Father Earth instructed Kunapipi, the Great Mother, to make everything needed to live on his skin. She used her huge store of sacred words to do this, making selections very carefully for each item. First she created Day and Night, and then the seasons so that all the plants and creatures she made next would have a rhythm to their lives. A good rhythm meant a time to rest and a time to work. Father Earth always said that the Great Mother’s middle name was ‘Balance,’ as she was so determined to keep everything equal and working together as a beneficial whole.
As she created each animal and tree, each bird and rock, each wind and river, she pronounced their names loudly with her contralto voice into the universe. Next, she enlisted the help of a huge snake called Rainbow Serpent, the best of her creations, to shape the land into mountains and valleys. He made high places and low places, so that water could flow, cool places and hot places so everything could have the best conditions for thriving. She watched with delight as he slithered his huge colourful body rapidly around, creating bright sparks like fireworks! High mountains appeared in a trice for frothy streams to cascade down, and lush valleys opened up to allow the wide rivers to flow.
The invisible power of the sacred sounds the Great Mother selected turned the words into form. As she stared with huge yellow eyes like suns, each item she needed appeared in its place.
When everything was ready, she went about her final task which was to create special human beings. She used her most precious words to create them, and she made two types: dark humans like Night, and white humans like Day.
She also gave her people special words for rituals and ceremonies, for speak-stories and sing-stories, and for the Balance Laws. She didn’t think that they would need more words than that for they could see and hear and smell and taste and feel things in their bodies. But more importantly, they could just-know things, and they could make things from everything she provided. This just-knowing and making skill was something that all the plants and mountains and oceans and creatures could not do so well.
When each human appeared she presented them with a sparkling package to welcome them. Each package contained a supply of simple gratitude for everything which made their lives possible. All she asked was that they sprinkled it around liberally during their human visit on Father Earth’s skin. Mother Nature decided that instead of bird-song for birds, and snake-hiss for snakes, and tail-wag for dingo, and croak for toad, she would give people singing with words so that they could communicate with each other. This was because people were not exactly like bird, or mountain, or dingo or toad.
She knew that they could live happily on her skin where she would provide everything they needed, and that they could sing and speak, and paint and carve and sculpt and dance, to entertain each other. But the most important thing about human people was their huge, generous hearts which were filled with a very special substance Mother Earth dreamed up and named ‘Love.’ Then, all their pure hearts joined together in harmony to make the Great Heart of the Universe.
So her people lived happily on her skin. They loved the words of their rituals and stories and songs. Lastly she created wise Laws which ensured that everything the Great Mother had created would please Father Earth, and would thrive and multiply. The people didn’t need to use words for their everyday lives because they just-knew everything, and they were so full of Love that they didn’t need to express anything else. Her people had everything they needed because she had thought of everything, so they trusted the Lands and they trusted their lives.
Often life was hard for people without fur or feathers or scales. So, when rain came and nights froze, and sun was at its hottest, she provided caves and waterholes and fire to keep their smooth skin warm and dry.
But in time, and only sometimes, to her puzzlement, evil spirits crept into some of her human’s large hearts causing them to break the Balance Laws. They became frightened of the fierce anger of Mother Earth and Rainbow Serpent, her assistant. Of course, they were anxious about the punishment for their crimes.
Then some of her people broke the Law more and more often. They were impatient to have the things which Mother Earth provided at the wrong time. They wanted to eat all the huge green speckled eggs of Jabaru when there weren’t enough young. They wanted to eat emu when there was no celebration. They wanted to drink sacred water in times of drought. They wanted to cut wood when moon was old instead of new. They picked all bluebells to make medicine leaving nothing for other people. They became impatient, dissatisfied, thinking that they knew best.
Then one day these few ungrateful people invented money so they could buy things from other tribes exactly when they wanted them. Great Mother asked them where the gifts of supplies of gratitude were. But they told her they were lost and that they had grown tired of searching for them. When they got money they immediately stopped wanting to share with others as they had done before. Instead, they greedily made stores for themselves. Thinking only of themselves in this way made their eyes grow and grow and grow. And as their eyes grew their ears got smaller and smaller.
They did not listen to Kunapipi’s kind wise voice any longer, and turned their backs when she held out her hand to them to give them little surprises to encourage them back.
They no longer noticed her smiles and her signals because they weren’t listening or sniffing or feeling, but only stuffing their greedy eyes until they were satisfied.
Life on Father Earth’s skin became harder and harder for them, so now they needed money to buy food and shelter in order to survive.
