A P Elkin - Aboriginal men of high degree - Ungarinyin (Ngarinjin) man
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Aboriginal men of high degree – A P Elkin
An account, the only one, of medicine men and their making, recorded on tape by an Aborigine in his own language, has been published. Mowaldjali, a very knowledgeable Ungarinyin (Ngarinjin) man, talked freely about the subject without questions or other interruptions. As he had lived in close association with Bardi tribes people for ten years and more, he spoke about Bardi medicine men in particular.
The type of person the rai bring back to their home, "the chasm where they go in and out," to make a banman is discreet, poised, and firm; he is not a troublemaker but has good sense and is trusted by the rai. There they cut him up and hang up his insides (intestines, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys).
His body is dead, but his soul remains there, and on the order of the rai to look steadily at the part hanging up, he recognizes them. His body is put over a hot earth-oven, with magic cooking stones in it, and covered with paper-bark. The perspiration streams down.
The rai then replace his insides and close up the flesh. He is told that he can henceforth travel in the air like a bird or under the ground like a goanna. Actually, he is sleeping in one place while travelling in his mind, for "his spirit became many."
The rai take him and teach him many things, and magic stones change him. Some are put into his insides through the navel, and some are driven in just where the "eye muscles are connected to the ear"; these are seen flickering right in the eye. The rai dip him in a water place "like in the river," and then they put in him an "inner eye" of magic. With this he can see a long distance, as through a gap in the hills, and tell what or who is there; with it, too, he can see right through the bodies of sick people, for "the skin and the body and the flesh" appear to have many holes.
The different organs have each their own colour, and if they are diseased or injured their colours are changed. These "experts" with the inner eye can see "the country underneath" and can hear the spirits of the dead talking to them. Moreover, as these spirits, these rai, follow the astral (aerial) rope, so the men of high degree, the experts, alone see them and the rope and follow it. Indeed, a rai takes the new medicine man about on the aerial rope. If the rope breaks, it must be mended, for the rai never lets him go.
The source of the experienceAustralian aboriginal
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
Fever and hyperthermia
Overwhelming fear and terror