Thai Ghosts and Other Spirits
Even a short time watching a Thai television station will provide you with evidence that Ghosts, spirits and demons are alive and well and thriving in Thailand.
The Thai people are superstitious and ghosts and spirits are a part of everyday life. So much so that they frequently feature in television series and films in Thailand. Perhaps the best known ghost in Thailand is that of Lady Nak or Mae Nak Phra Kanong. It is believed she was a lady who died in childbirth and both she and the baby perished. When her soldier husband returned from fighting in the war, he found them waiting for him. He did not realize that they were ghosts and they lived happily for a time, till he was told the truth by someone in the village, where her ghost had been causing mischief. . The tale ends when a spirit doctor captures her spirit inside an earthenware jar. In another version of the story a monk saws the top of the head off the body and captures the soul of Mae Nak. He tells the soul that she will be reunited with her husband when he finally dies.
There is a shrine to Mae Nak at Wat Mahabhut, which is at Sukhumvit Soi 77. There is a body in the Mae Nak shrine which is covered in gold leaf and it is said to be her body. The body wears a wig and clothes and even has make up applied to the features of the face. She has a television in front of her which is on all the time to keep her entertained. Nearby stalls sell items to offer to the ghost of Mae Nak, including baby clothes, to bring good luck and stop her causing mischief. There is also a doll which is covered in gold leaf to represent her baby. It is in a glass coffin which is half filled with paper money.
There are many kinds of ghosts and spirits in Thailand. Some of them belong to Animist beliefs, like the spirits that inhabit water or trees. Offerings are often made to these to keep them happy and content, as who knows what mischief they could cause if they were unhappy? Spirits which inhabit trees are suspected of coming back to life if the wood is cut and used for constructing a building , so offerings are made to them to prevent this happening. The ritual to appease them is usually conducted by the Mau Pii, the Spirit doctor and go between who communicates with both the human and the spirit worlds.
Other ghosts belong to Buddhist beliefs, including the ghosts of the Hell realms who have been sentenced to live in torment in Hell for the wrong doings they have committed in their time on earth. There are also hungry ghosts, with their small pointed teeth and thin necks. They wander around eating everything but never satisfying their hunger, with their big bellies and small mouths. These kinds of ghosts are widely written about in Vajrayana Buddhism.
Female ghosts in Thailand have a particularly bad reputation. One of the female ghosts has a very long, slippery tongue, like a snake. She uses this tongue to reach through the roof to torment you to death. Another female ghost visits men during the night and ravages them until they orgasm to death. To trick her, men sometimes wear women’s clothes to bed if they think they are at risk from this ghost.
Yet another female ghost sits on your chest when you are sleeping and pins you down to stop you breathing or escaping. Two of the most, gory female ghosts are Krasue, a woman’s head with all the internal organs hanging from it which will chase you across the room, and Phi Pop, a female ghost that devours human intestines while you are still alive. Not all ghosts come from dead humans, there are many spirits, ghosts and demons who have never taken human form in this world.
In Black Magic in Thailand rituals are performed to awaken revengeful spirits and demons using such things as bones from graveyards, splinters of coffin wood, debris from ruined temples or even cracked Alms bowls from temples. The spirits can also be summoned to be used in curses against victims of Black Magic. It is believed that Black magic can be performed by cooking black food to begin a spell. In rural areas it is not uncommon for sudden illness to be blamed on a Black Magic curse done against you.
You can still be charged and taken to court for charming someone or casting a Black Magic spell on them. Black Magic was outlawed in Thailand years ago, and it was forbidden to use it to harm or bring death or misfortune to others, but it still thrives today, particularly in rural areas of the country. Black Magic is also seen as being a contradiction to Buddhist practices as it’s founded on the basis on the unconscious. Black Magic practitioners often appeal to these ghost and spirits to aid them in making their spells to cause harm or fear to the victim.
Another interesting spirit is that of the Kuman Thong, the Golden Boy. It is believed that the talisman is inhabited by the spirit of an unborn baby boy who was taken from his mother’s womb and coated in gold to preserve him. If a family own one of these talismans or statues they must give offerings to it each day to keep it happy and content. It is blessed with an exceptionally strong power and it is to be taken seriously. They are reputed to bring blessings to the home and especially to businesses.
It is clear that many of the spirits and ghosts in Thailand can be seen as good or bad, depending on whether they are invoked for good or evil. It is all down to the intent of the person using them, and of course Karma.