Yolngu Bush Medicine in Arnhem Land

Yolngu Bush Medicine in Arnhem Land

A smoking ceremony is a custom among the Yolngu people (also common to many Aboriginal tribes) that involves smouldering leaves to produce smoke.

The Djilka bush medicine smoking ceremony is used to cleanse people of grief at funeral ceremonies. On this occasion, it is being used to clear the spirit and minds of people and connect them to country.

Fun Fact: Research has shown that heating the leaves of Eremophila longifolia (commonly known as the Berrigan emubush), one of the plants favoured by Aboriginal people for smoking purposes, produces smoke with significant antimicrobial effects. Before heating these effects are not present in the plant.

Dhopiya is an elder of the Gurruwiwi family, raised in Yolngu country, and currently lives at Wallaby beach.

She was generous enough to run me through some traditional bush healing techniques.

Fresh leaves from the Butjiringaning (Litsea glutinosa) are crushed and boiled over a campfire to release an oily liquid. The liquid has a texture similar to Aloe Vera, the mixture of Butjirinanging leaves, their oils, and the remaining water is then massaged over the body.

The traditional healing is believed to help with relieving aches and pains, Arthritis and open cuts.

Yidaki / Didgeridoo healing:

The Yidaki produces a low-frequency sound that we can hear, as well as vibrations, that we can feel. Highly regarded within indigenous cultures, vibrational healing is used by Yolngu elders who play the Yidaki near sick people to help them regain health.

Playing the Yidaki close to the body can be used to break up phlegm, relieve muscle tension and even helped my shoulder on the trip.

Contemporary science is slowly catching up, now documenting the effects of vibration on bone, muscle, and general health.

The sad fact is knowledge is lost faster than science can learn. As the Indigenous elders disappear, the experience of this ancient culture is passing on with them.

The Australian Bushman Series

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