Aboriginal Smoking Ceremony

For us, the Aboriginal people, the land has a spiritual connection; it’s our mother. The human spirit is born from our land and returns to it upon death. The land supplied us with everything that we needed for living.

Land has become increasingly harder to access for Aboriginal people. In urban areas, its appearance and use have been changed from what it was initially created for. Aboriginal people are concerned for the land and wish to be part of the healing process. This can be done by being actively involved in land management or by conducting ceremonies.

The Smoking Ceremony is an example. Green leaves from plants used by the group that conducts it are placed on a small fire. The smoke is used to cover the participants’ bodies, ridding them of what is not needed. It also cleanses the area. The group feels that it is leaving behind troubles and beginning something new. Reasons for holding the rite are then discussed. The ceremony ends with entertainment, such as dancing and singing.

The Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung people, supported by Museum Victoria, held a smoking ceremony on the site of the new museum at Carlton Gardens. Its purpose was to cleanse the site before the building of the new museum began, so the land was healed.

This ceremony was a historic step in recognising the desecration of spiritual, practical and cultural bonds with the land that occurred during invasion - the State Government recognising the importance of reconciliation with the Aboriginal community together with a commitment manifest in the creation of Bunjilaka. This is not the first time the Aboriginal community had performed this type of ceremony, but this was the first time the Aboriginal community had been invited by Government, through Museum Victoria, to perform such a ceremony.

Watbalimba preform a Smoking Ceremony
Watbalimba perform a Smoking Ceremony
Photographer: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

Watbalimba preform a Smoking Ceremony
Watbalimba perform a Smoking Ceremony
Photographer: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria