The Seen and the Unseen, 1:2

pp. 55-99 George N. Appell & Laura W. R. Appell : "Bulusu> Spirit Mediums".

p. 57 geographical location

"The Bulusu> ... inhabited the lower and middle reaches of the Sekatak, Bengara, and Batayau Rivers and their tributaries."

"The Bulusu> are also known as "Berusu" or "Brusu." ... their closest linguistic affiliation is with the Tidung language." {cf. [Castillian] BRUXa ‘witch’}

p. 64 abolition of the slaughter of domesticated animals

"chickens presented to the spirits at ceremonies are let go afterwards. And where pigs once were sacrificed , an effigy of a pig is made of rice paste flavored with sesame which is consumed during the ceremony. For cleansing a village of incest, a pig is used, but its ear is slit ... rather than its being killed. ...

The Bulusu> who have prohibited the killing of pigs will still eat pig meat if killed and cooked by some other ethnic group." {This is likewise the Sthaviravada Buddha monastic rule.}

pp. 64-65-multiple souls




"The Bulusu> self is ... constructed of the body (kiring), multiple lingu, which may be glossed as "souls," and a celestial counterpart that dwells on the mountain of the dead souls. {The aequivalent (to the Aztec tonal) known in Wayana was also said to dwell on a mountain.} The term lingu is also used to refer to the indwelling spirits of ... animals and plants. ...


A spirit medium stated that one soul became a "ghost,"

one soul became a karaganan, and

another a sunudun ... .

The soul that goes to the grave and stays there is called >mburuow, "ghost." The >mburuow feeds off the food that accompanies the corpse to the grave. While other souls go to the afterworld, where some may become spirit familiars, the ghost never becomes a spirit familiar. However, it is called upon for help when an individual is lost in a storm at sea and and at the time of planting rice in order to gather all the family’s "rice souls" (lingu bilod) to the swidden.


The celestial counterpart for males is called yada, and for females, yadan. {cf. /YADA</ ‘knowing’ (Strong’s 3047); /YiDD<oNi^/ ‘conjurer (of ghosts)’ (Strong’s 3049)} .. They dwell on the "mountain (or hill) of dead souls" (muruk lingu), but die shortly before those on earth die, so that they can come down and guide the soul of their counterparts to the mountain of dead souls. The celestial counterpart plants a sago tree (rimbiow) {cf. /RIMMO^n/ ‘pomegranate[-tree]’ (Strong’s 7416)}, which represents the life span of the individual. {This is also true of the life-token tree in the Taoist paradise.} When a man and woman marry their sago plants come together and put out new shoots."

pp. 65-66 cosmology; immortals

p. 66

"The world is comprised of seven divisions, the earth and six sections of the upperworld. These are all joined together in an upward rising path with the mountain of dead souls forming the first division of the upperworld. The earth and this upperworld are peopled by various classes of spirits that are collectively called karaganan. These contrast with

the creator spirit (yadu> lawang), who is female, and

yaki bugang, who is male and the keeper of the knotted strings {cf. the knot of Gordios (GM 83.e)}, each one of which represents the life span of a human.

The karaganan are distinguished from human beings by being immortal. Thus, the general term for immortals is patoi ngulan – "die like the moon," which is reborn again {in the same body as that which had "died"}, and that for mortals is patoi yunti – "die like a banana tree," which ... is replaced by its offshoot. {The offshoot is the same plant, implying rebirth for humans also, but not in the same body.} The cover term karaganan is cognate with the Rungus lexeme rogon."

p. 66

"karaganan ... are ... divided into "helpful" (hantu) ["Occasionally the term hantu is replaced by the term buntu, which in Bulusu> is equivalent to the Indonesian lexeme suruh ... "messenger," or "sent." (p. 95, n. 4)] and a "bad" (mata>) classes."

pp. 66-67 types of karaganan mata>




Karaganan Mata> -- "the term mata> means "green," "uncooked," "unripe." ... The karaganan mata> ... inhabit ... ravines, large trees, and boulders. ...


Jarong is a karaganan mata> that lives in the river and is like a dragon (naga). ... Offerings of bits of food or small coins are made to jarong when the Bulusu> go up the river from the estuary.


