of the most striking features of the native tribes in Central and Northern Australia, whose customs were investigated by the late Mr. Gillen and myself, is their universal belief that children enter women in the form of minute spirits, the representatives of formerly existing men and women, who are thus reincarnated. This belief in reincarnation, and in procreation not being actually the result of sexual intercourse, has now been shown to be prevalent over the whole of the Central and Northern part of the continent--that is, over an area four and a half times the size of Great Britain-amongst many Queensland tribes and in a large part of West Australia. {p. 264} It is now too late to secure reliable information, in regard to matters such as this, from any part of Australia where the natives have been at all closely in contact with whites, but, though the belief was first described in connection with the Arunta tribe, it has now been shown to be widely prevalent over the continent, and I have little doubt but that at one time it was universally held amongst Australian tribes. From my own personal experience I know that it is, or was, held by the Urabunna tribe inhabiting the country on the West and North-west of Lake Eyre; by the Arunta that extends to the north of the Urabunna up to and beyond the Macdonnell Ranges; by the Kaitish and Unmatjera tribes whose territory extends beyond Barrow Creek; by the Warramunga tribe inhabiting country northwards to and beyond Tennant's Creek; by the large Worgai tribe out to the east of the latter, towards the Queensland border; by the Tjingilli tribe, whose country centres in Powell Creek; by the Umbaia, Nganji, Binbinga, Mara, Anula, Mungarai, Nullakun, and other tribes extending eastwards from the telegraph line to the Gulf of Carpentaria and occupying the vast area drained by the Roper, Macarthur, Limmen, Wickham, and other rivers; by the Djauan and Yungman tribes, north of the Tjingilli; by the Waduman, Mudburra and other tribes along the Victoria and Daly rivers running westwards; by the Kakadu, Iwaidja, and allied tribes inhabiting the northern littoral, and by the natives on Bathurst and Melville Islands.

The traditions in regard to their ancestors in all these tribes are very explicit. Amongst the Arunta, for example, there were certain great men and women, leaders of the various groups in the far past times, called Alcheringa, who had definite names. They carried

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with them numbers of spirit children who were deposited in certain places and it is these who now enter women and are born in the form of human beings, as well, of course, as the spirits of the great leaders themselves. My late colleague, Mr. Gillen, was supposed to be the reincarnation of one of them named Urangara. The Arunta believe that when any individual dies his spirit part goes back to his old camping place in the Alcheringa, inhabiting some special rock or tree which is spoken of as its Nanja. Here it remains until it chooses to enter a woman and undergoes reincarnation. All these spirits are called Iruntarinia. Previously to the first reincarnation, however) a second spirit, which is the double of the Iruntarinia, emerges from the Nanja, and is called an Arumburinga. When the former is reincarnated the latter inhabits the Nanja but it may, if it chooses, visit its human representative unseen, as a general rule, by the latter, though there are certain gifted beings, such, especially, as very able medicine men, who can actually see and converse with the Arumburingas. Sometimes, when a man is out in the bush, he will suddenly experience a curious sensation and find that he is on the point of treading on a snake, which shows him clearly that his Arumburinga has warned him of the danger. The Arumburinga is, as it were, everlasting, while the Iruntarinia sometimes inhabits its Nanja and sometimes undergoes reincarnation. It is not supposed to be born again until such time as the bones of its last human body have crumbled away. It may, of course, exist, but amongst the Warramunga and many other tribes, though we studied them carefully we did not come across any belief equivalent to that of the Arumburinga in the Arunta, though they have just the same belief in reincarnation.

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In the far north of the continent, the Larakia and Worgait natives in the vicinity of Darwin have been for so long in contact with white men that it would be useless to seek information from them on points such as these, and I did not have the opportunity of coming in contact with less civilised members of these tribes.

The Port Essington natives believe that, at first, there were no real human beings, but only alligators, sharks, turtles, cockatoos, etc., and that the present men and women are descendants of these. They also believe that the spirit child goes inside the women at a spot which is frequented by such children and that natives who die are born again at a later period.

