The Seen and the Unseen, 1:1








George N. Appell & +Laura W. R. Appell : "Rungus Spirit Mediums"




George N. Appell & +Laura W. R. Appell : "Bulusu> Spirit Mediums"




H. S. Morris : "Shamanism among the Oya Melanau"




Je’ro^me Rousseau : "Religious Specialists among the Kayan"




+Sian E. Jay : "Spirit Mediumship in Central Kalimantan"




Jay Bernstein : "Re-interpretation of Illness among the Taman"




Richard C. Fidler : "Spirit Possession as Exculpation : the Chinese of Sarawak"




Robert J. Barrett : "Performance, Effectiveness and the Iban Manang"




Clifford Sather : "Representation of the Shaman in Iban Comic Fables"



pp. 3-54 George N. Appell & Laura W. R. Appell : "Rungus Spirit Mediums" [p. 47 "Laura W. R. Appell was primarily responsible for interviewing on those aspects of Rungus religion that were in the hands of the females. {This would be essentially all aspects of spirit-mediumship in that tribe; so she apparently wrote this article, except for its introduction (as, p. 6, in contradiction to p. 26) and its conclusion (as, p. 37, also in contradiction to p. 26).}]

pp. 5-6 communication with spirit while awake is a continuation of a dream

p. 5

"Among the Rungus, the spirit medium (bobolizan) {cf. /BiLIZ/ ‘short, stout woman’ (LA-L 1:152a); and the country-name /BeLIZe/} is a female. She communicates with the spirit world in trance."

p. 6

"her spirit familiar appears in a dream and wishes to communicate with her so that she awakes already in trance. ... the trance ... enables her to converse with her spirit familiars and permits her to serve as a channel for the discussions that go on between her spirit familiars and other spirits, which are heard by the audience. This state does not represent control in any form of body or soul by spirits. {This statement would appear to be contradicted by the explicit assertion on p. 26 : "the spirit familiar makes her mouth move, and the words come from them."} It is her own state of changed consciousness just as is dreaming."

LA-L = Georgii Wilhelmi Freytagii : Lexicon Arabico-Latinum. Librairie du Liban, Beirut, 1975.

p. 7 location & affinity of the Rungus

"The Rungus are a people of northern Borneo inhabiting the Kudat Division of Sabah, Malaysia ... . ... The Rungus are found on the two major peninsulas of the Kudat Division : the Kudat Peninsula and the Melabong Peninsula." The Rungus are a sub-tribe of the Dusun.

pp. 10-13 categories of deities




"The term osunduw" {cf. name of Yoruba goddess /OSUN/} "includes ... only celestial gods", and "contrasts with both" "the terrestrial "spirits" or "demigods" (rogon), and the rice spirits as well."


"The earth (tana) is separated from this upperworld (avan) {cf. />AWeN/, ‘idolatry’, the name of 3 places (Strong’s 206); and the Sumerian city /AWAN/} by a river that can only be crossed by osunduw."

"Muslim rogon will accept only a sacrifice of chickens, not a pig."

"Invading the living space of a rogon, such as cutting a grove of trees in which the spirit dwells, can ... cause illness in the family of the perpetrator of this ritual delict."


"The rusod are the guardians ... and protectors of the household members." "On the birth of a child, his rusod comes into being. ... When a young person marries and moves in to live with the family of his spouse, his rusod follows and becomes a member of that rusod family." "They do not die when their human counterparts die, but continue to protect the rest of the family. However, when a family moves to a new longhouse apartment, the rusod of dead family members are left behind."


"females can acquire rogon as spirit familiars. Rogon that inhabit boulders, when acquired are referred to as sondihon (literally, "one that can be leaned


upon")." "Such rogon that become protectors of men are called ansamung. {cf. Old High German /ANS/ ‘god’} ... these ansamung will appear in transmogrified form when called upon in extremis".

