Bali's Traditional Healing: An Introduction to Balians

Indonesia's Island of the Gods, Bali, is often seen as a paradise where ancient practices, breath-taking landscapes, and vibrant multicultural traditions intertwine, shaping its unique charm. But amongst the awe-inspiring temples, incense-filled streets and the persistent hums of the Gamelan orchestra, there exists an even deeper layer of intrigue—the preserved tradition of Balians, Bali's traditional healers. 

For centuries, these spiritually gifted individuals have served a pivotal role in maintaining balance within the community, offering solutions beyond the physical form, and extending into the realms of emotional and spiritual well-being. 

Imagine someone who doesn't just heal physical symptoms but also targets the spiritual root causes of illness. A Balian in Bali isn't just a traditional healer; they are custodians of an age-old wisdom, a cornerstone of Bali's holistic understanding of health and healing.

In this article, we delve deep into the mystical world of Balians, exploring not just who they are, but how their practices contribute to the holistic well-being so embedded in Balinese culture. From their cultural significance to the various healing techniques and rituals they perform, this article aims to educate and inspire, providing valuable insight into why, even in our modern era, Bali's traditional healers are revered pillars of society.

Unveiling the Mystique: What is a Balian in Bali?

In Bali, there's an air of mystique that surrounds Balians. But at their core, these individuals are traditional healers - an integral part of Balinese society and culture. They hold a deep understanding of nature, the human body, spiritual dimensions, and more. Not just practitioners of physical health, Balians work on an individual's whole self, promising a holistic well-being. 

Often referred as 'Dukun' in the local language, Balians use a complex combination of counseling, herbs, and spiritual healing techniques, many of which have been passed on for centuries. These customary healers are respected figures, recognized for their valuable contributions to Balinese societal wellness and cultural preservation. 

The practices of a Balian holds a rare blend of magic, tradition, religion, and practicality, often tailor-made to cater to the unique needs of every individual. It is this personalized, soul-focused approach that sets Balians apart from conventional therapeutic practices and delineates the intriguing mystique of their healing mastery.

The Cultural Significance of Balians in Balinese Society

Consider stepping into the intricate lattice of Balinese social fabric, full of vibrant hues, sacred rituals, and ancient traditions. Now, imagine Balians as burning incense in this weave, their presence mingling with every thread, adding an essence that's uniquely Balinese. It's a role so significant, it's nearly impossible to entirely separate Balians from society. 

Their cultural significance transcends merely healing physical bodies; Balians serve as gatekeepers of Balinese spiritual well-being, the earthly conduits connecting the material world with that of the divine. Their ability to converse with spirits, diagnose ailments through intuitive touch, or decipher problems through ancient scripts makes Balians a pillar when navigating the challenges of daily life. 

Enriching societal awareness, Balians bolster communal bonds. Frequently, the Bali Aga – the original Balinese inhabitants – consult Balians to understand the complex cosmology, from foretelling auspicious dates for ceremonies to shielding villagers against potential spiritual upheaval. Imagine the Balian as Bali's religious advisor, social worker, and emotional confidante, their guidance integral to unifying the community. 

Furthermore, otherwise modern Balinese people never cease to be in awe of the mysticism surrounding Balians and their inherent capacity to maintain equilibrium. This often leads to an enlightening co-existence of traditional and contemporary beliefs, manifesting as a testament of enduring cultural resilience. In the realm of holistic health, Balians serve as beacons of ancestral wisdom, germinators of time-honored practices, shaping the societal echo of health beyond merely physical dimensions.

In the grand Balinese Masquerade of life, Balians don the hat of the irreplaceable narrator, their voice echoing the past, present, and future. This elaborate tapestry undoubtedly stands as a testament of the rich cultural significance of Balians in Balinese society.

Balians: The Pillars of Holistic Well-being in Bali

You may wonder, what makes a Balian integral to the holistic well-being of the Balinese people? The answer lies in their broad-spectrum approach of blending physical, emotional, and spiritual healing into one cohesive plan. Balians reckon that the harmony between these three elements is indispensable to one's health and overall well-being. 

A pivotal part of a Balian's healing process involves the “taksu” or the healing energy. It's believed to be an inherent divine force within each Balian, aiding them to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions. This unparalleled approach sets them apart from modern medical practitioners, as Balians see and address illness and discomfort beyond just the physical realm.

In Balinese society, a Balian's role extends beyond individual treatment. They are vital pillars within community life, working to nurture and maintain holistic balance. From presiding over life-cycle rituals, assisting in maintaining social harmony, to influencing environmental stewardship; their roles are multidimensional and deeply interwoven within the social fabric. 

Besides offering healing to the body and soul, Balians significantly contribute to social well-being as well. Paying a visit to a Balian is seen as an act of community bonding. These healing sessions often foster a sense of communal solidarity, strengthening societal bonds. The Balinese see health as a collective responsibility, and Balians play a pivotal part in it. 

Above all, Balians offer a comforting sense of continuity in a rapidly evolving world. Despite the encroachment of western medicines, the role of the Balian remains steadfast, safeguarding traditional wisdom and practices while propelling the larger goal of holistic well-being. By visiting a Balian, not only you are in the pursuit of personal healing but also becoming part of this amazing journey of cultural preservation in Bali.

