The Rainbow Serpent Dreamtime Story

The Rainbow Serpent Dreamtime Story

The tale of the Rainbow Serpent is one of the most widely recognised Dreamtime stories. This ancient tale, passed down through countless generations, speaks of creation, nature, and the connection between land and life.

The Rainbow Serpent is one of the most prolific Dreamtime beings and symbolises rebirth, while also being revered as the creator and protector of water. The details of the story itself vary across Aboriginal communities.

Image: John Speight. 2019

The Story of the Rainbow Serpent 

At the dawn of the Dreamtime, Australia was a barren expanse, devoid of life and colour. Then from the underground emerged the Rainbow Serpent. As he journeyed across the land, his massive body carved deep winding valleys into the earth. These would later become the rivers and streams that nourish the continent today.

The Rainbow Serpent's quest was to find his tribe. Though he traversed every corner of the land, he found nothing. After sculpting the earth, the Rainbow Serpent was exhausted. He lay down and rested, seeking solace in waterholes. His vibrant colours subdued in the cool embrace of the waters. 

After resting, he decided to breathe life into the desolate landscape. Calling forth frogs filled with water, he tickled them until water erupted from their bulging mouths and bellies, filling the winding valleys and giving rise to rivers, trees, and grass.

With the land now teeming with life, the Rainbow Serpent awakened the animals. From the kookaburra's laughter to the goanna's lumbering stride, the world was alive with sound and movement. Each creature had a role, and with it, rules set by the Rainbow Serpent. Those who obeyed would be rewarded with humanity, while those who defied would be turned to stone.

Then a great rain began, flooding the world. Two Rainbow Lorikeets, seeking shelter, were deceived by the Rainbow Serpent and swallowed whole. Realising the gravity of his actions, the serpent ascended to the sky, transforming into a arc of colours as an apology to the grieving tribes below.

Today, the Rainbow Serpent remains an emblem of creation, consequence, and the cyclical nature of life. It's a reminder of the delicate balance between man, nature, and the spiritual realm. Every time the rain stops and a rainbow graces the sky, it's the Rainbow Serpent's way of saying sorry, connecting us to an age-old tale of creation and redemption.