Demons & Spirits of Bali: Bali

Throughout the island of Bali, the Balinese people have this innate fear of ghosts and spirits, things that go bump in the night and hob-goblins alike.

These demons and spirits could manifest themselves in many forms. It could be a black cat or crows, or even naked women in places they shouldn’t be.

The Balinese also have this innate sense of knowing when a domesticated animal is possessed, or even a person. The latter generally being the influence of a mischievous Buta or Kala; malicious as they are, and the former being if a farmer notices a chicken pecking in the yard in a strange way, or a cow in the fields suddenly acting weird or jumping when startled upon approach.

It is the Buta and Kala that cause human misery, disease and suffering. These vile demons enter a person’s body infecting them, sucking their blood while they sleep. It is even believed they abduct children for a midnight feast. Strange as this might seem to non-Balinese (Bule’s) or even stupid, the Balinese believe that these malicious demons exist and are prevalent at night haunting and waiting for their next victim.

It is the reason why places such as forests, crossroads and graveyards, trees and swimming holes are avoided at night by the Balinese.

The Balinese believe that as they sleep, their souls wander and could even enter the body of an animal or bird. This then is why you will never see a chicken slaughtered after the sun has gone down or any other animal for that fact.

But it is the Leyaks, the witches, that are the most unpredictable and the most dangerous. So evil are these beings, their manifestations are in the forms such as a bird as big as a cow, or a riderless motorcycle on the road. They even take the form of a monkey with golden teeth or a massive rat, a ball of fire and even a bald-headed giant!.

The Balinese are constantly aware of the evil intensity of the leyak. If a dog whines and whimpers on a moonless night, then the Balinese know there are leyak around. It is believed that if leyak are not appeased in some manner, then they could even run rampant in a village causing destruction, illness and even epidemics.

The Balinese believe that a witch must suffer 1,000 years as an earthworm and 200,000 years as a poisonous mushroom before he or she can be reborn and take the form of a human being.

The demons Barong and Rangda exist in the natural order of the cosmos and are therefore predictable unlike the leyak. It was Rangda who was the most evil and is known as the ‘Evil Queen of the Witches’. Both Barong and Rangda are cemented in Balinese legend.