Originally written for the good folk at Rainbow Serpent festival (www.rainbowserpent.net)
The Wagyl is, according to the culture of a certain aboriginal people, a snakelike dreamtime creature responsible for the creation of the major rivers and other waterways and landforms around their city & surrounding regions.
A superior being, the Rainbow Serpent created the universe and the people. The Rainbow Serpent delegated Wagyl, a lesser, but nonetheless powerful, deity to create and protect the rivers, lakes, springs and wildlife. The people were appointed as the guardians of the land by the Wagyl. The Wagyl was seen by certain tribal elders who spoke to the dreamtime being.
The rivers are said to represent the body of the Wagyl, which meandered over the land creating the curves and contours of the hills and gullies. The being is strongly associated with rivers and lakes and is supposed to still to reside in the waters deep beneath the springs.
As the Wagyl slithered over the land, his tracks shaped the sand dunes, his body scoured out the course of the rivers; where he occasionally stopped for a rest, he created bays and lakes. Piles of rocks are said to be his droppings, and such sites are considered sacred. As he moved, his scales scraped off and become the forests and woodlands of the region.
The rainbow serpent could also be seen in, and descended from the band of stars spread across the sky, which form the milky-way galaxy.
The “Wagyl stories” represent the survival of oral traditions passed down for tens of thousands of years by Aboriginals and many of them have their roots in, and are accurate documentation of certain historical occurrences, making them some of the oldest histories in the world, as we shall examine shortly...
Our story begins through the eyes a British anthropologist named Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. In 1926 he noticed a common thread that wove through Aboriginal myth across the Australian continent.
They all tell variations of a single (common) myth which speaks of an unusually powerful, creative & often dangerous snake or serpent, sometimes of enormous size. The serpent was said to be closely associated with the rainbow, rain, rivers, and deep waterholes.
The snake had many names across Australia, and parts of the story would vary from tribe to tribe, but essentially it was the same tale. Radcliffe-Brown coined the term Rainbow Serpent, a name which is still in use today by people and institutions all over the world to refer to the pan-Australian myth & as a symbol of Aboriginal mythology in general.
This 'Rainbow Serpent' is generally and variously identified by those who tell the 'Rainbow Serpent' myths, as a snake of some enormous size often living within the deepest waterholes of Australia's waterways; It is known both as a benevolent protector of its people and as a malevolent punisher of law breakers. The rainbow serpent's mythology is closely linked to land, water, life, social relationships and fertility. Descended from that larger being visible as a dark streak in the Milky Way, it reveals itself to people in this world as a rainbow as it moves through water and the rain, shaping landscapes, naming and singing of places, dreaming them into being.- wikipedia
The Rainbow Serpent is traditionally associated with ceremonies to do with fertility and abundance, as well as the organisation of the community and the keeping of peace.
The belief in the Rainbow Snake, a personification of fertility, richness in propagation of plants and animals and rain, is common throughout Australia. It is a creator of human beings, having life-giving powers that send conception spirits to all the waterholes. It is responsible for regenerating rains, and also for storms and floods when it acts as an agent of punishment against those who transgress the law or upset it in any way.
Rainbow Serpent could be mischievous, swallowing and sometimes drowning certain people yet strengthening and endowing the knowledgeable with rainmaking and healing powers. It would blight others with sores, weakness, illness, and death. Australia's Bunyip was identified as a 'Rainbow Serpent' myth of the afore-mentioned kind.
"It swallows people in great floods and regurgitates their bones, which turn into stone, thus documenting such events. Rainbow snakes can also enter a man and endow him with magical powers, or leave 'little rainbows', their progeny, within his body, which could potentially also make him ail and die. As the regenerative and reproductive power in nature and human beings, it is the main character in the region's major rituals."[i]
The rainbow serpent is the closest thing to a unified symbol of Australian-Aboriginal native mythology and philosophy. It is one of their oldest and original concepts as it is part of their creation mythology. Thus it is spread throughout the tribes of the Australian continent as it was brought with the tribes as they frontiered the land after crossing in to Australia through Torres Strait 40-100,000 thousand years ago.
