The Seen and the Unseen, 2


2:1 Jay Bernstein : "Shamanís Destiny ... among the Taman".

p. 174 geographical location; social ranking

"The Taman, along with the nearby Embaloh and Kalis, are part of a larger ethnolinguistic entity known ... as "Maloh." All of these groups are indigenous to the Upper Kapuas regency of West Kalimantan, Indonesia ... .

... with ... the Taman live in close association, ... the Kantuk, the Kayan, and the Bukat."

"The Taman society is composed of three ranked strata :

samagat (nobility),

pabiring (middle rank), and

banua (freemen/commoners).

A fourth rank, slaves (pangkam) existed".

pp. 176-178 shamanic healing-stones




"The simplest cure of the balien involves stroking the patientís body with stones ..., the purpose of with is to bring the disease to the surface. The balien catches in a bowl ... [an] object purportedly being the disease : either a spirit or an object injected by the spirit." {When the evil spirit, witnessing the caerimony, is convinced that itself or its object hath been caught, it will desist from further malign efforts.}

"The more advanced balien ceremonies involve calling back, recapturing, and replacing the soul of the patient that has been taken hostage by the spirit."


"The Iban shaman (manang) holds quartz crystals (batu ilau) to the light to diagnose the cause of disease, while the Taman shaman rubs the stones over the patientís body. These stones ... are believed [by the Taman] to be concrescences of spirit beings caught from the air during ceremonies."

pp. 176-178 reasons for becoming a balien




"Dreams ... may be viewed as signs ... due to a more deeply entrenched involvement by a spirit with the victimís soul. This illness can be treated by exorcism, but it


could require ... being initiated as a balien. ... The decision to go through with the full initiation depends on ... oracles ... . ... Virtually all baliens are middle-aged or elderly women. ... The balien, whether male or female, is above all a person who has been cured by ... external agents {deities} who can be related to as friend {cf. god Nyame ĎFriendí} on an esoteric plane of reality. ... it is the mature adult, who already has a family, who is liable to ... illnesses ... symptomatic of spiritual affliction."


"For instance, a Kantuk shaman ... had suffered the loss of all his children before becoming inaugurated as a manang."

pp. 178-179 expense of caerimony of initiation as balien




"the initiation ceremony involves a large expense ... . The ceremony requires the labor of as many as ten baliens, including at least one male balien, and lasts five days and nights (including a day-long pause after three days). The total expense ...


was equal to an average familyís income from all sources in as much as six months."

pp. 179-181 significance of dreams; recurrent erotic dreams




"The Taman believe that each person has eight souls ["Some believe that a person has sixteen souls, that is two-ties-eight." (p. 200, n. 2:1:7)], seven of which are capable of leaving the body without causing death. ... The wandering of the soul is considered a normal phenomenon the existence of which is proven by dreams. It is thought to cause illness only when a ghost (antu) or a demon (sai) ... captures the soul or leads it astray ... . Dreams ... are thought of as harbingers of a personís fate ... . However, sexual dreams, as well as dreams in which one is offered food, ... are though to be the result of a spiritís romantic attachment to the dreamer".


Assertion by a woman who had "experienced erotic dreams that ... a person actually slept with her, only that person was a spirit" : "one has already had sex with the devil after being treated by a manang ... . The dream is the same every night. ... It is not one man but several. It is like a foreigner. People call this a bayangan ... . [p. 200, n. 2:1:8 : In Javanese, however, /bayanan/ is Ďvisionsí, not Ďincubusí.] If


youíve made love to the ghost it is as if your spirit has been sold".


[result of erotic dreams, according to a male informant who experienced them :] "if it is every night the result is that you will become a balien. All the more so if you dream a woman always wants you, loves you, gives you food. Thatís ... a sai".

[The same male informant] "said his sickness is the same as that of a woman ... who did become a balien. ... That is, her illness had a clear pattern and corresponded to certain relevant events, ... indicating that it was not an ordinary illness."

[Explanation about that woman who did become a balien on account of her erotic dreams :] "In her dreams other people are given cooked food, but she is given raw food. {The goddess Matangi "herself actually arises or emerges from Shiva and Parvati's table scraps. And the first thing she asks for is sustenance in the form of leftover food (uccishtha)." (WG)} This is a "test" by the demons. [She] after awhile did not want her husband anymore, since she had a better lover in her dreams. ... [A certain man] (a male balien) also had dreams of women more beautiful than his wife.


