A pair of unfriendly sky beings — father and son. It is they who make doctors, who are called mungurni. When a man wishes to become a doctor he collects a considerable quantity of fat from the echidna, kangaroo, emu, lizard, etc., and making a big fire towards sunset in some lonely spot where no one else is likely to come, he burns the fat, the smell of which, ascending into the sky, attracts the attention of the Minungarra who live there. They come down to earth, and seeing the man and knowing what he wants, they tell him not to be too frightened for they do not want to kill him altogether. First of all they make him insensible, and in the usual way cut him open and take out all his organs, which are then replaced by those of one of the spirits. Then he is brought to life again, told that he is now a doctor, shown how to take bones and evil magic out of men, and carried up into the sky. Finally he is brought down and placed near to his own camp, where he is found by his friends who have been mourning for him. They ask him what is the matter, and he tells them that the spirits have made him into a doctor. Cp. Mundadji.
When the Minungara see an ill person, the elder man sends the younger one down to the earth, in the form of a falling star, to see if the sick man be nearly dead, telling him to return when the man is close to death. If the younger spirit returns and reports that it is only a child he does not trouble to come down, but if it is an adult, then the elder Minungara comes to earth, in the hope of being able to suck the blood out of the body.
The elder Minungara is regarded as being in general form like a man, yet he has a very small mouth, which can only be used for sucking. They have knives instead of arms. A friendly spirit called Mumpani is constantly on the look-out to prevent the Minungara from hurting people.
- Róheim, Géza. (1972). The Panic of the Gods. New York: Harper and Row, p. 68.
- Spencer, Sir Baldwin. (1904). Northern Tribes of Central Australia. London: Macmillan, pp. 488, 501-502, 628.
This article incorporates text from Northern Tribes of Central Australia (1904) by Sir Baldwin Spencer, which is in the public domain.