No one knows for sure when Aboriginals crossed into Australia but the oldest evidence is a skeleton called the Mungo man, which was found in Lake Mungo NSW. He is dated at between 40-68,000 years old. His exact age is still disputed, and New South Wales is a fair way inland...
The myth of the Rainbow serpent is sometimes associated with Wonambi Naracoortensis, a large, ancient snake, one species of the now extinct Australian megafauna. Megafauna was a race of gigantic prehistoric animal species, many of which co-existed at the same time as ancient Aboriginals and can be found depicted in their rock art.
Named by M.J. Smith, in 1976 for the region of Naracoorte in South Australia where it was found, Wonambi Naracoortensis was a giant 5-6 metre-long snake. It's family of constrictor snakes contains only 2 known species in Australia.
The other species is Wonambi Barriei which has been found in Western Australia. Naracoortensis was first described from fossils collected at Naracoorte and Riversleigh in South Australia, it was the first extinct snake to be found in Australia.
Both Naracoorte and Riversleigh have turned out fossils providing crucial evidence of the evolution of the native fauna of Australia. These two sites in particular are especially important for the extreme diversity and the magnificent preservation of their fossils. These sites have helped scientists to understand the history of animal lineages in modern Australia, the world's most isolated continent. The Naracoorte Fossil Mammal Site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994.
The discovery of this snake provided scientific evidence to support the fact that Aboriginals had been handing down the history of this species through their oral traditions & had kept the tale alive in their memory for up to 50,000 years. There is also evidence that they did similar things, accurately documenting the eruption of ancient volcanos some 30,000 years ago in Australia. See Tower Hill on the great ocean road just outside Warnambool in Victoria. The rainbow serpent myths are another example of how great occurrences from history often tend to fuse with mythology over the course of great time.
The name Wonambi is derived from the description, told by the local Aboriginal people of Naracoorte, about a serpent of the Dreamtime. This serpent was of course the Rainbow Serpent. The Wagyl snake of the Western Australian Noongar people is thought to correlate to the South Australian people's Wonambi snake, indicating that this creature was once found across the continent. The family of this species of snake, Madtsoiidae, became extinct in other parts of the world around 55 million years ago, but new species continued to evolve in Australia, the last known to have existed, became extinct only in the last 50 000 years.Interestingly enough Naracoorte is not far from earth-grid point 44. If you are into that sort of thing.[ii]
Wonambi seems to have been an ambush predator. Rather than using venom, the animal would kill its prey by constriction. The head of the Wonambi was small, restricting the size of its prey but you can imagine the terror felt by aboriginal tribe members as they expected themselves (or their children) to be ambushed by a hunting serpent the length of 3 or 4 men put end to end!
Wonambi naracoortensis lived during the Pleistocene Ice age period, in natural sun-traps beside local waterholes (Sound familiar?). They would ambush kangaroo, wallaby and other prey coming to the water to drink. For this reason, children were forbidden in Aboriginal culture to play at such places, and only allowed to visit when accompanied by an adult.
Plotting the locations of the habitats & fossil locations of this snake in Western Australia has been found to closely align with areas the Noongar people regard as sacred sites.
Australian scientist Tim Flannery claims that this animal, along with other Australian megafauna, became extinct (partly) as a result of activities of the Australian Aborigines, for example firestick farming.[iii]
History of the Serpent
The word serpent was traditionally used in a specifically mythic or religious context, signifying a snake that is to be regarded not as a mundane natural phenomenon, but as the bearer of some potent symbolic value. Snakes have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind. The serpent is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols.
The serpent was a very important social and religious symbol, revered by the Maya. Mayan mythology describes serpents as being the vehicles by which celestial bodies, such as the sun and stars, cross the heavens. The shedding of their skin made them a symbol of rebirth and renewal.
They were so revered, that one of the main Mesoamerican deities, Quetzalcoatl, was represented as a feathered serpent. The name means "precious serpent". Like Australian Aborigines’, Mayan Elders would also communicate with a being that they called the vision serpent through various means of religious ceremony & consciousness expansion including blood letting rituals involving the king, which they performed ontop of their pyramid temples along with the taking of entheogens such as Ayahuasca, cannabis and magic mushrooms.