Then there are spirits that live in holes in the river bank where water seeps out, who are called manan. {cf. Irish god-name /MANANan/}


There is also the spirit that lives in the earth called karakasi. {Skt. /}


And every swidden has a household (lamin) of karaganan, who are called "spirits of the earth." Sacrifices are made to them when the swidden is prepared ... .


Then, there are spirits that inhabit gullies ... .


There are karaganan that live in large rocks, called "rock spirits."


There are also karaganan that inhabit trees. The most important of these are the karaganan of the strangler figs ..., but there are also karaganan that inhabit trees with an enlargement of the trunk just above the roots. Such trees are called "pregnant" trees, and before being cut down, the indwelling spirit has to be appeased with an offering and asked to move away. ... A karaganan of a strangler fig can also become a spirit familiar of the spirit medium when propitiated, thereby becoming a karaganan hantu.


And there are karaganan who live around the funerary houses that eat people and prevent stealing from these houses.


The soul that stays at the grave, the >mburuow, becomes.a karaganan mata> that causes headaches and dizziness.


There are also dangerous karaganan that wander about at the beginning of the fruiting season when ... there are heavy winds. So it is aid that the wind gathers together all these capricious spirits. ...


Also karaganan do not like fishing with poison or the pulling down of rattan. ... Rainbows form the bridge between the upperworld and the earth for the spirits. But when there is a rainbow without rain, or a rainbow with just a drizzle, it is believed that it is an especially dangerous time for children to be on the ground, as karaganan mata> and the sunudun mata> use it to come to earth and wander about . {Likewise in Norse myth, malicious deities from Mu`spelheim assault the world via the rainbow-bridge Bifrost.} ... . At that time people become quiet in the longhouse so as not to attract these spirits."

pp. 67-68 types of karaganan hantu; sunudun

p. 67

"The karaganan hantu ... are comprised mainly of souls of dead individuals. And during trance they bargain with the malicious spirits that have caused illness for the return of the lost soul(s) of the person who is ill. ...


However, spirit familiars may also be spirits of crocodiles, monkeys, ... or ... the strangler fig.


... the >mbalid, souls (lingu) of dead Punan ["Punan ... were ... hunters and gatherers." (p. 57)]... live under wild sago trees. ... The >mbalid ... help in hunting, giving the hunter strength. ... Thus, after hunting, those who have an >mbalid will call it and give it some of the meat."

p. 68

"like the karaganan hantu of the upperworld, the sunudun hantu are also derived from the souls of the dead.

However, the sunudun mata> do not inhabit natural phenomena as do some of the varieties of karaganan mata>, but are found only in the upperworld."

pp. 69-72 function of, & recruitment to, spirit-mediumship




"ulun gantu, "the person who uses chants and songs." The /g-/ prefix indicates that something is being used".

"The term for going into trance is sumulod. ...

However, the exegesis by spirit mediums ... is that the karaganan only get close to the spirit mediums and control them from outside, as some say, hovering above them. Other state that the karaganan sit on the spirit mediums’ shoulders. {This (perching on human’s shoulders) is the Bodish (properly Bon) description.} ...

The souls (lingu) of the ulun gantu also leave their bodies to go and help the karaganan search for wandering souls of those that are ill."


"Spirit mediums may be either female or male."


[Formerly,] "the Bulusu> spirit mediums, ulun gantu, were primarily women. ... And it was generally the old people who became spirit mediums.


... aggressive attacks on the spirits ... occur in the ceremonies performed by male spirit mediums ... are accompanied by gonging and drumming.

... female spirit mediums primarily divined illness ... through prayers, chants, songs".


use of a musical instrument by females: "these mediums used a hand clapper, similar to that of the Rungus, to divine causes of illness. The left hand was placed on the head of the ill person


and the clapper was moved around over the body. When the seat of illness was determined the spirit medium could tell by the sound of the bells and the feeling in her hand what the illness was. During the ceremonies performed by these female spirit mediums ..., ... the spirit medium plucked a saranting kalid. This looked like a miniature shield {a shield is wielded by Algonkin shamanesses} (kalid) with a brass wire strung on it."


"the ceremonies to cure illness became an active battle between the male spirit medium and the capircious karaganan, a search for captured souls became an enactment of a frenzies journey in which swords ... were used to threaten and chase away the spirits. At his time ... the offering pole was introduced. This is erected in the longhouse, containing offering of cloth and food to the karaganan helpers".


