Today one of the Indigenous elders at the Rainbow Gathering offered to take the children and perform an Indigenous ritual with them. Wiruungga Dunggiirr is a Gumbaynggair elder and describes the ceremony as the Indigenous equivalent to Christian infant baptism except this baptism is of Earth whereas Christianity’s baptism is of water.

Wiruungga informs us that his tribe believe that this ritual endows the child with a capacity to retain youthful vigour, spontaneity and lack of self conciousness (child-likeness) into their adult experience. Jesus says, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Parents are encouraged to spend quality time with each of their children and to engage in affirmation of unconditional parental love via touching, kissing, close physical intimacy accompanied by softly spoken words expressing this unconditional love. David came up with this little chant: “No matter what you do, I’m in love with you.” We all need this kind of affirmation, and how lovely to receive this connection early in life.

First, we gathered the families together. I’ve been told that there are usually more families with children attending a Rainbow Gathering, but the timing and location of this gathering prevented more from coming.

Walking along the rocky creek-side, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
To reach the beach where Wiruungga was going to perform the ceremony, we had to walk up the creek a little way.

Glendon Brook, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
The top of Glendon Brook is where the Rainbow Family pulls its drinking water from the creek, so no swimming is permitted past a certain point.

David, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
We ended up on a sandy beach upstream on the creek-bed where there was a lovely waterhole for swimming.

Brioni, Delaney and David in the water, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
It didn't take long before most of us ended up in the water to cool off.

Calista climbing a tree, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
A nearby pine tree was a fantastic challenge for Calista who has started climbing almost everything!

Collecting flowers for the Indigenous ritual, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
Wiruungga and Aisha collect blossoms from a lantana bush to decorate the sitting trough.

Indigenous ritual, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
After preparing the bed for the children to sit in, Wiruungga talks us through each aspect of the ritual and their symbolism.

We are a large group of quite small children, so after Wiruungga set everything up, explained the ceremony and the symbolism, he let the parents manage their children without interfering. It was a beautiful, peaceful time of bonding with the children, and interacting with other parents.

Indigenous ritual, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
The children sit in the sacred space and bowls of clay and ochre are passed around for the parents to daub on the kids' faces while Wiruungga sings and taps his sticks.

Indigenous ritual, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
David decorates our girls' faces with the three colours of yellow, red ochre and white.

Indigenous ritual, Rainbow Gathering, November 2011
After watching what was going on, Delaney was able to clearly instruct David to also paint her face!

After the ritual, Wiruungga gave the children presents he had painted — boomerangs for the boys and little pictures for the girls. They are lovely gifts and a special reminder of our time together at this Rainbow Gathering.