Eventually, feeling pale and thin, one day out of desperation, they illegally plundered Kunapipi’s precious store of sacred words, and used them illegally to talk-talk-talk. In time, they learned how to make pictures from the stolen words since they were blessed with the gift of making things. But the more pictures they had, the weaker their just-knowing and intuitions became.
Eventually they needed the pictures and words merely to remember everything. They were addicted to them, unable to stop producing them, and then going on to make thoughts to fit with them.
They were no longer like plants and mountains and oceans and creatures. They were no longer ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ with Mother Earth. They called themselves ‘Word Fellas’ and made themselves separate and different from all her other creations.
Gradually the Word Fellas just-knew less and less and hid themselves away from the Great Heart of the Universe. They almost entirely stopped expressing their heart Love through painting and carving and sculpting and singing and dancing, and became envious of those who had not lost their abilities.
They forgot all that the Great Mother had to offer. They even turned their backs on the big red heart of Earth below his skin.
They forgot all about the tasting of stars, sniffing at moons, the looking at the endless song of all the other planets, and her big desert and vast ocean. So instead of just-knowing and being ‘Here’ and ‘Now’ with the Lands, the rituals and the Laws, they had to see things to be sure they existed, and talk-talk-talk about them endlessly.
They spent most of their time checking and double-checking, looking and looking, and looking again with their big sad eyes. In truth, they were lonely without the Great Mother and all her creatures and plants, without that warm deep-down knowing feeling and calm way of listening.
But they never talk-talk-talked about their loneliness because they had acquired the poison of pride in pull-string purses. They kept them hidden behind their huge eyes. They used all their money and even traded sacred words in order to buy pride secretly from evil and negative spirits.
Then the word fellas decided that they had hoarded enough words to make new skins out of. Their new skins were white and smooth and soft, and made them even more separate from the Great Mother and Father Earth, and all her sharing creatures. This made them want even more words and pictures, and smells and feelings stuffed inside their minds, which became inflated like balloons, while their pink hearts shrank.
They stockpiled more and more of Kunapipi’s supplies, so that they could be bigger and better than some people, and not so big or better than others. This meant that they had power over some, and wanted the power that others had over them.
So they were always measuring and striving, and doing and getting, and watching and thinking; all the things which Mother Earth’s sharing people of the Great Heart never needed to do.
One day it was decided by the elders that they would have two types of words: inside words and outside words. The outside words were to share with other people, and the inside words were stored up behind their eyes and kept secret from everyone else.
At night when they closed their eyes to sleep they would bring out all the inside words they had collected during Day and look carefully at them. Soon Kunapipi’s other creatures did not want to know all their extra words. They didn’t see the need for them. And so they ignored the Word Fellas, passing them by. It was as if they could no longer see them. They had become invisible pale ghosts living outside the Great Mother’s warm embrace.
The Word Fellas were surrounded by endless stores of everything they needed which they could access whenever they needed them. They spent all their time and energy seeking out new pleasures because they were bored and at a loss out on their own. Their appetites for exotic foods and endless alcohol, for pleasures of the flesh and feeding their lust, in time replaced the Great Mother and their place in her kingdom of Balance. Or so they thought.
But because their hearts had shrunk away from the Great Heart, and they made their own worlds inside their huge minds fitted out with everything they needed, they could no longer hear the calling of Kunapipi. She was the Great Mother of all, so she protected them when Father Earth asked for an explanation about the strange Word Fella tribe she had made. He was shocked by their lack of contribution to the Great Heart.
Secretly she continued calling out to them, longing for them to come back to join all her other creations.
Eventually they realized that they needed a place where they could be on their own. Their huge eyes had made them very good at counting and measuring, so they all moved to new Lands of Measuring and Counting, of ‘Then’ and ‘There’, of ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy.’ Because there were so many new kinds of words which they had grown from the original words they stole, they divided up this new Land into lots of different places, each with a new name.
But once they had made the long journey there and were installed in their new Lands, they discovered that if they stopped talk-talk-talking their bodies gradually fell apart because their skins were made of words.
Then because their hearts had become so tiny and they hardly breathed in any of Father Earth’s rich air, without their word-skins, they simply did not exist. They became white ghosts. So, they were constantly searching for secret recipes and commodities to stop their bodies from disintegrating. Now they became known as white fella ghosts.
In White fella Lands they no longer sheltered in caves or made fire, but instead made pointed roofs to put over their heads. They made windows and doors with seeing-stone glass in them which they could always look through. They could close and lock their doors with keys whenever they wanted to keep all their words safe. And this is how they lived.
