Bali Barong Tours - Home

Click for larger view.Listening to a dukun (Balinese healer or medicine man) explain how he uses magical drawings or traditional medicines to heal his patients, is an insightful experience. But, taking it to the next level - actually being treated by the dukun - is a leap of faith which can have fascinating results.

The first time I visited a dukun, I intended to simply gain some knowledge. This particular dukun worked with magical drawings. He showed me samples of his drawings and large paper scrolls, covered in Balinese script, that had been handed down to him by his teacher. Shortly after he started his explanation of the drawings, he suddenly stopped, picked up my hand, looked at the palm, and told me something about myself that was true, but quite personal. He then smiled and continued his talk. A bit disconcerting.

On a subsequent trip to Bali, I was concerned about ongoing problems with my knee. I was leaving in a couple days for the island of Flores, where I would be doing a lot of uphill walking in order to reach the colored lakes of Kelimutu. I didn't know if I'd be able to make it, because of the pain in my knee.

A Balinese friend recommended an excellent dukun, who he said might be able to help me out. One of the amazing things about Bali is the way that foreigners lose their usual skepticism, and simply accept that the Balinese way will work. I went to the dukun's village and told him that my knee was very sore and that I was having trouble walking. He also told me that I also had stomach problems (true, but that was nothing new - simply a by-product of everyday stress). He had me sit on the ground with my legs stretched in front of me. Using a crude stick, he performed acupressure - mainly between my toes. He then told me that my stomach would feel worse for one day and then it would be better. He also told me that I would be able to visit Kelimutu without any pain from my knee.

Sure enough, my stomach was upset for one day and then felt better than it had in years. I not only made the trek to Kelimutu, but I climbed a steeper, uneven path to the highest point around the lakes. The pain didn't return to my knee for several weeks. The dukun never claimed that he could cure my knee problem - only that he could make it feel better for awhile. I went back the following year, for the same problem, and once again my knee improved. (Eventually I did have knee surgery.)

I've visited the same dukun on other occasions. Each time, I ask him about fixing the carpal tunnel syndrome that I have in one wrist. Interestingly, each time I ask, he is adamant that he cannot fix that particular problem. The fact that my dukun knows his limitations, makes me trust him even more.

If you decide to be treated by a dukun, be forewarned; some of his methods may be a bit unorthodox, to say the least. On one occasion, the dukun chewed a mixture of herbs and then spat it out on the sore area of my knee.

Most Balinese people use the services of both a doctor and a dukun, which I think is a good balance. Yet, over the years, I've heard wondrous stories about Balinese who were cured by dukuns, even after doctors were unable to help them.

Diane Embree
August 23, 2004

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