Mostly when we think of Bali, the first things that come to mind are the beautiful beaches with white sand, rice terraces, scenic temples, cascading waterfalls, and the endless adventure in the blue ocean. But, Bali is a lot more than just natural beauty. It is also a place with a rich culture and strict traditions and customs that are deeply rooted in the daily lifestyle of the people here.
So, in this blog, we are going to uncover the unseen side of Bali and burst some Balinese Myths for you. Let me start by telling you, that black magic is also practiced in Bali. Shocked? But what makes it more interesting is that black magic in Bali can be both positive and negative as well.
Now, mostly black magic is associated with negativity, so you must be wondering how can black magic be positive. In Balinese culture, it is believed that both positive and negative forces must exist together on the island of Bali to maintain a balance.
Many of us have already heard of black magic practitioners who do it to spread negative energy. But in Bali, there are many leyaks who practice black magic to summon ghosts to guard the temples of Bali, secluded beaches, and other holy places from negative energy, trespassers, and intruders.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the Balinese Ghost Stories that are an important part of the Balinese Culture. Tied into this deep mysticism are of course the folk tales told to children; the myths believed by communities for generations.
It is believed that the ‘flying white sheet’ is a manifestation of black magic or white magic, which can be used with good intentions. It is ‘owned’ or ‘commanded’ by an ‘enchanter’ who has harnessed the power of ‘Balinese magic’, also known as ‘le-yak’.
A ‘le’ is a type of magic or ‘witchcraft’ in Bali. It is a mythical creature with the ability to alter its forms, such as an animal or a ‘flying ghost’. In this case, the ‘le’ can either heal or cause harm.
According to legend, these white figures are used by practitioners of this form of magic to protect temples, beaches, and other sacred places to scare off bad people, whether they are strangers or intruders.
However, in some of the Balinese ghost stories they are also used to hunt people down if they insult a place or someone. According to a Balinese, one of the best travel tips to follow is to avoid touching this white wheat floating in your path, if you come across one. This would risk your transfer into another world, from where returning back is not really possible.
The soul, ‘atma,’ lives in Tanah and Wayah, ‘the world above the mountain’, the ‘house of the gods’. When a child is born, an ancestor’s soul descends into the child. The child’s soul passes into the body through a series of ceremonies known as ‘manusa yadna’, which includes otonan ‘birthday’ and meanders ‘teeth filing’.
When the soul dies, it is sent back to its home world with equally important rites. Many ceremonies and an official ‘ngaben cremation’ must take place before the atma can be released from this world and return to the house of the gods.
What happens when the atma fails to return to its home world? We have what is known as ‘atma kesasar’, ‘lost soul’. These are the ones who bring misfortune. Lost souls are not only created by failed death rites but also by minor accidents. A Balinese Hindu who trips and falls off his bike and has a terrible shock is at risk of ‘spilling’ his soul. This risk is usually determined by whether he loses consciousness or behaves oddly after the accident.
A Balinese once described it as if someone had tipped over a bottle of beer and picked it up; the beer had spilled out of it. When someone ‘spills their soul’, they become depressed, traumatized and always confused. Life without a soul is like a beer bottle without its contents.
Most of us know that unexpected knockings at the door shouldn’t be fun, but on the island, the Balinese have a slightly different story.
When you hear a knock from an unknown source at the door or on your bedroom window, you have been blessed with an unexpected visit from your ancestors. You may hear incessant knocking or unexplained footsteps in the night. In some cases, you may hear a whisper from familiar voices calling your name.
The Balinese value their ancestors above all else, and they are seen every day in prayers and rituals, or on the most significant holiday, Galungan, which marks the return of ancestors to earth and the time of their return to heaven. However, on these mysterious ‘visiting hours’, the ancestors are seen as nothing more than a breeze in the night, and their advice is simply to go back to bed. It is believed that by opening the door for the ancestors, you are inviting them into your presence.
There is another version of this superstition that reveals your family is associated with black magic. If the door is opened, a leyak (spirit liquid) will ‘lick’ you, leading to a deadly illness or even death.
As the moon casts its eerie glow over the mystical island of Bali, these bone-chilling Balinese ghost stories beckon us into the realm of the supernatural. These stories remind us of the enduring power of folklore and the hidden terrors that lie just beyond our understanding. So, gather around the flickering firelight and let these stories be a reminder that even in the paradise of Bali, the shadows can hold secrets that send shivers down our spines.
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