By Steven & Evan Strong
Contributing Writers for Wake Up World
Karta: ‘Gateway to the Heavens, Blessed those who Listen’.
Our time on Karta (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) was both unforgettable and Heaven-sent. Standing on country in the company of Ramindjeri spokesperson Karno Walker was an honour and privilege. We were allowed to be part of a learning experience that was at times as cryptic as it was revelatory; a story of days passed, and one we believe this will be essential in the days soon to come.
It was our plan to spend three nights and two days either beside a large open-pit fire or in country with Karno trying to absorb a few snippets of Ramindjeri Lore, history, Dreaming stories, and the off-world implications found within a maxim that resonates throughout all Original tribal estates: “as on top so below.” The challenge was that this task, even at the basic level, was so out of kilter with the limitations and comforts that are an integral part of modern daily life.
Two New Volunteers from Abroad
As has always been the case, our group was an eclectic mix of volunteers, this time made up of regular participants Ryan Mullins, Adam Pippen, Darren McElroy. We were also privileged to have two special guests join us on this occasion, Graham Hancock and Santha Faiia. Although Graham and Santha had already joined us for the previous four days viewing a variety of archaeological sites further north (more on that another time), this time together was different; being with Karno on such a sacred place was to be for all of us, a face-to-spirit interaction with an Original mentor of pedigree in control of proceedings.
It is our belief, and one subscribed to by Graham and Santha, that to fully grasp the complexities of the Old Ways and protocols, nothing seen or touched on site could be understood in its totality unless sitting with Original people immersed in ancient Lore and truths.
The First Among Equals
During our time on Karta (Kangaroo Island) with Karno at the helm, we learnt so much yet struggled to take it all in. But one message did not escape my comprehension: the Original narrative and genetic pool began at Karta. “First in time, first in law”. We have already gathered together a substantial case validated through genetics, archaeology and reliable historical accounts, all reinforcing the Original belief that “all peoples of the world come from us”, the Original people, but until now one had never been so bold or specific in choosing a preferred geography and mythology.
The hypothesis that Karta as the location at which the genesis of modern humans first took place is a massive call, and at odds with the late Auntie Beve’s proclamation that Homo sapien sapiens appeared first in Darkinooong land. Equally, we have known for some time that many of the tribes that make up the Bundjalung Language Confederation are just as adamant that Nguthungulli (the Creation Spirit) came out of the waters and set first foot on earth near Byron Bay, making his way across the continent and creating the many life-forms and formations found within Australia. In what only adds to the uncertainties, the same claim of first origin and presence is made by many other Original tribes.
Conceding that many tribes lay claim to being custodians of the first place, it may appear this is a pointless exercise, but we are bound by duty and protocol to present Karno’s case and will do so by first establishing an empirical base.
From the first time Karno declared with absolute conviction that the Ramindjeri were first among equals, therefore “the peacemakers and law-keepers” for all Original tribes, it raised some immediate questions.
We already knew that the ancient dates, artistry and technology associated with sites found within at Karta run counter to all conventional notions of a small band of African fishermen and women setting up camp on the northern shores of this exotic land between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago. In fact, there are so many sites across South Australia whose ages just don’t fit neatly into any accepted theory of an ancient migration into Australia.
Why is it that the oldest date attributed to any rock engraving – determined through cation ratio by Dr. Donald Dorne to be over 43,000 years – was found at Olary SA? Surely if the first settlement of Homo sapien sapiens in Australia took place in the northern section then slowly spread around the coastline, as most academics propose, the first evidence of such artistic activity should appear up north, near the coast. Located some distance from the coast at a location probably the furthest in Australia from any potential northern landfall, this distant engraving at Olary lends no weight to any African migration theory.
Of course, from our point of view the 43,000 year estimate, which has been extensively questioned by authorities, is merely a minimum base-line from which to investigate further back in time. The discovery of an amazingly detailed and intricate design of a salt-water crocodile at Panaramitee (inland SA) which is located “in the Olary region”, has is estimated to be at least 75,000 years old and possibly far more ancient. Respected Australian archaeologist, Josephine Flood, describes the engraving is an “enigma”. But despite the uncertainties, she concluded that due to the “thick layer of desert varnish on the petroglyph, I am going to be so bold as to suggest that it may derive from a time when terrestrial activity and human occupation actually co-existed in South Australia, although the youngest crocodiles found so far date to more than 75,000 years”.