Strong’s = Complete Dictionary of Bible Words.

pp. 11, 13 rice-spirits

p. 11

"the rice spirits (odu-odu)." {cf. name of Yoruba goddess /ODUDUwa/}

p. 13

"as a new child is born into the family, a new rice spirit comes into being, who is then called to come to the swiddens during the agricultural season along with the rice spirits of the other family members in order to ensure a good harvest. At the end of the agricultural year they are sent home again across the sea."

pp. 13-14 caelestial counterparts of humans {cf. Aztec tonal}




"Dwelling in the lower level of the upperworld with other celestial osunduw are the celestial counterparts of individuals. {cf. guardian angel} These are called divato for a woman and lugu> for a man. ["Lugu> is also a term for heartwood. {If that of the ironwood-tree be intended, then cf. Skt. /LoHa/ ‘iron’.} Divato is derived from Sanskrit devata, "godhead, divinity"" (p. 49, n. 8).] A celestial counterpart is born with each individual, along with his multiple souls, his rice spirit, and his rusod counterpart. When an individual is in danger, the celestial counterpart looks out for him ... . ... For example when alone and lost in the jungle a person will call out to his celestial


counterpart, saying he can’t see him but needs his help. .... the celestial counterpart ... comes to help and will hover above the individual until safety is reached."


"The celestial counterparts of living or deceased individuals can become spirit familiars of practicing bobolizan particularly if they are or were efficacious bobolizan or individuals of renown. ... only bobolizan obtain replies from their celestial counterpart when called upon in trance. It is through the help of these luma>ag that a bobolizan while in trance diagnoses illnesses and obtains information on the proper sacrifice to achieve cures ... . The primary luma>ag of a bobolizan is usually her own celestial counterpart, although sometimes it can be that of her mother or teacher. The luma>ag, except for rogon spirit familiars who inhabit the earth, live in libabow, the lower layer of the upperworld."

pp. 14-15 souls in and nigh the living body





"The Rungus self is composed of body (inan), multiple souls (hatod), the rusod counterpart, an individual’s rice spirit (odu-odu), and the celestial counterpart (divato or lugu>). These all appear on the birth of an individual, but

{with /HaTod/ possibly cf. /HiTTuk/ ‘melted’ (Strong’s 2946), in view of the expression "my jointed are melted"}


it is only the celestial counterpart that dwells in the first layer of the upperworld. On the death of the body the main soul

p. 15 : the caelestial counterpart is not the main soul of the individual


goes to the afterworld, Nabalu (Mount Kinabalu).

{cf. /NABiLah/ ‘cadaver’ (LA-L 4:234b)}


Other souls reside in the individual’s joints, and

{namely, hatod}


these go wandering during dreams and become exposed to malicious or angered spirits (rogon), who capture and torture these souls, causing illness.

{most particularly, arthritis of the joints?}


When the spirit medium retrieves these souls at the end of a ceremony, she returns them to the body through the whorl of the hair.

{cf. Navaho whorl}


... there are souls that reside in the joints of the knees, elbows, and shoulders. Some say that there are six, one for each joint, while some say there are three, one for each pair of joints, and some say that there is just one for all the joints. In those instances when the number given are less than six, it is stated that the soul or souls move around between the joints.

{referring to the felt varying (over a period of time) of arthritic pain from one major joint to another major joint?}


... the "good" soul, the "soul of the body" ... does not reside within the body but follows the individual about, watching out for his well being. ...

p. 15 "It is this soul that goes to the afterworld on death."


Some say that if the rogon have "eaten" all an individual’s souls, he will no longer become ill but will have a long life.

{cf. the Bodish gCod rite, deliberately offering one’s own spectre-body (= hatod) to be eaten by supernatural fiends (Pis`aca-s), in order thereby to provide life-long good health for one’s self}


... at death the souls of the joints become rogon called namatai (derived from the lexeme matai, "to die"). ... These live near Nabalu, and visit the world of the living ... during ceremonies where rice wine is being drunk. They appear in the form of a dead relative and try to entice souls of the living to Nabalu."

{/NAMATAI/ is the name of a town in New Britain}

pp. 16-17 customary invisibility of spirits in the waking-world




"In dreams the soul goes wandering and may meet up with rogon and ... osunduw, as well as the hatod of other people. ... However, in trance state the bobolizan does not always see the inhabitants of the spirit world, although she becomes the channel through which information is passed on from these to the human world. {I.e., she is commonly limited to "hearing voices" and speaking to them.} Occasionally a particularly skilled bobolizan will say that she has seen her luma>ag standing on a leaf of a variety of banana plant (kudau), although no one else can see her [spirit-familiar], nor are there any indications of her [spirit-familiar’s] presence such as the movement of the leaf itself. [One particular] bobolizan ... saw rogon walking in front of her eyes, and at times they handed her something [supposedly, the recovered soul of a sick person]. When she came out of trance, there was nothing in her hand, and her interpretation of this was that the rogon had returned the soul of the sick person directly to her rather than via her spirit familiar, the more usual mode."