... she did not want her husband anymore, since she had a better lover in her dreams. Besides the sexual dreams, [she] repeatedly dreamed that she, among many people, was offered raw food, while the others were served cooked food. {Is the fire for cooking this food aequivalent to the Yajn~a-kunda (sacrificial fire) whence was born (according to the Skanda Puran.a Ė DP, p. 98) goddess Aditi in her incarnation as Ren.uka?} This dream was interpreted as a "test" by the spirits. ... months later [she] was initiated as a balien."

WG =

DP = Nagendra Kumar Singh : Divine Prostitution. A.P.H. Publ Corp, New Delhi, 1997.

pp. 182-183 dreams of pais layu-layu


pais layu-layu


"those destined to become baliens, say some informants, ... sometimes sit quietly, just pondering". [scil., in contemplation of philosophy}

"Most of the baliens interviews indicated that they had experienced sexual dreams before initiation, and felt a longing for the ... figure.


... one woman added that in her dreams her soul was submerged in water." {"Ren.uka ... is about to take a bath... when she sees king Citraratha and his wives bathing in the water." ("MS`", p. 264) "the slain Renuka joined ... with the head of another woman ... . This woman with the new head became known as Matangi (Mahatangi)." (DP, p. 99)}

[pp. 177-178 "the Taman shaman ... crouches under a blanket while grasping a hook-tipped pole to conjure spirits."] {cf. goddess Matangi "who carries .. a hook" (S`yamaladandakam 2 Ė TY&WG, p. 142).}


"A girl about the age of puberty ... had dreams ... . In the dreams she met children who asked her to come with them to fish ... . ... The girl and her family were told that she needed to be inducted as a balien". {"Ren.uka ... looked at the fish" ("MS`", p. 252, quoting AGT, p. 15).}

"MS`" = Anne van Voorthuizen : "Mariyammanís S`akti". In :- Anne-Marie Korte (ed.) : Women and Miracle Stories. Brill, Leiden, 2004. pp. 248-270.

AGY = Eveline Meyer : Ankal.aparamecuvari, a Goddess of Tamilnadu. Stuttgart, 1986.

TY&WG = David Frawley : Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses.

pp. 184-186 dawawa jalu : phantasms of the living


dawawa jalu


"If she was in the forest and went into an area where there were certain large trees (kayu ara ...), she ... heard Ďpeopleí talking Ė the man in her dreams." {If so, her dream-man may have emerged from her dream-world into the grove (which was in the waking-world).}


"In the dawawa jalu there are visions in waking life".

[A recently initiated balein recounted her visions :] "It wasnít that I wanted to become a manang, but when I walked in the forest I saw an imaginary {imaginal} person. ... After that when I saw rice it looked like ants to me and I didnít want to eat it. I was afraid of vines, thinking they were snakes. I frequently fainted."


"A male balienís story was also typical :

I ... saw (an apparition of) a girl. The girl was like a lover. I would often cry because I could not catch the spirit. When ... I would notice that I had rattan cuts all over, ... a demon had entered me."


[account by a balien about "a spirit who resembled her husband" :] "Although she had seen it, she was unable to describe it at all, other than to say that it looked black." {The features of a totally black being would be indiscernable. I saw such a being, a nude female (whom I assumed to be Kali), close-up once during the daytime in the kitchen of our trailer in Barnesville, GA.}


[account by a man :] "apparitions of three or four different girls whom I longed for. There images, not the actual girls they resembled, were the objects of my love. I would often faint when I was alone ... . ... I frequently dreamed of one particular girl, but when I saw her in real life I felt nothing toward her. This is because I was falling in love with a spirit ... . This is typical of someone who is destined to become a balien. She could touch me but I could not touch her. I would see the apparition and want to follow it instead of my wife. ... I saw the same girl who had been in my dreams. {She had emerged out of the dream-world into the waking-world.} She wrapped her arms around me {I experienced an apparitional woman (composed of black-and-white horizontal rings), who resembled the wife (Sharon Dooley) I had left in Chicago, she appearing at the apartmentís door, approach and touch me with her hand, while I was in Alexandria, VA.}, but when I tried to return the embrace she was gone and I saw her somewhere else. ... After this I longed for the girl. That night she came again. According to other people I began dancing, but I was not aware of this. {Non-memory of time-span during undergoing spirit-possession.} ...


