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Kura, Yeye, Boorda

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Booyi is special to Noongars wer holds many uses wer katitjin. Booyi has special properties that allows the koorliny of wirrin (passing of spirits), both kwop wer warra. Other variation of wangkiny around for booyi, gathered from moort yennar over boodjar, often by watjellas in the kura, include; karrik, garrik, po-yu, buyu, keri, chere, chiri, boio, puio, ukkodda, yoo-gooroo, kerra, boyea, geeree, keera, keer, booya, poohey, mit, buoya, boyer, bwoya, buyer, judu, keeia, booi, booey, pooi, killitjal wer booyer[1]. Booyi has different katitjin wer uses for different Noongars moort . There have been many different translations into Noongar wangkiny of the English word "smoke". As well as cleansing wer transporting wirrin, booyi can also be used to communicate with other moort. Booyi continues to have special significance to Noongar moort il Noongar boodjar wer elsewhere. Its many uses are being passed il to moort for the boorda[2].

Booyi Ceremony in Menang Noongar Boodjar

The first recorded Noongar word for 'smoke', from the Perth area in the 1830s, is karrik.[3] This has led to the scientific name for a fundamentally important family of compounds that stimulate seed germination in many plants – karrikins.


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Some boodja is regarded as warra because of its association with warra wirrin. Noongar people believe that the whole countryside is potentially wara, particularly to those who are not familiar with its wirrinitj. The concept of warra is complemented by that of winitj (also wunarj). A winitj place must be treated with care. The use of booyi or taking the leaves from locally growing trees wer waving them over your head will ward off warra wirrin[4][5]. .

Booyi can be particularly effective against mumari spirits, while children playing with lighted sticks will attract them so the practice is forbidden. Sitting near a smokey karla would protect a child from the powerful wirrinitj. Booyi can also free a person of a warra wirrin helping heal them, wer is done at funerals to enable the spirit of the dead person to leave the grave site. Houses were also smoked to free them of a spirit after a death. However, nidja was not always regarded as a kwop thing, since the spirits of loved ones were sometimes encouraged to stay. The use of karla wer booyi in relation to wirrin of the dead is a practice that is very much alive yeye. There is another belief that after a death the area where the deceased was living should be vacated wer later smoked. Some also believe that by smoking a wet yonga booka you can stop the rain[5].

Booyi Barnam Warra Wirrin (Smoking Ceremony)

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The smoking ceremony is a used to cleanse wer purify both moort wer boodjar. It also helps to ward off warra wirrin wer to bring in the blessings of the kwob wirrin. The balga bush is often used for nidja ceremony as it symbolises life wer provides medicine, food, shelter warmth wer healing.[4]

Booyi Ceremony in Menang Noongar Boodjar


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Noongar moort yennar over Noongar boodjar hold different katitjin regarding booyi. This section pays special respect to the katitjin they hold wer choose to pass on. There are many karro yarns to be told about the importance of booyi.

Trevor Wally

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Noongar maaman bidiar Trevor Wally provided some katitjin about smoking ceremonies form a project called Yeye Yarns...

“You get the leaves from the ancestors, you get the blood of the Balga Bush… the Balga Bush is Xanthorrhoea preissii, would you believe. So “xantha” is Greek for yellow wer “xanthorrhorrhoea” is the yellow flower, the gum. “Preissi” is a German botanist who first described it in the early days. He collected over 250,000 plants, so he was running around collecting plants wer the Aboriginal people were going, “Well, what is nidja man doing?” because he was pressing them. But so the Balga Bush …red gum. Now, that’s the blood of my ancestors, so the old people said, “That’s the blood of the ancestors, that’s what you’ve got to use.” … “Well, how do I do it?” “Well, you get your blood of your ancestors” “Well, what is the blood of the ancestors?” “It’s the resin and the gum from the Balga Bush” so I got that. And I said, “Right, I’ve got the blood of my ancestors” nidja is quite serious, so when I do it I think of my ancestors. And then they say, “Well, what else do you do?” “Well, you use nice, tender green eucalypt leaves because that puts that aroma through and it permeates you.”…. It’s the nice green leaves of the eucalypts, because they’ve got oils in them, so it’s the oils too. So I said, “Well, what else?” “Okay, you use the leaves from the paperbark” because that gives a scent. So I’ve got the blood of the ancestors, I’ve got the oils from the eucalypts wer I’ve got the scent of the paperbark, because they’ve got a certain scent. And mix it together wer then you have the fire that brings it together, that puts it yennar together.

