Land of the Ancestors


There are plans to be picked up at 8 am by the Balian (friend of the daughter-in-law of the queen) to head for a purification ritual which organically turns into 10 am. His wonderful daughter arrives in a car, twenty-one and eager to return to the US to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where she worked as an intern for The Four Seasons hotel (also the location of her American boyfriend). She craves freedom from the Balinese structure of life where one lives with their own parents until moving into a compound with their husband’s family. I am also quite certain that it is not easy having a father with such intuitive skill that no thoughts or desires are guarded.

We collect her dad and another woman before heading far out of the center of the island where Ubud is located to the ancestral family land. The drive is more than an hour on roads with no signs. I have yet to see a traffic sign here in Bali and I suppose it is only because of the small size of the island is it possible to navigate.

The car is parked at the side of the rocky road and we head down a path of red earth, down countless terraces of wild fauna and past a field of Japanese pumpkins (they look like Mexican chayote), coffee trees, cacoa plants, papaya before reaching a small altar near a fountain of water. We set an offering for the entrance to the holy land before continuing down to the sacred river. Barefoot soft soil feels delicious on the base of my feet.

At the top of the waterfall we sit on rocks and meditate after dressing in sarongs, saying prayers and setting intentions. Blessings, offerings, magic. We head to the bottom pool of cool water, the Balian using a copper bracelet for clearing and amplifying energy as well as other sacred items. His energy is magnificent and strong, his solid body rattling as he prays. We swim upstream to the first fall without looking backwards, leaving the past that does not serve us behind. Dunking seven times, then eleven, then five, tailed by drinking and washing our faces three times under the crystal clean water the process flows. We climb the slimy green moss covered rocks together, holding hands to prevent slippage to the second tier where the same process is repeated but with an objective for restoring the present. The final terrace of the waterfall is for the future, for the beauty of mystery, for consciousness and creator. We sit together with gratitude, the sky beginning to sanctify the service with droplets of rain that grow in size rapidly. There is another cleansing and offering by the altar at the highest point of the river before we quickly change back into Western garb and seek shelter by the cow shed. The feminine smiles of the animals are filled with love. I rub their faces in delight.

Refreshed and awakened by the assistance of the spirits of the land, of the elements, of creator, we share blessed traditional treats and head back to the car.

We have to drop off Balian at his home just outside Ubud for he has clients to meet, giving my 21 year old sister and I more time to gossip. She speaks of the Balinese as hiding behind masks, a society where one’s individual emotions cannot be freely expressed for one must always put one’s family, ancestors, and constant practice of ancient ceremony first. Her yearning for America is quite strong although it seems as if her boyfriend is not as eager to reunite. I feel for my sister, hugging her tightly and extending my friendship whenever she needs an ear.

For dinner I crave Bali Buddha and the plump purple cushions and naturally run into the family of light, the fairy sister, Love Space boys, two from Thailand, one from Sumatra, a witty cat from England. Chat, share, create over organic yumminess.

Creating expansively from our hearts we walk in harmony, we walk together in the light.

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