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DON’T STOP THE MUSIC! ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITY AND HEALING:- What Aboriginal People have shown me in the last 30 years. David Crawford. Chaplain Royal Darwin.

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Presentation on theme: "DON’T STOP THE MUSIC! ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITY AND HEALING:- What Aboriginal People have shown me in the last 30 years. David Crawford. Chaplain Royal Darwin."— Presentation transcript:

1 DON’T STOP THE MUSIC! ABORIGINAL SPIRITUALITY AND HEALING:- What Aboriginal People have shown me in the last 30 years. David Crawford. Chaplain Royal Darwin Hospital Pastor. Northern Synod of Uniting Church

2 ABOUT ME.

3 VICTORIA –: Presbyterian farming family – studied horticulture – worked in wine industry. Conversion –: Theological training, studied linguistics with SIL. Married. NORTHERN TERRITORY – Missionary Linguist 20+ years - 10 years in NW. SA. with Pitjantjatjara people years Darwin. Trained Aboriginal Translators from 6 language groups across Top End. - 4 years PCA in Aged Care years as Chaplain, Royal Darwin Hospital

4 Languages map 200+ spoken in 1777.

5

6 We lived at Katjikatjitjarra for 1 year.

7 Rupert’s wife’s grave.

8 Checking 1 Timothy at NYIKUKURA.

9 Cameron’s Baptism - Ernabella

10 MAMA. PAPA. KANGKURU

11 FATHER. DOG. OLDER SISTER. MAMA PAPA KANGKURU

12 THE ELDERS I KNOW Have strong links to their Dreaming. Can remember when white men first came to their land. They grieve over the bad things that have happened. They are treated as refugees in their own land. Think English is very a foreign language. They think white people are incomprehensible.

13 Boat people pict.

14 Rev. Jeffrey Garrawurra on right. Asked the Minister for Indigenous Affairs in Canberra why he didn’t consult with 1 st Nations people when setting policy.

15 Features of the Aboriginal world. It is an oral culture. It is spiritually based. It is relationship/kinship based Silence is an important communication strategy. People learn by observing, thinking and reflecting on what they see. They hate lots of questions. They will communicate when they are ready.

16 Major aspects of spirituality. Dreaming. GOD/JESUS – The UniverseCHRISTIANITY The invisible realm The visible realm – creation. - Land/Place - Kinship/Family - Language Music, song and dance, artwork are used to cement ones’ place in this network.

17 Sometimes described as magic, myth and miracles by white people. People are sensitive to presence of spiritually positive or negative forces in a person or place. - examples from elders, & old missionaries. They are mystified that we whites cannot perceive these things. They have direct communication with the created realm so that animals, plants and birds, the weather and the stars can tell them important things. They learn by observing, listening, sitting in silence and feeling the spirit around them. Silence is golden. SOME UNIQUE FEATURES OF INDIGENOUS SPIRITUALITY.

18 MORE FEATURES - They are aware of different kinds of spirit beings in their land – some are good, some are dangerous. These are everywhere. They see them sometimes. They believe that malevolent people can perform sorcery to harm or kill people. They believe that some people have the special ability to counteract sorcery. They readily believe in miracles. Most of what Jesus did can be done by their clever elders – astral travel, clairvoyance, supernatural knowledge and movement, ‘miracle’ healing, control the weather – calm storms, create rain.

19 ABORIGINAL MEDICINE AND HEALING Aboriginal medicine contains innumerable folk remedies- ‘bush medicine’ from local plants/insects. Traditional approaches to healing are holistic and consider mind, body and spirit. Medicine alone is not healing. The healing relationship is based on a series of virtues: respect; humility; compassion; honesty; truth; sharing; hospitality and divine love. Several routes to healing – Talking, crying, singing, smoking, bathing, dancing, sweating, yawning, yelling.

20 Definitions for Aboriginal Healing – National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation Health does not mean the physical well-being of the individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well- being of the whole community. Forgiveness and acceptance is sometimes cited as an important component of healing by Aboriginal people. Being “healed” means living in peace, living in acceptance and not judging anyone. Healing is the central theme of Navajo religion while sacred is the central theme of Navajo healing. I believe this is true for Aboriginal culture too. Even in Australia the links between Aboriginal spirituality and healing are overlooked surprisingly often by medical researchers.

21 TRADITONAL HEALING TRADITONAL HEALING – A REVIEW OF LITERATURE - Emma Williams, Marburra Consulting The answer to improving the health of indigenous people may lie less in increasing their access to modern health services and more in their rediscovering cultural values and ways. (Smith 2003) Healing Places. Are culturally comfortable and safe places where a person is surrounded by their own language and family to receive care and healing in a relaxed and caring manner.

22 TRADITIONAL HEALERS Healers. Traditional healers probe deeply into the patients social and psychological well being, in addition to the history of the present illness. They already know, about the context of the patients life, such as his or her economic status, attitudes, beliefs hopes and fears.

