Although Western visitors now travel
there by the millions, the East still offers
rewards of mystery to the adventuresome.
In 1972 Lawrence Blair and his brother Lorne
left England to film the greater bird of paradise,
long an Asian symbol of transformation and
immortality. They found an elusive specimen,
like the one above, high in a Javanese forest.
But it was certainly not their most
In their Indonesian travels they came upon
a world of myths, rites, and beliefs that had
existed unchanged since before recorded
time. In Bali, a newborn is thought to remain
close to the heavenly Upper World for its
first 105 days and thus is not allowed to
touch the earth; after this period the baby's
foot is ritually placed on the ground..
is almost futuristic; that their ancestors
arrived in starships from the star cluster
Pleiades. The swamp-dwelling Asmat have
a pre-Stone Age culture. They believe their
creator carved their bodies from trees and
drummed them into life. Cannibals as well
as headhunters, the Asmat drum the spirits
of their slain kinfolk into wooden totems;
there the spirits await the release that
comes when someone from the enemy tribe
is killed, beheaded, and eaten.
phenomena not easily explainable in
Western terms. On an island in the
Banda Sea, they saw a man in a trance
they described as an "example of pure
animist possession." A boulder was
slammed into his back but left neither
blemish nor injury.
From Eastern Mysteries
A volume from the Time-Life Series
Mysteries of the Unknown
critical judgement on the primitive religion
of man (or on the religion of primitive man),
you should remember to judge such savages
and to evaluate their religious experience
in accordance with their enlightenment
and status of conscience. Do not make the
mistake of judging another's religion by
your own standards of knowledge
and truth. .