Categories: Paranormal

Spirited Away Nation: Magic in Indonesia is everywhere

Indonesia is not one of those countries that fascinates at first sight. Too much poverty and disorder. One Indonesian pantun, an edifying quatrain, says: just as a worm from a stream falls into a river, so love sinks into the heart from the eyes, that is, it depends on external attractiveness. However, appearance, surface, visibility are not a priority for the Indonesians. You need to feel this country with your heart.

Perhaps this is the influence of difficult climatic conditions: it is rather difficult to think in a permanent sauna. American government structures even impose restrictions on access to posts of a certain level for persons who have spent more than three years in tropical Asia. It is believed that cognitive abilities undergo irreversible changes in such conditions.

The principles of formal logic cease to operate in this corner of the planet, which is literally between the worlds: underwater – a constantly approaching ocean, air – in the form of hurricanes, and fiery – a chain of active volcanoes encircles the country in a ring.

During the eruption of Mount Agung in Bali in 2017, Indonesians were looking for an explanation for what happened not in the information of geological exploration and the history of climate observations. They thought the eruption was caused by the spiritual fall of the Balinese. 

“Why is this happening now? It depends on the sincerity of the Indonesian people. Balinese people need to reconsider their spiritual aspirations and mentality, “- quoted the local socio-political publication of the Governor of Bali, Mangku Pastika.

Yet the atmosphere in Indonesia is so dense that it seems more real than real objects. Noises, sounds, colors – everything is refracted in this thickened air. Without exception, all Indonesians with whom I am familiar have personal experience of meeting, communicating and other contacts with various spirits and ghosts, according to beliefs, inhabiting these islands. 

Talking about ghosts is not shameful; this is a completely understandable and socially accepted explanation of events. The concentration of events, which is not easy to explain by the laws of physics, is for some reason really increased here.

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There is a big list of spirits inhabiting Indonesia. The most famous of these is, of course, Kuntilanak, the ghost of a pregnant woman. It can be detected by the smell of plumeria – flowers common in Indonesia that resemble jasmine, but with denser petals of a noble white and delicate yellow. 

These flowers grow there like weeds everywhere. They line the roads, bloom on the trees planted around the beaches, garlands of these flowers are worn around the necks of the newlyweds. In general, almost everything and always smells there with plumeria, which means that the demon is always nearby.

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Kuntilanak appears as a beautiful dark-haired woman with red eyes. In addition, a spirit can be identified by a hole in the neck, a hole in the back, and bleeding. She marks her presence with a high-pitched female laugh. It is believed that she is attracted by the smell of drying clothes, which is why many Indonesians and Malaysians are afraid to leave their clothes outside. 

The spirit is especially cruel to men, one of whom, apparently, became the cause of the posthumous wanderings of a ghostly woman. The ghost kills the victim with nails, eats the intestines, and sucks the eyes directly from the sockets.

Sometimes Kuntilanak is identified with another spirit – Sundel Bolong, personifying a woman of easy virtue. Like Kuntilanak, Sundel Bolong died carrying a child conceived out of wedlock. For this reason, the spirit takes revenge on men and steals babies to replace their unborn baby. However, sometimes both infernal entities can harm young women out of envy. In this case, they turn into a bird, cause the woman to bleed and drink her blood.

Besides Kuntilanak, Indonesia is believed to be inhabited by countless other demons. One of the first texts in my Indonesian textbook was a clipping from the local press in the 1960s, which reported how an entire class in a small rural school turned into a “kerasukan”, that is, the children were possessed by spirits and robbed of their will. In addition to Kuntilanak, who deprives people of their will, does all sorts of horrors with them and is loved for this by the authors of numerous Indonesian horror films, many local ghosts do not harm a person.

A nation that massively believes in ghosts lives in a special atmosphere on the verge of dream and reality. In addition, sometimes it is not so important what really exists, how important is what your interlocutors and partners believe in, especially if there are many of them: collective beliefs and the irrational behavior dictated by them is the social reality in which you have to live.

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