The Island Of Bali, Indonesia



The learned, those possessing a highly trained mystic power, often become " infected in their heart " and misuse their knowledge to transform themselves into werewolves who revel in crime and blood, reverting to the wicked instincts of demons. They instruct pupils in the secret magic and become chiefs of legions of Ieyaks.

When I first became interested in magic, my Balinese friends tried to dissuade me, claiming that unending calamities would befall me if I persisted. None would admit he knew anything about how to become a leyak and in general the subject was delicate as a matter of conversation. Eventually someone brought me a manuscript for sale, probably stolen, obviously belonging to the magic lore. The very sight of it frightened them, and it was with certain difficulty that I induced my usually skeptical teacher of Balinese to help me translate the text.

Even he deliberately distorted the order of the syllables and I had to correct them afterwards, checking and rechecking individual words. Later on I obtained another palm-leaf book which was considerably more accessible because it contained magic of the " right," and from the two I tried to procure a general crosssection of magic procedures.

The process of becoming a leyak is long and arduous and can only be achieved gradually. First the pupils learn by heart magic words from the old manuscripts, which, repeated in rhythmical sequence while in the attitude of meditation, nglekas, put the student into a state of feverish trance. This is done while making an offering - cones of steamed rice dyed in certain specified colours, special structures of palm-leaf, amounts of old bronze coins, and a sacrificed chicken of a defined colour.

These rites should be performed after midnight in a propitious place for the transformation. Most frequently named locales for becoming a werewolf were the cemeteries, the death temple, the crossroads, the place where two rivers meet (tjampuan) , where corpses are cremated, in the bale agung, in empty lots where people have never lived, in the family shrine, magic spots of any kind.

The pupil achieves communion with the evil deities by degrees, but before he is successful, he undergoes strange tests of fortitude: giants appear to him and pretend to chop off his head with great axes, monstrous snakes will coil around his body, but he must remain unmoved. Should he laugh if mice appear from all corners playing on great flutes, the fruit of his efforts will be lost. The formulas recited during the early stages of training are simple repetitions of the standard holy syllables (ong, ang mang, ong, ang mang) or meaningless words such as: " ong, ngong breng nengang, ring pang ring pung, sigang sigung, m'ngang m'ngang bem mengung, djingal djingul, leng her."

Often strange words appear that seem to be onomatopoetic sounds of the animal one wishes to become, as in the case of transforming oneself into the monkey Luntung Bengkur, a favorite of leyak women, the formula for which is: " AH! hrenh hrang hrung, UH! hek kwek kwek," repeated three times.

So much for the simple leyaks that turn into birds, pigs, monkeys, snakes, or even tigers. There are more powerful and dangerous transformations for the later stages of training, for more defined demons and " rangdas," able to cause all sorts of supernatural phenomena.

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