Indonesian Shamanic Methods of Fasting & Austerities
Fasting and asceticism are essential practices in Javanese Kejawen and shamanism--especially Indonesian shamanism. Most of the unusual and unique powers acquired in Indonesian occultism are dependent upon the mastery of these disciplines with their many forms and variations. Another important factor that must not be overlooked in the acquisition of these occult powers is the knowledge of the correct timing such as the proper month and day which magickal rites and disciplines are to be commenced, and this is intrinsically linked with the Javanese calender; this however, will not be dealt with in this article for it is beyond its scope. We will mainly focus on the many variations of fasting and the austerities carried-out in Javanese mysticism/occultism. Fasting as a religio-spiritual practice is known the world over by modern and ancient cultures. Initially, fasting was the result of the inaccessibility of food and proper nourishment in the face of lack and poverty.
It was later adopted by the religious/shamanic community for magickal and devotional purposes as it was found to provide certain interesting results psychologically, biologically, and metaphysically. The ancient grimoires, both eastern and western, are filled with rituals that require fasting as a preparation for the work. Modern researches on fasting reveals that the practice results in health and in a regeneration of the physical body when done rationally and not carried into extremes. Fasting maintains one's health as it provides the needed rest to the digestive organs. From the magickal perspective, fasting has an occult effect on both mind and body.
Shamanic fasting changes the polarity of the physical body and also raises its vibrations, making it sensitive to the magickal frequencies imperceptible to the five senses. It especially sensitizes the autonomic nervous system making it a fine receptor for receiving psychic impressions that are overlooked by the nerves of the central nervous system. Psychologically, fasting induces a certain borderline state making the mind susceptible to data fed into it in the form of affirmations, mantras, and prayers, and thus strengthening subconscious response to the information given. Fasting likewise orients the mind to the spirit within making it conducive for inner attunements and communications to take place with the Cosmic Mind and the various intelligences composing It. The increased vibrations of the body, cleansed of all toxic matter through fasting makes it possible for the attraction of certain types of spirit beings that normally would not come into close proximity to us because of the noxious affluvia that we emanate. Indonesian shamanism urges one to fast on one's natal day (according to the Javanese calender) to accumulate extra power and to strengthen the relationship with one's guardian angel and what they call the "four spirit brothers." There is no denying that fasting aids the etheric body to accumulate cosmic power, especially when done in conjunction with the appropriate metaphysical exercises. Without physical nourishment, the body is forced to acquire the energy it needs through some other channels. When adopted as a regular practice, fasting unfolds psychic sensitivity. As a spiritual discipline, fasting teaches one to refrain from greed in all of its hideous forms.
It is a practical reminder of the injunction of the Master Jesus: "to be in this world, but not of it." Fasting, when accompanied with contemplation and spiritual reflection, causes beneficial changes in one's psyche. By fasting from the things of this world one would find oneself being nourished by the Divine Spirit, as Nature hates a vacuum. One would become a "god-eater" where physical nourishment becomes superfluous. This is, of course, quite an advance stage. Generally speaking, during the period of fasting/austerities one should refrain from generating negative thoughts, feelings, and actions and should be busily engaged in spiritual works. It is a time of introspection and the reaching out (in) for the divinity within us. One's thoughts ought to be kept at a lofty level. If the fasting is related to a magickal ritual, the meditation or mantras of the work ought to be conducted or recited during the fast. The intention of the abstention of food and drink must be affirmed and impressed upon the subconscious mind ere the commencement of the ritual itself.
In Javanese mysticism, fasting is normally carried out during certain months of the Javanese calender, such as the month of Sura, as these months are considered conducive to spiritual activities. Fasting periods are between 1--40-days. Auspicious days to commence one's fasting from the Kejawenese point of view are Kliwon-Tuesday, Legi-Wednesday, and Pahing-Thursday. Fasts/austerities ought to be preceded by a holy wash/ritual cleansing, as this puts one into the proper frame of mind--aside from its other metaphysical benefits. During fasting and the conducting of the austerities, one would indubitably encounter varied forms of temptations, visions, and physical discomfort that would thwart one's efforts. This is partially the result of the body elemental's protest against the discipline imposed. Because of its puerile and irrational nature, it will not accept anything that would upset its routine work. Fasting and austerities brings out the worst in us onto the surface--and this is indeed a blessing as we would be made aware of all the neurosis, psychosis, and complexes lurking within the psyche that requires our attention in the art of transmutation. These dark elements are often projected onto the consciousness in the forms of hallucinations and illusions. This is one of the alchemical stages symbolically described by the mages of old.
When these forms arise one should understand what they represent or interpret their symbolical nature. Knowing what they are is the first step of getting rid of them, of which would consequently make it easier for the empowerment of one's psyche and the raising of one's magickal power-level. It should be noted that even though such blocks are removed, one still has the source of the problem lying deep within in our spiritual forgetfulness and divine ignorance. They are like tentacles belonging to an unseen creature which if not killed, new limbs would form. However, we are digressing; this topic goes beyond the scope of this present article. One thing more should be mentioned: traditionally, we are informed that inspirations, visions, and intuitive impressions of worth occurs from 1 am to dawn. It is said that during this period the impressions emanate from a divine source. At other nocturnal periods they issue forth from the subconscious mind or from spirit beings of the lower planes. At the conclusion of any ritual fast or austerity it is a custom in Javanese occultism/shamanism to offer a thanks-giving consisting of yellow rice, glutinous-rice porridges, fruits, etc.