When I first arrived in Denpasar, I fell asleep in my bed - as well as anyone could sleep with the racket outside - and in my sleep, I saw the star of David.
Throughout the week in Ubud, I kept seeing the star of David everywhere, in shops, in signs, and carved into Hindu temple walls. One star led me to the other until, one day, I saw it hanging on a thin cord from Damien’s neck.
Ever heard of the elf warriors who ran away from Rivendell because life was too tidy and ethereal there? Well, there were elves who ran away from Rivendell and Damien was one of them. His ears might not to be too pointy because they had rounded out in our mattress-fluff world where pixie dust is only laundry detergent. So his ears are just like yours and mine. All right, all right, enough.
Damien is from Britain but I don’t think he really belongs anywhere and probably shouldn’t. Currently, he was in Bali because his nose led him here after it had led him to Thailand. Over the course of ten years, Damien had accumulated enough knowledge in energy healing to make him a traveling shaman. Or at least, I liked to think of him that way.
Tall and lean, the world has weathered him a bit, has worked through him, has molded him both in form and soul, so that he could merge with tree bark if he so chose or liquefy into crystalline water coves. Well his blue eyes surely could if the sun looked straight through them. He smelled like coconuts, not the pretend kind in oils and lotions, the real kind that the Earth took time to cook.
Damien and I spoke about a healing session after the rebirthing with Dita and Janis. We agreed to meet when the time was right, when the stars were aligned, when we were both ripe for an energetic transaction. My conscious mind questioned my choice to experiment with Damien’s style of healing. I was here to observe the traditional Balinese holistic culture after all, wasn’t I? But the drive that brought me to Bali began to direct me in the gut and I listened.
The time came after I had completed my reiki class. Damien picked me up with his motorbike and drove us to his place in a rural neighborhood not too far from the center of Ubud. After Cat’s attunement ritual, I was still rising through the fresh soil from which she had unearthed me. I was happy to receive.
We chatted for a while on Damien’s daybed overlooking the garden where the squawking geckos lived. We talked about blockages, Kundalini awakenings, past lives and our childhoods. I shared with him what I suspected was the one thing that kept me from fully actualizing myself. I opened up to him and he received my fears very gently. And, like the exhale that follows the inhale, he shared bits of his own tender history. Then, we got to work.
In his rented house, he had a room which, three weeks ago, he had turned into a healing sanctuary. There was a mattress on the floor and candles all around and absolutely nothing to disturb the peace.
The ancient Indian flutes relaxed me. Damien sat at my feet. He told me not to be startled if he made strange sounds. I was curious.
He started by channeling energy through my feet. I gave into it. Nothing strange about this…safe…
“Oooooeeeooowwweeewowow” came his shamanic sounds. Tribes. Jungle. War paint. Holy herbs. Mystics. Roots. Mud. Larvae. Beginning of time. Creation.
He did the same at my head, changing the pitch of his voice. I was slowly drifting away. He constantly reminded me to manage my breathing.
“Breathe like we did in the rebirthing.”
It was a mixture of massage and reiki, except that Damien had techniques of his own and he used sound to inspire the space and energy for my mind to release itself into a different frequency; a sea of milk dusted with gold.
I lost consciousness but was very much aware. Then, in the white all around…
What? My conscious mind flickered.
What does that mean?
I saw a Balinese man walking down a cloudy beach alone…a Balinese prophet…he was a lonely man…
My heart burst open just then, a flowering orgasm in my chest. I knew. What did I know? I just knew. Gratitude for this knowing weighed me down into the mattress. It came out of me, a fountain. I wept.
Eons later, my consciousness made its sweet lazy way back to here, to now. The session was over. I could not move. I fell back onto the mattress every time I tried to get up. Damien helped me to walk but we decided it was best for me to just lie there until I could move again on my own. And it was well because I needed to bask in the weighty feeling that something in the cosmos had just opened up for me. I was overcome with the conviction that I was meant for something bigger. I did not know what it was yet. It was soundless, formless but felt in every crawling cell of me, heavy as a gigantic water balloon and pregnant with meaning.
