Worrorra Horizons

8 AM 4156/06
Anjolu Heather Umbagai Jilinja - Red Headed Woman 2006
Acrylic on cotton
780 x 615mm

Utemorrah, D (2000) Worrorra Lalai: Worrorra Dreamtime Stories Published by the Kimberley Language Resource Centre English translation of Jilinya wurda angkamanga (How the Spirit Woman Fell in Love) done by Mark Clendon.

The People-in-the-Middle used to tell this story. When they were traveling around in the bush they used to tell this story about the spirit-woman. (People-in-the-Middle, refers to people who lived in a period after the Dreamtime but before the memory of even the oldest living people, and to whom descent links can no longer be traced.) Once, a man went out hunting with some other men. He wanted to go away and camp on his own for a while. This man lived quite recently, not long before our time. People would travel through the bush spearing game and eating the food they found there. “So where should I go to now” thought the man. He walked along for a while and then he said to himself, “I know, I’ll make camp in that cave over there. I’ll sleep there and go and find the others in the morning.” It started to rain. He got into the cave and sat down there, and cooked his kangaroo. He gutted it and hung it up. He ate some of it and then hung up the rest of it again. Then he lay down and soon he was fast asleep. He heard something. He heard footsteps approaching. “They’re coming towards me” he thought. “I’d better open my eyes and see who it is.” Slowly, he opened his eyes. “Hey! There’s a women standing there! Now what can I do with her?” he thought, and he put a spell on her ears so that she would forget. “Who are you?” he asked her. “I’m a spirit woman,” she said, “and I’ve come here to be with you.” “Alright, come and sit here with me.” So she stayed with him that night, and he put a spell on her ears so that she would forget things. She came with him to where all the other people were. He made her sit down a little way away. “Sit down here,” he said, “and I’ll tell the others,” and he left her sitting there while he went off. “I’ve found a spirit-woman,” he told the others, “and I’ve brought her here. There she is, sitting just over there; see if you can bring her here.” They all ran out to see her and brought her back to their camp, and they stared at her. “Oh! Look!” they said, “Is she a real woman?” they asked. “She is,” he replied. And so she lived with the man. She slept with him, and he would go off with her to gather honey. Then one night, the women were told, “Go down to the pool and get some water”. “Let’s go while the moon is out,” the women said to each other. “Yes, yes” they agreed and they got their bowls. “You go and get me some too,” said the spirit-woman’s husband. So she got her bowl as well and went after the other women. She went with them down to the river, but when she bent down over the water in order to scoop some up, she saw herself in the water; she saw her reflection. And then and there she sank, down under the water. The other women went back to camp. “Where’s that spirit-woman gone” asked the men. “We’re not sure what happened,” replied the women. “She sank down under the river when she saw herself in the water.”

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