"A Bulusu> spirit medium only acquires a spirit familiar following an illness, in contrast to the Rungus. After a sever illness, which the individual has recovered from, he or she may have a dream during which his or her spirit familiar appears.

Sometimes a young person may become ... controlled by a karaganan as an assistant in a trance performance. Following this the individual will have a dream in which he acquires a spirit familiar. When a Bulusu> has acquired a spirit familiar, he or she is then considered to be a spirit medium and can conduct a healing ceremony."

pp. 72-73 divination to determine cause of illness




"In the process of divining the cause of illness, the body is felt to determine whether the sickness is from witchcraft or from soul capture ... . A saucer of water is inspected by the diviner to ascertain the exact source of illness, and if a stick appears he knows that it is witchcraft. If witchcraft has been ruled out, then there are several techniques used to determine the location of a captured soul. First, a woman’s beaded headdress (ulos) is used along with the root of the ritual plant, kusur (Kaempheria galanga), which has a soul (lingu). ["Kaempferia galanga" : "Bulusu> plant it first in swiddens along with Derris elliptica (tuba ...) at the foot of [killed-by-burning] strangler fig trees ... to make peace with the indwelling karangan after firing a swidden with a strangler fig tree in it ... . It is also rubbed on a blowpipe to make it accurate." (p. 96, n. 7)] The kusur is first squeezed to release its aromatic oils and the root is then rubbed on the body of the patient. While quietly addressing


the spirits, with the help of the soul of the kusur, the diviner suspends the beaded headdress over the body and allows it to swing. The direction of its movement indicates what karaganan are the source of the illness and where they are concealing the captured soul. A ritual stone, a small jar, or damar (resin) are also sometimes used in a similar way."

pp. 73-75 types of trance




"The general term for to go into trance is sumulod, and there are two types, "to go into dry trance" (sumulod pua) and "to go into wet trance" (sumulod usa). The term "dry trance" is used to refer to the state of trance that occurs when the spirit mediums evoke their spirit familiars (karaganan hantu and sunudun hantu) through prayers, chants, and songs or when they converse with them. Such a trance is not deep and is explained as "half a trance," in which the spirit medium is conscious of what is going on around him.

Sumulod usa, or "to go into a wet trance," is entered into with the accompaniment of gonging and drumming. This is a much deeper form of trance than dry trance. The trance involves very frenzied dancing and parading around with swords ... as the spirit mediums and all their helpers run up and down the length of the longhouse circling the offering pole or chasing


away harmful spirits that have been attracted to the ceremony. This aspect of the performance ... is referred to as ningiang ... . During these trance performances wives and daughters of male spirit mediums will go into trance and follow them. A male spirit medium may have some female familiars ; however, he cannot be controlled by them while in trance. ... . ... A male spirit medium needs these additional women to take on the female spirit familiars who arrive to help. For example, the wife of a male spirit familiar will be passed on to the wife of the spirit medium her controls. ... However, females may also be controlled by male spirit familiars, and when they are they don items of male dress to indicate this". ...


"The arrival of various types of karaganan is signalled by a change of rhythm played on the gongs and drums. ... Only a few young men are considered skilled in playing the gongs and drums and know the appropriate gonging that goes with each type of karaganan."


"Spirit mediums state that when entering trance their chests feel tight as the spirit familiar arrives, and loosens as the familiar leaves. Shaking of the body and limbs is characteristic of someone going into wet trance. Spirit mediums say that they perspire, though the skin becomes cold and gooseflesh appear. At times when their own soul sees a captured soul their body hair stands on end." s


"Parents or spouse of a patient may be specifically "induced into trance" by the spirit medium during a ceremony. This is called posulod. The prefix /po-/


indicating causative action is added to the stem sulod {"The suld soul resides at the crown of the head, where there is a direct connection to Father Heaven through the small tenger that is also located there." (F&F3S)} {cf. /SaLaD/ ‘harden one’s self’ (Strong’s 5539)} from sumulod. The reason for inducing trance of these family members is so that spirit familiars of their ancestors can arrive and assist the spirit mediums in effecting a cure".


"The experience of wet trance" : "I don’t remember the silly things I do when in trance. You must drink rice wine before you start ... so that the karaganan .know you feel good towards them. When we are in trance we behave differently, we are not ourselves.