There are three explanations that can account for this engraved anomaly. Of course, any claim of natural agencies at play can be immediately discounted; the potential that it was formed through the actions of nature is less than zero. This leaves us with two alternatives to consider.
1) This engraving, obviously of high artistic merit, was done by Original people who saw this creature elsewhere and then came back to their country and recorded this exotic animal in rock
2) At some time greater than 75,000 years ago the Original people actually engraved an animal that was present on their land.
In Original culture, to carve any motif, animal or spirit figure which was not an integral part of the tribal life and estate was unheard of; a sacrilege of such depth it would be punishable by death. Thus the only viable and realistic option is, as Josephine Flood proposed, that “crocodiles and humans co-existed” at some time greater than “75,000 years”.
The obvious problem here is that accredited texts assure us that no hominids or modern humans set foot anywhere in this country for at least another 15,000 years.
Even further back in the time-line, the discovery of a small piece of human skull at Lake Eyre dated by thermoluminescence to be 135,000 years old further adds to the possibility that modern humans came into existence somewhere in South Australia. But there is more than a shard of bone and a mysterious crocodile carving in this inconvenient equation; there is very strong evidence that the first indications of Original humans using art and inventing stone tools also took place somewhere within South Australia.
Even if we ignore the ‘unexplained’ Panaramitee crocodile engraving – and most academics invariably do – there is no disagreement that the most ancient Original art style yet discovered in Australia is referred to as the Panaramitee tradition. The distinctive symbols, motifs and designs of that region in South Australia have been found all over the continent. The actual date when this began is still in debate; all that can be proposed with certainty is that once again, it was the far southern part of Australia that leads the way, in time and place.
The same can be said for Kartan tool technology, which is also agreed to be the oldest category of tool technology found in Australia. Kartan stone tools can be found in every part of Australia, and are markedly different from the stone tool technologies found in Africa and the rest of the world. Being unlike other stone tools found throughout the globe and first made on the most southerly point of South Australia (Karta), both the location and timing of this technology also run counter to African migration theories.
It seems wise to take a pause in proceedings to assess the implications of this archaeology. So far what seems increasingly possible is that somewhere in South Australia, Original people and culture may have come into being and existence. To define boundaries more specifically, either the inland region around Panaramitee/Olary/Lake Eyre or the far southern section of Karta (which was joined to the SA mainland until 10,000 years ago) seem to be the prime candidates. However, as is our custom, we must always factor in Original advice and Lore.
Unique to Australia is a funerary practice with an ethereal destination for the recently departed. When an Original person dies, ceremonies are performed to facilitate the soul’s passage and eventual reincarnation when returning again and again to that person’s tribal estate. All of these rituals of passage and rebirth take place solely on tribal lands. However, there is one quite sizeable exception to this funerary process, one we believe to be a fundamental part of the entire Original tribal landscape.
Many mainland Original tribes of South Australia see this rite of passage in a slightly different light and geography. They believe that when leaving the body their soul takes a circuitous route, in that their spirit form travels to the island of Karta and only then can ascend into the stars to wait for the right timing and a new body to inhabit. Their souls actually separate from their land, often passing through other tribal estates and ‘ascend’ only when in Ramindjeri land.
Without any parallel in this continent, and possibly the planet, the notion of neighbouring souls eschewing their homeland in preference to a more distant sacred location may seem in contradiction with so many Original Laws and cultural practices. It is well known that the most dreaded verdict when convicted of breaking an Original Law, the one punishment most feared, was total physical ‘freedom’. If in breach of the most sacred Original covenants, the culprit would beg for death rather than banishment from his or her tribal grounds. Never allowed to return, when that person dies their soul is lost in perpetuity as they can never incarnate on the country of their birth, or any other place. Yet what we see here runs counter to such a basic tenet of Original religion and Law.
However, if we consider that the tribes closest in proximity to Karta maintained the closest links to country, and retained the knowledge that their ancient genesis and birthplace occurred on Ramindjeri land, such a detour is more than in keeping with our previous understanding.
