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  • About:Bali has a long tradition of Bali Usada, also known as Balinese traditional healing. The Balinese live equally in two worlds: the seen or conscious world called sekala, and the unseen or psychic world, called niskala. In traditional Balinese healing, both of these elements need to be addressed in order to truly heal.

  • What to expect:The experience will be very public. The healer may make magic, create fire, use mudras, draw patterns on your body, spit wads of chewed herbs on your skin, apply scented oils, poke you with sharp sticks and/or give you a deep tissue massage or manipulation.

  • Journal:Click here

Day 10, 10/11/11: Discovering Spirit - Bali

The morning of the Shiva full moon had arrived and as we sat awaiting our lunch there was an almighty crash. A large tree next to the restaurant had uprooted and tumbled down into the void below. I assume the quantity of rainfall must've had a hand in this poor trees untimely demise.

After lunch we headed to the wood carvers. Here, I managed to find just one solitary statue of Durga. By all accounts this is a one of a kind piece, possibly owing to the fact it was so damn ugly. That said I loved it, her stance really captured the energy, the essence; the spirit of what unfolded during my own initiation. Unfortunately after pacing around it, back and forth I decided that she was just too unruly to carry with me to Java, Borneo and back to the UK.

Our next stop was Ibu's house where, dressed in our full temple attire we received a blessing from a Padanda (high priest); one of only 350 in Bali. As part of the ceremony we were each adorned with floral headdresses. The atmosphere was one of great ease, one of joy; the air filled with laughter.

As the afternoon progressed, more and more of Ibu's community arrived for the ceremony of the Shiva full moon. The collective energy it would seem was calling us to the Durga temple situated nearby. This basically meant walking across paddy fields and following a small river at dusk. As we walked carefully we heard a rustle in a nearby bush, attached to its branches was a rubber snake. First question asked... is it poisonous?

As we sat in the Durga temple the sky was serene, an effervescent glow radiated as soft pearlescent tones changed and interchanged. It was as if we had been caught in an oyster shell. There were blues, pinks, lilacs a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns.

Ken spoke to us regarding why the walls of this temple were so low and relatively unprotected, "here the snakes are the guardians". On a previous visit a poisonous viper had fallen from one of the thatched rooftops into the lap of some poor unsuspecting man. Whilst he maintained his composure, the priest walked over and removed it placing it in a higher position to continue its role as trusted guardian. Apparently such an event is an auspicious sign. Paula and I looked at each other, then every little noise seemed to sound like a falling snake. If anyone was on guard, we most certainly were.

Back at Ibu's ashram, young village girls danced for us in their flamboyant yellow costumes. The youngest performer was seven and the expression in her eyes was that of someone far older and far wiser. For such a tiny girl she was hypnotic.

As the evening unfolded more and more people gathered in the ashram. As the music played the trance dancing began. Immediately I was invited to stand up and dance to the calls of the protector monkey, Hanuman... though I've no idea why.

As I stood and let my body be moved by the energy I found myself releasing a deep growl. To begin with it startled me; a surprised moment of, 'oh where did that come from?'

The noise had come from the back of my throat and erupted in relatively short bursts, on some level it actually felt like I could, if I wanted to control it. However as the dance progressed the growl was no longer mine, the growl no longer stemmed from my throat but had instead moved lower, moved deeper.

My mouth was now merely an avenue through which it carried; the sound itself was now resonating from below my throat. The short bursts had passed and now the sound rolled and rolled in one continuous stream. Whilst I could feel its vibration there was nothing I could do to elicit any control over it; my body it would seem was growling whether I liked it or not.

During the various dancing the trance element got at times pretty hairy, as spirit entered and passed through the bodies of the local people I was fearful as to what would manifest. What we were witnessing was them sacrificing their bodies, an invitation to something greater than themselves to use them as a vessel. What we were witnessing was the formless entering form.

All about us there was jolting, screaming, crying along with other noises I couldn't possibly describe. There was something very primeval about what was unfolding. An elderly lady rolled on the floor like a jumping bean. Over and under she rolled, from her back to her front, from the floor to her feet, a continuous uninterrupted stream of movement. It was the most uninhibited expression of form I have ever seen. It was so much fun to watch her frail old body perform and move so freely.

The energy bounced in and around the ashram like a game of space invaders. At times I merely sat back, an observer holding the space, bearing witness to all the characters that had shown up.

As the movement passed through, everyone returned to the floor. A loud hollow mantra was being recited; the air was still, the container had held. All of a sudden with an almighty 'bang' the dark sky had been split apart by a bolt of lightning, the silence broken.