Indonesia: Chapter 5: The Healer, A True Story

I’m going to tell you a story now.  You won’t believe me, and that’s ok.  But this is a true story and one of the top experiences of the trip for me.  Here goes.

Bonnie has friends who have been to Ubud, I believe a number of times, and they told her about going to visit a Hindu healer.  There are healers of the spirit and healers of the body (or something similar).  I didn’t understand the difference between the spirit ones and the body ones because, for instance, when someone has a cold, they go to the spirit healer to see whether he can fix whatever it is.  If not, he sends them on to a doctor.  I’m not sure why that’s not a “body” thing rather than a “spirit” thing.


Going to see a healer was one of the must-do things on Bonnie’s list.  Bonnie being Bonnie, she said if I didn’t want to go, it was completely fine, she would go after I left.  I wasn’t wild about going because, honestly, I didn’t believe in it.  But, in the end, I thought why not.  I’ve flown 10,000 miles from home all by my lonesome, I’ve visited my first mosque, I’m a crazy woman.  I can go to a healer.  I said, ok fine, let’s go see the spirit guy.

Wayan, of course, knows the best healers; the ones that aren’t about collecting tourists’ money.  He took us to this house that, like all houses there, was a compound of different buildings, including a temple.  The healer (whose name I don’t recall) arrived a little later, wearing old shorts and a raggedy t-shirt.  He’d been out in the fields picking herbs for medicines, and was chewing on something that made his saliva blood red.  It gathered at the corners of his mouth, threatening to roll down his face.

If it had been night time in Romania, I’d have been out of there.

He wrapped sarongs around us and then had us sit at the edge of the structure his shrine was in.  Half the structure was completely open to the outside; the rest was enclosed.  The structure had a gerbil clock on the wall.  It looked something like this.

gerbil clock

He had us sign his book, which had been signed by many, many people from all over the world.  He put the book on a cart sitting under the clock.  The cart had other books on it, including some that look very old and well used.  Medical texts perhaps?  Then he had us sit in the middle of the floor outside the doorway of the shrine.  We watched as he walked up to the shrine, lit incense, and murmured something unintelligible.

Coming back out, he asked who wanted to go first.  I was feeling brave so I said I would.  You’re proud of me, right?  He had me lie down on my back on a mat and said things I couldn’t understand.  He had this thing in his hand that looked like five or six little sticks glued together side by side.  Each end was flat (nothing pointy).   Pressing them into each of my fingers in turn, he watched me for any reaction.  When he got to my middle finger I thought I was going to levitate, it hurt so much.  He cackled like Rafiki in the Lion King.  “You see?” he said.  He pressed my other fingers, all with the same amount of pressure, and every time he came back to the middle one it would make me groan in pain.

Then, he pushed my top up and the skirt down, exposing my stomach.  He put his finger into my side and, again, it was extremely painful.

He cackled again, but then he said,  “I’m not making fun when I laugh.  This is serious.  But, I laugh because I’m right. I found something.”

He asked me if I was having any pain.  I told him I’d had this persistent pain in the lower right side of my back for quite awhile, many months.  (sciatica, maybe? but I didn’t say that)  He had me roll onto my side and he poked me right on the spot.  He turned me back flat and did some other stuff that I don’t recall.  Something with my feet because I thought I was going to kick him in the head and I was NOT going to feel bad about it, all things considered.

And that was it.  The pain in my back was gone.  He poked my side again, and it didn’t hurt.  He poked my fingers.  None of them hurt.  He let me poke my own finger.  I tried to replicate the pain and I couldn’t do it.  Then he took me out to the street, right to the entrance of his home, had me bend all the way over, and he poured water on my head.

The pain is still gone two months later.  The End!


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