The ‘Garden of Eden’
Karno Walker is the accepted spokesperson for Ramindjeri people and keeper of the ancient Dreaming stories. Not only is Karno insistent that the Original Homo sapien sapiens arose in Karta in very ancient times, under the auspices of Southern Law, he believes he can track the many near and far locations eventually reached as the numbers of people increased. According to Karno the entire eastern, southern and west coast of Australia, reaching inland some 300 kilometres, was and still is part of Southern Law Confederation which began at Karta.
But despite the evidence, very few scholars are comfortable with the concept that the Original people were the first Homo sapien sapiens, and such a discussion becomes even more problematic when nominating not only a general region, but then focusing upon one small area/island. Many in mainstream academia still maintain that the Original people came from Africa by boat and then remained uneventfully within Australia for 50,000 years, making no contact with any other civilisation, until the arrival of plundering European sailing ships just over 200 years ago. We are convinced the reverse is the case; we believe in ancient times, Original mariners were the first to circumnavigate the oceans of the world “in a figure eight”, setting sail from Australia.
We have already assembled evidence through genetics, bones, historical accounts and mythology detailing an Original influence and presence throughout the planet and supplied, using a very broad palette, a general idea of what was exported abroad. You can read our discussion of the genetic origins of humanity here:
- DNA Evidence Debunks the “Out-of-Africa” Theory of Human Evolution
- Experts Dispel Out-of-Africa Theory: DNA Suggests Human Denisovan Ancestry
Now for the first time, it is possible we can be more precise and expansive. If Karta was the first location and inspiration behind the ‘Garden of Eden’, and is still revered as the beginning place not just by the Ramindjeri but by other tribes of South Australia, it is possible that most of their knowledge was not lost and is still being shared with us. What we must try and determine is, how did the ancient wisdom, philosophies and relationships to the land and stars guide the Ramindjeri? And more importantly, of what benefit can this ancient knowledge be in these modern times?
Karno shared a small selection of this incredibly ancient Original story. Despite our cultural shortcomings, what follows is basic summary of a few pieces of wisdom that were ‘drip-fed’ to us during our three nights and two days on Karta.
The Sacred Trilogy
To begin with, Karno made it clear that the number three is the elemental yardstick when deciding whether any claim of Original knowledge or sacred sites is legitimate. Any claim made of authentic oral Lore or Dreaming stories must be awarded three ticks or it is either untrue or incomplete, Karno will not have it any other way. For any Original Dreaming story or sacred site to be given credence, the continental mantra of “as on top so below” must be invoked. A designated landform aligned to a planet, star or constellation, detailing the same narrative or the deeds of a Sky-hero was obligatory in every case, bar none.
Karno spoke of three types of hominids that are bound to this land. All three beings are still united in their present day place of residence, but equally each is related to separate off-world ancestries. Always cryptic and sometimes silent when discussing sacred matters, all Karno was prepared to reveal was that my enquiry in relation to a Pleiadian heritage being part of the middle-sized Homo sapien sapiens’ heritage was correct. He gave nothing further beyond offering that the other two beings originally came from elsewhere in the Universe.
The little beings he spoke about we were already aware of; we had seen photographs taken in 1938 of the Barrineans of Far North Coast of Queensland standing less than one metre tall, read reports of the massacre of 54 little people (Dhimlami) near the Gold Coast in the 1850’s and spoke to people who have seen the tiny folk in recent times. As for the tall beings, which are not to be confused with the Yowies, both Karno and his friend Gary had seen these entities which seem to straddle the divide between the physical and metaphysical, and stand about four metres in height.
Consistent to this repeated celestial theme, Karno made reference to stars and constellations in clusters of three in nearly every shared story of the night-time skies.
Karno took us to a sacred place dedicated to the echidna and told us of the three days and nights where he, as a young initiate, undertook the Original ceremony, while three initiated Elders supervised proceedings. The presence of three overseers is also in accord other tribal rites; Auntie Beve told us that when she received ceremony, she too was mentored by three fully initiated Original women while dancing her part of the ceremony continuously for three days and nights (If she stopped at any time during her dance, she would have failed).
We have been aware for some time that there is a common expectation held within many Original communities that if one highly respected Elder or Custodian died, then two more will die very soon after. Over years, time after time, there have been occurrences of three deaths close to each other, in fact in decades of work with the Original people, we cannot recall an instance where the mathematics did not add up to three. And what only confirms this tragic sequencing at a more personal level, three Elders who were central to our research, including Auntie Beve, all passed over within a fortnight of each other.