In the Mungarai tribe, in which I had more opportunity of inquiry, the beliefs are very definite. The far past time--the equivalent of the Alcheringa in the Arunta tribe--is called Kurnallan. During this time the old ancestors walked about. Each one had his original home, called Burnamandu. As in the case of the snake Uruanda,[1] they made the country with all its natural features as they walked along. Wherever they stopped they performed ceremonies, and, when doing so, shook themselves,[2] with the result that spirit children, called Mall-mall, who, of course, belonged to the totem (namaragua) of the ancestor, emanated from their bodies. These spirit children now go into the right lubras, and are born as natives. Close to what is now McMinn's

[1. An account of his wanderings is given in the chapter dealing with Traditions of Ancestors.

2. This shaking of the body is a very characteristic feature in the totemic ceremonies of many tribes. It was very much in evidence amongst the Warramunga, who decorate themselves profusely with down when performing the sacred ceremonies during which they are supposed to simulate the old ancestors. When they thus shake themselves, little bits of down tumble off just as the spirits used, originally, to emanate from him when he shook himself.]

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bar, on the Roper River, there is a large gum tree full of spirit children, all of them belonging to one of the totems associated with the Nakomara sub-class, and always, so my native informant told me, on the look-out for the right lubra. Again, at Crescent Lagoon, the old ancestor Namaran, the thunder man, deposited numbers of spirit children, and, if a Ngaritjbellan woman dips her toes in the water, one at once passes into her up her leg, or, if she stoops and drinks, goes down into her through her mouth. The spirit of a dead person, called Anora, goes back to his old home (Burnamandu), and sooner or later is born again, and in this tribe the sexes are supposed to alternate at each successive incarnation.

In the Yungman tribe there is precisely the same belief in regard to the origin of children as in the Mungarai. For example, a Nanung, or sugar-bag (honeycomb) man arose at Opobinga, near the old Elsey Station. Here he is reported to have stayed without wandering about. He had numbers of spirit children, who now inhabit the trees and stones near his old camp, and out of these they come and enter the right lubras. He had, also, many bull-roarers, which the Yungman people call Purdagiair. In the Yungman, as in the Mungarai tribe, the sexes are supposed to alternate at each successive reincarnation.

In the Nullakun tribe the old times, during which the ancestors walked about the country, are called Musmus, and each of them has his place of origin, called Kundungini. Like one of them, a rainbow man, called Kulakulungini, each of them is supposed to have had numbers of spirit children who emanated from them when they shook their bodies during the performance of corrobborees. It is these who are now constantly entering lubras, and being born. After death the spirit

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of the dead person, called Maritji, goes back to its old home, Kundungini, where it remains until it is born again. At each successive reincarnation the sex changes.

The beliefs of the Mara tribe are fundamentally identical with those of the Mungarai and Nullakun tribes. The old times are called Djidjan; each ancestor had his ancestral home, called Wailba, and, as he wandered over the country, he made the natural features and left spirit children behind him, who are continually entering the right women. After death the spirit, which is called Padinia, goes back again to its Wailba until such time as it undergoes reincarnation. At each successive reincarnation, also, the sex changes.

In the Waduman and Mudburra tribes, inhabiting the country between the Daly and Victoria Rivers, they have the same idea of spirit children, whom they call Ngaidjan, existing in the form of little frogs. The Waduman believe that, in the far past times that they call Jabulunga, there were two old men named Idakulgwan and Imumdadul. They were brothers, and came from the north-east. As they travelled along they met an old woman named Ibangalma, or Tjoral, who came from the salt water country. She had no black-fellow, and her totem (Gwaian) was Eramerlgo, or sugar-bag. As they came along, the two men made country, creeks, yams, kangaroos, snakes, sugar-bags and many other things that the natives now feed on. They also carried with them plenty of Ngaidjan, or spirit children, and gave some of them to the old woman Ibangalma, telling her to take them away to other parts of the country and leave them there. They said, Ya moinja laia lungin, Ngaidjan anoadja tjumba angebir, which means, You go away to another country, where you stop leave Ngaidjan behind. She did so, and the natives say that, when leaving them behind,

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she gave them their totems. They grew up and were the first black-fellows, men and women. When they died their spirits became Ngaidjan, entered lubras, and were born again. Each Ngaidjan knows which is the right lubra to enter, and will not go into a wrong one. Each Ngaidjan, also, has one special place, called Poaridju, the equivalent of the Nanja of the Arunta, which is its normal stopping place, though, of course, if it chooses to do so, it can move freely about the country. Before going into a lubra each Ngaidjan enters, and stays for a time, in its mother's totemic animal or plant. If the mother be Eramerlgo, or sugar-bag, then it goes into this, if a yam then into a yam, and so on. Sometimes a woman, when digging for yams, hits one with her stick, and may hear the baby Ngaidjan crying out, or, if she hits a goanna, she may hear the child speaking inside it.

