Among the Arrernte, Unmatjera, and Kaitish tribes, the spirit individuals who make the medicine men. In all cases their functions consist to a great extent in the removal of "bones" and other forms of evil magic. One medicine man said that, when he was made into a medicine man, a very old doctor came one day and threw some of his atnongara stones at him with a spear-thrower. Some hit him on the chest, others went right through his head, from ear to ear, killing him. The old man then cut out all of his insides, intestines, liver, heart, lungs — everything in fact, and left him lying all night long on the ground. In the morning the old man came and looked at him and placed some more atnongara stones inside his body and in his arms and legs, and covered over his face with leaves. Then he sang over him until his body was all swollen up. When this was so he provided him with a complete set of new inside parts, placed a lot more atnongara stones in him, and patted him on the head, which caused him to jump up alive. The old medicine man then made him drink water and eat meat containing atnongara stones. He had forgotten who he was and all about his past life. After some time the old man led him back into the camp, and showed it to him, and told him that the woman there was his wife. His coming back this way and his strange behavior showed his tribesmen that he had been made into a medicine man.



  • Spencer, Sir Baldwin. (1904). Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan, pp. 480-1.

This article incorporates text from Northern Tribes of Central Australia (1904) by Sir Baldwin Spencer, which is in the public domain.