The Aboriginal people of Australia have a concept which is usually translated as “The Dreaming”. This cannot be explained properly with only a few words – if indeed it can be translated at all – but given I need to try I’ll offer my understanding, which is that it is something which underpins all creation, establishing the relationship between mankind and the surrounding landscape and everything else besides.
Think of the Force of the Star Wars films (“May the Force be with you”) and add in elements of Buddhist Karma. Or maybe not . . . it doesn’t really have an equivalent outwith its own cultural reference point.
The concept is integral to the creation myth of the people. The “Dreamtime” is akin to an alternative dimension where past, present and future co-exist. The act of creation involves moving from “dream” to “reality”. It is possible for people to return to this spiritual world to re-connect with the ancestors while dreaming (in the usual sense), via a state of altered consciousness and finally on death, after which comes reincarnation and re-entry to the physical world.
There are countless examples of a specific Dreaming, which tells its own particular story of creation and which serves as the common inheritance which unites a tribe or a smaller unit, even down to a family group. It is possible for an individual person to have several such connections, being identified with multiple Dreamings.
Something that I’ve been musing on over the last couple of months, as the chances of the referendum being won have moved from remote to a distinct possibility, has been that a new country needs a new narrative. Not just to mark a break from the failed imperialist state (see this earlier post) but also from the previous Scottish Kingdom of the Middle Ages (which was subject to the Divine Right of an absolute monarch and was as brutal a place as any other).
A modern version of a creation myth might be an idea, but it would be better to extend that to something which really does underpin our society in practice, establishing the relationship between our peoples, the land and its resources and also how we conduct ourselves. We could start with a written constitution, but I was really thinking more of something a touch less prosaic . . . a Dreaming.
And if we set the scene properly, it would be seen as perfectly normal for any citizen of Scotland to have more than one such Dreaming, signifying among other considerations that ours is an inclusive society where there is no issue with having multiple connections.
As the obligatory cheap shot, I’m reminded of the Sex Pistols’ commentary on UK society:
“There is no future
In England’s dreaming”
“. . . a significant number of Scottish people have a dream: where statehood, social justice and cultural self-confidence fit together into a clear and popular project.”.
That project, springing from a collective dream, might well be what I’m getting at. The next step would then be to move from dream to reality, as an act of creation.