"A Gift of Sacred Things: Meeting With Bali's Spiritual Masters
“A Gift of Sacred Things: Meeting Bali’s Spiritual Masters”
I set off to Bali with Alberto Roman (philospher and shamanic musician) who had worked with me on “The Shaman and Ayahuasca” (now in post production). The idea was to explore Bali’s concept of Niskala – or ‘the unseen world’. The Balinese spend 50% of their lives in temple ceremonies and rituals appeasing the unseen gods and demons that inhabit and influence their world. We wanted to meet and film people who are mediums and spiritual practitioners between these two worlds. And Bali is filled with them.
What we received was absolutely magnificent. Bali opened her arms and welcomed our inquiry. First, we had a ceremony where, through the auspices of a high priest, we asked the gods for their blessings for us and for the project. Then, over 16 masters showed us into their worlds and provided insights that literally blew us away. Among these:
• A balian hands-on healing on a boy whose leg was badly damaged in a motorcycle accident. Afterwards he shows us how he uses his tool-kit of charged and magical instruments, daggers and stones.
• A shadow master reveals the dangers of performing Calon Arang through which he identifies those practicing black magic in the village.
• A woman goes into trance and appears as Quan Yin. Through music, incense, chanting and her own charismatic power she leads dozens of villagers into trances of Hanuman, snakes, alligator men and many other dieties. Desiring to do more than experience this from the outside, we too entered these non-ordinary states.
• A prince in the royal lineage of an ancient Balinese kingdom shows us a secret palace he’s been building for 10 years: courtyard after courtyard, magnificent gates and statues. I am overwhelmed by the beauty.
• A powerful painter and yoga practitioner gathers energy from nature’s power spots and creates gigantic masterpieces.
• A priest leads his mountain villagers in a ceremony to call the deities who arrive but the teenage dancers are unable to go into trance to receive them. A poignant and sad moment. The village will keep trying.
• A small farmer goes into trance and channels Hanuman, the monkey king, and performs a healing.
• A village has recently had to repair its sacred Barong mask. A big ceremony is held where the mask is taken in a procession from the temple altar to the graveyard. At midnight, the entire village sits quietly while the priests invoke the gods the come and “reactivate” the sacred mask.
• One hundred teenage girls practice the Legong, as their teacher, a famous trance dancer, watches their every move. We interview her top students, who easily go into trance.
I’ve been to Bali around 20 times and never have the priests, healers, shadow masters and others been so willing to share their most sacred arts. We were shown things that few outsiders have ever seen.
I shall now spend the next year editing some 22 hours of material into a film and a book. Watch this space!