by Brett Burt
Tom Bombadil-type figures are known in many Australian Aboriginal stories of the Dreaming or Dreamtime. Like Tom, they are not considered omnipotent and so are not the equivalent of Dreamtime Ancestral Beings who created the land, God, Allah, or Eru. The figures are not creator figures but are maintainers of the system or land, separate from what western society would call angelic or Valar, Maiar or daemonic beings.
Different to wizards and sorcerers (incidentally clearly the Order of Wizards are Maiar, not proper wizards, the term wizard here I think Tolkein has used wrongly, they are higher angelic or daemonic beings).
Various mythologies have names for these enigmatic figures which I think are an amalgamation of cosmic Trickster, Pan-like beings and in aboriginal stories has been called Koin by the Darkinjung, Daramulan, the Green Man or hairy man in the bush. Beings that visit during initiation and carriberrie (coorooboree) cermonies, are called out to when entering land sacred to them, or entering another persons country.
Part nature spirit, part human-helper, part demi god. Of the Earth and maintaining the world but not creators of it or messengers of the gods. Like Tom they were there in the beginning of the land and would last as long as the land lasted, having mastery over the land because they are the land.
Tom was Anglicized in the book as a merry ole fellow, wearing bright clothing in a European or Celtic faerie characterisation. In Koori/Murri/Nungar or other aboriginal group paradigms he would be characterised as the mysterious fellow who appears at the edge of camp, warns someone, takes someone out to the bush to show them secret things, owns a swamp or watercourse and needs to be asked for permission to enter etc.
In Wiradjuri terms, all of Nature is alive and coherent so a yarn featuring characters like Tom Bombadil or the River Daughter would easily be understood.