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Magic in Bali  

by on Friday, 26 January 2007No Comment | 2,333 views

Magic in Balinese life is an integrated part of daily life, there is no clear distinction between the real phenomenon and magical one. There is no word for “miracle” in Balinese language, since in everyday life; Balinese do not differentiate between miracle and common phenomenon. All phenomenons however strange it is, has an explanation and the favorite explanation from a Balinese for a weird event is “the imbalance” between the positive and negative force produces this strange event and a kind of ceremony is needed to restore the balance.


The adjective “sakti” that means “magically powerful” is the key word and the favorite word in Balinese magical. Everything that sakti (magically powerful) is deeply revered by the Balinese out of fear or respect. “Kesaktian“, is the noun form of the adjective “”sakti” (magically powerful), a word, that means “magical power”. On this noun, “kesaktian” (magical power) all Balinese magical activities is centered on. “Kesaktian” (magical power) is not something to be ridiculed or handled improperly. Used only by powerful people, it can be turned against anyone at any time, to his possible harm or even death. It is a powerful force, not to be trifled with. The “kesaktian” (magical power) is a secret art, no Balinese in his right mind will talk about this matter freely, a conversation of this matter is usually avoided. A Balinese who has many knowledge and ability on this subject will tend to keep quiet and refuse to admit that he knows something in relation with the “kesaktian” (magical power).

Balinese believes that “kesaktian” (magical power) can be acquired through four different ways.

1. By buying a “kesaktian” (magical power) from a Balian (witch doctor).
To obtain an instant magical power someone can buy an amulet, usually a drawing of sacred image and characters on a piece white cloth or for more powerful “kesaktian” (magical power) the Balian (witch doctor) will draw sacred characters all over the buyer’s body and give a magical power to the characters with a chant of sacred mantra and a particular offering.

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2. Inheritance from the parents
Parents with a “kesaktian” (magical power) will transfer their “kesaktian” (magical power) to their child who accompanies them in their last moment (dying). This is the most dangerous “kesaktian” (magical power) and will likely to harm other people since the child does not know that he/she posses a “kesaktian” (magical power), and does not have any control to his/her newly inherit legacy.

3. Gift
A “kesaktian” (magical power) can be acquired trough a meditation in a sacred or spooky place such as in cemetery, cave, gorge or forest. God or other spiritual being will bestows the “kesaktian” (magical power) as a reward for his/her meditation. Sometimes a particular god will choose a person to become His servant. The chosen person will be given a “kesaktian” (magical power) usually a shamanistic power as reward for his/her services.

4. Study
A “kesaktian” (magical power) can also be acquired trough a deep and serious study on the palm leaf manuscripts. The manuscripts that contain a lesson on how to acquire a “kesaktian” (magical power) is called “Lontar Kawisesan“, the manuscript of power. A qualified teacher is needed in this learning process since the knowledge of “kesaktian” (magical power) is a dangerous knowledge, many Balinese end up with death or insane as result of studying the knowledge “kesaktian” (magical power) without a proper guidance. Before learning this secret art, the student has to purify himself/herself trough a certain ceremony, called “pawintenan” ceremony. Balinese believes that without this ceremony the knowledge of the “kesaktian” (magical power) will not enter the student mind since his/her body is still spiritually dirty.

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The “kesaktian” (magical power) as the other things in Bali, is double-edged. It can bring many benefits to the people if it is used properly and can harm people, crops, or animals if falls to the wrong hand.

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