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Shamanism in Indonesia

Shamans in Indonesia are popularly known as Dukun and are mainly traditional healers who help alleviate their people from sickness and pain. Other duties of the Indonesian Dukun include exorcism, ceremonial magic, meditation, and administering healing massages. While the Dukun brings healing and restoration to the community, another breed of Shamans known as the Bomoh dabble in black magic, causing the rest of the community to fear them. Shamanism is widespread in Indonesia, but it is most prevalent in Bali and East Java. Powerful black magic centers include Banyuwangi, Lombok, and Banten. Let’s look at some of the modern and classic practices of Shamanism in Indonesia.

The History of Banyuwangi

Banyuwangi is one of the largest black magic centers in Indonesia. Traditionally, black magic practices and practitioners had a very high rank. They are still one of the most critical diviners in society, a feat that has got a lot to do with the native culture. Historically, the fertile land in Banyuwangi had close ties with the spiritual realm. However, its history became riddled with so much violence and infertility that the natives resorted to sorcery.

The two main types of black magic include rapuh and sihir. In rupiah, the Shaman casts a spell on the victim, causing them to suffer. The victim could suddenly become deaf, paralyzed, or go blind. Sihir is the other type of black magic involving the targeted victim’s death. The person starts to feel absurd objects growing inside their belly that would cause it to increase in size, thus leading to their death. 

How does One Become a Shaman?

Since Shamanism is said to be hereditary, one could only be a Shaman if one inherited the powers from a family member or had an ancestor who had previously practiced Shamanism. In addition to having Shamanic ties within their family, the potential candidate had to undergo thorough training to harness the true power of a Shaman.

It is pretty much the same as having a father who is a doctor with a medical practice that you are supposed to inherit and manage. You would still need to attend medical school and learn how to take care of patients. In a similar fashion, the potential candidate could learn the craft from other Gurus or gain knowledge from books.

Most traditional shamans would not ask their clients for money or consultation fees because they believe their gift is from God. As a matter of fact, it is not easy to identify a Shaman in a crowd of normal-looking people. The receptionist or the waiter at your favorite restaurant could be a Shaman for all you know. That said, most Indonesian Shamans will accept small tokens from their clients in the form of tobacco and other consumables.

Duties of an Indonesian Shaman

A practice becomes Shamanic when it involves a diviner communicating with spiritual and otherworldly beings without necessarily transforming themselves. Most Shamanic practices in Indonesia involve entering into trances, possession by spirits, out-of-body experiences, meditation, and visualization. You would not usually see these things in your day-to-day life, and we imagine you would be in utter shock and disbelief. Since there are different types of Shamans, these abilities will vary from one diviner to the next. Generally, white practitioners would help you cure an illness or free your soul from the grip of a troublesome evil entity. On the flip side, black practitioners came in handy when one needed to cast a spell on someone who did them wrong or help them get revenge.

Rain Shamanism an Age-old Tradition Practiced in Indonesia

Rain shamanism is another one of the most practiced forms of Shamanism in Indonesia. Recently, a shaman drew attention at the 2022 MotoGP held in Indonesia for the first time since 1997. Rara Istiati Wulandari the rain shaman took to the circuit barefoot armed with a singing bowl and incense used to perform a ritual to stop the rain.

For thousands of years, people approached rain Shamans, also known as pawang hujan, and requested them to delay the downpour until they were done with their outdoor events. Project managers in Indonesia also attested to the effectiveness of the pawang hujan and looked forward to working with them during most of their outdoor events.

The rain Shamans need not be present during the event. People would only need to pay them in advance, and they would do their thing and make sure the weather wouldn’t rain on your parade, literally. Once the client told the Rain Shaman the location of their event, they would locate the nearest source of water and chant verses from the Quran a thousand times. A metal hand counter comes in handy to prevent the Shaman from losing count. The shaman would use counted chants to connect to the spiritual world and divert the rain.

Wrapping up

Shamanism has been a huge part of Indonesian culture. The rituals have existed for thousands of years as a way of connecting people and the natural world. The practice is still quite vibrant today despite associations of the rituals with the occult and idolatry.

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