Mystery, Myth & Magic


Bali’s Jero Gede Mecaling, The Spreader of Death and Disease

Culture | Dec 20, 2018

These hot and humid days are the most difficult times in Bali. But make no mistake. It is not because of the rainy season. It is because the guardians of hell are cleaning their cauldron. Yes, they do a little housekeeping at this time of year. Suratma, who judges all souls at the gates of […]

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The Construction of Balinese Hinduism

Culture | Nov 26, 2018

Most of you, dear readers, when coming to Bali, already have a certain idea of the island. An iconic idea, which encompasses, as you probably know, just a small part of reality. So you must certainly have been told that Bali is the only Hindu island in Indonesia — and you have been told so […]

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A Woman’s “Impurity” Within Balinese Belief

Culture | Oct 03, 2018

If there has been an important behavioural notion that has been imported from India to Bali, it is the notion of purity, or rather the avoidance of impurity, nirmala – not impure.  To the Balinese, spiritual impurity is indeed a dreadful condition. First place, it is niskala (invisible) by nature, thus subjected to forces that […]

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The Ins and Outs of Balinese Dogs

Culture | Sep 17, 2018

Have you ever seen a Balinese dog? I am sure you must have. These small, ugly animals are everywhere. They lurk in every corner in groups of four or five, peering at you in defiance with their small beady eyes, their tails jigging in the air. If you are, like myself, a white-skinned Caucasian, they […]

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How Balinese Criticise Those They Love The Most : Their Priest

Culture | Aug 30, 2018

When Westerners think of Balinese priesthood, they are usually awed and, accordingly, embarrassed by “excessive respect”. It must be said that the view of a pedanda priest, lotus-sitting on his platform and jingling his genta bell to call down the gods to the rite he is performing, is highly impressive and calls for spontaneous respect. […]

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Purgatory in Paradise : Where the Sinful Soul Goes

Culture | Jul 25, 2018

“The superiority of purgatory over hell or paradise is that is has a future” – Chateaubriand In these days of religious radicalism, the word paradise most often evokes the 40 virgins attributed to each martyr fallen in the holy war against crusaders, Zionists and other heretics and blasphemers. But considering the news from Syria and […]

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Salacious Oddities of Balinese Lore

Culture | Jul 25, 2018

“For the Balinese, the village ones I mean, those little touched by modernity and Brahmins’ influence, sex is an obsession. It can at times take a physical form: after all it was pretty common until recently to forcefully kidnap a woman to marry her. The subsequent wedding cleansed the injury. What we now call a […]

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Pan Kaler, Balinese Healer

Culture | Jun 11, 2018

There are in Bali several kinds of traditional healers. The closest to the Western idea of a doctor is the balian usada: his knowledge rests on the control and knowledge of sacred lontar books and on the availability of medicinal herbs he alone knows where to collect and how to concoct. Although the potency of […]

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The Fate of a Piece of Land in Bali

Culture | May 02, 2018

Gung Lingsir, the old prince of Abian Gombal, was now back outside, sitting cross – legged on the verandah of his old pesaren pavilion. He was lost in thoughts. He had had a near call with death, but now, with the fever gone and having lost a few pounds, he could once again run the […]

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Spirits and Gods of the Mountain

Culture | May 01, 2018

One of the main problems when talking about Balinese “religion” is related to the very fact of “defining” it, and beyond, to the fact that by defining it, we frame it in a conceptual framework, we associate to its boundaries that do not exist in the mind of the people involved. The misunderstandings that ensue […]

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