Arat Sabulungan is the official name of the Mentawai believe, although the Mentawai themselves do not use this name. Arat Sabulungan translates as “Believe in the Leaves”, referring to the many different kinds of leaves that play such an important role in the Mentawai’s spiritual lives.
The Mentawai believe that everything that exists has a soul (simagere): not only people, but also the animals, plants, rocks, objects and even temporary phenomena like the rainbow or clouds. Souls are created together with their visible body, but at least the souls of people will live forever. The souls roam around freely in their own realm, but there is a continuous link between a soul and its earthly body and body and soul influence each other both ways.
What the human souls experience during the night will be seen in their dreams. But also the mind and feelings during daytime are related to the experiences of the souls. When roaming around in their realm, souls are exposed to each other and they are able to influence each other. For example, during the ceremonial preparations of a hunt the Mentawai try to attract the souls of game to their uma, by offering to the souls of previously caught animals, of which the skulls hang in the uma. These skulls are cleaned and nicely decorated, in order to make them attractive enough for their souls to live in. By offering to these souls they are invited to convince the souls of their living family and friends to come to the uma as well. If the souls of game feel attracted they will allow the hunters to catch them, so their souls will be reunited with the souls of family and friends.