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Mircea Eliade - Belet

Identifier

007140

Type of spiritual experience

Background

Belet is the paradise island of the peoples of North Borneo and the Malay Peninsula…

I think the breaking of the bones may be symbolic in that it signifies final release from the bodied state 

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

At death the soul leaves the body through the heel and sets off eastward to the sea. For seven days the dead souls can return to their village; after that, those who have led a good life are guided by Mampes to a miraculous island, Belet; to reach it they go over a switchbacked bridge, which crosses the sea. The bridge is called Balan Bacham; Bacham is a kind of fern that grows at the further end of the bridge; there they encounter a Chinoi woman, Chinoi-Sagar, who decks her head with Bacham ferns, and the dead must do likewise before setting foot on the island of Belet.

Mampes is the guardian of the bridge and he is imagined as a gigantic Negrito; it is he who eats the offerings for the dead.

Arrived in the island, the dead go to the Mapic Tree, where all the other dead are assembled. But the new arrivals may not wear flowers from the tree or taste its fruits until the dead who have preceded them have broken all their bones and reversed their eyes in the sockets, so that they look inward. When these conditions have been duly fulfilled, the newly deceased become real spirits and may eat the fruits of the tree.

This of course is a miraculous tree and the source of life; for at its roots are breasts heavy with milk and there too are the spirits of infants – presumably the souls of the yet unborn. Although the myth obtained by Evans [Evans – Studies] is silent on this point, probably the dead become infants again, thus preparing themselves for another life on earth.

The source of the experience

Kahuna

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image