Pengiwaan Encounters: Black Magic in Bali


Jessye (Grade 11)

“There was a guy that was in love with my step-mom. Supposedly he put her under black magic, it was like a love spell or something. And then she spent three years under the spell and she doesn’t remember a lot of it.  And she woke up and she was like ‘What am I doing here?’ She had a kid and everything during those three years.”

Ibu Andrea (High School Teacher)

“This Balinese guy I know’s father got really sick one day after drinking a cup of coffee at a cock fight. He started losing weight and couldn’t keep any food down. He went to all the doctors and they didn’t know what was wrong and he went to the hospital (he was there for months) and they did all these tests and they didn’t know either. Then they had a traditional healer come in and he said that the problem was that he had black magic put on him. They had a ceremony and immediately the guy started getting better, the next day. He’s been better ever since.”

Inda (Grade 10)

“My cousin got Cetik. He ate some food and he got really sick. His body became purple and he went to the hospital and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. He died.”

(Taken from

(Taken from

Bali most definitely is a magical place, it is almost always bright and sunny, the people are always smiling, there are jungles, beaches, mountains, and lakes all on this tiny island. Arriving into Bali you do feel a sort of enchantment, but there is another side to the island. A slightly darker twisted side: Black Magic.

Black Magic may just sound like supernatural folk tale, but after living in Bali for some time and after hearing countless chilling stories from locals and westerners who have visited the island,  it is hard for me to say black magic is not a real thing.

(Taken from

The Balinese name for black magic is pengiwaan. In ancient times black magic was said to be used to defend from enemies or soldiers attacking Bali. Today, black magic is most commonly used to harm individuals (neighbors, enemies, etc…). It is also studied  by priests and healers, in order to learn how to heal or cure victims of these pengiwaan spells.

There are many different types of black magic on the island but the three most common are Cetik, Leak, and Pengasih-asih. Cetik is the “poisoning” of someones food. The so called poison can only be seen by one’s sixth sense, it can result in effects as harmless as stomach aches and chills, or as severe as fainting and possible death. Leak, when studied and practiced correctly, is said to enable the practitioner to release his spirit into the supernatural. The practice of Leak is more common in royal families in order to protect themselves from any attacks. Pengasih-asih is a sort of “love spell,” in which one can enchant an object such as a ring, clothing, or oil with the means to conquer someones heart.

Practicing black magic over a dead corpse.

Practicing black magic over a dead corpse. (Taken from the Bali Times)

This video is quite popular in Bali. It captures Leak black magic fighting on the island:

I find pengiwaan to be one of the things that make this island unique. I know that Bali is not the only place with black magic tendencies, though. I would be super curious to hear if anyone else reading this article has had any experiences of their own or has heard of black magic happening in their culture.


About Author

My name is Shanti Balam Belaustegui Pockell. I've got a mom from America and a dad from Argentina, but I was born in Mexico. I have been living in Bali, Indonesia and attending the Green School for about three years now, and this is my second year blogging.

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