Research Proposal: Australian Aboriginal

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Australian Aboriginal

The Magic of the Australian Aboriginals

The Australian Aboriginals have resided in Northern Australia for thousands of years. Since settling the region in ancient times, the Aboriginals have developed a very unique and complex culture within such extreme isolation from other ancient social groups. Within this culture is a general assumption of man's connection to the spiritual and mythic world of spirits. This is seen through the magical function of the spirit-child ritual, where spirit-children find mothers and then manifest themselves as real pregnancies. This practice shows the connection man has to the spiritual world, as well as the importance of the society's paternal structure.

To look at such a foreign ritual, one must hold a very strict and unbiased observational view. Thus, the elements of structural functionalism prove the best method for unbiased analysis. The social structure of a particular society is created out of a system of functioning elements which have developed over the generations. Thus, the social world is a functioning structure that provides norms and customs which serve a functional purpose within the lives of the people within each individual society. Therefore, "a society was an equilibrium system in which each part functioned to the maintenance of the whole," (Lewellen 12). The rites and rituals of a given culture then serve a functioning purpose within the context of average daily life. According to research, there is "an ideal cognitive pattern for their society, expressed in ritual and symbolism," (Lewellen 14). Thus, even the magical rites practiced by the Australian Aboriginals prove to have a function within the larger Aboriginal society.

Aboriginals were far away from the rest of the ancient world. They resided in harsh environments in small bands across a vast stretch of desert highlands. This then ultimately influenced a strong internal connection to other members of the society. Everyone is related to everyone else in the village or tribe, and kinship laws are extensive and complex. In addition to strong kinship norms to ensure survival, the society is very patriarchal. The Aboriginals live in a paternalistic culture, which is oddly similar to the paternalistic cultures of the Western world, such as those dominated by Roman Catholicism (Schnieder & Shapiro 166). This then allows the small bands, or hordes, of tribesman to survive best in such harsh conditions, for they are regulated and not let loose to cause chaos. The Aboriginal society allows for a looser set of sexual regulations -- if sex does not determine the very core of the familial relationship, it becomes much less sacred in defining it. Sex, is instead, the essential element in creating a women out of a girl. It is an act which sparks sexual maturity; i.e. The growth of breasts and the beginning of the menstruation cycle (Merlan 80). In fact, a woman is not marriageable in Aboriginal society until it is known within the society that she has had sexual relations, since this is the mark of womanhood within the society's norms.

The spirit-child ritual holds elements of the ancient Aboriginal man's self-perceived ties to the mythical world. According to the research, it is "the attribution of impregnation to child spirits," (Merlan 474). The child spirit exists in the external world -- it stays out attached to a variety of substances, which can then be touched or consumed by the "mother." They are playful and look for new parents (Merlan 475). When they find a new mother, they manifest themselves into a real physical pregnancy. Thus, in Aboriginal thought, pregnancy comes not from sexual intercourse, but directly from the spiritual world. In this ritual, "the child is identified as the embodiment of some totemic-territorial aspect of what is often called the 'Dreaming,' the order constituted by the activities of ancestral creative figures," (Meran 474). The spirit-child is also seen as a completely foreign entity. The mother and father do not contribute; rather a completely independent spirit-child just happens to find them, (Merlan 479). Rather than being attached to the characteristics of the parents, the spirit-child is attached to the characteristics of the location it was found in. The rite itself represents "a separation of the spiritual from the non-spiritual," (Merlan 488).… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Australian Aboriginal.  (2010, February 16).  Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/australian-aboriginal/265634

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"Australian Aboriginal."  16 February 2010.  Web.  20 June 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/australian-aboriginal/265634>.

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"Australian Aboriginal."  Essaytown.com.  February 16, 2010.  Accessed June 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/australian-aboriginal/265634.