"The upperworld osunduw, however, have never revealed themselves in normal {viz., waking} state of consciousness to Rungus, according to informants. But they appear in myths and other religious texts. Since many of these [religious texts] are the result of dreams, the osunduw must also appear in dreams from time to time.

The spirits, demigods, and gods all ... have supernatural powers. They are able to become visible or remain invisible. They have superhuman powers of movement ... . And ... they can transform their bodies into those of animals, human beings, or monsters."


"The souls (hatod) of human beings are also invisible, with the exception that they can be "seen" along with gods and spirits in dreams. Furthermore, gods and spirits sometimes, though rarely, actually appear before human beings."

pp. 17-18 misadventures of hatod




"Upon occasion a hatod (especially that of a child) is itself capricious .{cf. /H.AT.a>/ ‘sin’ (Strong’s 2398)} ... repeatedly jumping out of a tree or falling while in a running contest with other hatod. This is experienced in a dream, and will cause sore bones and joints. ... At other times the hatod will play tag with rogon or hide and seek ... . Sometimes a hatod will simply get too close to the house of a rogon and will be chased by a rogon’s dog. By the time the hatod returns to his body, it is exhausted and sore from tripping and stumbling


as it tries to run away from the dog."

"when the soul goes wandering or is captured, its geographical scope encompasses only the earth (tana). It does not go beyond the boundaries of the earth into the upperworld, the realm of friendly osunduw." {This is true only of hatod; whereas the "good" soul, the "soul of the body", "can even go up to the first layer of the upperworld to consult with its celestial counterpart when concerned over the health of the individual." (p. 15)}

pp. 20-21 luma>ag of a bobolizan




"Her natal divato usually becomes a bobolizan’s first spirit familiar. But as she becomes more skilled in trance performance she will establish communication with other luma>ag. ... Various luma>ag that communicate with a bobolizan may be those of family ancestors, both male and female. If her mother, aunt and/or sister are still living and are bobolizan, their luma>ag will also assist her when needed, as will that of


her husband ... . The luma>ag of her children will not communicate with her if the child is living, nor will the luma>ag of a child who died at a young age. However, if a child has died as a mature adult, that luma>ag may communicate and help the mother. ... Luma>ag do not like filth, and when a bobolizan is unclean they will ... refuse to communicate with her, though they will relent if it is a case of an emergency and a life or death situation for a patient. However, when they are finished with the immediate situation, they will chastise the bobolizan and ask her to perform a cleansing ceremony. ...generations ago one particular class of luma>ag was said to find pregnancy particularly repugnant, and preferred bobolizan either not to marry at all or, if they did marry, to bear only one child. ...

The purification ceremony for a luma>ag ... is momugas, which means "to cleanse," "to polish." {cf. /MUG/ ‘to dissolve, melt’ (Strong’s 4127) [dirt is dissolved in cleansing]} This refers to the cleansing of the bobolizan who might have been contaminated by filth."

pp. 22-23 trance of a bobolizan




"Spirit mediums can actively induce trance to ask help from their spirit familiars, or they may spontaneously go into trance during a dream or on returning from visiting a rogon in the forest to ask for his help. The term for trance is rundukan. And the term for induced trance is rundukan mangambo. The lexeme mangambo is used ... to refer to the act of calling ... for help ..., and so in this context it can ... mean to call upon the spirit familiars for help. ... Rundukan mangambo is ... auditorially induced by the use of a hand clapper (gonding) with the chanting of invocations. The gonding has a wooden handle and bits of broken brassware and gongs attached to it so that when it is shaken it produces a sound [of jingling]. {This musical instrument is similar to the sistrum.} ...

In curing ceremonies ... the bobolizan calls upon her various luma>ag to assist her in communicating with the rogon to make sure that the sacrifice has been sufficient to placate them and thereby insure the safe return of the wandering souls of the ill person. In essence they describe the journey of the luma>ag as they travel to the villages of the rogon, bargain with them for the return of the souls in exchange for the sacrifice, gather up the souls, and return them to the bobolizan."


"In the case where trance ... is induced to determine the cause of an illness, onlookers will gather around to listen to whatever news the luma>ag has to impart, and ... other people can ask questions of the luma>ag ... . The luma>ag will answer them through the bobolizan. These usually occur at night, and as the luma>ag do not like bright lights, they are held in semi-darkness with the bobolizan covering her head with a cloth." {Just as the sort of luma>ag who answer quaestions posed by inquisitive spectators require semi-darkness, so likewise are similarly-purposed European se’ances held in darkness.}


"Spontaneous trances, rundukan tomod, occur often as a result of a dream about a bobolizan’s luma>ag. The lexeme tomod {cf. /T.a<aM/ ‘behaviour, discretion’ (Strong’s 2940)} indicates ... an action taken intentionally by an individual because he wanted to. ... When this occurs, she wakes up already in a trance. It is said that the luma>ag misses his or her spirit medium and wants to talk with her. At other times this happens if a bobolizan has tried to call upon her luma>ag when he was busy and couldn’t communicate with her. He is now contacting her to see what it was she wanted.

Upon occasion a luma>ag will bring news of an ill child or other relative in another village before the news has reached the person who has the dream".

pp. 23-24 acquisition of a spirit-familiar




"During the moginum ceremony ... a bobolizan who has been teaching a young woman the ritual texts will help her rundukan. The bobolizan sits behind the young woman during the mangambo invocations guiding her hand as she shakes the gonding. They mangambo together, and when the bobolizan’s luma>ag arrives she will let go of the woman’s hand. If the young woman continues in trance it means the bobolizan’s luma>ag has been transferred to her. This luma>ag with will become a spirit familiar of the young woman ... .


If a woman has difficulty in getting a luma>ag to to communicate with her she will hold a momugas, a cleansing ceremony, and ask the help of a bobolizan to persuade her luma>ag to begin to talk. ... Often during such a ceremony a woman will be visited by her spirit familiar for the first time."


"A woman can also acquire, as a spirit familiar, a member of the class of rogon that dwell in sacred groves. ... There is a ceremony called sumombol do rogon, "to visit the rogon," in which ... a woman may call upon the rogon to ask him to become a spirit familiar. If her request is granted, shortly after returning home she will spontaneously go into trance, and the rogon will communicate with her and offer protection as a spirit familiar.


There are occasionally women who can call on their luma>ag, as well as on other spirit familiars, and enter trance, but who do not control the rinait, the ritual texts that are sung over a sacrifice or offering. ... These women are particularly sought after to communicate with their spirit familiars to diagnose the causes of illness or other troubles and determine how to correct misfortune. This can include locating a relative lost in the jungle. Such women are looked up to because it is thought that their luma>ag are particularly olohis, "straight," {‘straightforward, forthright’} but they are not referred to as bobolizan."

pp. 24-25 analyzing dreams

p. 24

"a bobolizan will also analyze dreams to the person who is ill. ... After a person describes his dream in detail to the bobolizan, she can call upon her spirit familiar to find out just what class of rogon has been angered, and what must be done to appease them. The bobolizan herself at time is also

p. 25

able to ascertain what rogon are guilty after she has heard a description of what happened to the soul of the person who had the dream."

pp. 25-26 physiology of trance




"A woman about to invoke her spirit familiars sits upright on the floor with her legs straight in front of her. ... the bobolizan first makes a fresh "chew" of betel and sirih. She chews this and at the same time starts shaking her ritual clapper (gonding). She then starts singing the ritual invocations, the first step of which is to to wake up the spirit (divato) of the basket that contains her ritual paraphernalia ... . As she progresses, the rhythmical shaking of the gonding becomes faster and faster. Next she takes a small piece of the root of the komburungo plant (Sweet Flag, Acorus calamus ...), which is believed to have a soul of its own. {Sweet-flag is a well-known psychedelic/entheogen drug.} Prayers are uttered over the komburungo, and its soul precedes the words of the bobolizan in summoning the luma>ag.

