Father Sky in Judaism and among Aboriginals of Australia

It is part of Deep Ecumenism to recognize the role Father Sky plays in humanity’s encounter with the Divine.  An encounter that might return with our deeper exploration of the cosmos today—and our need to recover the healthy and sacred masculine.

Australian native dancers. Originally posted to Flickr by NAPARAZZI.

The Jewish people tell about Moses encountering God at the top of a mountain, Mount Sinai, and encountering such glory there that he had to cover his face with a veil for the “skin of his face was shining” so.  In Psalm 99 we hear that God “is high above all peoples,” a “mighty King, lover of justice and establisher of equity” who spoke to Moses, Aaron and Samuel “out of the pillar of cloud.” 

The psalmist recommends that we “look up” to the mountain and to the heavens to see God especially when things are not going so well on earth.  As Rabbi Zalman Schactner points out, this is the opposite of the missionary position in sex when one looks down.  Instead of looking down, men are to look up.  To the vastness of God’s sky.

Aboriginals in the Dieri country of Australia call upon their supernatural relatives in the sky to make rain happen to save the peoples on earth.  Southeastern tribes of Australia believe in supernatural beings called “All-Fathers” or “Sky Beings.”  The Father of them all is Nurrundere who made all things on the earth, bestowed weapons of war and hunting onto humans and also instituted all rites and ceremonies.  The sky is his homeland. 

Short clip on the history of the native people of Australia. Originally posted to YouTube by NowThis World.

One connects with the sky god through ceremony, for example when the tribe kills a wallaby and cooks it, the hunters chant as the fire, kindled by women, raises smoke to the sky.  As the smoke ascends the hunters rush in and lift their weapons and branches towards heaven.

A Wiimbaio tribe believe the Nurelli made the trees, animals and land and after giving laws to the humans, went up to the sky and is now one of the constellations.  Other tribes believe the Supreme Being once lived on earth as a Great Man but eventually ascended to the sky and they call him “Our Father” or “Father of All of Us.”  The son of God is Binbeal, the rainbow, who teaches the Kulin people the arts of life and social institutions.  He ascended to the sky land from where he oversees the tribe.

Among the Aboriginals, there is a special encounter with the “Father” during puberty rites of boys becoming men.  The Father’s voice resembles that of the distant thunder.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, pp. 4f.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Group of native Australian men. Originally posted Flickr by alexwon16.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize how a living sky and cosmos can invigorate a new and deeper understanding of the sacred masculine for boys and men today?  And for women as well?

Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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12 thoughts on “Father Sky in Judaism and among Aboriginals of Australia”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, I have enjoyed thinking about this meditation. I just wanted to point out a few things before getting to the Queries for Contemplation.
    The Jewish people tell of Moses encountering God at the top of Mount Sinai, and encountering such glory there that he had to cover his face with a veil for the “skin of his face was shining.” That is what the Jewish people saw then, but what I can still see now and wonder at is what is described in Psalm 8:3-6–“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? For you have made them a little lower than the angels, and have crowned them with glory and honor. You made them to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet…” This text speaks of the wonder we can still see in Father Sky, but it also tells us that we are to be stewards of the earth, in that God has given us dominion over the earth, as it is said in Genesis 1:29-30–“And God said, Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat, and it was so.” Some theologians in the past have even speculated that the Imago Dei or the Image of God is our “dominion-having.”
    The Aborigines of Australia call upon their supernatural relatives in the sky to make rain happen to save the peoples on earth. They also believe in supernatural beings called “All-Fathers” or “Sky Beings.” We too have a Sky God, just listen to this which is also from the Psalms: “Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth; sing praises to the Lord, to Him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens ; behold, He sends for His voice, His mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and His power is in the skies. (Psa. 68:32-34).
    “Do you recognize how a living sky and cosmos can invigorate a new and deeper understanding of the sacred masculine for boys and men today? And for women as well?” Yes, in terms of opening up the Via Positiva for them to begin their journeys in the best way possible–with wonder!

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    There is a common denominator leveling the playing field across all disciplines and religions. It’s cloaked in a variety of images and cultural inflections, and regardless of what it’s called, it’s without category or distinction. It as another name for everything, the stand-alone and irreducible substance of all form that fills all space. The more it is spoken of and named, the further one gets from it. As there is an inverse relationship between as wordy description of an experience and the total enjoyment of that experience, its time to stop commenting on same, so as not to diminish the experience and enjoyment of same.

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    Jeanette Metler

    Ritual and ceremony is such an intrinsic sacred way of connection… of connecting humanity with the all and the everything of creation and the Great Mystery whom continously births and maintains and sustains this connection… through a living relationship with. Yet so many within the family of humanity are fearful of exploring and engaging with this imaginal, creative realm of relationship with… through the sacredness of ritual and ceremony.

    This became clearly evident to me yesterday, during our soulsister Lorraine’s, celebration of life. Prior to her decision to take her own life, she had arranged all that was to take place for this ceremony… which involved our drum team, singing and drumming eight of her favorite ancient chants. As we were drumming and singing, each guest would take a flower down to the river, say their own prayers and release these and the flower into the river. There were about 40 people there. We had left an empty seat at the drum, representing not only the Spirit of Lorraine, but also as an open space to come and join us in this sacred ritual of ceremony… of sending Lorraine’s soul/spirit prayerfully onto the next passage of her journey that is unfolding, evolving and emerging within the consciousness of her beingness… and the spiritual reality of this.

