As I type these words I am a complete puddle; juicy with thanks, saturated with love, and overflowing with awe at the Creation around me. Today was a day filled to the brim with traditional cultural worship, humble learning, activation and contemplation. Thank you for reading and coming with me on this one. May you feel how blessed I feel through these words.
I awoke early and feeling a bit sore and sleepy from such a full on day yesterday, but was able to work through that due to the excitement of giving a bodywork session first thing and then heading out on my excursion to the temples. The massage went great, and I felt really connected to what her body was saying, and was thankful that she was in such a sweet space to receive it. I love giving bodywork, even at 7AM! We have to fit each other in where we can during these retreats. My people need me, and I am happy to work it in so that everyone wins. And winning, we are!
After that I was picked up by the small group I would be touring around with for the day. Wayan was our driver, and Rhaiti, a Balinese Princess our guide. As we were driving to Basahki, The Mother Temple, we were noticing all of the Ogoh-Ogoh creations everywhere. These Ogoh-Ogoh’s are huge flammable statues made in the image of demons, monsters and evil spirits. They represent lust, greed, and all of the “sins” that humans confront within themselves. The idea is that Friday night, the day before Nyepi, they parade around these Ogoh-Ogoh’s and bang pots and pans and hoot and holler and call attention to all of the demons and spirits, attracting them into the Ogoh-Ogoh’s. The spirits come into these creations because they look like each other. Likenesses. Helps the little demon feel right at home. Once all of this has taken place, they then burn the Ogoh-Ogoh’s in an effigy. Then all goes silent. Nyepi begins. Seeing all of these structures on our way to the temples was fascinating. Each small district raises money and builds one. I am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.....
The Mother Temple, Besakih, is the Central Temple of Bali. It is considered the most holy, and sits terraced on Mount Agung. Tradition claims that all souls comes from the Mother, and to the Mother Temple they shall return. I wore traditional Balinese dress of a long sleeved cabala, a sarong, and a sash. We entered the temple, and began to make the long descent up the stairs. On the right side the gargoyles were smiling, on the left side the had faces of anguish, the stairway up led right through the center of these stone creatures. Rhaiti said it’s because you have to focus your mind, our minds are always in the middle of happiness and anguish and we have to stay focused on what we are thinking about. Just at that time I saw some little children making offerings to a baby goat. The little children were all laughing and smiling, making the offerings to the goat as a man was tying the goats feet together. Rhaiti looked at us and explained that this was a sacrifice to purify the land. Sacrifice? I asked her if they were going to kill that little goat. Yes, she said. “Like, right now?” I asked. “Yes”, she said again. I decided to go on the other side of the wall to look at some messy offerings on the ground. She said the offerings were purposefully offered messily because ‘that is life’. I heard the goat bleating. No pun intended. It made a few noises that sounded sad to me, and I said a prayer for it’s soul. Being raised Christian and reading about how Jesus encouraged the Jewish people not to sacrifice the paschal lamb anymore created a belief in me that there is no need to sacrifice animals to Spirit. I have no judgement around this little goats life being offered, but it was still hard to witness.
So up we went. Each level of the Mother Temple represents a chakra. We prayed at the first level. I really appreciate this method of prayer. We had little bowls of flowers in front of us and some incense. The Princess said ‘the incense is the witness, the flower are the beauty’. We lit the incense and before each prayer (there were five) we purified our hands in the incense smoke. With each prayer, except the last one, we held a flower in our hand. When done with the prayers we put the flowers in our hair and behind our ears. The first prayer was for ourselves, one prayer was to the sun god, one prayer to the Creator of All The Universe and I can’t remember what the other two prayers were. For me, each prayer was full of gratitude. After four prayers, the priest came around and slung a bit of water on our head, and then gave us water in our right hands to sip three times, then the fourth handful of water was to cleanse our crowns. Finally, rice is placed on your third eye. Then the fifth prayer. We were kneeling all the while. Your feet are never meant to point towards the temple. We didn’t pray at every level, just the first one. We walked around while Rhaiti explained how the Balinese people pray, and how they are different and similar with the blend of religions (Muslims, Hindu, Christian, etc). It was all very fascinating, and I am honored to have bared witness.
Next we had lunch in the company of a view of the volcano. Rhaiti explained to us that the Balinese believe that three dragons keep the Balinese islands together. Praying to the dragons keeps the volcanos from erupting or earthquakes from shaking the islands apart. It was amazing to see the pathway of the lava flow from the top of the mountain to the village. The black sands leading down the mountain were like scar. A stark reminder against the green jungle that this island is ever changing, and even with all of the prayers to the three dragons, there is still a chance that lava could lap up this lushness in the blink of an eye...
Finally we arrived at the Water Temple. Tampak Siring. We went into the temple portion and were led through the same Five Prayer Practice that we learned in the Mother Temple. The Mother Temple is where the Balinese go to retrieve the souls of those who have passed, and the Water Temple is where they go to Purify and Cleanse their own soul while it’s still in their body. The water comes from a Holy Spring that bubbles up out of the ground and flows into the stone fountains and pools for praying. The spring fed pool was beautiful. Fish and eels freely swimming. Freshwater coral and plants swaying softly. When we went into the Fountains, Rhaiti explained what each one was about and what I was meant to do. At each fountain we washed our mouths out three times to purify the words we speak, and cleanse our mouths from anything harmful or hurtful we have ever said. Then we wash our face three time, to purify any harmful actions or movements we have ever done. Then you bathe head under the fountains to purify your mind. There was a fountain for each chakra, the two for funerals which we skipped over, one for cleansing bad dreams, one for forgiveness of the father and one for forgiveness of the mother, and then finally one fountain that you actually drank the water three times instead of spitting it out, and that fountain represented being blessed by 99 Priests. There were some other fountains that you could collect water from to bless your home, new job, family, new car, etc. I just stood in front of them and prayed instead of putting my body in them since I didn’t have a little jar for collecting water. Then we got out and dried off and went home. Just like that. I had some profound sensations while in that Holy Water. My prayers were deep, saturating me to the core. I trust Great Spirit heard, felt and saw my intention. I am feeling very grateful that I was able to participate this way, especially in the days leading up to Nyepi.
I got back to Ananda in time to receive another massage, and take a very hot bath. After that I wrote this blog, feeling like a puddle of a watery woman. The water is a theme here. My dreams have all had the reoccurring symbols of tidal waves or rain. The last dream I had about tidal waves I actually leaped into the wave. I feel that this is poignant, as I have taken the leap to live based solely on my creative pool of resources. We are water beings, and being blessed by the water today resonated deeply with my soul and spirit. Tomorrow I teach again, Twinning and Spinning. Then the Ogoh-Ogoh parade, and then the Silence Begins. Until then...may the water within you vibrate at it’s purest cellular structure possible. Aho!
Shellie White Light