The Dreaming

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The Trickster and the Girls

Daintree Rainforest

Jalmarida and Baiangun were two sisters who lived at Dalingur by Arnhem Bay during the Dreaming era. One day they went out to collect cycad palm nuts, filling their dilly bags with the nuts. They dried them in the sun for two or three days, then pounded them, replacing them in the bags, and left them soaking in fresh water so they would be fit to eat. In the meantime, while they were waiting they went to Gudjindga and made camp there. Then they went down to a mangrove swamp to collect periwinkles from the mangrove roots.

Nearby there lived a man named Namaranganin. He saw the two sisters and followed them, watching them move across the swamp. Then he made the rain, to force them to turn back so he could catch one of them. Rain clouds gathered, lightning flashed, and the two sisters asked each other, 'What has happened? Perhaps that man who followed us has made rain. What shall we do?' They decided to collect their periwinkles quickly to go back. Namaranganin, hiding behind a mangrove tree, kept watching them. The rain came down heavily and the thunder rumbled; they gathered up their belongings and ran toward the camp.

Namaranganin thought, 'Those two are coming now, I'll grab them and take them away.' As they passed the tree he jumped out and tried to grasp them. The elder sister, Baiangun, escaped, but he managed to keep hold of Jalmarida, the younger. 'This will be my wife, I'll take her away.' He carried her off into the jungle. But Baiangun ran back to the main camp and told everyone, 'Namaranganin has taken Jalmarida into the jungle... Namaranganin, the trickster, with his long penis!' All the men hurried off, following their tracks.

While this was happening Namaranganin, far in the jungle, had chosen a good place for a camp. 'What are we going to do?' the girl asked. 'We're going to make a big fire and a hut,' he told her. He made a stringybark house and built a fire inside, but Jalmarida would not talk to him. He kept trying, in one way and another, but still she refused to speak. At last he caused the fire to smoke, so that the hut was full of it. They lay down to sleep, but still Jalmarida was silent. The smoke continued to collect.

During the night it became so dense that at last the girl awakened and asked, 'Why does that fire make so much smoke, why doesn't it escape?' Namaranganin replied, "Yes, this is the reason, so that you will speak to me. I want to copulate now.' But Jalmarida answered, 'No, you can't do it, Dagurura is inside me, closing my vulva.' (Dagurura is a stone and a totemic emblem.) Namaranganin got a stick, sharpened it, and wedged out the stone. As it emerged, a roaring sound came from the sacred Wonguri totemic water hole associated with it. Bursting out, the stone travelled to the water hole, entering it, while Namaranganin called sacred invocations relating to it. The Dagurura became a sacred emblem for the Wonguri people. The removal of the stone made it easy for human women to have intercourse.

By now the other men who were tracking them had reached their jungle camp. They surrounded it with a ring of fires, preventing Namaranganin from escaping, then speared him and burnt him in a huge fire. But Jalmarida did not go home with them. She turned herself into a fly.

from RM Berndt and CH Berndt,
The World of the First Australians: Aboriginal Traditional Life : Past and Present


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