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Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime Paperback – November 1, 1991

3.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Customs and beliefs of the Australian Aborigines have long fascinated social scientists. Placing little value on material possessions or the concept of linear time, the Aborigines possess a complex social, religious, and ceremonial system focused on preserving and maintaining their ancestral lands. In the tradition of armchair anthropologists, Lawlor attempts to enter the Aboriginal mind, taking as sources early ethnological accounts, conversations with Aborigines reviving ancestral beliefs, and insights from his study of ancient religions. He believes the Aborigines possess an archaic consciousness vital to the survival of the planet, a view of human life held by ancient hunter-gatherer societies but lost with the emergence of advanced technology. Avoiding anthropological jargon, Lawlor presents a survey of Aboriginal belief and way of life, enhanced by illustrations of Aboriginal art and early photographs of Aboriginal ceremonies. Bibliographic sources, though not seen, appear to be extensive. Recommended for large collections.
- Lucille Boone, San Jose P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

The best of what the Aboriginals have let outsiders know about their ecological and shamanic practices, origin myths and kinship rituals, social and spiritual practices. The illustrations are spectacular, more than 150 color and duotone illustrations include some of the earliest photographs of Aboriginal people, shown here for the first time.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; Original ed. edition (November 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892813555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892813551
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David J. Sullivan on June 21, 2008
Format: Paperback
Well well well, I fully expected to find a five star reader rating here. I guess I forgot that these types of different, forward-thinking books polarize people so much. I too have seen Aboriginals in Northern Arnhem Land as well as in the pub in Katherine, and I am sure that many Americans have seen drunken Indians wandering zig-zagged down the side of the road. We can all see what have become of these cultures since being raped, pillaged and tempted by European settlers. They stood not a chance - even the Aboriginal communities that did not want any "aid" from the Australian government were forced to take it - and became addicted to refined wheat, sugar and a new 'easy' way of life. Talk about the Sirens' calling sailors to their deaths. Alcohol has had the most devastating affect on their lives of all our influences. It is interesting to note that kava is strictly illegal in Australia: This is a easily grown root that can be crushed and drunk to produce a mellow high, and does not induce the same ill-effects to Aborigines as alcohol.

Anyways, Lawlor talks of pre-contact Aboriginal culture. If he wanted to do a book on post-contact culture, derrrrr, it would be a different book.

The book that he has written is packed with insight and the information provided within is the sort of stuff that could change your life if you just stay open to it. You may not agree with all of it but it doesn't make the rest a lot of baloney. I have just finished reading it a second time and there is just soooo much to this book. Yes it has been compared with Mutant Message (which I didn't like at all) but this is the real deal. I don't want to be too effusive but it has changed the way I perceive the world on a daily basis.
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Format: Paperback
This is the single finest book, leading to a slew of other great books (biblio) one could ask for regarding humanity on this earth. I was surprised to read the negative reviews above, but thats typical of the Humanist dogma we've all been steeped in for so long - people don't even have the patience or capacity to try and understand anything beyond their McMac and what FOX tells them: 10,000 Years of Progess and Civilization Good; naked humans living on earth for 2 Million years Bad. (and by the way...Mutant Message was formed almost entirely after Lawlor's work, not the other way around, not to mention that M.M. did not ring true to me). Lawlor takes the modern ego to the hoop and 360 dunks it.
A prime reason you know this work is great (not perfect) is that Lawlor essentially destroys the idealism he wrote naively of in his grossly idealised "Sacred Geometry" - Though containing truths about Egypt, it's as soaked in the fallacy that Egypt was little more than sacred, peaceful people living fully with nature, floating from temple to temple in robes with all the knowledge of the universe - as if the Egyptians did not cut all the timber, drain all the wetlands, overgraze all the grasslands, put 1000's of plants and animals into extinction, mine out all the precious minerals, enslave all known peoples, and blast a desert out of what was once a lush subtropical region. He dumps much of this with "Voices" in finding the earth and its peoples who never - and still don't - do such nonsense.
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Format: Paperback
I read Voices when it first came out. I contacted Lawlor, and subsequently took him to the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia to meet with eminent Ngarinyin Lawman the late David Mowaljarlai and his countrymen. Robert Lawlor has written the most comprehensive, authoritative book on Aboriginal spirituality in life. It is masterful. He encouraged me to write a book on my own knowledge and experience with the Ngarinyin people. This I did. Men's Business Women's Business: The Spiritual Role of Gender in the World's Oldest Culture published by Inner Traditions International (US)was inspired by Voices of the First Day. Unlike many who write about Aboriginal culture and philosophy Robert's diligent attention to authenticity is unsurpassed. This book has my unequivocal recommendation. A modern masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
Lawlor weaves together three strands:beliefs and customs of the Australian Aborigines, an indictment of Western civilization, and aspects of the new physics.He has penetrated Aboriginal consciousness to explain their world view from the inside.He explains why the land is sacred to them, and how keeping in contact with the Dreamtime maintained their way of life for over 100,000 years.The deeper and symbolic meanings of Aboriginal social organization and life cycle rituals are discussed.This is a book that can expand the boundaries of the mind.
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Format: Paperback
At least then you know you're getting real information from an Australian Aborigine, not handing your money over to some charlatan who has never been to Australia and is just ripping off Indigenous culture by writing mystical nonsense. Amazon has a very poor range of books about Australian Aborigines, but there are plenty available from Australian booksellers such as Fishpond.com.au. A few suggestions:

"Wecome To My Country" by Laklak Burarrwanga. Ms Burarrwanga is an Aboriginal Elder from the Yolnu tribe in northern Australia. This tribe still lives a traditional lifestyle on their tribal lands as they have done for thousands of years. Ms Burrarrwanga writes a beautiful account of life on her Country including Dreamtime stories (mythology), beliefs about kinship with the land, community, hunting and the passing of the seasons.

"My People's Dreaming" by Max Dulumunmun Harrison, also written by an Australian Aboriginal Elder, "Uncle Max". He discusses many aspects of Aboriginal cultures including Law, Spirituality, Country and Dreamtime.

"First Footprints" is an Australian ABC documentary series about Aboriginal cultures and history which can be purchased directly from the Australian ABC shop (note that ABC means Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not American ABC). In the first episode, French archaeologists studying an ancient Aboriginal site are awed when an Aboriginal Elder is able to explain perfectly the uses of the thousand-year-old artifacts, how they were made, and her people's beliefs about the sacred site.
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