23 NGANGKARIS. Traditional Healers Books: Ngangkari Work – Anangu way – traditional healers of Central Australia Traditional Healers of Central Australia: Ngangkari These men and women have spiritual powers. Often they are chosen and trained from a young age. ‘Flying spirits, sacred tools, treatment by touch/massage.. The traditional healers of Central Australia explain their extraordinary skills’

24 These Pitjantjatjara men are church elders, ceremonial leaders and ngankaris too.

25 When we lived with them this was secret traditional knowledge they did not share with others.

26 MARRNGITJ: Traditional Healers Book: Traditional Healers of Arnhem Land. Dr John Cawte. UNSW Press He reflects on working as visiting doctor to Arnhem Land The traditional healers there asked him to write book about their practices. It seems a similar system to ngankaris of Central Australia, as like them they have only decided to reveal this in the last decade.

27 This Year March Cleansing ceremony for previous ASH ED A cleansing ceremony was held at the Alice Springs Hospital this week to clear the previous Emergency Department of old spirits. Ngangkari men Clem Dalby and Toby Ginger addressed the gathered crowd of more than 100 to explain the cleansing process and where the spirits may have now moved to. “They are no longer in the building” said Clem, “they are in the trees and the spinifex and inside the bark of the trees where they are happy”. The old ED will move into the future with a clean bill of health as it is prepared for its new life as administration space. Photo: Ngangkari men Clem Dalby and Toby Ginger show staff through the cleansed former ED unit.

28 Aboriginal Art Online - /Culture/Medicine Aboriginal People were traditionally much healthier than they are today. Living in the open in a land largely free from disease, they benefitted from a better diet, more exercise, less stress, a more supportive society and a more harmonious world view. Healing Places. Are culturally comfortable and safe places where a person is surrounded by their own language and family to receive care and healing in a relaxed and caring manner.

29 ROYAL DARWIN HOSPITAL – A Culturally appropriate healing place?

30 RDH Catchment Area.

31 Coincides with Strong Indigenous Language Regions

32 STATISTICS.. In NT indigenous people make up just 30% of the total population. RDH has 350 beds with 110%+ occupancy on any day % percent of patients are indigenous people from remote parts of the NT, to whom English is a foreign language Renal failure, rheumatic heart disease and illness/death from drug and alcohol abuse are frequently found among them. 80% of renal patients are indigenous. Many people are very afraid to go to hospital for fear. So many family die there. The spirits of deceased are there.

33 .. & MORE STATISTICS. The invasive surgery done by our doctors is similar to what sorcerers do to kill people. Most Aboriginal families live on welfare payments, and share homes with people – several generations living together. High birth rates – 50% of the populations of many communities are below 20 years old. Some communities have an 80% unemployment rate. The cost of living in remote communities is very high. Cost of travel to remote communities is very high % of the NT prison population are indigenous.

34 Boat people pict.

35 ABORIGINAL CHRISTIANS. Rev Peter on right went to RDH for heart when 8o years old. He amazed doctors with his brilliance, and staff and patients from other cultures saw him as a holy man.

36 Aboriginal Christians Indigenous Christians I deal with regularly practise - simultaneous prayer, speaking in tongues, singing in tongues. Daily prayer sessions for family members in trouble. Regular scripture reading and preaching. God speaks to them through dreams and visions. Regardless of denomination they regularly use religious aids They acknowledge Christian sacred/healing sites around Territory where God has manifested to people. They have own traditional healing sites and there is a network across all faiths as people seek many different sources for healing. They play Christian music on mobile phones often. They make their own Christian music and songs and dances all the time. They sing and dance their faith, as they do their own cultural beliefs.

37 Aboriginal Christians. They are constantly seeking manifestations of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Many communities and homelands are dedicated to Christ and people have regular Christian rallies there to build up the church, and dedicated themselves to Christ. There are frequent rumours of mass baptisms and ‘turning to the Lord’ at many isolated places in the last couple of years.

38 Inside/Outside What is my connection to all this as Chaplain? Indigenous people say about me. ‘David is someone who knows about us. He is part of our family. We call on him as both a relative and a pastor. He’s a spiritual resource. He knows the hospital rules, and the doctors. He can talk to them and help us understand what is happening, at the same time he is a Christian man who can pray with us. We know and trust him.’

39 What I Do In Hospital Pastoral support.-prayer, anointing, singing, providing religious aids. Facilitate communication. I use language [simple English] they understand. Much communication is misunderstood. Interpret for Pitjantjatjara patients. Assist staff with cultural confusion. Link patients to outside family, I have telephone numbers for many family leaders in different communities. Look out for people I know.

40 I network with patients Make new kinship links daily. Show them some photos from past. Old links provide for swift connection and cooperation from indigenous people. They tell me things they won’t tell medical staff. They treat my like one of their respected elders. Some claim I have ‘the gift’ of healing and their family members ask for me by name.

41 SUMMARY. My studies and experience has shown that Aboriginal people see the Chaplain as having equal or more importance in the healing process than medical staff. Our spiritual focus, godly character and compassion parallels that of their traditional healers. So they readily accept our input as vital to their healing.

42 CONCLUSION. What are the ongoing implications of this? How do we know we have communicated to them successfully? How do we know they trust us? How can we provide concrete data about this to satisfy the medical system? What about employing Aboriginal Chaplains?


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