Healing Arts Link: Bali

The ancient art of voodoo was born in Dotu village, West Africa, spreading throughout the world with the slave trade of the 16th and 17th centuries. Perhaps it was this culture of enslavement that first gave voodoo its black magic reputation, as desperate slaves turned to the black arts as their only hope of rescue.

According to Balinese healer and voodoo practitioner I Made Mastresna, however, voodoo is predominantly a healing art with similar rituals and forms as Balinese healing and magic.

Voodoo falls under the French organization, Prometra International — promotion of traditional medicine — of which Made is the Indonesian Chief in Charge.

So respected is voodoo’s healing reputation that representatives of UNESCO and the World Health Organisation attended last year’s World Congress of Voodoo in West Africa.

Made also made the trip, funded by The Ford Foundation.

As in many Balinese healing rituals, incense, alcohol and sacrificial chickens are used in the West African art, and it was this similarity that drew the devoutly Hindu Made to voodoo.

“I found these two arts to be so similar, but I feel that the Balinese techniques are stronger,” said Made.

“That, I feel, because people here are making sacrifices in ceremonies every day. All over Bali, people are putting down offerings and I think that keeps a very harmonious energy in Bali, starting in every home,” he said of what he believes to be the backbone of both the Balinese and voodoo healing magic.

Whether a believer or not in spiritual forms of healing, the power of mind over body has been proven scientifically countless times in drug testing and trials using placebos.

In such cases, surprising numbers of control group patients frequently make the same recovery from disease as the group given the real drugs, particularly with arthritic and diseases related to depression.

Made agrees that the power of positive thinking can make the difference between success and failure, stressing that for his voodoo healing to work, people must believe.

Trisha Sertori