Balinese Trance Séance

The film “Balinese Trance Seance” centers on a medium named Jero Tapakan who has been a medium for 24 years. She became a medium after suffering a series of both physical and mental breakdowns and attributes her ability to contact sprits and deities to this. It appears that in Indonesia a person who can enter a trance and contact sprits and gods is a person held in high regard. The reason people of Bali utilize sprit a medium is because they may want information on how to perform a ritual properly so they do not suffer misfortune through supernatural means.

They will also consult a medium before they build a home or on political disputes even for spiritual revenge from a vengeful spirit. For Jero to go into a Trance she begins by lighting an incenses and preparing holy water as well as offerings from the family members that are believed to carry the spiritual senescence of the person of whom they wish to speak to. However, it is explained that it is unknown what deity or sprit will come forth to communicate with the family. Before the Jero begins her clients do not consult with her and she is not giving any prior knowledge of the person or gods/goddess the family wishes to communicate with.

To put her self in a trance she will cant and pray to the gods to grant her the ability to contact the sprits she, will also purify her self and all object offered with holy water. Jero prays to the gods of the sky, sea and the earth. Once in a trance Jero brought forth a deity that was angry that the family had not performed a ritual correctly and wished the family to have a public cremation to appease the god. When Jero was in her second trance it was explained that the ritual was for the grandson who had passed away off a disease and being that the doctors could not save him the family had suspected witchcraft.

During the second trance another deity came forth an instructed the family to make offerings at the main home and by doing this all there sins will be redeemed. After this the family once again asked Jero to go into a trance to contact the sprit of they dead son and she did. This time the sprit of the boy come forth an explained to the family that it was a female member of the family that was the cause of his death. He stated that he was “pierced through the heart”.

The boy went on to question the family as to why his mother was not present and the father explained that she was spiritually unclean and could not attend the ritual. The boy orders the family to make offering to brama, swiwa and wishna to help with his cremation. He also asked he father for permission to make the female responsible for his death sick but only if the father wished it. At the conclusion of the ritual the family plays the recording back for further explanation from Jero and the money and offerings are returned to the family and Jero only takes a small tip and food for her services.

When Jero is shown herself on film she explains that once the sprits enter her she blacks out and does not remember what is said she explains that she feels still and in a daze while in trance. She continues to explain that it is hard for her to get into the first trance but very easy to enter the state after this. I found this film very interesting because you see that although Jero makes a her living in this way she does not charge the family large amounts of money and gives them peace of mind and happiness in return.

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