He stood over me as I lay there on my back, making signs in the air with his fingers, mystical signs that I didn’t understand. He raised his arms to God, then drew more markings and pathways in the air. He was healing my womb, my poor inactivated womb.
He seemed to me as I lay there like a fascinating archetype from an old fantasy novel that probably no one has read because it didn’t sell much. The village mystic. The old man in the cave, that people revered and feared. I was intimidated myself as I watched him “make a blessing” for me. Grey hair swept back, weathered face like the leathery skin of an avcado, sharp black eyes that didn’t joke much but glittered in mild sarcasm were now raised to the heavens in shamanic abandon.
I was fascinated. But a burble of humor kept me sober. Later, he made markings on my abdomen to heal my diabetes. One thing ran through my mind throughout the process: I wish I could believe you
Cok Rai - pronounced chok raai - was a very well known spiritual healer. Dewa my driver and friend took me to see him. It was a twenty minutes drive outside of Ubud. In the backseat, Dewa had prepared an offering for me in a wicker box to give to Cok Rai. In it, he had put a bedding of flowers and frangipani. Too sweet for a man of his austere demeanor.
Cok Rai's house is nestled in the middle of a soothing copse of trees. Like Ketut Liyer's house, it was open to visitors who wished to see the spiritual healer.
I had decided earlier not to tell him I had diabetes to see if his powers would find it. After I gave him a traditional Balinese offering and his fee, he sat me down on the floor in front of him, where he sat on a chair. He asked me where I was from and we spoke briefly about God. Then he made me turn around and put my head in his hands. His fingers roamed about my face and head, somewhat frantically, like a spider with thick sausage legs. My eyes, my cheeks my nose, my ears. Then he pressed his thumbs in that fleshy spot underneath the crook of my jaw. I cried out sharply. Screws turning!
“Yeah!” he said.
Then he looked for spots on my head and pressed. Nails boring through my head! I cried out again!
“Yeah! That is your hormone. You must take omega 3 and vitamin B12.”
That was when he made me lie down. He got on the floor and pressed my middle toe. It hurt like fuck. I writhed on the floor.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah!” he goaded, like he had found the demon. “Your uterus not activated. No children yet.Your ovaries not activated.”
Well I know that!
Hence, the blessing.
Was he going to let me go with only this knowledge? That my uterus was inactivated? That was when I jumped in and told him about the diabetes, since we was clearly not going to find it himself. He sat down again and pressed my second toe.
“Ouuuuch!” I cried.
“Yeah, yeah! That is your blood circulation.” After the markings on my abdomen, he told me I must mind my sugar intake, exercise, and not keep my problems in, to let them out, to not stress, to release my feelings. I knew all of that too.
I wish I could believe you.
I left, deflated. I had gone in with no expectations, but clearly I had some. Maybe I would have believed if he had touched me somewhere and knew I had diabetes? Or maybe my diabetes was only in my head, and all those other doctors’ heads and all the blood tests I had gotten in the past three years? Or maybe this man was just a traditional hoax to lure the tourists? Why didn’t he find it? I wanted him to find it on his own. I wanted to believe…that there was something other that western medicine. I wanted to believe in the subtle weaving thing beneath existence, in the force. I wanted it to show itself so I could get close to it, touch it. I realized it was not just my diabetes that needed to be seen and helped, but also my heart’s need for the Divine in ways it had not experienced it before.
When I arrived back in Ubud, I walked around the village. What if I I’m not meant to find magic? What I’m meant to live a magic-less life where science explains everything and modern doctors rule our bodies and the pathways of our lives become like urban streets, straight and predictable? I wanted to see something extraordinary that defies all of that. I wanted to see a marvel.
I asked God to show me something. Anything. I just wanted to see. So I walked some more, from shop to shop (I want to buy everything. I want to buy this whole Island).
Wayan had told me earlier to visit a man called Ketut Arsana, the village guru. He gives healing therapies in a local place called Bodyworks, he had said. I must go to him. Have a massage with him.
So I remembered to stop by and see if I could have an appointment. The lady at the desk said that his schedule was full until December and would I like to book for December? No, I wouldn’t because I don’t live here (yet, whispered a voice inside me).
“Well how can I see him,” I asked her.
She pointed through the open door to a man across the street. The man had a long grey beard made of a thousand cobwebs matted into each other. He had a helmet on and was preparing to get on his motorbike. I ran out to catch him and in my excitement, I almost crossed the street in busy traffic.
“Be careful!” He cried.
“I want to speak to you!” I said to him from the other side of the street.
When I was able to cross, I went to him. “Hello! Are you Ketut Arsana?”
He had the energy of someone who was as alive and vibrant as he was when he was a teenager. The effect was marvelous because with his grey beard and the lines on his face, he transmitted the entire cycle of life in one person. I shook his hand and he leaned forward, almost as if he wanted to hug me.
“I would like to learn healing,” I said to him lamely.
I can’t remember if his eyes were black or brown but they were certainly very warm. He looked through me with a loving smile and said “Oh!”
He squeezed my arm, as though searching for my energy.
“You can come to the ashram tomorrow after six.”
I carried that promise in an enthused bundle and took it home like a prize. Was this an answer to my prayer? I didn’t know. But I had another healing adventure in an hour.
I was about to be reborn by Dita and her boyfriend Janis.