Bali is a dream destination for seekers of sun, relaxation, nature, beauty and spiritual growth. Bali’s spiritual richness can’t go unnoticed with statues of Ganesha and small palm leaf baskets of flowers dotting Balinese streets as evidence of daily offerings made by locals. As a spiritually diverse culture blending Hinduism and traditional Animists beliefs, the Balinese live by 3 main principles –honor other people, honor nature, and honor animals. These selfless values led me to be intrigued about their traditional healing modalities and eager to seek out a medicine man and high priestess.
On the last day of 2014 while sitting in a restaurant and retreat spa in Ubud, I overhead two Aussies talking about a local medicine man. After inviting myself into their conversation I was eventually given the details of a French woman that organizes spiritual tours to visit both a medicine man and high priestess. Although a lot more costly than seeking out the healers myself, I decided this option was the easiest way to reach these healers and had the added benefit of including a translator.
I commenced my day of healing at 8.30am when I met my group of five at our special meeting point in Ubud. As we piled into a white mini van taxi to reach the medicine man, we were greeted by a taxi driver clad in white clothing, adorned with tiger print items around his waist and wearing large gothic-like rings. As one of the most well dressed men I had seen on the whole island I asked him why he was dressed that well. He responded that he was training to be a Hindu priest and was married to the high priestess we were going to see later that day.
The well dressed taxi driver and I
After a 15-minute ride we reached an older style Balinese house surrounded by lush gardens where the medicine man lived. The medicine man we saw is part of the Ubud Royal family and at 86 years old is one of the oldest spiritual healers and Shaman in Bali today. He begins his session by reading the body/mind condition of his patient through placing his fingertips on various points of their head. This includes the assessment of the lymphatic system, sense of direction in life, memory, stress, and anxiety. He then confirms what he finds by checking the meridians on the foot to assess all vital organs such as the heart, liver and lungs. Once reaching a diagnosis he uses reflexology, mantras, mudras, tantric drawings, herbal medicine, and healing oils to assist the healing of the patient.
Each session is done in public viewing of all the people sitting on the wooden deck waiting for their turn. After watching a few people ahead of me squirming when his fingertips touched sore points in the head and toes, it was my turn for a session. To respect his royalty lineage I wore a sarong and longer sleeve shirt with a scarf tied around my waist to separate the pure from impure. I walked up to him, bowed my head and made eye contact with Namaste hands before I nervously sat down in front of him. The back of my head was by his knees and my legs were stretched out in front of me. He started by pressing on various points on each side of my head. “Ouch”, I cried out as he found a few painful spots. “Doubt” he said to me sternly “You have too much doubt. You need to make decisions”. After pressing on my temples, sides of my nose and upper mouth without any pain, I cried out in pain again as he found some sore spots on my shoulders. “You have too much emotion,” he said which is causing tension and pain in my shoulders and back.
Starting my session with the medicine man pressing points of my head
He then got out his little black stick to press on meridian points on my feet. After his success in identifying all the sore points on my head and shoulders I was dreading what he would find on my feet and was now sweating under my baggy, layered, unmatching clothes. He pressed on my second toe and “ouch” I screamed out as I screwed up my face and sweated even more. “Lung muscles” he said. I told him I had asthma and he kept confirming that was my trouble spot and he continued to poke the same spot as I repeatedly cried out in pain. Thank goodness every other point was ok as he went through pressing and checking vital organs. “Heart ok, liver ok, kidney ok” he said.
Getting meridian points on my feet assessed
He then used his stick to draw patterns on my arms, stomach and legs on top of my baggy clothes and did a series of hand mudras (signs). He told me to drink room temperature water and not soda as it will cause me to burp. I said I have never drank soda and only drink kombucha which makes me burp. He had no idea what kombucha was so he disappeared to retrieve some oil. When he returned he said rub it in to my shoulder blades, upper back and upper chest everyday. I looked into his warm and wise eyes and noticed his kind smile as I thanked him and bid him goodbye.
Healing through drawing
While observing some of the other people being treated after my session, I noticed he seemed to identify a different blockage with each person and even acknowledged a girl was going through grief as her mother recently passed away. He used a series of mudras and body drawings on others and even used a black marker to draw a series of symbols and patterns on one girl’s upper chest and neck as a form of healing. Although I didn’t find out anything groundbreaking except I have doubt and need to drink room temperature water, I did notice he had a gentle, sweet and genuine face and I did feel a strong liking towards him.
With the medicine man experience over, my group was now ready to see the clairvoyant, shaman, high priestess clad in white. I was informed that after obtaining her patients full name, date of birth and country of birth she will go into a trance to make contact with spirit and then perform an aura and karma cleaning ritual involving bells, mudras, mantras and flower and incense offering.
Excited and ready for the unique ritual my group arrived at her double story house located in the midst of green rice paddy fields, retreat centers and spas on the outskirts of Ubud. Upon entering the house we sat on mismatched chairs at a large rectangle table containing a plate with fruit scraps that were attracting a large group of fruit flies. I looked around the room to observe an odd assortment of furniture, kites, and paintings that all seemed to be plonked together in an un-matching way. After 10 minutes waiting there I was relieved to leave the odd room and head upstairs to wait for her outside her ritual room.
I was the third person in our group of seven to see her, and wandered into her room not quite knowing what to expect. As I walked in I was greeted by a short, white clad lady with a youngish face that seemed whiter than the rest of her body. She smiled and motioned for me to stand next to her and I quickly took my position. I saw she had my name and birth details written on an envelope in front of her as the translator handed me a small open leaf basked with flowers and a stick in incense in it, to give to her as an offering. She received the offering then recited a few words and waved her hands around as she conducted a short ritual before taking my right hand. She immediately pressed a painful point on my hand near my thumb and I cried out “ouch” and tensed my body as she kept pressing. “You have too much emotions,” she told me. Here we go again I thought.
She proceeded to tell me that my back and neck where sore, which I already knew was my main physical injury and my circulation was not 100%, which I suspected. Her solution was for me to drink hot water with lemon, honey and turmeric and to rub ginger and oil on my upper back and neck. She also mentioned to drink room temperature water which I usually do expect this trip as the weather was so hot I was drinking cold water. I was then able to ask a few simple yes or no questions, which I didn’t really feel I got the most clear responses too. Then it was over after around 15 minutes. Again I didn’t feel I learned anything new except what I already knew or suspected however it was an interesting experience.
Would I personally go back again and see the high priestess again? No, however if someone wasn’t as aware of their health challenges I’m sure they would learn new information from her. Would I see the medicine man and his gentle, kind face again? Yes and hope to god I get rid of this mysterious doubt and have less pain points next time.