Likewise, there are innumerable names and stories associated with the serpent over the world, all of which communicate the significance and power of this being within Aboriginal & global traditions.
Ancient paintings of the Rainbow Serpent have been preserved in caves across Australia. The earliest paintings appear in Arnhem land more than 6000 years ago. They perhaps could be present as early as 8000 years before the present, but we don’t know as the seas rose after the last Ice Age, destroying or covering up the evidence.
“The most recent image was painted on rock in 1965, and the tradition has continued in work on bark and more recently on paper...Among most tribes numerous Rainbow Snakes are said to populate the landscapes that make up their homelands. Two types of Rainbow Serpents consistently turn up in the culture of Aboriginal Australians; the female Rainbow Serpent, is the mother, the original creator being; and the male Rainbow Serpent, is the transformer of the land.”[iv]
Rainbow Serpent is named for the snake-like meandering of water across a landscape, and the colour spectrum caused when sunlight strikes water at an appropriate angle relative to the observer.
In the physical world the Rainbow Serpent represents the element of water and may appear as a rainbow, lightning or the lustre of quartz crystal as quartz crystal also refracts sunlight into the rainbow spectrum.
Interestingly enough, quartz crystal is what we use in modern computer chips to store and hold information & conduct electrical charge. Quartz crystals have piezoelectric properties; they develop an electric potential upon the application of mechanical stress. One of the earliest use of this property of quartz crystals was to make phonograph pickups. One of the most common piezoelectric uses of quartz today is as a crystal oscillator, The resonant frequency of a quartz crystal oscillator is used for very accurate measurements of very small mass changes in the quartz crystal microbalance. Thus it can be used to make clocks and other accurate & precise measuring devices. The basis of all mechanical clocks is a tiny little tuning fork made out of quartz crystal. As we also know, lightning is the original source of modern electrical power on Earth. We harnessed it and fully began to understand it from a lightning bolt that struck a key hung on a kite in America by Benjamin Franklin in June of 1752.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been studying the Aborigine’s connection to the land and their knowledge of the natural cycles of Australian weather patterns for many years. Here is a report from their department of Climate, Weather and Aboriginal Culture about the Rainbow Serpent;
“A common theme in all Aboriginal mythology is the Rainbow Serpent. The Rainbow Serpent is seen as the inhabitant of permanent water holes and is in control of life’s most precious resource, water. It is the sometimes unpredictable Rainbow Serpent, who vies with the ever-reliable Sun, that replenishes the stores of water. Serpent stories vary according to environmental differences. Tribes of the monsoonal areas depict an epic interaction of the Sun, Serpent and wind in their Dreamtime stories, whereas tribes of the central desert experience less drastic seasonal shifts and their stories reflect this.
The close affinity between water and snakes may stem from the presence of most snakes in the vicinity of permanent water. The Walmadjari people of the deserts of the Northern Territory see the spirit of water as the Carpet Snake. This is of scientific interest in that carpet snakes cannot survive long without water and are almost always found near water sources.”
Here is a report on their findings about Indigenous Seasonal Descriptions;
“Australia’s climate is diverse. Monsoon tropics, desert, savanna, alpine and temperate regions can all be found in various locations. The sheer diversity of ecological zones negates the concept of a rigid European seasonal calendar for the entire continent. The Aboriginal people of Australia inhabited distinct regions that were usually concordant with geographical and ecological regions. An intimate knowledge of the environment was paramount for survival and the resulting meteorological view of the Aboriginal people is one of great diversity, where the nomenclature of the seasons is often dependant on localised events or resources.
The ability to link events in the natural world to a cycle that permitted the prediction of seasonal events was a key factor in their success. These natural barometers were not uniform across the land but instead used the reaction of plants and animals to gauge what was happening in the environment. The presences of march flies, for example, was an indication to the Gadgerong people that crocodile eggs could be found, to look for native honey, and it was approaching the late dry season.As a result of all this, seasonal cycles as described by the various Aboriginal peoples differ substantially according to location. This produces a far more intricate and subtle overview of Australia’s climate than the 4-season European climate description of Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, applied as it is across most areas of the continent.” 