Sometimes the spirit mediums ... in trance with the help of rice wine ... harass the audience, asking for donations ... . ... At these times those in trance may walk about addressing the audience and asking for things ..., and they walk stiff-legged, with staring eyes."

F&F3S =

pp. 75-77 types of spirit-familiars




"The spirit familiars of a spirit medium are subdivinded into two groups, karaganan hantu and sunudun hantu ... . ["Sunudun are said to be stronger than karaganan at finding and returning souls." (p. 96, n. 9)] The primary


spirit familiar is the one that arrives spontaneously during a dream following a severe illness. When a person is very ill and dreams that a soul has helped to make him well, it is said that he has been "adopted" by that soul.


... a spirit medium may inherit the spirit familiars of his grandfather and his father. He can also receive spirit familiars from the souls of his dead children. All such spirit familiars received from family members are referred to as karaganan muntuo. Muntuo ... is the term for "parents." {/MaTUa/ in Maori} ... In trance karaganan muntuo will stay around longer and carry on longer discourse than other spirit familiars. ... The spirit medium may also inherit from his parent the familiars of the crocodile and monkey ... . ...


Frequently, after the death of a child, a parent will become ill as a result of the parent’s soul trying to follow the soul of the child to the mountain of the dead. During the ceremony for such an illness, ... the parent enters trance and communicates with the soul of the dead child".


"Belching and yawning indicate the leaving of the familiar in command and the arrival of another."


"Some spirit familiars come from a neighboring ethnic group and exhibit the cultural characteristics of that group. The sources of these spirit familiars are


Tengkayu (Tidong and Bulungan), Punan Rama, and Punan Togung. The term "Tengkayu" is used by the Bulusu> ro refer to both the Tidong and the Bulungan groups ... . ... For spirit mediums in the Bengara River system, their Punan spirit familiars are from the Punan Rama ... . For spirit mediums in the Sekatak River system, it is the Punan Togung that provide spirit familiars ... . When controlled by a spirit familiar from another ethnic group than the Bulusu>, the spirit medium or his assistants act out the salient behavioral characteristics or stereotypes of that group and at times wear the clothes attributed to that group."

pp. 77-80 caerimonies performed by ulun gantu




"A small log is ... carved, and topped with a decorated open box of carved wood, all of which is called singiang. ... In the open box are placed various offerings for the karaganan ... . These consist of freshly prepared coconut oil, rice colored with turmeric ..., small seed beads, ... etc. Cloths of various types ... are draped over the singiang. [p. 89 : The cloth are draped on a horizontal pole athwart the vertical pole.] Offerings of ... betel chewing supplies are placed on brass trays ... which surround the base of the pole.


... oil, which has had prayers, chants and songs said over it, is rubbed on the post to please the various spirits. ... As the spirit mediums being slowing circling the post, all the items offered are pointed out to the karaganan so that they will be aware that they are for them ... . [p. 89 : The pointing-out is done with wands.]

... a spirit medium when he is under the control of a spirit familiar can discern dangerous karaganan ... . When a spirit medium leaves the longhouse for any reason during a ceremony, he always carries his sword with him because ... there are always numerous karaganan mata> lurking around ... . Should they try to control the medium ..., .. he must fend them off.

At various points during these ceremonies all the participants dance and parade around ..., wearing the appropriate clothing for the spirit familiar that controls them. ... The various spirit mediums and their helpers ...yelp ... . The spirit medium at various times approaches the person who is ill and swing his sword over his head to drive off the spirits that might cause harm. {Wielding of a sword by a spirit-medium is characteristic of Taoist ritual.}


... During one ... rest period a spirit medium was ... peering in a mirror ... over his shoulder ... keeping his eye on the soul of the ill... . ... Oil is dripped on the back of the patient and a small coin stuck to the oil ... it slides down the oily skin". {"Is anyone among you sick? ... the presbyters of the church ... should pray over him and anoint with oil" (Epistolos of Iakobos 5:14); "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s" -- /caesar/ meaning ‘bald’, to suggest the adhaesion of the oiled coin to a bald pate.}