When the luma>ag arrive, they ... hover above her [the bobolizan] in the lower layer of the upperworld and look down on her. There is a ... "bridge" between the dwelling place of the luma>ag and the bobolizan. Across this bridge the words of luma>ag arrive at the whorl of the hair of the bobolizan and cause her to speak. However, the terrestrial spirit familiars, the sondihon and the luhuban, do not speak from the bridge but sit beside the bobolizan when she is in trance. With the arrival of her spirit familiar the bobolizan feels her body "enlarge" (gumazo). She feels goose pimples and begins to shiver, her legs begin to twitch and shake and her trunk sways from side to side. As her luma>ag travels back and forth mediating between her and members of the spirit world her movements become more frenzied, her body sways faster and her head moves rapidly from


side to side. Depending upon which spirit is speaking through her mouth, the voice will become louder or quieter. The spirit familiars talk through the mouth of the spirit medium, as do the rogon. However, the bobolizan herself rarely converses directly with the rogon; the spirit familiar is always the intermediary. All discussion that the spirit familiar has with other spirits are voiced through the mouth of the bobolizan. It is said that she does not say the words herself; the spirit familiar makes her mouth move, and the words come from them. {This assertion is apparently in contradiction to p. 6 : "This state does not represent control in any form of body or soul by spirits." It is likewise in contradiction of p. 37 : "Nor do spirit familiars "possess" the body, consciousness, or soul of the spirit medium in any shape or fashion."} Each type of spirit speaks with a different voice, and onlookers who are knowledgeable will know which of the spirit familiars is talking. The arrival of each of the various spirits, osunduw and rogon, is signaled by yawning and belching on the part of the bobolizan. The success of a trance is usually indicated by the rogon saying that they have removed the cause of illness because the people have pleased them and fed them. At the very end the spirit familiars say, "We’re going now.""

pp. 26-27 vocabulary; latah; memory; difficulty in breathing

p. 26

"Luma>ag and other osunduw have their own vocabularies, which the bobolizan understand but onlookers often don’t. Rogon, however, usually use the everyday lexicon when communicating with the luma>ag and other osunduw.

Upon occasion, the rundukan will take on a humorous aspect as a capricious luma>ag speaks in metaphors which are not understood, and says the opposite of what he or she means. At other times the spirits called sondihon ... ocasionally carry on a long diatribe in "Malay," and, though rare, in "Chinese" or "English". {cf. the Shaking Quakers’ speaking when possessed by spirits, in alleged American Indian languages.} ... One bobolizan, when a spirit familiar, who was Chinese, started to talk, told the sondihon to "stop talking like that, I cannot understand you.""


"latah behavior can occur in trance. The Rungus form of latah, exhibited by women, primarily involves repetition of words, speaking the wrong word, or voicing an obscenity, when an individual is startled ... . It is called kasala, "to make a mistake." [A certain bobolizan] ... often exhibited kasala when she was in trance, as long as she

p. 27

was the one who was talking. However, when luma>ag or the rogon were using her mouth to talk through, she never exhibited kasala."

"The trance state will be broken ... if someone does something that angers her luma>ag. A bobolizan does have recall of the conversations that took place during her trance state, but does not know anything of what went on around her while she was in trance, although she can recall the questions that were put to her by onlookers asking for help as well as the answers received via her luma>ag." {I.e., her sense of hearing, but not her sense of sight, was connected with the physical world during trance. Was her sense of sight connected (as was, of course, part of her sense of hearing) with the divine world during the trance?}


"a skilled bobolizan whose luma>ag are straight and truthful will not feel any different at the end of a rundukan than she did before starting. It is not unusual, however, for a novice bobolizan to fall over in a semi-faint for a brief time the first time she is visited by a luma>ag. ... This is called otimporon. Otimporon has been known to occur during the rundukan of an experienced bobolizan if a rogon ... has come to close to her and makes breathing difficult. A young woman who has learned all the prayers and songs must never attempt to go into trance for the first time when on the roof of the longhouse during a ceremony called moginum, as she would surely ... have difficulty breathing." {I have experienced such praeternatural difficulty in breathing.}

pp. 27-28, 40 paraphernalia of a bobolizan




"The sovion, or basketry container;

the pomudsu to keep the bobolizan from harm as she deals with rogon;

the surud, "comb" of luma>ag;

the gonding or ritual clapper;

the knife, dazap; and

the jar for souls, solungan."


