BALI CULTURE INFORMATION

 

 
 
The Island Of Bali, Indonesia

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BLACK AND WHITE 'MAGIC

The ancient Indian idea that a positive force, when temporarily distorted and reversed, is turned into an evil, negative power is the backbone of the magic science of Bali. Even the gods have phases of wickedness, their krodha or rodra manifestations, when a creative spirit becomes a fearful deity of death and destruction. Siwa in his angry form is Kala, and Uma, 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.

The 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 holy water.

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.

In 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.

The ancient Indian idea that a positive force, when temporarily distorted and reversed, is turned into an evil, negative power is the backbone of the magic science of Bali. Even the gods have phases of wickedness, their krodha or rodra manifestations, when a creative spirit becomes a fearful deity of death and destruction. Siwa in his angry form is Kala, and Uma.

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