Balian, The Traditional Healer

Taking Charge of Your Health and Wellbeing

The general portray of a balian is a shaman or a village healer who use ancient knowledge and spiritual energy to treat patients. There are many types of balians who handle specific problem, from broken bones to broken hearts, from concocting medicines to concocting love potions – choose one that is suitable for your situation.

A lingering sickness that doesn’t cured with the modern medical practice is often viewed as a result of disharmony between the person and his surroundings. This will bring the person to contemplate if he has done something inappropriate in a spiritual, social, or environmental way. It could be mistakenly stepping over a sacred object or an offering, being disrespectful to a deity, not making the appropriate offerings for an important ceremony, urinating on certain spot that offend the spirit resides in it. It possibly also due to having an excessive hubris, or having an enemy who send a black magic right at the time when the defense was down and too weak to repel it. In this case, the sick person will seek atonement and a balian specialist can help to neutralize the bad intentions and to restore the balance and harmony between the seen and the unseen energies.

The most common visited is type of healer called balian usada, the one who has a healing power based on knowledge on medicines from the ancient medicine books and from the inherited teachings of predecessors. The ancient book is in the form of lontar-palm leaves manuscripts, and this scripture itself generates a magical energy and considered as a sacred healing book. From his diagnoses, the balian usada will prepare a remedy using mostly plant base ingredients. It can be a concoction of leaves, barks, roots, seeds, and possibly a certain kind of oil. This remedy can be taken by drinking it (loloh) similar to the traditional Javanese jamu. Some fresh ingredients also can be grinded in a stone mortar and pestle, then smear over the body (boreh).

Not all balians are healer, some can be seen for consultation for practical and pragmatic solutions to problems in everyday life – from professional challenges, or family discord to ancestral issues. It is common for Balinese to see a balian to find out who is the spirit reincarnated in the new born baby as the believe that ancestor’s spirit reborn into the same family. By knowing who this spirit is, the family can determine to whom prayers should be directed to, or to which clan offerings should be presented to, especially in situation when the baby falls ill.

Balian taksu is similar to a spirit medium, they are consulted for problem related to sickness as they can communicate with a god or spirits to reveal the cause of the sickness, and then suggest a cure. While balian kebal is the type who deliver powerful charms and spells. He dispenses magical amulets, love potion to drive girls out of their mind, drawing on cloth to resist magic and spell, and so on.

Balians are highly respected in Balinese society for their power and their ability to penetrate into the mystical world beyond the here and now – into the niskala. Some people possibly see them with a little bit of fear knowing that balian activities are involving mystical forces similar to the practice of black magic.

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