As predicted, the 999 steps were to take 3 hours. I began my ascent at roughly 3 o’clock, so I took off fast up the mountain; thoughts rushing through my head, processing experiences Bali, where I will go next, my relationship with Anais, my path. I began to feel the wild sensations of the mountain and the valleys that surround me and the ocean filling me with life, strength and vigor as I walk barefoot on the stone stairs past families of monkeys. Women balancing baskets on their heads filled with flowers and offerings appear, most in thong sandals, others barefoot, most with healthy, strong, wide feet.As I begin my descent down the 999 steps (or 1700) of Lempuyang temple, I cannot help but to reflect on my experience. Passing through the gates of the White Dragon Temple, I entered into my first ceremony; receiving the holy rose waters and white rice on my forehead: an indicator and remembrance of the Ajna chakra and marking a cross of protection. As I begin my ascent, I pass reverent, humble, fully dressed in white Balinese spiritual beings gathering at the temple to celebrate the full moon and upcoming lunar eclipse on this sacred mountain. As I pass by, I bow my head in prayer pose, greeting everyone with “Om Swastyastu.” Most return my greeting with a wide smile, bright eyes, and a gesture of prayer.
When I reach the top temple, I was just in time for ceremony. Many gathered around, dressed in white sitting in meditation as the priests began to chant. Ringing bells, chanting mantra, burning incense, and offering flowers. The woman next to me passed me a stick of incense and a handful of beautiful flowers. Realizing in this moment that my intention is to live in my fullest grace, to fully be free, to not worry, to go with the flow. The priest began to bless everyone with holy water. Flower infused water collected from the inside of living bamboo. I watched as people received this offering. He came to me. I put my hands out, and as he filled my hands I drank 3 times. On the 4th I let the water touch my crown and trickle down my spine. He gave me a pinch of rice, which I placed on my third eye and behind my ears. As I opened my eyes a beautiful Balinese woman looked at me in approval, smiled and shook her head. Incense filled my lungs and prayers began again.
As the ceremony began to come to a close, people stood up and filed out. I stood up, grabbed my water bottle and backpack, and then moved to one side to allow people to pass. In this exact moment, I recognized there is no use trying to develop spiritually, it just happens. It is a natural gift. Truly, only the grace of God has this power. We can do our best to be in the right place at the right time, and open our cups to be filled with the sweet nectar of the Lord when it is our time to be filled. I thought to myself, “Maybe one day I will have a spontaneous Kundalini experience at a ceremony like this, where energy just takes over my body.” The exact instant this thought came in my mind, a man let out a horrifying scream. He fell to his knees and smacked the ground and dug his nails into the stone. The priestess began singing louder. People developed worried looks on their faces. Some grabbed different herbs, potions, flowers, and eggs. A priest grabbed holy water and incense. This man seemed to be possessed. Within a few seconds, another man screamed and his body began to uncontrollably spasm while his rear-end raised high in the air and his chest pointed towards the ground. He began hissing like a snake. Embodying the white dragon, this man wiggled his hips back and forth as the other man continued to let out blood curling screams while digging his nails further into the stone. The priestess sang.
The priestess began to spin a broom in her hand to clear the energies. Another man took his head covering and threw it in the air. Uncontrollable laughing came from deep in his belly as he began to fall. A few men caught him, and he continued to laugh. The priestess joined him in high pitch laughter. As I watched in amazement as this continued for a few minutes, I began to pray for love, healing and light to reach these humans. In any moment of disbelief that crossed my mind, something spontaneous happened to reaffirm that this was actually happening; these people were actually experiencing a possession of spirit.
An old man looked like he was taken over by a wild spirit. He fell backwards but his feet ran forward. Three people caught him before his head hit the ground. They rocked his head like a child as this old man let out deafening screams. A woman near by let out a cry and fell in rigamordious, her hands clenched. People supported her from every side as tears began flowing down her cheeks. The priest escorted the laughing boy to a tree where he blessed him with holy water. The woman was then guided to the priest, where he performed ceremony with herbs on her. The other three looked as though they were in excruciating pain. The priestess began hypnotizing them with her song. The tune brought the snake-man to his feet and he began dancing with his eyes closed. The two other men began to relax. The priest came over to them with copious amounts of flower water, blessed them and said prayers to each of them.
The whole community helped with the process. Bringing medicines, saying prayers and giving support where needed. The group snapped out of their trance almost in synch. Light returned to their eyes. Life was celebrated once again. The worried looks that everyone wore on their face were wiped clear. People seemed clear once again of anxiety and free to enjoy one another’s company. The ceremony ended with the laughing boy drinking mouthfuls of blessed flower water. Smiles were exchanged and people began to disperse. Another beautiful day in Bali.