Circumcision and the Aranda Tribe

A discussion of the ritual of circumcision in the Aborigine Aranda tribe of Australia and how this practice relates to the aspect of magic and religion.

This paper provides a brief history of the Aranda tribe (also called the Arrernte), a group of Aborigines who lived in Central Australia, their rituals and customs . In particular, it examines the rite of circumcision when a boy reached the age of ten to twelve. The ritual takes many months to complete and begins with the men of the camp tossing the boy in the air repeatedly, somewhat like we toss a child in a blanket signifying the boy’s long journey into manhood. It also looks at the practice of totemism, which blends nature with their religious beliefs and how the totem (tjurunga) for the circumcision ceremony was one of their most significant totems.
The Aranda tribe (also called the Arrernte) is a group of Aborigines who lived in Central Australia. They were the source of the Dream Time legends, and lived in a society filled with complex religious and spiritual events. Several anthropologists and scientists studied the tribe around the turn of the 20th century, and documented their rituals and rites. They were hunter-gathers, who did not know how to raise crops until the white man came to Australia. They had complex religious beliefs, which were illustrated by their many rituals and rites, including the many layered rites young men must go though to enter manhood.