Fire Ceremony and coconut crepes

There is an atmosphere of great joy building – the sort of joy that spreads across your chest and makes it feel like your heart will burst …. and that it will be pleasant

 

Tomorrow is 12/12/12 – the numbers add up to 9 – and is a trinity (as in triple 3).  It is a significant number and is widely considered to be very auspicious.  We will not be leaving Bagus Jati, which has been our home this last few days.  Robbyne will be leading us in 5 separate ceremonies on that day, one to honour the earth, one to honour air, one to honour fire, one to honour water – and in the evening, one beneath the stars to honour the universe.  She says that before now, on this journey through Bali, we have concentrated on healing and cleansing ourselves, but tomorrow is the day that we give back with thanks to all the elements and to the universe.  We have all experienced the unconditional embrace of nature, from the sea, from the stone, from the skies, from the sunshine, from the green green grass, from the waterfall, from the dolphins, from the flowers and fruits, and from the people of Bali who are all warm and loving and who unconditionally greet each person with a beautiful smile.  So  in return we are to give back with ceremonies expressing unconditional gratitude and thanks.
It is amazing how inspirational this is.  Lots of people are joining our group at the last minute, dropping everything and flying in to Bali on last minute arrangements so as to be here for tomorrow.   They have spilled out of this hotel and are now taking up rooms in other hotels.  We are now taking up 3 buses.  The staff at Bagus Jati are becoming very interested, Robbyne says they keep asking for more minute details of the plans and then coming back to her with wonderful logistical arrangements and suggestions to suit.    The young men who have been our guides have become very interested and involved.  Tomorrow they all have the day off (because we are not going anywhere) but they have asked for permission to come along and to bring their families to participate in the ceremonies for 12.12.12.  These families are not local and will be travelling to get here.  One of our guides turns out to come from a priestly family, he did not reveal this straight away.  Robbyne told us that he has been coming to her each morning with offerings of ideas and priestly contacts and materials that he has anticipated that she might need for the day’s journey.  It caused her to ask him if he was a priest himself.  It turns out he is a runaway priest, from a family that expects him to join the priesthood, but he has been ‘escaping’ and being a tour guide instead.  It turns out that he has been responsible for alot of the special access and blessings we have enjoyed (including with the Balinese high priest in his private home) and for organising the singing ladies, the offerings, and suggesting locations of significance and other spontaneous variations to our itinerary.  For instance, because of him, today we had the opportunity to experience something truly wonderful.
Today we went to a vedic fire ceremony.  The priest was so young, but if you looked away you felt instantly in the presence of a very old yogi of ancient times.  His presence was extraordinary, abundantly powerful, majesty dripping from his fingers, completely still and poised, and so warm and gentle in presence.   I don’t know what magic he performed with that fire, but I am sure he was talking to it.  I was watched him closely because I was fascinated, it as like watching alchemy in action.  He seemed to lift and touch everything with only a brush of his fingertips (these are heavy objects like brass bells) but they all moved in perfect motion, and he barely moved himself.  During the ceremony he was chanting and singing in a state of deep concentration but I could swear that he was talking to that fire as he had it doing different things at different times.  It would flare up and he would look deep into it and move his hand ever so slightly and it would die back – he focused on it as if he was having a conversation with it, and at one stage he nodded at the fire ever so slightly as if he was either saluting it or confirming something.
We all received a blessing from him, and comparing notes afterwards everyone said that when he glanced at each person it felt like he read their soul and then blessed them deeply.  None of us could stop talking about him on the bus on the way home.  What a gift to experience that!  And all because our tour guide felt inspired to tell Robbyne about the possibility of this ceremony and because she was happy to change the itinerary to fit it in.
Speaking of reading souls, he read mine alright, and he knew that I have been pigging out on coconut crepes ever since I got to Bagus Jati.  When he was passing out the prasad he gave each person a coconut crepe wrapped up in banana leaves.  I was excited expecting a coconut crepe myself, but when it was my turn he he reached into the basket and gave me two pieces of fruit.   Made me laugh.  It was like he was saying “you have had quite enough crepes …”
The fire ceremony was loads of fun – we had little bowls of dry rice and dry beans that we periodically threw into the fire as offerings – there was a chant going with drums and percussion, and at the end of each verse we all flung pinches of the rice’n’stuff into the fire, and then there was a bit where we threw bits of apple in, and then there was a bit where we each got a coconut that he had to smash it open on the floor and then throw in.  Then at the end the priest and a temple attendant walked about with baskets heaped high with flower petals of all colours to symbolise blessings, and flung them about the place, all over our heads, like confetti.  The place looked so pretty by the end of it.  I still have flower petals in my hair.  We were all singing and clapping and some of us dancing along with the drum music.  It was fun and warm and joyful.
I felt I should mention the beautiful food and body treatments we have been enjoying here in Bali from these hospitable and gentle people.  I would love to  recommend the local people because they support their families by working in the tourism industry.  It is an easy flight here, and they are currently building a brand new airport terminal.    The currency is a bit bewildering,  all prices are quoted in ‘1,000s’ – so if it is ‘50’ you hand over a ‘50,000’ rupiah note, which equates to about $5 Australian.  For those like me who are mathematically challenged it is a headspin.
I am not sure what all the food was, except the coconut crepes, and some of it was not to my taste but still interesting.  They serve western food as well but I have been trying the Balinese food.  I have tried local fruits – mangosteen, jackfruit, durian fruit (seriously do yourself a favour and never ever try it, under any circumstances, and don’t even touch it because the smell is hard to get off your hands), snakefruit, and these little things called ‘dragons eyes’ which are like tiny little cherry sized grapefruits.
I will list spa treatments quickly because I know alot of you would love to hear about these
  • massages x a-plenty!
  • hibiscus and pearl scrub
  • a treatment involving wrapping you up in a mixture containing clove wood, ginger (and another ingredient) which heats up like a liniment and pulls the inflammation out of your muscles
  • a treatment involving scrubbing you down with coffee bean husks, then wrapping you up in a nice cool mixture of papaya and yoghurt, then 20 minutes later popping you into a warm cosy bath full of milk and fragrant frangipani flowers
  • a treatment involving dedicated cellulite removal where you are scrubbed down with sea salt on a bed with a revolving beam overhead that has warm water running out of it which passes back and forth over your body, with special technique massage on cellulite areas, and then being wrapped up in seaweed – then 20 minutes later into a bubbling hydrobath with lemongrass and something else that smells good infused in the water
  • a shiatsu foot massage, where they have these bamboo poles on either side above the bed which the massage therapist holds with her hands and uses to regulate her weight, you lie on the bed in the middle of the two poles and she basically walks on you and uses her feet and her weight to ‘push apart’ the tight areas
  • I did try to book this other one where they cover you with avocado and then wrap you up in banana leaves, I thought that sounded humourous, but they told me I had to have a pearl and hibiscus scrub instead. I never found out the reason why.

 

I also must mention the ducks …….

bali-2012-032bali-2012-033bali-2012-034bali-2012-035bali-2012-036

 

they march purposefully around and around rims of the rice paddies following the leader.  I have no idea why !!!

 11-13 December 2012, Bali, Indonesia
Postscript since this trip I have been on more interesting journeys with Robbyne, which I have written home about and will gradually be posted – meanwhile in case anyone is interested her company is White Wolf Journeys and the website is http://www.whitewolfjourneys.com .  A friend told me about her website and I signed up for newsletters and then a series of synchronisities had me joining this tour of hers in Bali

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