Why is it that whether discussing the stars/constellations, clusters of deaths, types of Original people, ceremonial tasks, distant celestial ancestry and other supposed coincidences, there is trilogy involved? Even mainstream religious doctrines recognize the sacred trilogy. What can be stated with confidence is that the number three has relevance to many things Original and Karno knows why, and we do not – yet.
There was so much more to our time on country, far too much to canvas in one article, but one part of this amazing journey we can already fully appreciate is the structure and purpose of the cultural camps the Ramindjeri are trying to establish.
Blessed, Those Who Listen
While sitting around the open fire Karno and his wife Christine told us of their experiences with a group of seventeen supposedly wayward adolescent males who spent some time on country and under Karno’s counsel. All were chosen because they were unhappy and causing strife. They were Original in ancestry and unable to find their identity, or a reason not to be angry or despaired. These young teenage males had already chalked up an imposing tally of misdemeanours. They were in conflict with authorities and no longer engaged with the community without typically creating grief and attracting the attention of authorities. Official advice, penalties, punishment and remediation programs had all failed them, and it seemed all options were exhausted.
Of the seventeen who came and listened, only one has fallen by the wayside while the other sixteen have turned their lives around and taken control of their destiny through re-engaging with the spirits that guide from within. They have connected with their Original culture and the land, and began to fill a void that was literally tearing them apart. Walking through the bush and along the shore, learning of the relationships that tie people to the land, gathering firewood and staring at fire and stars above, taking counsel and absorbing Original perspectives, this was a curriculum sorely needed for these jaded juveniles.
While working as a co-operative, what took place transcended the benefits of any institutional remediation or punitive program. These young men understood that they were walking on sacred ground. Not only had they gone bush the Old Way, they were being led by Original men and women who venerate Original history and protocol, and ancient Ramindjeri Lore. The prime directive is to give back to these men that which was stolen from their ancestors, and acquaint these troubled souls with their Original birthright.
Being a teacher for close to half of my life, it is the benefits gained through this Ramindjeri culture camp that struck such a receptive chord in me. I had organised a similar program to cater for young Original and non-Original males who were, in most cases, selected because of their inability to control their frustration or anger in high school classrooms. According to the review of this program conducted by a Senior Education Officer, the results were outstanding, so much so the program was automatically re-funded without any application. But in comparison to what the Ramindjeri are offering, what we put together was a crude introduction. What is occurring at Karta is far more deeply involved, and life-changing. What is taking place at Karta is as close as one can get today to a ceremony honouring the adolescent’s rights of passage. For those who attended, the two days and three nights spent at Karta will never be forgotten. In the spirit of Wirritjin, this is food for the soul irrespective of skin colour.
And if we bear in mind the social and financial costs such a program averts, helping young men to turn the Original corner is a win-win situation — and one that needs to be funded and replicated as soon as possible.
But alas, there is one practical hurdle yet to overcome. Camping in the open on grass, cooking on an open fire, and living with no shower facilities or shelter from the rain is an each-way bet. When the sun is shining and air is still, all is fine… but it can get quite damp under foot and under sleeping bag during inclement conditions.
Nonetheless, I have no doubt what we experienced was a game changer. Amongst all the glitter, money, reality shows, mortgages and servitude of our modern society, there is another way for those who cannot or will not participate in the charade. For the Walkers, the next task is to secure facilities (shelter, electricity, toilets, showers…) to help this enterprise continue as an all-weather activity, reaching those unaccustomed to the Old (outdoor) ways. It would be a tragedy if the Original truth of Karta and the important cultural work of the Ramindjeri was limited to a dry weather excursion onto sacred country.
To learn more, or offer your support to the Walker family in their work, please contact [email protected]
About the authors:
Steven Strong is an Australian-based researcher, author and former high school teacher. Evan Strong is a researcher, historian and author with a Bachelor degree in the Social Sciences. Their work is to explore the ancient story of the Original people, a narrative that was almost lost to aggressive European colonisation.
Editing and additional commentary by Andy Whiteley for Wake Up World.
This article © Wake Up World.