"the root of the kusur plant ... has a pleasing smell and its soul precedes the spirit familiars of the spirit medium as they travel, riding the wind on his shield, in search of souls. The search for souls begins on the ground around the longhouse. From the longhouse the search extends outward up and down hills, away from the longhouse. During the search for souls the spirit familiars ask for help from the souls of dead relatives of the person who is sick because it is said that their souls will recognize each other. If a soul cannot be located there is always the fear that it might have crossed over to the land of the souls of the dead. ... The soul of a living person can actually arrive at the resting place of souls of the dead, and can be retrieved by a spirit medium. It is said that in a section of the upperworld there is but one tree, the kasian, growing. To the souls of people who have died and entered the upperworld the taste of the fruit of the kasian is sweet and delicious. However, if eaten by the soul of a person still living who by mistake enters this upperworld, it is tasteless and unappetizing."


"When the spirit familiars along with the soul of the spirit medium arrive at the house of a capricious karaganan, they search it for souls. They search in baskets, in trunks, in betel supply baskets, cooking pots, chicken nesting baskets, rolled up in sleeping mats, etc. The spirit medium while in trance acts this out in the longhouse itself, running around and peering into boxes and baskets and under belongings stacked on the floor of the longhouse in search of the soul. When the souls have been collected they are brought back in a small container made from the dried fruit of a small bottle gourd such as that used to hold the plugs for blow pipe darts. ... The spirit medium then ritually "drills" a hole in the skull of the patient {trepanation, an operation physically performed in, e.g., antient Peru`} to allow egress for any poisonous effects of the illness ... . Through this hole, when all the missing souls have been gathered up, the spirit medium puts the souls back into the ill person with his hand. With children {babies} the soul is returned through the fontanelle. He holds his hand down on the patient’s head for a minute or so to be sure re-entry has been effected and no souls have escaped. After this the illness is ... a yellow cloth ... shaking it out the door. Yellow cloth is used as it is said that karaganan mata> are particularly frightened by this color."

pp. 81-82 performance of caerimony




"when a spirit medium and his assistant are controlled by a karaganan from a Coastal ... group, ... the spirit medium who is controlled by such a spirit will tear off a piece of rattan as a fishing line and drop it down through the floor boards to fish. In this case he is "fishing" for lost souls." {Likewise, in San "Cristobal the "Fisher of Souls" ... fishes for souls." (I&S, p. 108)}


"A female controlled by a male spirit wears a headcloth and carries a sword ... as she aggresseively assists in the trance performance... . [p. 93 : "Two female spirit mediums possessed by male karaganan as they dance around the longhouse wearing male headcloths and brandishing swords."] One female who was controlled by a male karaganan came up to [a non-spiritpossessed female] and had the audience howling as "he" engaged in ribald suggestions to her."


"certain spirit mediums have inherited familiars that take on unusual forms, such as the crocodile. When controlled by this spirit, the spirit medium begins to crawl on the floor like a crocodile, in an amazing caricature of it. ... Because of the crocodile’s reputation for many successful cures, people will prostrate themselves before him in order to receive the lick of his tongue.


Then there are Punan karaganan, which appear on the scene ... covered with leecb bites, pig ticks, chiggers in the crotch, and ring worm ..., which the controlled spirit medium scratches and rubs."

I&S = Mircea Eliade : Images and Symbols. Princeton U Pr.

pp. 82-83 conclusion of caerimony

p. 82

"As the ceremony is ending the main spirit medium is controlled by a monkey, the pet of one group of karaganan. And he runs around the longhouse,

p. 83

swinging from the rafters just like a monkey to great gales of laughter and the amusement of onlookers. {"The man possessed by Hanuman, or the monkey deified, begins immediately to run along the rafters of the school-room, imitating the monkey in everything – his cries, his gestures, his grimaces." (F&FG, p. 176)}

The final act of the ceremony involves a jumping contest between the soul of the ill person and karaganan mata> as the latter tries to lure the soul over an imaginary line and back under his control."


"The morning after the ceremony the spirit mediums and their helpers go to the river to ... wash their clothes. The illness can stick to their ... clothes. But by washing the illness is sent down the river ... away from the village."

F&FG = Ghulam Muhammad : Festivals and Folklore of Gilgit.

p. 83 fee

"A spirit medium receive ... in return for his services ... a small to medium ceramic jar ... a long piece of iron and a bush knife, ... a woven mat, seven seed beads, ... a blow pipe, and a length of brass chain."

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.