    Not a single person choose to sit in the open space, the empty chair… to engage with, and explore this imaginal, creative realm of connection with… of relationship with the reality of Spirit… through the sacredness of ritual and ceremony. The fear of the unknown… and the disconnect… the seperation that this causes…. was palpable. They did not see the hawk that joined us, flying in circles in the sky above us. They did not hear the voices of the family of blue jays that had encircled us in the trees, chimming in with the singing and drumming. Nor did they hear the voices of the ancestors singing, creating overtones of harmonies within the songs. They did not sense the essence and presence of Lorraine’s spirit that was with us then, as she used to be.

    This deeply saddened and perplexed me… as this is the realm I move and live in, in which I experience and encounter the reality of beingness… in relationship with the all and the everything… the Great Spirit… and the mystery of this original blessing offered to all… the reality of which is available and accessible to all… through the sacredness of ritual and ceremony… that beauty which deeply connects the as above and the so below, the spiritual and the natural, existing together in the bonds of oneness and wholeness… awakening us from the illusion of seperateness, based on fear.

    Truly many have lost the spirit of curiosity, creativity, imagination and the passionate, longing desire to know the Great Spirit, the mystery… whom longs to be known… as the living God whom is with us, within us, for us… desiring to move freely through us and our lives… making manifest this spiritual essence and presence known… through our very own hearts, minds and souls… through the many ways of sacred ritual and ceremony that make this spiritual connection of relationship… a lived reality… which the soul’s journey itself is all about.

    All that surrounds us… all that is here now, on the earth and in the cosmos… right here, right now… when recognized, acknowledged and responded to, can and does invigorate a new and deeper understanding of our relationships and connections… to ourselves, each other, the all and the everything of creation and the beauty and goodness of the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit within all. We are all apart of maintaing and sustaining this reality… and engaging creatively and imaginatively with ritual and ceremony is one of the ways of doing so.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, I write this to you, having lost my own Lorraine. She was my 87 year old “anam cara” and her last words to me were “I love you.” And I loved her…

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    Yes, Matthew, our indigenous peoples/sisters and brothers (our ancestors) throughout history and up to the present day, have worshipped our Creator Source as Father Sky and Mother Earth, and as a Living Loving Presence in All of Creation, within and among us as a Sacred part of our daily human lives. Tragically, Western civilization has increasingly destroyed our many indigenous peoples, their cultures, their spirituality, and Mother Earth and Her living creatures and natural living abundance that sustains humanity… Consequently, Global Industrial Civilization has accelerated our human destruction as a species as well as our living and Sacred Planet. I encourage everyone to study the website postdoom.com founded by Michael Dowd, Christian minister and internationally prominent environmentalist. 85 world environmentalists and spiritual teachers/leaders are interviewed about the reality of our Western civilization coming to an end in about 10-20 years, and how personally and socially as human beings we need to prepare emotionally (grieving process) and in our small communities to help cope with this dying process. Even though as elderly human beings we prepare for our natural mortality, we still have to deal with the profound sadness for our young adults and children who are facing a very stark near future. Spiritually we have to rely on our deeper faith (especially on our eternal Souls) to help us cope and maintain our deeper human values, and we may also have to rely on the deeper wisdom and spirituality of our indigenous sisters and brothers to at help heal and restore at least some of our deeper connection to Present Sacred Mother Earth, each of us in our own personal unique ways with our small communities of family, friends, and community groups, one day at a time, knowing God’s Spirit of Loving – Compassion, Wisdom, Guidance, Strength, Creativity, Oneness… is still within and among us….

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      Well said, Damian. It’s seems likely that this unsustainable culture must completely crumble so that a new culture can be born. There must be a metanoia. The onset of Covid-19 gave us a chance to take a re-look at what we have been doing; but instead of listening to the voice of the coronavirus, those in power–not only in the U.S., but beginning with the U.S.–decided to let the pandemic advance even more stupidity and let it drive the heads of a huge segment of society into the sand. As an older person, I will probably not be here to see the worst of this destruction, but I mourn for the lives my two adult children and my one grandchild will need to live through; and I don’t know what to do to help them. The scientists of our time are showing us such incredible beauty, yet too many of our politicians refuse to look at the big picture.

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    Thank you for these words, Damian: “personally and socially as human beings we need to prepare emotionally (grieving process) and in our small communities to help cope with this dying process.”

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    The Mongolian and Turkic peoples originally worshiped a sky god called Tengri. They too saw the sacredness of sky and earth.

    From Wikipedia:

    Tengri (Old Turkic: ???:????, romanized: Kök Teŋri/Тeŋiri, lit. ’Blue Heaven’; Middle Turkic; تآنغرِ; Ottoman Turkish: تڭری; Kyrgyz: теңир; Turkish: Tanrı; Azerbaijani: Tanrı; Bulgarian: Тангра; Proto-Turkic *teŋri / *taŋrɨ; Mongolian script: ᠲᠩᠷᠢ,[1] T’ngri; Modern Mongolian: Тэнгэр, Tenger; Old Uyghur: Old Uyghur alphabet – tankry (tängri).jpg tängri;Uyghur: تەڭرى tengri [2]) is one of the names for the primary chief deity of the early Turkic and Mongolic peoples.

    Worship of Tengri is Tengrism. The core beings in Tengrism are the Heavenly-Father (Tengri/Tenger Etseg) and the Earth Mother (Eje/Gazar Eej).[dubious – discuss] It involves shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship.

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    I wish that the United States would follow the lead of Australia in acknowledging the harm done not only to our indigenous people but also to our Black brothers and sisters from slavery. There are local attempts, and that is good. It will not become public policy in my lifetime, I fear.
    Any wider perspective and reverence for the sacred in everything encompasses all hims, hers, and them.

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