Connections to the divine world are everywhere in Bali
It is impossible to predict anything nowadays. Two months ago we were planning to come back to Bermuda after many weeks in Southeast Asia. We had airline tickets and we were so happy to once again see family.
It was not to be. Bill and I had been on a scuba-diving expedition to swim with whale sharks.
For two weeks, we cruised the far-flung archipelago of Triton Bay in Indonesia, living on a sailboat in a pristine wilderness with no internet connection.
When we finally came back to a port that had wi-fi, we discovered the world had changed drastically. The borders were closing one by one. From the small town on our remote island in West Papua, the only one place we could fly to was the island of Bali.
We left on a small plane at four in the morning. By the time we arrived there, all the tourists had left and the international airport had shut down indefinitely. Bali was our new home!
What do I love the most about the island of Bali? Here, each person, in his own way, knows how to communicate with the invisible spirit world.
The Balinese have a unique religion that blends Hinduism with animism.
The Balinese believe that the world is full of spirits, both good and evil. They inhabit the rocks, the trees, the rivers, the jungle; there are spirits everywhere and these spirits need to be honoured, and the evil ones placated.
Imagine life in Bali as if living in a large temple where ceremonies, prayers and spiritual practices never cease. Many ceremonies are held each day accompanied by elaborate rituals.
At eight in the morning, each woman in the house prepares offerings to the spirits. She fills small baskets she has woven from palm fronds and banana leaves with flowers and herbs, prepares special sweets, and adds blessed Balinese rice in small cones.
She goes to the temple to place the offerings before the stone statues of the Hindu gods.
She is dressed in traditional clothing: a turban, a colourful sarong, a beautiful blouse and a bright fabric belt tied around her waist. The offerings are filled with energies emanating from sensitive hands and the prayers of devoted hearts.
She puts all the baskets of offerings on a big woven tray, lights incense and adds a small container of holy water.
With graceful hand gestures she wafts the aroma of incense around the altar.
With eyes closed, she says prayers. Folding her hands near her forehead, she asks for good fortune for her loved ones.
Then, there are offerings placed for “evil” spirits.
These are placed right on the ground near the house, and especially in places where such energies are most concentrated — at intersections, vacant lots, cemeteries, ravines, abandoned buildings.
By honouring these unseen demons, she hopes to appease them and ward off misfortune and illness.
It is no exaggeration to say you have to always watch where you step, because these lovely little handmade offering baskets are everywhere.
Imagine, all over the island of Bali at the same time, women talk with the divine world, they bless their ancestors, ask for protection and support of divine powers, thank the space they live in, communicate with fire, water, earth, air and ether.
They fill where they live with the subtle energy of gratitude. They cleanse their homes from any negative feelings.
And like true diplomats, they tactfully negotiate with unkind forces, giving them gifts and asking them not to interfere in their lives.
They find a balance point between the physical and the divine. Female magic gently envelops the island and something imperceptibly pleasant is in the air.
Whether you believe in spirits or not, I think Bali holds inspiration for all women in the world: to bring gifts, to give, to bless our space, to honour forces greater than ourselves, to add reverence to every day; this is work we all can do with joy and love in our hearts.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com