If I wanted to become a balien I could catch her myself. I tried to catch her with a leaf of the suri (Cordyline fructicosa) bush, according to the procedure of the baliens. But I did not tap her in quite the right way, and she "punched" me, ... causing me to faint momentarily."


2:2 Richard C. Fidler : "Spirit Possession as Exculpation : the Chinese of Sarawak".

p. 212 exculpative spirit-possession in various culture



The Ifaluk "believe that all humans are born good ... . All ... aggression, are termed malebush and are caused by being possessed by an alus spirit. "The people could not remember one instance of antisocial behavior, aside from the malebush ...," reports Spiro (1952:498 ...)."

Spiro (1952) = "Ghosts, Ifaluk, and Teleological Functionalism." AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 54:497-503.

"The Oglala Sioux as described by Paul Radin share the Ifaluk view that humans are naturally, normally good. "Jealousy, maliciousness, etc., are not conceived of as caused by any soul or entity residing within but are regarded as due to discarnate sicun" (1957:268)."

Radin (1957) = Paul Radin : Primitive Man as Philosopher.

"Wallace (1966:141) reports that among the Iroquois, ... "kleptomaniacs were, by analogous reasoning, subjected to the rituals of the Chipmunk Society."" [Kleptomaniacs were considered to be possessed by the Chipmunk-spirit.]

Wallace (1966) = Anthony Wallace : Religion. NY : Random House.

{Is not Christianity the only religion in the world ascribing to humans an innately evil nature?}

pp. 217-219 exorcistic performance by a Hakka spirit-medium




"The Master was male, ... a Hakka ... . He said he was not able to speak either English or Mandarin Chinese. (On later occasion, while possessed by the great Immortal, Li Tieh Kuai, the conversed with me in Mandarin; Li Tieh Kuai was a physician, an educated man Ė when he occupied the body of the Master, he could speak Mandarin.)


... Front and center were three "seals," carved wooden printing blocks, ... and shallow bowls of vermillion ink for stamping spirit charms. ... two seals ... were the personal charm symbols of the Masterís familiar and the Masterís familiarís shen spirit. The Master prepared for his ritual by donning a bright red jacket and binding a long red sash very tightly around his waist ... . he went into a trance, allowing his body to be possessed by his familiar. His body was rigid, his movements stiff; a low-pitched, guttural, teeth-grinding noise issued from his throat (evidence of his possession), which continued throughout the trance, even when he spoke. ... The familiar, now using the Masterís body, spoke in a special "spirit language" intelligible only to the chief assistant, who served as translator and moderator of the proceedings. [The "spirit language" was apparently "Hakka."] ... The Master released his familiar and came out of his trance, announcing that indeed possession by a tree spirit was the cause of the "madness," and that the offending kwei (demon) resided in a large tree almost directly behind the shophouse.


... the Master again ... entered a possessive state, again marked by the throat grinding noise. The familiar began by preparing a large number of paper spirit charms, using the seals ... . ... The familiar then spent about fifteen minutes formulating special charms, potions, and powders from special, secret, ingredients ... . ... [The female patient] and her companions were brought forth ... . ... White paper charms were stuck to her face and clothing. ... Then came ... the exorcism itself. Taking up the long silver spike, the familiar had the Masterís body thrust it ... in the right cheek ... . Thus impaled, and throat-growling louder than ever, the Masterís body began to quiver, and then violently shake, often on one foot. ... Quivering, hopping on one foot, the familiar directed the Masterís body down the staircase and out the back door of the shophouse. Only the retinue of assistants were permitted to join the familiar around the contaminated tree ... . Dancing around the tree, ... the familiar cast the kwei spirit out of its arboreal abode. ...

The exorcism worked; the kwei was driven out".

pp. 221-222 exorcistic blessing of a residential house




"the house had become infested with demonic kwei spirits. ...


The medium ... was a man ... with a female assistant ... Ė apparently his wife. ... he said prayers and chants ..., using charms and holy water to repel the demons, and he prepared a whole new batch of charms and papers for the house."


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.