Ibangalma finally went to a place now called Hayward Creek, and, later on, the two brothers Idakulgwan and Imumdadul came up and stopped there. Tradition relates that Idakulgwan married Ibangalma, and that they had a great many children. First of all they had a boy named Giblongwa, then another named Widba, and a third called Ijubulma. Each of these three has been reincarnated and is now alive. The two old people lived a long time as, respectively, Maluka and Muluru. Their Ngaidjan have undergone reincarnation, but are not, at present, represented in the tribe. The two old men Idakulgwan and Imumdadul remained at Hayward Creek, where they are now represented by two stones, whilst another, at the head of the Flora Creek, represents Ibangalma. It appears as if a generation, at least, is allowed to elapse between any two successive reincarnations. One of our informants, for example, called Alwairi, was the reincarnation of a brother of his baba,

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that is, his father's father. Alwairi's young daughter, named Maidjangba, is the reincarnation of a woman of the same name who was her mother's mother.

In the Arunta and other Central tribes it is only, relatively, a few members of the tribe who actually bear the names of old ancestors, but in these more northern coastal tribes there is a constant succession of the names, and every individual, without exception, is the reincarnation of some special ancestor.

I was much interested in finding amongst the Kakadu and allied tribes not only a very firm and most definitely expressed belief in the reincarnation of ancestors and in the absence of any necessary relation between sexual connection and procreation, but also a curious parallel to the Arunta idea of Iruntarinia and Arumburinga.

As described in connection with the legend associated with Imberombera, the Kakadu believe that the whole country was originally peopled with individuals and spirit children who are now continually undergoing reincarnation. What we may call the original spirit, the equivalent of the Iruntarinia amongst the Arunta, is called Yalmuru. If we take the case of any one individual the belief is as follows. When a man, and the same, precisely, is true of women and children, dies, the Yalmuru, that is the spirit part, after the final burial and mourning ceremonies are complete, keeps watch over the benogra, or bones. After a time the Yalmuru, as it were, divides into two, so that we have the original Yalmuru and a second spirit called Iwaiyu. The two are distinct and have somewhat the same relationship to one another as a man and his shadow, which, in the native mind, are very intimately associated. For a long time they remain together but, when the Yalmuru desires to undergo reincarnation, the two leave the benogra or bones, which are always some distance

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out in the scrub--often miles away from a camp. They go forth together, the Iwaiyu in the lead, the Yalmuru behind. Out in the bush they find the natives, who of course cannot see them, hunting for food. The Yalmuru takes the Iwaiyu and puts it, in the form of a small frog called Purnamunemo, which lives under the sheathes of the leaves of the screw-pine or Pandanus, into some food such as fish or "sugar-bag" that the man is searching for. If, for example, it be fish, the Yalmuru goes into the water and drives them into the man's chipoiyu or fishing net, if it be mormo or "sugar-bag," he guides him to the tree in which the bees have made their hive. In either case, as soon as the man has secured the fish or mormo, out jumps the frog, unseen of course by the men. it is caught by the Yalmuru and, together, the two spirits return to their camping place. The food in which the Iwaiyu was placed will be the child's totem. The latter is thus always selected by the Yalmuru and may change from one reincarnation to another. As we have seen, when dealing with the totems, it often does. Sometimes, when an animal, such as a crocodile or fish, contains for a time the Iwaiyu and the animal is speared, then the Bialila, or child to which the Iwaiyu subsequently gives rise, bears the mark of the spear wound.

