My Thirty Minutes with a Balinese Magic Man

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“Just one moment please.”

I stood outside a colourful house about 25 minutes outside of Ubud. My friends and I were the only foreigners around, watching as local children played badminton in the street, laughing and giggling in the warm sun. Unlike in other non-tourist places, these children paid us no attention, no doubt used to the line ups of foreigners outside this certain house. The house of Agus; palm reader, healer, and Balinese magic man.

Bali Magic man

I’ve had a fascination with Balinese magic men since I first read Eat Pray Love. While I wasn’t a fan of the book, the mention of a magic man did trigger my inner wanderlust, and I knew when I eventually got to Bali I would try to find a magic man myself.

Of course the magic man in the book, Ketut Liyer, passed away only a few months before I arrived. Not that he was who I wanted to see anyway; I’d read and heard enough to know that he gave the same reading to everyone he met and charged a fortune for it. Didn’t sound too
‘magic’ to me. What I wanted was the real deal, but it turned out to be much harder to find than I would have thought.

I asked multiple people about magic men. Questioning all my drivers if they knew of a real one who would see a foreigner, but they all shook their heads no. The real magic men were only for the Balinese, besides the real ones couldn’t speak English anyway. Deflated, I just about gave up on my goal, but then my (super)mom came to the rescue with a website, a name, and a contact page for Agus Bali Palm Reader.

But, was he the real deal? There was only one way to find out.

I managed to convince two fellow travellers into going with me and asked for an appointment for the three of us. Mariel and I were getting 30 minute palm readings while Barb was going for a 60 minute body reading. He accepted our last minute request and scheduled us in for 4pm the next day. The one thing he was adamant about was being on time; he told me that he worked with energy so timing was incredibly important.

For this reason, we decided to use his driver. It was 300 IDR for the return trip, so about $10CDN each. Not too bad. However I couldn’t help but turn skeptical when he told us it was a 30 minute trip and the driver showed up nearly 15 minutes late. What happened to needing to be on time because of the energy? My inner critic was coming out quickly and I started to wonder what we were in for. There was only one way to find out.

“Ok, you can come in now.”

We entered Agus’ house and were invited to sit in the waiting area. Cotton-candy coloured decorations draped from the ceiling and fountains gurgled inside the inner garden. There were flower petals scattered everywhere and the whole room just seemed peaceful and tranquil. We were offered water and asked to write down some of our information including names, birth dates, and country of birth in a log book.

Bali Magic Man

Agus soon came to greet us; a friendly local man who spoke english pretty well and had a kind smile. He explained he liked to do the harder, longer appointments first and took Barb down the hall into a curtained room. Sixty minutes later she was back. “Wow” she mouthed to me as we changed places. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was a good or bad ‘wow’ as I followed Agus down the hall.

“Please turn your phone off, I work with energy and it will disturb it.” A little disappointed as I wanted to record our session, I powered off my iPhone and joined Agus on the couch.

‘Face forward and give me your left hand.”
I followed his instructions and he grabbed my left hand in both of his, closed his eyes and began to chant softly. After about a minute he began:

“Freedom is very important to you. But you also need security. For most people, they want just one. They work hard to get money for security but no freedom. Or, they have much freedom but not secure. Not you, you need both. It makes it hard for you, a struggle. Yes.”

He looked at me for confirmation. As hard as I tried to keep my face completely deadpan and give him nothing, I couldn’t stop myself from nodding. His opening comment was spot on, and caught me completely by surprise. But could he keep it up?

Grabbing my hand again he closed his mind before speaking.

“You are very spiritual. This I know 100%.”

My moment of “oh my god this is real” plummeted in two seconds. As the girl who only goes to churches to photograph them, and just about died laughing the night before at a secret cacao ceremony, the idea of being ‘very spiritual’ was a complete flop. But I let him continue anyway.

“You are very strong believer and you have two stars. You have two stars so you can heal yourself and help family. But not everyone, you need three stars. Then you help everyone. But must learn. You don’t need them though, you are good with two. Two is plenty for you, but if you want, you can get three.”

To be honest, I had no idea what he meant. If I could heal myself I’m pretty sure I would have fixed my motorbike accident wounds so I didn’t have to slather them with antibacterial creams three times a day. Guess I just didn’t know how to access my stars.

Skepticism creeping in once more I listened to him continue to describe me, delve into my past, and drop hints about my future.

In some areas, he nailed it. Describing me as someone who has a hard time opening up to others, being independent, and valuing quality of friends over quantity of friends. He told me I was a planner, not very impulsive. Adventurous, a big dreamer, and ambitious. I would always seek new experiences, if I didn’t I would feel trapped. I’d be good at running my own business, but it would have to be a small one. I didn’t like having to work with lots of people. Oh, and I would never be a politician.

He spent quite a bit on my love life, getting pretty caught up on supposed loves I missed out on when I was 21 and 25. The one at 25 was incredibly interesting to him as he tried to understand what he was ‘seeing’ since I told him there was no one at that time. To be honest, I got a bit fed up and finally just said I met someone travelling that I was interested in but never made a move because of the distance thing. Not true, but he bought it. Pinning it back to his previous description of me being independent and afraid to open up. 

