with Eric Greenleaf PhD

dates to be announced

Bali Trance Possession and Healing

The Educational Program: Most mornings of our trip we will meet for an hour or so after breakfast to plan the day. If we will be going to a ceremony or healer there will be an orientation by Eric or a Balinese expert. Dwi, our expert Balinese guide, will discuss and demonstrate the importance of ritual offerings and will discuss Balinese life and customs. If you are interested in Balinese psychiatry or public health, visits to the services will be offered.

Trance Mediums and Other Healers: We’ll visit trance mediums and other healers, see them work with patients and interview them about their practices. Trance mediums speak in the voices of the ancestors of the patient to alert them to ritual lapses that can be corrected to influence family and personal problems. Ayurvedic and other healers use mantra, massage and other methods to help. Members of our group can themselves experience working with the healers.

Trance Rituals: Odalon temple anniversary ceremonies are accompanied by masked dance performances [Topeng ] and trance dramas like Calonarang in which the Barong and Rangda battle, and village trancers attack Rangda and themselves with kris knives. Participants in these dramas perform in trance accompanied by the music of the gamelan. Community trance rituals also occur at this time of year.

Other Ceremonies: Cremations occur in the early afternoon and are immense ceremonies punctuated with wild gamelan sounds. Long ceremonial processions lace through the island and there are public prayers and blessings with holy water at the temples.

The Arts: Balinese artists, carvers musicians and dancers are justly famous. In the evenings when there aren’t religious rituals to see we will go to dance performances in Ubud. Both dance samplers of high quality and the Ramayana dance drama are presented in the Ubud Palace courtyard. Kecak the monkey-chant and drama created jointly by Balinese and westerners will be performed at night and is a thrilling experience.

Interested participants can also visit mask carvers, batik artists and painters, see them at work, purchase art and arrange to study with them too, if time allows. We may be able to arrange a performance of shadow puppetry as well and this art form can be seen evenings at the temple ceremonies,

Village Life: Dwi is a native of Peliatan home of the most noted Balinese dancers. He is happy to discuss all aspects of life in Bali, the function of the banjar organization in village life and customs and religious practice.

Accommodations, Meals, Sightseeing, Shopping: We’ll stay in Ubud at Agung Raka which has rooms in individual buildings around the rice fields. Breakfast will be taken at our rooms, lunch in town at some central gathering place and dinner at restaurants chosen for interest and cuisine by Kathy and Dwi.

Two days will be given over to possibilities of travel around the island by van, with Balinese driver-guides, and wandering and shopping in town. There are very beautiful places to see in Bali: mountains and seaside, temples and volcanic lakes. Beautiful art, fabrics, jewelry and masks can be bought at all levels of excellence and prices, and we can advise about likely places to find what you’re interested in.

Climate and Health: Bali is equatorial, therefore hot [85F during the days] and humid. Refreshing, full rains fall for short periods. Clothing and habits reflect the weather: Always wear a good, light, hat. Decorum requires sleeves on shirts and modest shorts or dresses; short sleeves are fine. Sunglasses and sunscreen are important, as is learning to move slowly and enjoy “rubber time” as the passing hours are called. Temple and ritual events require a costume of sarong and sash, shirt and open hat [for the men]. Kathy will take everyone to the shops early in our trip so that you can buy these clothes and be welcomed at temples and ceremonies.

Medical care is available and pharmaceuticals can be purchased, but we recommend that you buy travel and cancellation insurance and medical evacuation insurance against emergency need. For the ordinary events of life, regular care is all that’s needed. Mosquito repellent is a good idea, though mosquitoes weren’t a great problem on previous visits to Bali. Vaccinations are advised as your physician determines. Tetanus, cholera and hepA are often advised for any travel. US Public Health Service will advise. Again, there are not usually extra precautions ones for Bali.

Food is healthy and light: stirfry vegetables with rice, vegetables with peanut sauce, chicken, fish, wonderful varieties of fruits and fruit drinks. Water is not safe to drink, so everyone uses bottled water which we supply at our lodging. Our accommodations will have hot water, showers, fans, electricity.

More: Good guidebooks are available such as the Lonely Planet series, and there are wonderful photos in these books. We’ll also be posting many Bali pictures on our website,

Dr. Suryani’s book, “Trance and Possession in Bali” [Suryani and Jensen, Oxford University Press, 1993] is an excellent study of forms of trance and their relation to western categories of psychiatric thought. It also has photos of some of the people we will meet on our trip.

Fred Eiseman’s, “Bali: Sekala and Niskala,” [Periplus Editions, 1990] is a wonderful two-volume paperback tour of many aspects of Balinese culture and religious practice by a westerner who has lived much of his life in Bali.

The anthropologist, Unni Wikan, has written “Managing Turbulent Hearts: A Balinese Formula for Living,” [University of Chicago Press, 1990] a thoughtful and intricate psychological portrait of Balinese interpersonal life.

Endnote: These remarks only begin to describe the experience of Bali, so much of which is sight, sound, motion and the grace and humor of the people you will meet.