"In addition to the clapper (gonding), which is shaken as the bobolizan begins the process of dissociation,

there is a miniature ceramic jar worn around the bobolizan’s neck on a cord. This jar is the receptacle for the souls as they are brought home from the rogon to be returned to the body of the patient.


The spirit medium also wears around her neck a collection of small pieces of efficacious wood and other materials with magical powers which have been sewn into a piece of cloth. It protects against the anger of any malicious rogon who may come close to the bobolizan during the rundukan. It also has elements ... preventing her from falling asleep during her arduous task.

... the bobolizan holds a small knife, dazap, while in trance. This is fashioned like the bush knife ... . But this is a miniature knife, six to nine inches in length. The dazap is used for protection when her luma>ag is in face-to-face combat with the rogon, who see it not as a miniature but as a full-sized bush knife.

The gonding and jar are stored, along with the dazap, in the sovion, a basketry container with a cover. Also stored in the sovion is the surud do luma>ag, "the comb of the luma>ag," which is used during the cleansing ceremonies to comb oil through the hair of the bobolizan ... . These ritual objects are treated with circumspection and cannot be opened up in the longhouse at times other than ceremonies or going into trance to diagnose illnesses".

pp. 29-30 caerimonies




"The rusod, ... which dwell in every Rungus longhouse apartment, are responsible for the well-being of each family. ... it is necessary from time to time to hold a tumuron ceremony to undo the anger of the rusod ... . These tumuron are the ceremonies most frequently held throughout the year ... . However, ... a bargain will be struck with the rusod to hold a renewal ceremony, a moginum, at some point a year or two in the future ... . ... And at the time of making this bargain, a piglet is designated to be raised for this ceremony. The moginum is held infrequently, only once every five to ten years per family. It is the ultimate ceremony ..., and the only one where rice wine is consumed. {Cf. the wine consumed at Passover.} ... More than one bobolizan is required for this ceremony as the prayers and songs go on for five days or longer. ... the ceremony culminates with the bobolizan going into trance on a raised platform above the roof of the longhouse. At the end of her rundukan the bobolizan dances with the rusod as they celebrate the renewal of their relationship with the family". {Cf. Californian "World-Renewal" caerimony?}


"After the death of a spouse, the widow or widower are considered alasu, "hot," and no one may talk to them until the next weekly market is held. After this a bobolizan will hold a ceremony to send away the lingering souls of the dead from the family apartment for fear that they might try to lure the souls of the living to follow them to the afterworld. At some point in the following year or two the surviving family members must hold a lumuvas ceremony, "to clear" the grave. ... The grave site is cleared and tidied up, and a bobolizan performs prayers to insure that any souls lingering around the cemetery are sent on their way to the final resting place of souls of the dead, Nabalu (Mt. Kinabalu). ... offerings of food and rice wine are left on the grave to provide sustenance for the souls on their journey."

pp. 31-33 danger-fraught sacred texts




"Certain sacred texts are considered dangerous, and a bobolizan will not ask to be taught these until she has passed the age of childbearing."

"Teaching and learning cannot be carried out in the longhouse as the rogon of the domestic family ( the rusod), if they heard ritual words being recited, would expect a sacrifice and become angry if there were none forthcoming.


... these texts and the songs that accompany them ... recount the work of the gods and the activities of the rogon. These, as well as the long myths and stories of the Rungus, make up a body of oral literature rich ... in their grandeur".

pp. 32-33 male bobolizan




"Only rarely do men go into trance or perform the ritual texts ... . [But there were a few] men who could go into trance, ... and ... controlled the sacred texts ..., ...


and also performed ... ceremony ... .

... these men ... did not don the clothes of women to go into trance ... . All were married with children, performing all the aspects of the male role."

p. 33 efficacy; fee

"Certain bobolizan have a luma>ag who is olohis, "straight," i.e. direct and not devious. Such a luma>ag can handle the offending rogon with dispatch and quickly obtain the souls for return to the ill."

"For her mediation with the spirit world and her curing of illness a bobolizan receives a ritual payment consisting of plates, bowls, dyed yarn, knives, and a part of each of the animals sacrificed."

BORNEO RESEARCH COUNCIL MONOGRAPH SERIES, Vol. 2 = Robert L. Winzeler (ed.) : The Seen and the Unseen : Shamanism, Mediumship and Possession in Borneo. College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, 1993.