Night had settled in. I was aglow in a little forest of wavering candlelight. When I was able to, I sat up and folded myself into half-lotus and sent a prayer of thanks. There was not enough thanks in the world so my little whispered one would have to do.
Damien made me supper. He chopped things up intuitively, with no prior idea what he was doing, and threw them together in a big frying pan…with coconut oil, of course. The final stew was sharp with Indonesian flavors; lime leaves, garlic, ginger. It was a meal lost in conversation. We talked about oneness - and a little bit of nonsense - and read each other’s minds spontaneously. I shared with him what happened during the session, the words, the knowing, the vision. I was a bit shy about it. It felt important but I did not know what to do with it.
“Well! There you go!” he said with a grin. Sensing, probably, that I was still soft after the experience, he did not pursue it further and instead took upon himself the duty of admiring our bleeding full moon that night. Then he said, “And it happened on a full moon too!”
He took me home when it got late. I did not know then that the synchronicities were coming fast.
The next day, I needed the space to write and lose myself into “normal things” like eating and shopping and moseying around. I had not planned to see anyone special. I was toying with the idea of seeing Novi, the Balinese psychic that Cat had recommended to me but I was not sure I felt like trekking anywhere and having anyone poking at my consciousness. I was still buzzing from my session with Damien and I did not feel open to novel experiences. Or more visions.
So I decided to sit and enjoy my coconut water and the tail of the afternoon that was escaping me. I sent a question out to my very helpful Ubud community on Facebook. Ok. I needed to get back on track. Traditional Balinese healers. Could anyone give me some guidance?
I got many suggestions in my feed and I relaxed into the feeling of getting back on track. Then my private message box notified me of an eager young woman who was keen to tell me something.
“There’s a Balinese psychic that you must see. She has helped me a lot in the past two years to find my way and might be able to help you on your way.”
“Wait. Is it Novi?”
“Yes! Do you know her?”
“No but my reiki teacher recommended her.”
This young woman proceeded to write long rectangular boxes of why I needed to see Novi.
“She does tarot,” she wrote, “And she really has a clue.”
That got my attention. Four years ago, I opened my first satin drawstring pouch in which, stacked neatly, was a whimsical set of tarot cards. The part in me that will forever be fascinated with fortune tellers shivered in delight as I pulled them out, feeling their slippery unused surfaces. Mainly, I had bought it as a means to stimulate my muse when I had writer’s block. I would become the fortune teller who would tell my characters’ fortune when my story got stuck in a rocky rut. It helped me a lot and then, for fun, it took on a life of its own. The pack became my friend because the images fascinated me. I kept it always in my handbag and occasionally played “fortune teller” with my friends.
I can think of a number of people I know who would be horrified if they knew I had a set of tarot cards, dubbing them with the black smear of heresy. But I’ve learned over time to silence the voices in my head, other than my own. Tarot is beautiful and creative. It fascinates me and that’s the end of it. If we’re not here to be fascinated then what are we here for?
So I got on a gojek - a taxi motorbike. I was attentive to the sky enough to know that a downpour was coming and wise enough to put on a rain poncho. I hurried to catch the appointment with Novi that I had not meant to keep.
Her house was twenty minutes away from the center of Ubud. The driver stopped the bike to ask for directions from the passive shop owners on the road. After a short shouting match in the middle of the rain, they finally understood each other and my driver said that, yes, now he knew the way. I breathed in the freedom of water, wind, and speed. So blessed to be speeding in the rain, every single cell alive, not a cell left behind, white energy pouring from the sky, expanding from within!
When we were close, we called Novi a couple of times for details about her house until, sopping wet, I arrived at her porch. Her front door was practically hidden behind a curtain of green outbursts.
She came out to greet me in a her loose batik house dress. There was something so familiar and so Indonesian about her. She had a soothing round face, a short pixie cut, and lots of mango juice in her soul.
“Hello!” she called, “Come inside!”
I had a feeling this was going to be veeery interesting.
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