AND WHITE 'MAGIC
Balinese believes that his body, like an electric battery,
accumulates a magic energy called sakti that enables him
to withstand the attacks of evil powers, human or supernatural,
that seek constantly to undermine his magic health. This
sakti is not evenly divided; some people are born with a
capacity to store a higher charge of magic than others;
they become the priests, witch-doctors, and so forth, endowed
with supernatural powers.
sakti can be trained to serve them at will by the systematic
study of the arts of magic and meditation, but people whose
hearts are contaminated by evil use the magic science to
harm their enemies, or simply to satisfy their lowest instincts.
Balinese use the term sakti like our " holy "
or " sacred," but meaning, rather, charged with
a magic (positive or negative) power that emanates from
people as well as from objects like Rangda and Barong masks,
or from places regarded as magically dangerous (tenget or
angker) , like caves, rivers, and ancient remains. One often
hears of the sakti of living people who could hardly be
regarded as holy, like our coffee-dealer Makatjung; I was
told of an old prince who was so sakti he could floor anyone
by simply staring at him.
normal way to bring out the dormant sakti is to undergo
mawinten -the initiation ceremony of priests, magicians,
dancers, and actors, to give them the luck, beauty, cleverness,
and personal charm that enable them to be successful. Story-tellers
and singers of epic poems (kekawin) have magic syllables
inscribed on their tongues with honey to make their voices
sweet. The ceremony is performed by a priest who, after
cleansing and purifying the person through a maweda, writes
invisible signs over his forehead, eyes, teeth, shoulders,
arms, and so forth. with the stem of a flower dipped in
An explanation of the Balinese attitude in regard to personal
magic can be found in the principle that constantly obsesses
them-strong and weak, clean and unclean. Thus, the individual
is magically strengthened when he is in the state of psychic
purity (ening, sutji, nirmala) acquired through the performance
of the cleansing ritual. The antithesis of this is the often
mentioned sebel condition, uncleanliness, when a run-down
soul renders one vulnerable to the attacks of evil. A person
becomes sebel automatically at the death of relatives, during
illness or menstruation, after having children, and so forth.
cases of bestiality, temple vandalism, incest, the birth
of twins of each sex, the entire community becomes polluted
and has to be purified by complicated and expensive sacrifices.
Not even the deities are free from becoming sebel, and,
like any other woman, Rangda and the death goddess Durga
are sebel once every month.
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