In Australia, Aboriginal Dreamtime has sacred meaning and may best be described as 'once upon a time' in ancestral terms.
Aboriginal Dreamtime contains several parts. Generally speaking it is the history or story about things that have happened in the past and how the universe was created. It is also a knowledge of how human beings were created and how it was intended for human beings to function within the cosmos.
The Dreamtime can be explained as 'the time before time' when all things were created. This is distinct from the Dreaming, which refers to an individual or group of Aboriginal people and their particular beliefs and spirituality.
You may hear Indigenous Australians refer to their Shark Dreaming, Wombat Dreaming or Platypus Dreaming or perhaps another combination relevant to their location, however some Aborigines also associate the Dreaming with creation time.
Dreamtime encompasses the 'Ancestor Spirits' which are believed to have arrived in human, plant and animal form. The Ancestor Spirits built relationships with individuals and groups, both human and animal, and were responsible for creating the mountains and rivers. These creations are the basis of many Dreamtime stories which have been handed down through the eons of time from one generation to the next.
Ancestor Spirits are considered to be present in many forms today... the stars, the mountains and in animals etc and will live on into the future as the stories continue to be handed down by word of mouth and expression through dance, rituals and rights of passage. Some gatherings are recognised as 'mens business' and others are known as 'womens business' and all are significant to the passing on of stories of the creation or Aboriginal Dreamtime.