Story Challenge: G is for Guide

Travelling in Bhutan was an unforgettable experience, made possible only because every visitor is accompanied by a guide. Perhaps we were lucky but we had a very experienced guide, Karchung, who took care to discover our interests and planned our trip perfectly. From the time we arrived at the airport in Paro until our departure 10 days later he looked after everything. This story is also about a different kind of guide, a spiritual guide if you like. We had been attending a festival in the east of Bhutan, and our guide wanted to show us something special. He waited until all the other guides and their vehicles had left the area, then stopped by the road and encouraged us to climb up the mountainside. There was a secret cave where some of the great Buddhist teachers of Bhutan had meditated.

Understanding our weak western nature Karchung did not actually tell us how far we had to climb, we always understood it was only over the next rise! At the top of one ridge we rested near a row of prayer flags. Three large dogs appeared, walking on the trail. There was no need for concern, they were dogs used by wandering herders to guard the herds, and now it seemed they came to guard us. The dogs fell into step with us, one in the lead, one in the middle and one at the rear. I was walking behind our driver, who turned and said smiling, “Now there are seven of us!” … an auspicious number. So we all continued, the guardian dogs taking care of us on the trail to the secret cave. When we reached it they vanished, their job done.

Thank you Frizz for the Story Challenge! Pop over to read some more G stories.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

track sign closest to us

Inspired by beeblu and Sacred Cave I am impelled to share my Dreaming Story too. We live on the edge of a Dreaming Track, an important trail used by aboriginal people who lived here before invading Europeans took the land almost two hundred years ago. When we became associated with the land twenty two years ago we began a resident’s group to protect what we felt was valuable from the encroachment of council road builders and other developers. Gradually as the new wave of settlers moved onto their acres we applied for government grants to make the Bingie Dreaming Track, linking Congo Beach with Tuross Beach through the Eurobodalla National Park.

Bingi residents working on the Dreaming Track

 

It was a dream, but working with National Parks and local volunteers it has all come to pass. Of course local aboriginal people were consulted through the process, and National Park’s ranger local Brinja-Yuin woman Trisha Ellis officiated at the opening ceremony of the second section.

Trish Ellis opening the Dreaming Track extension

Trisha was taught by her grandmother about the Dreaming Track between Congo and Bingi, and the walking tracks along the coast used by people to access the abundant resources of fish and shellfish in this area. Elders speak of camping along the coast here feeding on kangaroo, and eels as well, while they were taught traditional lore.

“….’Bingi’ is a Dhurga word meaning stomach. When repeated as in Bingi Bingi Point it
indicates abundance and therefore is interpreted to mean an abundance of food is available in this area. The Bingi-Congo walking track forms part of the Dreaming Track utilised by the Brinja-Yuin people prior to European development. The walking track (as did the Dreaming Track) brings you in close proximity to shell middens, stone quarries, napping sites, campsites and fresh water sources. There were also beacon sites for sending smoke signals, areas abundant in a particular foods and lookouts traditionally used for spotting schools of fish and visitors (wanted or unwanted) to the area. The Dreaming Track although used as a highway had a much deeper spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people in that it was, and still is believed, that the Spirit Ancestors of the people created the Dreaming Track in the journey of creation across the land. ……” [Trisha Ellis 4.2.2006].

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Here are some notes to help you understand the concept of Dreaming Tracks:

“The Dreaming” or “Dreamtime”as it is called in English refers to the creative era when the landscape was given form by the activities of Spirit Beings, the spiritual ancestors of
Aboriginal people today. In the southeast coastal region, the focal Creation Beings were
Biame and his wife Birrahgnooloo, who gave form to waterways, landforms, animals
[including totems], humans, power to ‘clever people’ and the overarching Aboriginal Lore.

Rivers and valleys mark the route taken by Ancestral Dreaming beings. These routes are
often called Dreaming Tracks. Along Dreaming tracks waterholes and mountains mark
places where the ancestral beings camped and meet, for instance. These places are often
referred to as ‘sacred sites’ and often relate to the availability of water and other natural
resources. Some Dreamtime mythologies cover vast distances, traversing tribal and linguistic boundaries, whilst others are more localised and mark discrete territories. Through traditional ceremonies, usually involving songs, Aboriginal people describe, or retrace the routes travelled by spiritual beings in the Dreamtime past