It is through an incorporation of Aboriginal & other ancient native knowledge that we may find the answers to issues that modern people are searching for so desperately in order to deal with climate change and sustainable living techniques.
The rock art images discussed before, are probably the oldest living representations of the rainbow serpent. The images in western Arnhem Land have been studied in detail by scientists at Cambridge University in Britain, and by Meredith Wilson at the Australian National University. They have analysed 107 images, and say they have found convincing evidence that the first snake images were inspired directly by climate change and also claim to have identified a living model for them.
Dr’s. Paul Tacon and Christopher Chippindale from Cambridge say that the first images of Rainbow Serpents appear in the rock art around 6000 years ago. Their findings say that these original carvings set the pattern for all following images. Their distinctive characteristics include; a snake-like body, curved horse-like heads, at least two types of tails (pointed or spiked), and an assortment of plant and animal appendages, including wispy tendrils and ear-like projections.
At first the researchers thought of a seahorse, but after talking to Dr John Paxton, a fish expert at the Australian Museum, they refined the model to a mores specific animal; the ribboned pipefish,Haliichthys Taeniophora. Haliichthys Taeniophora is found around Irian Jaya and the coast of northern Australia from Shark Bay in Western Australia to the Torres Strait (where the aboriginals crossed into Australia).
"This creature would have been unfamiliar to people living inland until the sea began rising after the last Ice Age and crept steadily inland, flooding familiar features and causing great disruption to climate, hunting and traditional patterns of life. Traditional food plants and animals dwindled and war increased as groups of people from diverse language and cultural groups were forced to share the diminishing landscape.
Because of this stress, the researchers reasoned, the serpent became a symbol of unity and peaceful cooperation, as well as of creation and destruction. From this they conclude that the Rainbow Serpent represents the world's oldest continuous religious tradition."[vi]
But what does it all mean..??
There is very little evidence of genetic mingling from outside influences once the Aborigines reached Australia. It seems as though once they made it here and established themselves, they became cut-off from the rest of the world, enabling them to continue & evolve their traditions in isolation without ideological pollution or conquering from outside sources. Native Australians evolved in relative isolation compared to other parts of the world, which suggests that developments in language and tool use were not influenced by outside sources.
This means that whatever knowledge & stories they brought with them represent one of the purest links to the memories and ways of ancient man that we have. If we consider the integrity of their oral traditions & indeed learn how to decipher and understand their myths from the way that they are told, then we will be tapping into a vast source of ancient knowledge about the planet that will help us heal some of the most ominous & devastating problems facing our world & global society today. This is especially so in relation to areas such as water conservation & sustainable agriculture and dealing with climate change.
The continent of Australia still has this ability to distil and brew things unpolluted in isolation to this day. I see Australia as a place to take the knowledge & the best ideas from the rest of the world and advance them in our paradise so that we can pass them back to the rest of the world to see how they work on a large scale after we have demonstrated them successfully here on a small scale. That is what I see as Australia’s role in the future on the world stage, especially in the areas of sustainable industry, alternative energy sources & water conservation. We may see our country become a world leader in that area over the next 10-15 years if we pay attention and respect to the ancient traditions along with the gravity of the current global climate & ecological situation.
So what does it mean that the Aboriginals brought this ancient symbol of the snake with them into Australia tens of thousands of years ago, and where did they get it from?
Anatomically modern man, with a brain capacity equivalent to ours first left Africa about 150,000 years ago after kicking around the motherland for about 50,000 years or so previous to that. Theoretically they had as much capacity to understand and make sense of the world as we do, they just did not have access to such a database of recorded knowledge as we do today to study from. Nor did they have ways to reference things in a scientific manner, so they created mythologies & art to symbolically represent and pass on their concepts. All humans on Earth can be traced genetically back to Africa through our DNA.
The Aborigines have occupied this continent for at least 40,000 years. They came originally through South East Asia, entering the continent from the North. Prior to European settlement / invasion, it is estimated that there were over 200 different languages spoken. Aboriginal oral tradition meant that information was passed on from generation to generation through storytelling, song, dance and visual art. Aboriginal art is the oldest continuous living artistic tradition in the world, with paintings in rock shelters dating back 6-8000 years and rock engravings dating possibly as far back as 20-40,000 years.