But even though they had left the warm wise ways of Mother Nature, she, because of her mother’s love, allowed them to take and take from all her supplies. They were, after all, still her creatures, and she couldn’t bear to see them hungry, cold and pale.
Soon Father Earth began to notice he was in great pain in certain places on his skin. He called Kunapipi to him and asked her the reason for this. She confessed that some of the people she had created had stolen sacred words and created a separate life for themselves from them. That they had broken the Earth Laws and their living places were very much out of balance.
He scolded her for being too kind, but inside he was crying for their suffering. He asked if she had reasoned with them, and she told them that they were no longer able to hear her voice, and their eyes, although so huge, were unable to see the Earth Lands. She lowered her head when she told him that they had ceased just-knowing, using their balloon minds instead, and that their supplies of gratitude had been totally lost.
Father Earth’s skin began to crack badly as a result of their abuse. The Earth Lands were changing rapidly, the cold places getting colder and the hot places getting hotter. The rivers were no longer in tune with the oceans, and all the creatures which had so harmoniously fitted in with their environments at the start of their creation, were confused. They easily became angry and eventually they too became sick,and some died.
Despite many attempts to reach the Word Fellas, Kunapipi could not make them hear. She tried making the winds blow harder and harder, making the rains pour endlessly to flood them out. She instructed Crocodile man to make big fire outside their cities and the Storm Heroes to create terrifying storms to shock them into realising.
But nothing worked. They were deaf and blind, obsessed only with their own pleasure and gain. She wondered how the Great Heart of the Universe could have let this happen.
Things had become so bad that Father Earth decided he must take the last resort. So, he allowed his painful skin to erupt instead of tolerating the pressure inside. This release caused mountains to explode spewing out the poison which had built up. He could no longer hold back the melting of the great snows because his agonising body was over-heated due to the white fella’s poison and pollution. This caused violent flooding.
Regretfully, he gave into the huge cracks which had developed at the bottom of the great oceans. This caused earthquakes and the massive shaking of the Earth. His greatest hope was that this shaking would wake the Word Fellas up. Soon, massive waves gathered momentum and size in the oceans and rushed towards White Fella Lands, eventually bombarding their roofs and uprooting their metal and see-through stone homes, and destroying all their hiding places.
Father Earth and Kunapipi watched on with pain in their eyes. They regretted that many Word Fellas lost their lives and became marooned in the World of the Dead. It would be difficult now to rescue their souls so that they could travel on into the sky and learn the next lessons after being humans.
They still had hope that the White Fellas would wake up and hear their cries, but they had become so terrified of severe punishment by the hand that fed them and the pain it might entail, that they ignored the cries if they did hear them. In truth, they knew they had gone too far, but their purses of pride were even larger now. Indeed, they were bursting at the seams.
Then to try to help, Kunapipi decided to send one of her strongest women leaders into white fella Lands. They called her Black Mama because she had the biggest heart of all. She went to console the suffering white fellas and to learn about their purses stuffed with pride and their empty shrivelled hearts. She went with grass baskets filled with Love to hand out to them, and although they abused her too at first, her heart was big enough to tolerate their evil ways.
Eventually as they walked aimlessly about their polluted cities piled high with debris and ravaged by disease, desperate for their alcohol and pain killers, lashing out at others who they blamed for their misfortune, they suddenly saw the bright light of her genuine happiness and grace. It was as if they had to go to the very limits of their endurance so that they could realise the truth of the Universe once more.
Black Mama’s fragrant irises of sincerity and caring woke their original senses up, and they longed to feel the warmth of her embrace. She did not attempt to punish them, saying that they had suffered enough, but she told them that she could show them the way to recover all their damage and pain.
So, reveling in her delicious fragrances and kindness, and embraced hard by her huge heart, they agreed to follow her back to Kunapipi’s Lands to start all over again with her help. They cried and told her that some evil spirit had leaked into them and had convinced them that they could live in a different way, and that they had truly believed that they could surpass the Great Mother’s wisdom.
In time, balance on the Earth’s skin was regained, and people lived in original harmony with everything they could ever need. There was no punishment for the white ghosts, only a strong shaking to wake them up from their ignorance. Soon they found their bright packets of gratitude again, and their fragile skin began to thicken up in Father Earth’s honey air.
They solemnly gave back all the sacred words they had stolen, and destroyed the extra ones they had created from them. They realised that they could never hide away from the Earth’s firm surface under their feet and his pure pockets of air to fill their lungs with again. They could never hide away from the Great Mother’s creatures and plants always reaching up to the heavens and sun to be fed and delighted.
They were so happy to be back in the Lands, and to go on making their contribution to the Great Shared Heart.