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Dukun, the master of black magic

October 28, 2008

One aspect of the Indonesian culture that you’re not likely to get to see is the practice of ‘black magic’ or witchcraft. When you talk to regular Indonesian people they might tell you they believe in black magic, although they don’t practice it. Generally Indonesians do not like discussing black magic, especially their own experience with it, but its all around.

Today black magic, together with white magic such as fortune telling, love magic, healing massage and countless other forms, continues to play a dominant role within Javanese cosmology. Many local people believe in it wholeheartedly. All disasters, be they personal or communal, are attributed to black magic. Unusual or sudden death, crop failure, death of livestock, and marriage problems are all caused by a local dukun santet. Elsewhere in Indonesia, people will often consult a dukun to learn about the source of a relative’s illness.

 Dukuns probably have more of a hold in Java than in Bali. Most Javanese are Muslim, so they are not supposed to dabble in other supernatural practices. When personal family crisis arrives, people will often consult a dukun, behind closed doors. In Bali the daily offerings placed at intersections and doorways to keep evil spirits at bay, are part of Balinese life. Apedanda (high priest) will have special powers himself to ritually cleanse and offer blessings. Banyuwangi in East Java is a place associated with the practice of black magic.
Banyuwangi has long been known as one of the most powerful centers of black magic in Indonesia, along with Banten in West Java and the island of Lombok. Banyuwangi’s fertile land has bred a farming culture with close links to the spiritual world. As a buffer zone between the islands of Java and Bali, Banyuwangi also has a long history of violent struggle which in the past often met with failure. This combination of fertility and failure led to an obsession with sorcery among the peoples of Banyuwangi.
According to one history, black magic practiced today in Banyuwangi is a blend of animistic belief and Islamic mysticism which arose out of inter-religious conflict during the Mataram court from the 16th century onwards. Another account tracks the origins of Banyuwangi’s black magic to Tulung Agung, a region in the west of East Java.
Black magic in Banyuwangi takes on two major forms. The first is sihir, black magic used to kill another person. This generally comes in the form of busung, where the victim’s stomach will grow grotesquely in size. It is believed various items such as knives, nails, broken glass, even small frying pans or animals can be found inside the stomach. Busung victims rarely escape death.
The second type of black magic in Banyuwangi is rapuh, sorcery designed to make the victim suffer throughout their lifetime. Symptoms include sudden blindness or deafness, paralysis or uncontrollable shaking and trembling.
Dukun santet are feared, and feelings of revenge often occurs in villagers. However, revenge killings of dukun santet were rare. Banyuwangi villagers have long kept black magic in check at the local village level. A code of ethics among Banyuwangi dukun santet forbids them from using their magic against people in the same village. If this occurs the accused dukun must undertake an oath of innocence in the local mosque. A dukun found guilty by fellow villagers was usually exiled from the village and perhaps his home and possessions torched.
Dukun are indistinguishable from everyday people. Some are reverent teachers of Islam, some are comical, and some are gentle parental figures. All are strong characters and inspire respect in their own ways. Dukun believe that their spiritual powers are a gift from God. If those powers are abused through personal gain or nethical intent, they will be lost or weakened.
A person’s ability to become a dukun is generally passed down from their dukun ancestors. However, some form of preparation, at least initially, is necessary for dukun to receive their spiritual power. This usually consists of long periods of meditation and fasting for days or even months. Once the dukun has received this spiritual power, he or she needs to learn the skills and knowledge of dukun practice. Some dukun learn these skills from another dukun or from books on ilmu Jawa that are readily available in bookshops. Others say their skills were taught to them by spirits whom they continue to consult for advice on the diagnosis and treatment of their clients.
As the dukun practice is based on altruism, payment for their services is minimal. It is only a token of thanks, discreetly given to the dukun in a handshake at the end of the consultation. Payment can be in the form of money, tobacco, or consumables used during the consultation such as flowers, herbs and incense. It usually is between the value of A$2 and A$5. As such, dukun live modestly and are neither rich nor poor but have enough with which to survive. A well-off dukun is often suspected of fakery.
The dukun of Java have the wondrous ability to help people in all areas of their lives including the mind, body and soul through ancient practices. This intriguing and important aspect of Javanese culture provides hope, solace, healing and a sense of meaning for people in these uncertain and irrational times. It is no wonder the dukun trade is flourishing.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. yana permalink
    November 27, 2008 8:17 am

    penjual kebohongan, perusak akidah, penyebab mundurnya cara berfikir masyarakat!!

  2. April 15, 2009 3:48 am

    I want to ask about the White Magic Is demonic abyss, whether used in the reconciliation between the Alazoj, and how the length of the period for which the effect can continue, and whether affect effect if the person is false, was far from the place of witchcraft, magic, I mean after Thank you …

  3. umair permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:14 am

    Hi my name is umair, I have a stomach problem, that doctors cannot cure, I think its cause of black magic, I want to know if anyone knows someone who can remove black magic effects, I will pay money $ but I need a cure, email me at

  4. judy permalink
    November 6, 2009 6:46 pm

    Hello,i want to ask about whether there are any black magic that can read a person’s mind?thank you

  5. Miguel Angel permalink
    March 6, 2010 11:39 am

    MIGUEL ANGEL..from Sydney

    I have been reading a few links on Google..About Black Magic and Spells ..Used in Indonesia.. It seems Real and a Fact that Peple Use this Magic..on Everyday Life. There!

    My Friend In Jogya is Suffering from Extreme condition of Body heat..And Headaches..She had this In the past about 3 Years Ago..she has mentioned..someone jealous had manage to place a spell on HER..Now again this condition has appeared..Feared to be A BLACK MAGIC SPELL..
    Can Anyone tell me is this condition Spell can Be Cure..or Reversed.. Or Are there any Doctors in Yogyakarta that can Help.
    Please!! Share your Information as She is really Having a Horrible time …
    I know nothing about Black Magic and I really would like to help her.

  6. Rizal permalink
    May 27, 2010 11:15 am

    Hi all….

    I have been having some personal problems and would like to seek the help of a strong dukun….please let me know or email me if anyone here knows a strong dukun who will be able to help please…..please help


  7. INDRA permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:55 pm

    I want to learn black magic spells can anyone help me out plzz

  8. INDRA permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:57 pm

    PLZ someone help me out so learn black magic spells

  9. August 6, 2010 12:15 am

    Pregnancy should be celebrated more online than it is -

  10. August 7, 2010 5:34 pm

    I have an emotional problem and my girlfriend left me because of European influence by her mother, Can anyone who influence them and return to me that if Ahdj Emily gives me a recipe or e-fortune-teller to help me and thank you

  11. Lukas Irwanto permalink
    September 14, 2010 11:44 pm

    Hi i am from Scotland (Inggriss) i was born in pasuruan, east java. I am looking for good dukun if anyone knows good dukun please contact me on thanks

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