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INDIGENOUS ASTRONOMY – YINDYAMARRA CIRCLE

by Niki Wheatley

Yindyamarra (respect, be gentle, to honour, to do slowly)  

Yindyamarra Circle is a space held at Burning Seed for the Indigenous sacred fire which burns for the duration of Seed. The Circle is a space for participants to connect with indigenous art, stories, learning and a quiet place to talk and just take a moment to reflect.

The sacred fire is maintained and cared for by Peter Ingram – a local Wiradjuri man. This sacred fire is treated with respect (we don’t throw rubbish in it!) and the Wiradjuri people, on whose traditional land Red Earth City is built, welcome participation in the Circle.

The theme for this year’s Burning Seed – DEEP SPACE – offers all of us an opportunity to explore, engage with and find inspiration in the ancient but living wisdom of Australian Indigenous Astronomy.

Emu in the Sky

The ‘Emu in the Sky’ – Indigenous astronomy is linked to the natural world

Ancient Wisdom

The observation and use of astronomy by Aboriginal people is recognised as one of the oldest on the planet. The stars and sky were used for survival, seasonal awareness, storylines and a connection to the Dreaming.

For example, Autumn evenings will soon bring the ‘great Emu in the Sky’ a dark shape with a black head (the Coalsack, next to the Southern Cross) and dark legs trailing along the Milky Way to Scorpius.

In the Kuringai National Park in north Sydney for example we find extensive rock engravings of the Guringai people, including representations of Daramulan and his emu-wife.

One of these engravings shows an emu in the same pose and orientation as the ‘Emu in the Sky’ constellation. On Autumn evenings, the emu in the sky stands directly over this engraving – just when it’s time to gather emu eggs.

Find Out More

There are many more stories and ideas to explore. Check out the Australian Aboriginal Astronomy Project at the Department of Indigenous Studies (Warawara) at Macquarie, an interdisciplinary collaboration of academics and Indigenous Elders who are researching the astronomical knowledge and traditions of Indigenous Australians. You can also stay in touch with the project on Facebook.

A new documentary – Star Stories of The Dreaming – sees Ghillar Michael Anderson share publicly for the first time teachings passed to him as the knowledge holder for his People, the Euahlayi. Prof Ray Norris, CSIRO astrophysicist meets with Ghillar to look at parallels – such as ‘wormholes’ and the pathway to Bullima, the Euahlayi Sky Camp, via the hollow Coolabah tree.

Charles Sturt University’s Sky Stories Project also offers heaps of resources and insights on Indigenous Astronomy.

Yindyamarra Circle

Wiradjuri elder, Uncle Jimmy Ingram (right) and his grandson Peter (Centre), perform a smoking ceremony at Burning Seed 2015

Yindyamarra Circle at Burning Seed

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Burning Seed this year and to the opportunity for all of us to be a part of learning through stories and talks in the evening under the stars at the Yindyamarra Circle.

If you are interested in being a part of First Camp, crewing, getting involved by helping during Seed or set-up and pack down, or if you have an Indigenous or related art project or workshop you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact me via comms@burningseed.com and we can make it happen .

 

Mandaang guwa (thank you).

Yuwin Ngadhi Niki (my name is Niki),
Indigenous Liaison, Burning Seed

 

We pay respect to the Wiradjuri elders (both past and present) and show our respect in maintaining Traditional values, Language and Culture.
We acknowledge Burning Seed is held on Wiradjuri land.

Star Stories of The Dreaming is screening on 1 March 2016 at the Palace Cinema Como in South Yarra, VIC

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