What kind of religions did ancient aboriginals of Australia follow?
Was there religion monotheistic, pantheistic or polytheistic?

In Wikipedia I read this

Australian Aboriginal religion and mythology is the sacred spirituality represented in the stories performed by Aboriginal Australians within each of the language groups across Australia in their ceremonies. Aboriginal spirituality includes the Dreamtime (the Dreaming), songlines, and Aboriginal oral literature.

The page speak a whole lot about religion and mythology but never tell what kind of belief system do Australian aboriginals have?

Another thing I found on Australian Aboriginal culture wiki page

Aboriginal Australians' oral tradition and spiritual values build on reverence for the land and on a belief in the Dreamtime, or Dreaming. The Dreaming is considered to be both the ancient time of creation and the present-day reality of Dreaming. It describes the Aboriginal cosmology, and includes the ancestral stories about the supernatural creator-beings and how they created places. Each story can be called a "Dreaming", with the whole continent is criss-crossed by of Dreamings or ancestral tracks, also represented by songlines.

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    Could use some indication of what research you've carried out already on this, but I like the question.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 0:16
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    @T.E.D. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Commented May 9, 2021 at 0:37
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    When I googled 'Australian aboriginal religion', this came up (3rd result): Aboriginal Religion. There are three pages on Aboriginal religion here so it I think that probably covers what you are looking for. If not, please edit your question to clarify. Commented May 9, 2021 at 2:05
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    That's great! Could you perhaps edit a few words into the question about what you found on that Wikipedia page, and why/how it didn't answer your question?
    – T.E.D.
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 4:06
  • I like this question. My own research (which just scratches the surface) tells me that Australian aboriginal belief systems don't really fit neatly into the Semitic monotheism (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.) or Indo-European polytheism (Hinduism, Greco-Roman mythology, Asatru, etc.) systems that we tend to be familiar with. I understand that there are multiple "deities", but that they are not really "worshipped" in the same way that the ancient Norse worshiped Odin or Thor or how Muslims worship Allah.
    – Robert Columbia
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


First of, I must disclaim: I am not Aboriginal (or even an Aussie) in any manner and my knowledge of these things is superficial at best, but I do have a non-professional interest in myths and legends from around the world. I would love to see an answer from an Aboriginal person, though I suspect that this is one of those not entirely answerable questions.

The Aboriginal belief system is very very diverse, with over 900 different tribal groups, each with its own localized beliefs and traditions (and language too). My understanding is that there is no worship involved in the beliefs, only traditions and spirits.

The Aboriginal belief system does not incorporate gods. It is a belief system that involves a "creation" time (sometimes referred to as the "Dreamtime" or "The Dreaming"). The Dreaming seems to be a very complex mythology with creation, spirits, time, events all mixed together. It is even thought that the past, present and future are all part of the dreaming. During the Dreaming, spirit beings (which may be animal or "people" or just spirits) went around creating the world that you see today, the water, the rocks, the trees and plants, the animals etc. The spirits persist today and influence daily life - illness is attributed to bad spirits for instance. There are some common myths that are found in many, but not all, of the different Aboriginal Dreaming myths. The most well known of these is the Rainbow Serpent myth, which is a description of how the rainbow serpent created rivers/waterways in particular - water being a scarce resource in much of Australia.

There is no theism implied in the various religions, although the closest might be poly-theism. In the belief system, animals, locations and objects can have some spirituality or event associated with them, but it is not an overall worship or spirituality attributed to all objects (hence no pan-theism) Note that this is also not animism, though that belief system is perhaps the closest you could come to a "one size fits all" description.

In terms of poly-theism, as far as I can tell there is no worship of the spirit beings from the Dreaming specifically, only tales of what happened or is happening, so this doesn't seem to fit the description of poly-theistic religion.

  • Thanks for the answer Commented May 10, 2021 at 14:36

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