Balian Healing Techniques: An In-Depth Look

Immeasurably, you'll find that the healing techniques employed by a Balian in Bali extends far beyond the realm of physical manipulation or medicinal treatment. Each technique they harness is deeply ingrained in the rich tapestry of Balinese spiritual and societal belief systems. 

A study of Balian healing methods usually begins with an understanding of "Usadha". This is a term that encapsulates the Balinese approach to medical systems, drawing from organic resources available in the environment. Balians utilize a wide range of herbs, roots, and even elements like holy spring water and sea salt in their treatments. But Usadha isn’t just about ingredients or tools; it’s about a vital synergy between all these elements underpinned by prayers and intentionality. 

The second significant aspect of Balian healing is "Pawisik". It refers to the divination process which a Balian undertakes to discern the root cause of the illness, whether it be physical or spiritual. Each Balian has a unique method to reach this divine understanding; some rely on meditation or dreams; others use traditional Balinese divination tools. What’s consistent, however, is that no treatment procedure begins until the Pawisik is complete.

Last but not least, there’s "Ngelus", the hands-on healing which may entail bodywork, massages, energy realignment, or even ritualized surgery for severe situations. The process varies pertaining to the patient's condition and the healing path identified via Pawisik.

These are the foundations of a Balian’s healing technique, but each practitioner will have unique adaptations and additional rituals based on their lineage, spiritual guidance, and personal intuition.

Balian Healing Rituals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Imagine, if you will, stepping into a peaceful, harmonious space that hums with spiritual energy. You're about to embark on a fascinating journey into the core of traditional Balinese health care and spiritual wellbeing. Let's examine the important rituals and steps that form the backbone of a Balian healing session. 

Firstly, Balians commence the healing process by engaging in a peaceful inner dialogue, seeking guidance from their ancestral spirits and universal energy. They light incense, creating an aroma that sets the stage for a spiritual journey. This act of purification is not just a simple gesture, but a profound acknowledgment of the sacred energies and their crucial role in the healing process. 

Next, in traditional garb and a calm demeanor, the Balian establishes a connection with you. They emit an aura of tranquility and assurance, putting you at ease before receiving the treatment. The initial consultation typically involves an assessment of your overall well-being, physical or spiritual ailments you may be facing, and an intuitive reading of your energy. 

Following the initial consultation, begins the main phase of the session. This may involve physical treatments like a massage using herbal compounds and oils, or spiritual healing techniques. Spiritual healing may involve invocations, recitation of mantras, or use of sacred objects. Each Balian may employ different methods unique to their training and spiritual alignments. 

The session typically concludes with the Balian providing you with practical advice on how to maintain and enhance the effects of the healing treatment. They might recommend lifestyle changes, specific diets, herbal concoctions, or simple daily rituals to perform. 

Remember, healing is a journey, not an instantaneous affair. Balian healing is a profound commitment, a pact decreed with nature's forces for the restoration and harmony of your health. So, let the beautiful intricacies of this traditional practice inspire you, as you explore the remarkable realm of Balian healing in Bali.


You are likely brimming with questions, seeking to understand the role of these traditional healers in Balinese society. Perhaps you're curious about their training or baffled as to the types of ailments they can address. Maybe you're even contemplating experiencing a healing session with one such Balian yourself. Whatever your queries, you've come to the right place. Our comprehensive batch of frequently asked questions has been curated to cater to your curiosity and offer a deeper dive into their practices. Let's demystify the enigma of Balians together.

How are Balians trained in Bali?

It may intrigue you to know that the journey to becoming a Balian is often a unique, individualized one, manifesting through various channels. However, broadly speaking, there are two main routes to becoming a traditional healer in Bali. 

Firstly, some Balians inherit their healing abilities through their bloodline - passed down from their ancestors over generations. When the time is right, the elder Balian; usually the parent or grandparent, initiates the transfer of sacred healing knowledge to the chosen successor. This process is deeply profound and spiritual, steeped in mystic rituals and practices. 

Alternatively, a person can be chosen by spiritual forces themselves. In this case, they might experience vivid dreams, visions, or unsual occurrences leading them towards the healing path. They don't choose to become a Balian, rather the divine chooses them. Once chosen, they're trained and instructed by senior Balians or even supernatural entities in their dreams, inspiring them with profound knowledge beyond ordinary human understanding. 

In both instances, the initiated healer embarks on years of learning and practice, honing their skills and deepening their understanding of the intricate art of healing. This intense devotion to the craft of healing sets Balians apart and fortifies their respected role in Balinese society. Every step of training enhances not just their ability to heal, but their capacity to promote holistic well-being among the communities they serve. It’s a lifelong journey that goes beyond mere professional training - it's a spiritual voyage that transforms the healer and those they heal.

What are some common traditional healing practices used by Balians?

As Yogis of Bali, the Balians possess a vast array of traditional healing practices embedded in their repertoire. Intriguingly, each Balian tends to have a distinctive approach in their healing methods. However, some common practices can be identified across the board. 

