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Eastern Medicine

by Emma December 18, 2013 2 comments

Greetings (selamat siang!) from a small town in Bali, Indonesia.

This post marks the beginning of my six month venture into South East Asia’s archipelago. While I have many things I would like to tell you all about my first two weeks here, there is something much more pressing.

Today, I saw a medicine man.

Balinese Temple

Balinese Temple


In search of the best massage place in town to fix a kink in my neck, a friend suggested I see the Medicine Man (or Holy Man) because “he know’s his stuff”.

Although only a few miles away, the drive takes longer than expected. Winding country roads through rice paddies and building sites bring us to the temple. He warned that if there were a few people in front of me, the wait could be hours. I took off my shoes (customary when entering one’s home) and sat on a quilted rug nearby to wait my turn.

This was my experience.


It creeps up my neck

like a chill infused with pain.

See the medicine man he says

Take the shortcut, beat the rain.


It can take hours to wait,

and sit for your turn.

Blessed things take time,

a Bali lesson to learn.


Others pass through,

a look of relief on their oiled faces.

He must do some good,

to put this many through the paces.


I bow and shake his hand,

a pen placed between my toes.

A squeeze of the foot,

the pain in my neck shows.


Utterances of English,

Sanskrit, Balinese and Indo.

Languages blend together

giving way to the speaker’s credo.


Oils and quick hands,

move tendons and crack joints.

I wonder how many stinky Westerners

this man has seen at some points.


All the while he smiles and laughs,

of good nature he jokes.

Rubbing, cracking, intense release

Pausing for the clove cigarette he smokes.


The Medicine Man shows me in his book,

the toe connects to the ear.

A joy it is, to be rubbed and cracked,

and release tension without fear.



Selamat Jalan.

(Bless your road)


Did ya dig it?


Ian December 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

sounds aweeeeesome! can’t wait for the next post

Emma December 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Thanks Ian!


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