Grabbing my hand again he sat for a long time, staring at the wall before speaking. I wondered what the pause meant, secretly fearing I was going to be told how and when I would die. But instead he began to speak about my future.

“Love will be hard for you. You need to learn to open, to share. You don’t right now and you are lonely. But you will have two big loves. One you will meet at 32. You can have 2 children. Can. Its not definite. But, no children before then. There will be one more love, but don’t worry about it now.”

I tried not to think too hard on what this meant; would I get a divorce? Would my first love die? I’m loyal as hell so I can’t see myself ever being a cheating bitch. Thankfully that was the end of the love bit, and onto better and more interesting things.

“You will never have a hard time getting a job. You will always get hired. Always have work. But, you will have a hard time loving your work.” (That made sense, as it’s been the case so far. And a bit of a relief since I’m coming home in December to no work.)

“ You will always live in Canada. Travel, yes. Travel many places, all over the world. But you always will go back home. Back to Canada.” (You can breathe now, mom.)

The final test was to check my health. He held my hand out and told me to tell me when I felt pain, not pressure, just sharp pain. Slowly he pulled each of my fingers, starting at my thumb. I thought it was dumb, feeling just pressure until he hit just about the knuckle of my pinky finger.


I actually jerked a bit and he smiled.

“Stomach. Very sensitive stomach. Not sick, just sensitive. Be careful. No spicy food, and not too much to drink.”

And so I left my Balinese magic man who nailed it at the start and end, and was a bit questionable in the middle. Do I believe what he told me? I don’t know. Some of his remarks were bang on. I tried not to give anything away with facial expressions but who knows; maybe I have an awful poker face. Or maybe, just maybe, this Balinese magic man really did have some magic in him.

Bali magic man

Want to visit this Balinese magic man? He only takes appointments through his website and is pretty busy, so try to book in advance but you can find him here.

Need a place to stay? I love using,, and airbnb!

Bali Magic Man

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  1. The Best of Ubud - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel on September 27, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    […] Eat Pray Love’s Ketut Liyer passed away earlier in 2016, but there are plenty more magic men in the area. From palm readers, to healers there are plenty to choose from, so do your research ahead of time. You can read about my experience with Agus, a Balinese palm reader here. […]

  2. […] travelers to join me in going to Pura Titra Empul temple, the rice terraces, and even to see a local magic man. Being in a group meant these day tours were affordable, but if I had been alone it would have cost […]

  3. Steffen Raebricht on August 11, 2018 at 4:34 am

    I went to a treatment with the “Balinese Magic Man” (Agus) in 2016. 2 years later in 2018 I write this comment to let future visitors know things can go different there.

    I went there for a palm reading. Shortly after the session began he told me results can be better and more exactly if he does not only look at my palms, but instead smells on my body.

    The session ended up him smelling on my genitals for half an hour (I am a man).

    He asked before he did it and I was on an attitude of “do whatever you have to do to get good results”. So it happened. It was the first time I was confronted with such a question so I said yes.

    Later I felt abused, but was also to ashamed to speak about it. I started to think and to learn about this incident. Was it my fault, because I said yes? Long time I thought this way. But today it is a clear NO.

    If you receive clients you have a therapeutical position. That means your clients trust you more than others. With that comes a great responsibility to protect your client. That means to not cross some borders. Smelling on someones genitals does cross the healing borders by far from my point of view. Even the offer is super unprofessional. There have to be other ways to find things out about a person than smelling between someones legs.

    Maybe its part of balinese healing traditions – I don’t know. But if you work with western people you have to inform your clients before the session starts. This is a clear responsibility of the therapist.

    I am a therapist by my own and I see it as my ethical responsibility to inform you about that. Maybe you want to prevent yourself from such an experience.

    The results of the treatment were so and so. Things were correct, things were wrong.

    Greetings, Steffen

    • Hannah Logan on August 13, 2018 at 1:40 am

      Wow, that is really strange and super uncomfortable. I went with two other women and nothing like that happened- it was all very professional and we were all very comfortable with him. The most ‘in my space’ he got was holding my hand which he asked permission to do and it was no big deal at all. I, personally, never felt safe or taken advantage of with my experience.

    • Gilad on May 3, 2021 at 9:56 am

      Hi steffen i went to him as well in 2019 , same thing, was wierd the way that he smell my body .
      Im holistic coach my self , and i found wierd , was part of my vacation experience:)


      • Hannah Logan on May 3, 2021 at 10:00 am

        So strange! I’m sorry the two of you experienced that. I imagine it must have been incredibly uncomfortable.

        • Dani on August 7, 2021 at 10:48 am

          Hi there,

          This man did the exact same thing to me a month ago and it felt very very invasive and perverse and at one point it felt like he was going a bit too far.

          If you are male, I would highly recommend not going to this man.

  4. So, this is 30 - Eat Sleep Breathe Travel on June 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    […] If I really could work for myself, be my own boss, and be successful. I was scared to try but after visiting a Balinese magic man who confirmed that I would never be happy working for someone else, I decided that 2017 would […]

  5. Jeremiah on December 31, 2023 at 7:04 pm

    I saw him about a year ago and waiting for some of his predictions to come true – does anyone have any feedback/examples?

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