blindfolded at full moon…

The banyan trees at night

There are two banyan trees at the southern end of the Kratons southern Alun-Alun in Yogyakarta, which are very famous and very much respected by the inhabitants of the city. There is a ritual that takes place every Monday and Wednesday, when the people blindfold themselves and attempt to walk between the trees in the dark. Those who succeed, unguided, local folklore suggests, are bestowed with good fortune and are said to be spiritually in tune with the path that they are on.

I was nervous, before I took the walk. I stood under a bright full moon in the middle of a park filled with flashing lights and gaudy tourist attractions. There were no other westerners to be seen. We were alone, and very much the centre of attention.

I took a deep breath, and stood a good 150m from the trees, my feet in the sand. I watched locals blind fold each other and attempt the walk. Very few made it without assistance. Some wandered toward the road, others into the concrete castle around the trees base.

I took my long red sarong out of my bag and tied it around my face. One last look at the trees and I covered my eyes. I tried to drown out the noise around me. I found a place of silence in my mind and I took my first steps.

I walked for what seemed like an eternity. Although the park was busy around me, my mind was still. I felt the breeze as I neared the trees. A soft tingling on my skin and a freshness of air that hadn’t been there before. There is some magic here. I’m sure of it.

And then all of a sudden I heard a voice behind me. It was B, ‘You can take your blindfold off,’ she said.

I did and as my eyes adjusted to the moonlight I discovered that I had done it. I had walked between the trees and had come out unscathed. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.  

B went next, and much to her dismay, couldn’t seem to find a balance, walking in semi circles and around again until I had to stop her as she was headed for the road.

It’s time and place. It’s mind and body.

I like to think that it’s a sign, that it’s telling me that I’m in a good place and I’m heading in the right direction. But at the end of the day, it’s a couple of trees in a park full of fluorescent lights and Frisbees. I guess it really is all in the mind.

Barefoot walked in darkness.


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