Bunjil

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For the town in Australia, see Bunjil, Western Australia.
Wedge Tailed Eagle.jpg
Bunjil Shelter
Eagle is a 23-metre tall sculpture by Bruce Armstrong, inspired by Bunjil.

In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Bunjil the eagle (or eaglehawk) is a creator deity, culture hero and ancestral being. In the Kulin nation in central Victoria he was regarded as one of two moiety ancestors, the other being the trickster Crow. Bunjil has two wives and a son, Binbeal the rainbow. His brother is Balayang the bat. He is assisted by six wirmums or shamans who represent the clans of the Eaglehawk moiety: Djurt-djurt the nankeen kestrel, Thara the quail hawk, Yukope the parakeet, Dantum the parrot, Tadjeri the brushtail possum and Turnong the gliding possum.

According to one legend, after creating the mountains, rivers, flora, fauna, and laws for humans to live by, Bunjil gathered his wives and sons then asked Crow, who had charge of the winds, to open his bags and let out some wind. Crow opened a bag in which he kept his whirlwinds, creating a cyclone which uprooted trees. Bunjil asked for a stronger wind. Crow complied, and Bunjil and his people were blown upwards into the sky. Bunjil himself became the star Altair and his two wives, the black swans, became stars on either side.[1]

A Bunurong story tells of a time of conflict among the Kulin nations, when people argued and fought with one another, neglecting their families and the land. The mounting chaos and disunity angered the sea, which began to rise until it had covered the plains and threatened to flood the entire country. The people went to Bunjil and asked him to help them stop the sea from rising; Bunjil agreed to do so, but only if the people would change their ways and respect the laws and each other. He then walked out to the sea, raised his spear and ordered the water to stop rising.[2]

It is believed by the Kulin and other Indigenous peoples that, in the Dreamtime, Bunjil took shelter in a cave located in the part of Gariwerd that is now known the Black Range Scenic Reserve. Bunjil's Shelter is today a popular tourist attraction and one of the most important Aboriginal rock art sites in the region.[3][4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mudrooroo (1994). Aboriginal mythology: An A-Z spanning the history of the Australian Aboriginal people from the earliest legends to the present day. London: Thorsons. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-1-85538-306-7. 
  2. ^ Carolyn Briggs (2000-05-31). "Boon Wurrung Story". Yarra Healing. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  3. ^ Richard Everist (2009). Traveller's Guide to the Goldfields: history and natural heritage trails through Central and Western Victoria. Australia: Best Shot. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-9756023-3-1. 
  4. ^ Parks Victoria (2009). "'Bunjil Shelter' - Black Range Scenic Reserve, Stawell - Visitor Guide". Park Notes. Retrieved 2013-03-30.