As an island nation at the center of the trade routes, located close to India, China, and Southeast Asia, Bali has been influenced by the major powers throughout the ages. But what makes Bali so magical is its ability to hold onto tradition, culture, religion, and ritual even with so many outside influences.
Balinese healing has been influenced by the medical traditions of Greece, China, India, and Egypt. I’ve noticed many similarities with traditional Chinese medicine, which I’ll likely discuss in a future post. And Balinese healing derives so much of its power from Hinduism, the major religion of India, so the influence of India is very obvious: mudras, chakras, sacred symbols, and especially Ayurveda.
Climate has also influenced Balinese healing. The wealth of tropical plants and flowers means there are countless herbs, medicinal plants, sources for oils to produce aromatherapy or massage oils. The single most popular seems to be ginger: no less than 5 different types of ginger are used in some of the tonics. Tumeric, sandalwood, and honey are also commonly used. But roots, bark, leaves, stems, branches, and flowers of numerous plants all contribute to the Balinese pharmacopoeia.
And the last important influence on Balinese healing has been religion: Hinduism, especially the ritual that goes along with it. Visiting a healer requires bringing an offering, just as going to the temple does. Aspiring healers must be purified to read the sacred medical texts. Scared symbols are drawn over the patient’s body. The healer may emphasize inner peace found through meditation as the patient’s means to health. A certain mystical element factors into each patient’s cure.