The natives return to their camp with the food that they have secured, quite unconscious of the fact that the Yalmuru and Iwaiyu have been out in the bush. At night time the two latter come back again to the camp and watch the men and women. The Iwaiyu is again in the form of a little frog. When all are asleep, the two come up to the camp and enter the mia-mia where the man and his wife are sleeping. The Iwaiyu goes up and smells the man; if he be not a "right" father he says, ngari koyada, which means, not this one. He tries

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another one, finds him right and says, ngari papa, this one is my father. Then he goes and smells the latter's lubra. The Iwaiyu gets into her hair, then feels her breasts and says, korngo ngari koiyu, these are my mother's breasts; ngai koiyu, this is my mother. Then he comes down and goes into the woman. The Yalmuru returns to the old camp. Every now and then he comes and looks at the woman. but does not speak. When it is evident that the woman is going to have a child, the Yalmuru comes up to the camp at night time and tells the father that the child is there and what its name is and also its totem. He tells the father that he must not give it any other name except the one that he mentions, because that is the child within his wife.

Ungara, a Kakadu native, told us exactly what happened in his own case. When his father's brother died his benogra, or bones, were left for some time in a tree, not very far from the camp at which he died, but, later on, they were carried more than twenty miles away and placed in a Banyan tree overhanging a water pool. Ungara, who had his wife Obaiya and one child with him, was once camped near this place. He threw his chipoiyu, or net, into the water and left it there for some little time. Then he gathered long grass stalks and went into the water to drive the fish into the net. He did not know that the Yalmuru had already done this, and that the Iwaiyu was in one of the fishes. The net was so heavy that he called out to Obaiya to come and help him lift it out on to the bank. While they were doing this the Iwaiyu jumped out and was caught by the Yalmuru and then they both went back to the bones. Ungara and his wife Obaiya took the fish out and carried them to their camp in dilly bags. There were a good many other natives camped about. That night, while they were sleeping,

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the Yalmuru and Iwaiyu came into the camp and, after examining the man and woman, as previously described, the Iwaiyu went into Obaiya. While telling us this Ungara mimicked exactly the actions of the Iwaiyu going first to the father then to the mother. Later on the Yalmuru carne one night and whispered as follows in Ungara's ear; chipoiyu nanjil yapo araji, the fish went inside your net; jibul widjeru, it was full up; mukara bialilla ngeinyimma, your child was there; brau Monmuna murakamora narama, give it the name Monmuna murakamora; jereipunga kunbaritja, its totem is kunbaritja (a small fish); balera koregora onje narama koyada, by and by do not look out another name; Monmuna murakamora ngeinyimma ingordua bialilla araji, Monmuna murakamora is the child inside your lubra.

When the child is young the Yalmuru watches over it. If it strays away from camp and gets lost in the bush, the Yalmuru guides it back and, later on, when the child has grown into a man, the Yalmuru still helps it, in fact a good deal depends on the Yalmuru because, if it be not vigilant, some other hostile one may work evil magic against the individual associated with the Yalmuru's Iwaiyu. Finally, when the individual grows really old, the Yalmuru comes some night and whispers in his ear, Iwaiyu ngeinyimma bialilla unkoregora, ngainma ngeimba, parda mornda, ngainma boro mornda moiyu, ngeinyimma jereipunga koregora; which means, Iwaiyu, you look after a child, my backbone and thighs are no good, my eyes are no good and sore, you look after the Jereipunga (totem). In other words the Yalmuru is supposed to tell the Iwaiyu, that is, the spirit within the man, that he, the former, is worn out and that the Iwaiyu must take on the part of providing for a new child being born, and must also look after its totem. As the

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natives say, baranga Yalmuru wariji ge, the old Yalmuru is done for completely; Iwaiyu nigeri Yalmuru, the Iwaiyu is the new Yalmuru. It is really rather like a very crude forerunner of the theory of the continuity of the germ plasm. The old Yalmuru splits, as it were, into two, one half, the Iwaiyu, persists, the other finally disappears. In its turn the former becomes transformed into a Yalmuru which again splits; one half remains, and the other perishes, but there is an actual spiritual continuity from generation to generation.

It will be seen from the above how very definite the ideas of the Kakadu tribe are in regard both to the fact that the child enters the woman in spirit form without any reference whatever to sexual intercourse, and also to the fact that the child within the woman is the actual representative of one special individual amongst the old ancestors.

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Next: Chapter IX: Traditions Concerning Imberombera, The Great Ancestor, And Also Other Ancestors Of The Kakadu Nation