Primarily, Balians employ a method saying prayers known as Kerokan. This includes reciting specific chants or 'mantras' that have been passed down through the centuries. The belief is that these mantras serve as a channel to connect with the spiritual realm, invoking divine intervention for healing. It's one of the integral aspects of their healing methodology. 

Another commonly adopted practice is the Pijat or traditional Balinese massage. It is not like any standard therapeutic massage. Instead, it involves a complex combination of acupressure, reflexology, and aromatherapy with medicinal plants and herbs. The Pijat's purpose is to stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and release tension in muscles, which subsequently promotes a rejuvenated spirit and enhanced overall wellness. 

Balians also rely heavily on natural, medicinal herbs known as the Jamu. These are typically used in concoctions for internal consumption, topical application, or baths. The right blend of Jamu, depending on the individual's ailment, is believed to cleanse the body, fight off disease, and restore vitality. 

In essence, each Balian healing practice looks to achieve a balanced state of mind, body, and spirit, taking into account the individual's holistic needs in the treatment plan. Understanding these healing practices will help appreciate the role Balians play in fostering wellness in Balinese society.

What types of ailments do Balians typically treat?

While Balians are sought-after for a rich array of health concerns, they most commonly respond to physical ailments and psychological disturbances. But don't let such a simplified classification mislead you, each ailment they handle often carries a multitude of underlying layers. 

Physical conditions treated by Balians range from the commonplace - issues such as headaches, stomachaches, and muscle strains - to the more severe and chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. For these issues, Balians apply their knowledge of herbal medicine and physical manipulation skills to facilitate healing. 

On the other hand, psychological disturbances may include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or even problems related to addiction. In such instances, Balians often employ spiritual means to bring emotional balance. They use specific incantations and offerings to appease the spiritual forces causing distress, providing the individual with a sense of peace and mental clarity. 

It's the Balians' belief in a strong mind-body connection that enables them to treat the whole person rather than just the disease. You could say, in their world, every wound is seen as a compound of many factors; a physical symptom might be a sign of an emotional distress and vice versa. That's the beautiful tapestry of healing that Balians weave - a blend of physical, emotional, and spiritual restoration that all contribute to holistic well-being. 

Are there different types of Balians in Bali?

Indeed, diversity is an integral part of this Balinese tradition. Balians fall into three main categories, each having its own unique role within society. Let's navigate these nuances together. 

The first type of Balian are the Balian Ketakson. Their primary role is to communicate with the spirit world through channelling or mediumship. Balian Ketakson are often consulted when there is a need for spiritual commune or guidance from the ancestors. Using their deep spiritual connections and abilities, they establish an important link for individuals, families and the community at large with their spiritual roots. 

Next, we have the Balian Usada category. These healers are the embodiment of Balinese traditional medicine. They possess extensive knowledge about the use of herbs, roots, and other natural substances to treat physical ailments. Their wisdom stems from the ancient Balinese medicinal scriptures known as the lontars. The Balian Usada is usually sought after for help with health issues not perceptible or treatable by Western medicine. 

Last in the participation, but not of least importance, are the Balian Paica. Their specialty? Astrology. Balian Paica interpret the celestial signs to determine auspicious dates for community ceremonies, weddings, and significant life events. They offer predictions and guidance for the community based on the alignment of the stars and planets. 

Recognizing these different types of Balians can enable you to understand their diverse roles within the sociocultural fabric of Bali. Each one contributes to the overall well-being of society—be it through physical healing, spiritual guidance, or astrological wisdom. Their combined efforts help maintain the harmony, peace, and health that Bali is so famous for.

How does a typical healing session with a Balian look like?

You may be wondering what to expect during a typical healing session with a Balian in Bali. While each experience is unique and tailored to the individual's needs, there are some commonalities that you can anticipate. 

A Balian healing session usually begins with an initial consultation. During this time, you will share your physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. This initial conversation fosters a sense of trust between you and the healer. The Balian listens deeply, allowing them to understand the root causes of your ailments, often using intuition and spiritual connection. 

Following this consultation, most Balians perform a body reading. Drawing from traditional Balinese understanding, they locate signs of imbalance and illness. You might find your Balian touching different parts of your body, feeling for disruptions or blockages in your energy flow. This can be a very revealing and intimate process where your vulnerabilities are laid bare, but rest assured, you are in safe and caring hands.

This stage paves the way for the main treatment phase. This involves a combination of techniques such as massage, herbal remedies, or even spiritual advice aimed at bringing back the balance within your body and spirit. Don't be surprised if your Balian begins chanting or praying; these spiritual utterances are powerful aids in the healing process. 

The session typically concludes with the Balian offering further recommendations for maintaining wellness. These might be dietary adjustments, lifestyle changes, or indicative rituals that you could incorporate into your life. Their wisdom, grounded in age-old traditions, aims to guide you towards sustained holistic wellbeing. 

It's important to remember that each Balian has their own unique set of skills and methods, which means every session can be a new and transformative journey. So, allow yourself to be open, receptive, and participate in this extraordinary, life-affirming experience.