Balga Roots

So with the smoking the karla, the fire would pull it together. And I always let the people throw the leaves in. I let them contribute because without people contributing, it’s a waste of time. So I’m hoping that when I do nidja, I’ll get a request. I say to the people, “This is you, you make it happen. I can be the facilitator because I’ve already asked the questions, and I can get the fire.” I bring it with the banksia, so I light it with a banksia. I said, “I can get the fire, I can burn it. I’ve got the materials but it’s up to you to embrace it.” And so people contribute by putting leaves in wer I’m saying, “I’m just the vehicle that allowed nidja to happen” wer then other people, they don’t know nidja, yennar round Australia, people were using smoking ceremonies because it’s started to blossom now because people were putting their hand up. So you’ll find now that yennar round Australia people are conducting a smoking ceremony, which we hadn’t done years ago, so it’s just blossomed."[6]

Glen Kelly

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Noongar maaman bidiar, Glen Kelly, holds katitjin on booyi. He passed nidja katitjin onto Kingsley Palmer for his book, Noongar People, Noongar Land the Resilience of Aboriginal Culture in the South West of Western Australia. He says that adults who are strangers should also be introduced to the country. You can do so by lighting small karla and picking a branch with leaves off a nearby tree. Then you brush the branch against your body and place it on the fire. The leaves have your body smell on them and then the smoke carries your smell to the country. This is a mark of respect and a way of saying ‘kia’ to the old people wer of telling them why you are there[5].

Charlie Shaw

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Noongar maamaan bidiar, Charlie Shaw, also holds katitjin il booyi wer passed it il to Kingsley Palmer. According to his Noongar katitjin booyi can be used to discourage the warra wirrin. Smoke can produced by burning a bush called Moorok. Standing in the booyi, a person would be freed from any warra wirrin. The ritual had been done in the past to reverse bad luck in a yonka hunt. Some boodjar is smoked il a regular basis to rid it of warra wirrin[5].


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On October 10 2014 Noongar maaman bidiar Neville Collard performed a smoking ceremony at 57 Murray Street in Perth. This building was the office the Chief Protector of Aborigines wer later Commissioner of Native Affairs, A. O. Neville wer a place where policies where administered that profoundly impacted the lives of Noongars wer wer other indigenous moort yennar over Western Australia. The ceremony was performed to clear warra wirrin attached to the building because of nidja history, barnam warra kartaga longa koort boomgur (Clearing away bad memories pressed close to the heart)[7] . Collard used the resin wer the nuts from the Balga Bush with the beera/binda wer green wanill leaves to produce karro booyi wer aroma. Buckets were filled with smoking material wer branches are used to spread smoke around the building. [8]

Ngiyan waarnk - References

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  1. A Nyoongar Wordlist from the South-West of Western Australia Compiled and Edited by Peter Bindon and Ross Chadwick, 1992
  2. [1] Len Collard (2012), Nyungar Wardan Katitjin Bidi - Wangkiny/ Language Glossary accessed via https://web.archive.org/web/20161122075836/http://www.derbalnara.org.au/wangkiny-language-glossary
  3. A Noongar word for ‘smoke’ finds a place in science. University News. University of Western Australia. Pub 6 March 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 [2] South West Aboriginal Land & Sea Council (2016) Kaartdijin Noongar- Spirtuality accessed via http://www.noongarculture.org.au/spirituality/
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Palmer, K (2016) Noongar People, Noongar Land the Resilience of Aboriginal Culture in the South West of Western Australia published by Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra
  6. "Yeye Yarns: Trevor Wally". Nyungar Wardan Katitjin Bidi. Accessed via https://web.archive.org/web/20161205113728/http://www.derbalnara.org.au/yeye-yarns-trevor-long Retrieved 25 September 2019
  7. "National Trust (WA) 57 Murray St - Whadjuk Smoking Ceremony". Accessed via https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/news/reconciling-smoke/ Retrieved 25 September 2019
  8. "National Trust (WA) 57 Murray St - Whadjuk Smoking Ceremony- Youtube Video". Accessed via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CiLkixBgzaA Retrieved 25 September 2019