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Do you Believe in Magic?

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“In Indonesia, the common term for practitioners of traditional healing, magic and sorcery is dukun. … In the past dukun used both white and black magic. …”

It’s all too easy to roll your eyes when people talk about black magic, curses, masuk angin, and the power to hold off the rain, but maybe there’s something to this stuff.

Stories abound of the magic that chills, kills, heals, and apparently repeals (the laws of nature) here in Indonesia.

Every so often a newspaper story tells of the demise of some poor soul who ran afoul of a dukun.

Lately, we’ve been experiencing a long stretch of hot weather where we should be getting rain. Areas around us have been drenched to the point of flooding, but poor old Surabaya, Porong and Sidoarjo are being baked.

The reason … Black Magic, baby!

“Pshaw,” you say. Which you have to admit is a silly thing to say. “There’s no such thing as magic.”

The local residents in Porong have employed the dark side of the force …er …dukun to hold off the rain. Porong residents fear the rain, and resultant flooding will exacerbate the problems already caused by boiling mud.

A few months ago the earth started spewing up mud. Steaming liquid has destroyed homes, flooded and ruined farmland, decimated an industrial area and washed out roads. If you knew Harry Potter’s cell number, you’d call him too.

Logic be damned.

What about the healing?

First off, a healer may use magic, but he/she is not a dukun.

I’ve been going to a local healer for a couple of weeks.

Pak Harto is said to be able to channel energy and heals all sorts of things. A friend with heart problems swears by him. I actually just swore. Man, this healing hurts.

What the heck is wrong with me? Well, I’ve got a herniated disk, between the fourth and fifth vertabrae. Sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it’s bad.

Pak Harto is the man with the magic hands.

Pak Harto works out of a Chinese temple here in Surabaya. So, you’re watched over by all sorts of nasty-looking beasties.

I went down to Jalan Cokroaminoto and put my feet into his hands, Yuck. “Owww, F…..! F…..!.” Then the pain was gone.

I was sweating like a pig but the tightness in my lower back and the dull ache in my shoulder were gone.

I went back a second time. Took a handkerchief. A muffled series of obscenities followed, and then ... relief.

Do it. Scream and get better.

Our thanks to Wayne Duplessis for his series of short narratives on his years living in Indonesia - working as a teacher, raising a family, traveling and generally enjoying life - from 1996 to the present.


Housing and schooling information for expats in Indonesia expatriate website for Indonesia Indonesian language translation of article

Practical Information for foreigners, expats and expatriates moving to Indonesia - find out about housing, schooling, transport, shopping and more to prepare you for your stay in Indonesia

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