Songspirals: Sharing women's wisdom of Country through songlines
Gay'wu Group of Women
Allen & Unwin
www.tinyurl.com/songspirals or www.allenandunwin.com
A rare opportunity to connect with the living tradition of women's songlines, as recounted by Yolngu women from far north Australia. 'We want you to come with us on our journey, our journey of songspirals. Songspirals are the essence of people in this land, the essence of every clan. We belong to the land and it belongs to us. We sing to the land, sing about the land. We are that land. It sings to us.'
Aboriginal Australian cultures are the oldest living cultures on earth and at the heart of Aboriginal cultures is song. These ancient narratives of landscape have often been described as a means of navigating across vast distances without a map, but they are much, much more than this. Songspirals are sung by Aboriginal people to awaken Country, to make and remake the life-giving connections between people and place. Songspirals are radically different ways of understanding the relationship people can have with the landscape.
For Yolngu people from North East Arnhem Land, women and men play different roles in bringing songlines to life, yet the vast majority of what has been published is about men's place in songlines. Songspirals is a rare opportunity for outsiders to experience Aboriginal women's role in crying the songlines in a very authentic and direct form.
Gay'wu Group of Women is the 'dilly bag women's group', a deep collaboration between five Yolngu women and three non-Aboriginal women over a decade. They are all co-authors of Weaving Lives Together at Bawaka, North East Arnhem Land and a book for young adults, Welcome to My Country.
Ali Cobby Eckermann, Yankunytjatjara poet, says: "Songspirals are Life. These are cultural words from wise women. As an Aboriginal woman this is profound to learn. As a human being Songspirals is an absolute privilege to read."
Clare Wright, award-winning historian and author, says: "To read Songspirals is to change the way you see, think and feel this country."
A short video about the Songspirals project is posted at www.facebook.com/watch/?v=340268903587115
Published in Chain Reaction #137, December 2019. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction