Name given to the spirit individuals or spirit children left behind by the ancestors of the totemic groups in the Alcgera. They are sometimes also called murra-murra.

fter our acquaintance with the Arunta, Unmatjera, and Kaitish tribes, the only conclusion which it seems possible to arrive at is that in the more northern tribes the Churinga re- present the surviving relics of a time when the beliefs amongst these tribes were similar to those which now exist in the Arunta. It is more easy to imagine a change which shall lead from the present Arunta or Kaitish belief to that which exists in the Warramunga, than it is to imagine one which shall lead from the Warramunga to the Arunta. From the former, by way of the Gnanji tribe, the transition is easy to th\u00c2\u00ab coastal tribes amongst whom the descent of the totem is strictly paternal, and the Churinga belief, as we know it amongst the Arunta, is only represented by surviving relics. In every tribe we have the idea of spirit children of special totems inhabiting spots from which they pass into the bodies of the mothers. In the Arunta and Kaitish we meet with what certainly appear to be the simplest and most primitive beliefs, according to which each spirit child has its own Churinga and can enter any woman, so that a child which is 1 The same is true in regard to, at all events, certain totems in the western division of the Worgaia tribe, but we cannot speak of these as a whole. 282 NORTHERN TRIBES OF CENTRAL AUSTRALIA ch. viii conceived by a woman who may happen to be, as not infre- quently occurs, out of her own country visiting some distant group with her black-fellow, belongs to the totemic group of that locality. This is a perfectly simple belief \u00e2\u20ac\" simpler than that of the Gnanji, whose idea is that, in the case of a woman conceiving a child in some locality other than one concerned with her husband^s totem, it is a spirit child ol the latter who has followed her up, and therefore in all cases, with only the rarest exceptions, the child belongs to its father\u00e2\u20ac\u2122s totem wherever it may happen to have been con- ceived. In the Binbinga, Mara, and Anula tribes, in order to reconcile the belief in spirit children left behind by Alcheringa ancestors with strict paternal descent of the totem, the belief has grown up that the spirit declines to go into any woman save one whose husband\u00e2\u20ac\u2122s totem is the same as its own.



  • Baldwin. (1904). Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan, pp. 281-2, 331.