This means that the story of the serpent & it’s role in the creation of the universe is older than civilisation which science tells us originated in Iraq & Egypt 6000 years ago, & must be one of the earliest stories of humanity, possibly originating before we migrated out of Africa and kept alive as humans evolved and spread all over the world.
The Flower Of Life
The modern parallel to a unified symbol representing our philosophies and science of creation is something that is called by some “The Flower Of Life”. The Flower of Life is a geometric pattern formed by interlocking circles within a larger circle. It is said to be the most basic pattern that all the knowledge the universe can be broken down into in order for it to be deciphered and brought back into existence again. The language is mathematical, symbolic & geometrical. It can also be extended into the realms of sound & form. The famous Golden ratio (Phi) can be found within the pattern, so can the Fibonacci sequence.
It is considered by some to be a symbol of sacred geometry, said to contain ancient, religious value depicting the fundamental forms of space and time. In this sense, it is a visual expression of the connections life weaves through all sentient beings, and it is believed to contain a type of Akashic Record of basic information of all living things.
There are many spiritual beliefs associated with the Flower of Life; for example, depictions of the five Platonic Solids are found within the symbol of Metatron's Cube, which may be derived from the Flower of Life pattern. These platonic solids are geometrical forms, which are said to act as a template from which all life springs.Within the Flower of Life pattern, among other things, are the symbols of the Vesica Piscis, an ancient religious symbol, and Borromean rings (John Bonham's symbol), which represents the Holy Trinity.
Modern research into the Flower of Life is being conducted in certain parts of the world and was conducted by kings & scholars from ancient cultures of the old world.
The symbol predates the bible. The oldest known physical example of the flower of life comes from the palace of King Ashurbanipal, an Assyrian King. The palace step (now in the Louvre) is dated to 645 BC. There are claims that the carvings in the temple of Osiris in Egypt are much older but they may have been carved by the Copts who were Greco-Egyptians. Although Ashurbanipal’s step is the oldest dated carving of the symbol, evidence of the knowledge gained from the pattern is wide spread throughout the architecture & art of even older temples & monuments throughout the world.
The messages and meanings within the Flower of Life pattern are understood by studying the relations and proportions & sequences of the circles within the design and the advanced mathematics that they express. The depth of knowledge contained within the pattern allows for continuous study by an observer through to a theoretically infinite or at least incredibly sophisticated & advanced capacity of knowledge & understanding of the universe.
The symbol has been found on ancient objects in Egypt, France, China (in the forbidden palace), Japan, South America, Tibet, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Norway and quite a few other countries that supposedly never communicated with each other. Researchers are baffled. Many, if not most of the religious symbols of the world are derived from the flower of life.
Leonardo Da Vinci was fascinated by the symbol and studied it intensely;
Leonardo da Vinci studied the Flower of Life's form and its mathematical properties. He drew the Flower of Life itself, as well as various components such as the Seed of Life. He drew geometric figures representing shapes such as the platonic solids, a sphere, and a torus, and also used the golden ratio of phi in his artwork; all of which may be derived from the Flower of Life design.
Rainbow Serpent festival will honour and celebrate both of these symbols as a bringing together of Ancient Aboriginal knowledge & teachings from all over the world. Both traditional, ancient and advanced modern sciences will be represented & taught here. If you really want to learn about the culture of Australia & the world, this is where you will find it. Look out for a giant illuminated Flower of Life mandala made out of mirrors & crystals while you are there.
Arthur Radcliffe-Brown saw the aim of his field to study primitive societies and determine generalizations about social structure. For example, he saw institutions as the key to maintaining the global social order of a society, analogous to the organs of a body.
For example universities are like brains as they store, create and pass on the knowledge of our society& prisons are like the liver as they filter & recycle (supposedly) ‘toxic’ parts of our community.
His studies of social function examine how customs aid in maintaining the overall stability of a society He also espoused the notion that a major goal of social anthropology was to identify social structures and formal relationships between them, and that qualitative or discrete mathematics would be a necessary tool to do this (this was in 1926!). In that sense Radcliffe-Brown may be considered one of the fathers of social network analysis.