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.
Day 16, 16/11/11: Discovering Spirit - Bali
Up early this morning to drive to the docking port before taking the 40min boat journey to Nusa Penida Island. Once again we were joined by Ibu's community, a community I now feel very much part of.
The first temple we visited was up some pretty steep steps and praying there in the heat of the day meant we all resembled used fly paper. After the prayer ceremony had ended the community appeared to disappear, one by one into thin air.
It would seem that the temples we were about to practice in weren't on the island but inside it. Through a small hole in a rock we all squeezed one by one; you couldn't even stand up. As I entered my body felt invaded by a damp fungal smell. Through the tight channel we went until the cave opened up into a huge cavern. It was enormous and positioned in the middle was a dressed temple alter.
As we sat in prayer a local man leapt up embodied by spirit; through him came the now recognisable movements of Hanuman.
One of the local women began chanting; from all around there were outbursts from impromptu hysterics to the sound of wailing cries. We stood and moved deeper into another temple which was still situated in the same cave. Bats in their hundreds could be heard screeching overhead for here we were in their territory.
Under a bat infested ceiling with the wet, stagnant cold ground beneath our feet we received a Melukat. I really didn't want to drink the water that was poured into my hands, I mean, who knows what sh*t literally, could've dropped into it. As I brought the water to my mouth I just took enough to wet my lips.
Further and deeper into the cave we went. Before us now stood an elaborate staircase, two snakes formed its banisters. These were the bodies of the white nagas.
As we climbed the steps I was beginning to feel pretty claustrophobic. This section of the cave was much smaller than the rest. It was an intense atmosphere to be in; everyone was in physical contact with everyone. As I sat, desperately trying not to breathe in too much damp air Ratunia the ancestor entered Ibu. With little warning things were beginning to heat up.
She walked us into an even smaller cave; if that was at all possible. Now we were no longer just touching but we were practically on top of each other; my pulse quickening by the second. The little voice in me was saying, 'I don't like this', and on this occasion I was in full agreement. The air felt stagnant, old and decrepit; I was so grateful when they lit the incense.
One by one people became entranced. It was frightening as there was no warning as to who would be affected. At one point even the guardians themselves, including Ken and Dharma became entranced.
I took a hit to the face by a flailing arm which caused my lip to catch on my tooth. This space was dark, confined, hot; restrictive, with an ever diminishing supply of air... and who knows what we were stood in.
As spirit entered an increasing number of people the physical movement grew more intense. I could feel my body locking down. I saw Samphos run out up some steps. I was caught in wanting to follow him but instead remained frozen, like I had been fixed to the spot. Jo was next to me and I was so glad she was there; her physical presence was exactly the support I needed. I turned and faced the cave wall, hands touching it with my head lowered.
When the water was splashed and people started coming back I charged for the steps, moving as fast as I could. As we made our way to the cave exit we were stopped for one final prayer ceremony. I felt like a shackled dog. The light fresh air felt so close I couldn't focus on anything else.
One by one we were called before the Priest, this was a Guanyin blessing; which I could've guessed purely from how Jo's body was swaying in ever expanding circles.
The minute the ceremony was over I was out and down the steps as quickly as I could. We boarded the trucks and made our way across the small island to another set of temples. In the midday sun it was getting harder and harder to stay focussed.
I was absolutely exhausted, even my hyperactive monkey mind had fallen still. Sat in the friendship temple I couldn't concentrate on anything. I felt absolutely wasted; at which point Jo leant over, pointed at her big toe and said, "if I was bitten now on my big toe by a poisonous viper would you suck out the poison?"
...You what Jo...?? Where that question came from I have absolutely no idea. I could barely even remember my own name let alone even begin to fathom snake bites and big toes.
Clearly we were in two completely different head spaces. Today was really difficult and I hold in both hands the unfolding of it all, I know over the upcoming hours/days the processing will begin and that's something I want to honour - right now there's just nothing in me.