Indonesians are a superstitious bunch. There is a lot of mysticism and folklore woven into the fabric of their existence. I find it rather beautiful. Although there are some Indonesians who scoff at this part of our heritage, there are some who accept it as part of our history. The Indonesian Airline “Garuda” is named for a mythical bird, a Hindu Deity who mocks the wind with the speed of his flight and was born with a hatred for evil. I sometimes have difficulty separating the folklore of Indonesia from history.
My Dutch father who went to church every Sunday and even taught “Sunday School” spoke of unexplainable phenomena that he witnessed while in Indonesia. Inanimate objects moving across the room on their own, whispers in the night and voices carried by the wind.
My brother Erik, told me a story about my father in their early years in Kansas. Everyone was fast asleep when my father woke the family and insisted that they seek the safety of the outdoors because of the earthquake. Once outside, he accepted that there was no earthquake and the family returned to their beds. The next morning they learned that the Indonesian Island of Java, their former home, was struck by a devastating earthquake. My life has been filled with stories like this one.
Superstition in Indonesia could be attributed to its roots in Animism. For many indigenous people, animism was the part of an early belief system. Animism, from the Latin anima translates to a current of air, wind, breath, the vital principal, life, soul. Animism is the belief that everything natural has a spirit.
Today’s craze seems to be books, movies and television series that involve vampires, werewolves, wizards, magic and oh yes… zombies. I see this as progress. I see it as an indication that society is allowing itself permission to explore another side of life, to look “outside the box”.
I often find that when life feels oppressive, when its burdens seem too heavy, a walk in nature cures that which ails me. There is something about a gentle breeze that ruffles the leaves then sweeps down to stroke my hair that comforts me. I must say I have never felt God in the sanctuary of a church but in nature, I am surrounded by God. It doesn’t seem a far reach for me to believe that the blending of animism and mainstream religion could hold some area of “truth”.
I am afraid of the dark. I don’t remember a time when I was not. I cannot watch movies about the supernatural. I wake in the middle of the night, remember scenes from movies that I saw twenty years ago and I am afraid to close my eyes.
This is my Halloween story:
There is something a little spooky in my house. The floors creak, the beams in the attic whine in the wind and occasionally when I am home alone I hear a low, barely audible moaning which sounds almost like suppressed weeping but not like that of a child or a young woman but deeper and more sorrowful. When I hear it, I feel it in my core and I have to go outside and stand in the daylight to “shake off” the feeling.
I once had a dream that there was a woman in my closet. She had skin the color of caffe’ latte and wore a long, worn skirt, covered by a dingy apron. Her hair was covered by a scarf, tied at the nape of her neck. She was hiding. A few weeks later my daughter Olivia, then about age three or four had been sleeping on the floor of my bedroom. She woke me at about 5:30 in the morning to tell me that a woman was standing beside my closet. I asked her to describe the woman. The description matched that of the woman in my dream.
My theory is that she is a slave woman who might have lived on this land where our house was built. For some reason she didn’t cross over and has adopted us. She never does anything malicious, as a matter of fact, I feel that she looks after us. It could also be that I have an active imagination and prone to embellishment, I’m not entirely certain I myself know which.
From Spike Lee's Rockapella