Trance And Healing In Southeast Asia Today
By Ruth-Inge Heinze
This study looks at the role of faith in Southeast Asian healing rituals and investigates the needs which created the underlying belief systems, shamans, mediums, and healers monitoring trances and mediating between different states of consciousness for the purpose of healing. In 21 case studies, the reader will observe a Meo shaman riding into the spirit world, the God Rama descending into the body of an Indian worker, and a Malay bomoh balancing the "wind" of a client during a main puteri. A Thai-Malay bomoh is transformed into a tiger and Singapore-Malays behave like horses. The book documents how Thai, Hindu, Malay, as well as Chinese mediums, with the help of Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist deities, deified heroes, and nature spirits cure, exorcize, and advise their clients. The phenomena of automatic writing and glossolalia are also discussed.
The book addresses, e.g., the following questions: Is the demand for spiritual guidance and help increasing or declining? Is the syncretism we find in modern belief systems strictly a theoretical issue which is of no importance to the participants in a ritual? And is shamanism an "elementary form of the religious life?" The book provides, furthermore, evidence for the needs which lead to the emergence of need-fulfillers wherever and whenever specific physiological, psychological, mental, social, and spiritual needs arise. Thus, when modern physicians, psychiatrists, and sometimes priests, do not seem to have an answer, folk practitioners continue to fulfill basic human needs in modern multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies.
48 pp. illus. in color