[Spirit-]Mediums in Northern Thailand

[personal names of spirit-mediums in this book are pseudonyms]






Writing, exchange, translation









Appearance of order



Secret of the dish









Outside, eyeless, and afire



End of mediumship?


p. 40, fn. 46 ghosts

"the kinds of women Phayaphrom might desire, likening them to various kinds of ghosts. Much could be said about the categorization of divorced and widowed women as being like ghosts. For ... these women are, like ghosts, excessively receptive to the communication of desire. They are women who would not refuse solicitations, and they seem uncannily able to hear desire even before it has found itself expressed in language."

pp. 88-91 spirit-possession

p. 88

"spirits, especially malevolent spirits, are popularly remarked for their maniacally burning and hypertrophied eyes. Evil spirits are beings ... whose eternally open-eyed stare reflects a gluttony for the sensual world."


"She begged the gods to release her from suffering. Then, as she says, the spirit "came down.""

p. 89

"Mediums universally identify the first experience of possession ... as "losing consciousness." One of them described it thus : "... I don’t remember it. After, they told me what I did. ..." ... After each possession, the medium must be told what has happened, and she often asks what the spirit has said, and what he has requested by way of new clothing or the ritual propitiations of spirits (the latter are known as kae bon), ... what guidance in the matter of herbal or other healing techniques he has handed down."


"it had taken years for the possession to become regularized, controllable, and, ultimately, professionalized. ... During the early stages of possession, when the spirit comes sporadically and without speaking, it is, in fact, incorrect to speak of mediumship in any general sense, for the status of medium is slowly acquired. It is only recognized by other mediums after the identity of the spirit has been clearly articulated and the medium has come to accept the professional obligations that attend possession through the acquisition of a khan dish.

The mean time is described by mediums as a period punctuated by days, weeks, and months of unexplained illness, often of paralysis but always of some sensory loss. Many times, this loss is mundane : a chronic absentmindedness (khwaampen khiilyym) ... that makes mediums vulnerable ... . One medium ... recalled forgetting her own name. Another spoke more dramatically of total paralysis."

p. 90

"The more dramatic a medium’s illness, the more powerful must be the curative powers of the spirit, and ailing individuals who have been unable to find healing in the biomedical tradition ... often seek out spirits who have proved themselves capable of curing the most intractable of illnesses in their mediums. ... It will come as no surprise that mediums whose spirits are renowned as herbalists attract large audiences ... . Such professional practices generally come to mediums long after their entry into the world of mediumship, however, and are developed over the course of years."

pp. 92-96 onset of spirit-speech; writing down of it by scribe-secretaries

p. 92

"the spirit’s possessions continued without voice for several months before the rough "ejaculated sentences," ... became regularized and the fits of convulsive unconsciousness {cf. epilepsy?} were accompanied by a speaking. ...

From [her] tremulous and vacated body, the spirit began to address those who gathered around her in broken and irregular spurts. Gathering the

p. 93

scraps of sound from these periodic events, [her] friends say they were assisted by the spirit and by another medium so that they could finally translate the happening into words and recognize the language of the possessed body as that of Caopuu Phayaphrom ... . To her friends, Phayaphrom explained that he had come to assist [her], whom he claimed had assisted him as his wet nurse in a prior life."

p. 94

Her "spirit was using a notebook covered with images of coins and bills from around the world, something on which the possessing persona frequently remarked. ...

p. 95

He kept it wrapped in richly decorous fabric ... . Phayaphrom himself wrote down many instructions for the circle of ... assistants and for the medium herself. His determinations of auspicious dates for rituals of all kinds, including donations to wats and annual tributes to the tutelary spirits, were noted there. So were the particular objects – the number, maximum cost, color, and qualities – that were to be purchased for these occasions. The dates by which invitations to tributary rites had to be sent to other mediums were carefully written down, with great effort devoted to the precise and formal inscription of the envelope in which these invitations were delivered. At other times, instructions for curative therapies were registered and then copied out for clients. The notebooks remained under the watchful eye of the spirit, and they were consulted by luuk sit in the manner of an almanac. Though treated respectfully, the inscriptions of Phayaphrom’s attendants differed significantly from those that were more properly magical, the astrological signs and talismanic letters, usually of old Thai Yuan scripts, that were given to clients seeking protective amulets and other objects of power."

pp. 107-115 investiture of spirit-medium with sacred dish; suu khwan; sword-dance

p. 107

"For mediums, the ... investiture ceremony is the phithii jok khruu, or Praise ceremony. It is here that new mediums receive the dish (khan) on which to make offerings to the spirit and to which the spirit descends to receive them."

p. 109

"Historically, ... the Praise Ceremony was performed in the ninth lunar month, which corresponds roughly to June of the Western calendar. ... these rites ... are always discernible by the slow tumult of gongs and the relentless rhythms of the modified, sometimes electrified phiphat orchestras ...; by the constant stream of tuktuks and briefcase-toting mediums that approach and depart from them ... . ...

In preparation for the rites, a medium and her or his assistants gather the necessary offerings. These may be as modest as two chickens, ... and a plate of fruit with twelve joss sticks, two wreaths of jasmine, and a handful of bought candles. Or they may be

p. 110

as extravagant as two full pigs, ... tables full of fruit, whole branches {fronds} of young coconut trees, and arms full of flowers, joss sticks, and real beeswax candles. ... The medium’s capacity to earn money in his or her professional practice is, in turn, largely dependent on the wealth ad correlative status displayed in such moments, and for this reason, mediums of means often display photographs of their offerings at Praise Ceremonies to impress visitors."


"Praise Ceremonies that are held at ... the throne (thii deum, sometimes called thii keut) ... takes place under tents, in an area that has been carefully circumscribed by threads of unspun cotton tied at eye level. At the periphery of this domain, a plate of rice will have been placed ... on the ground ... for the maternal spirits of the earth and sometimes for the Rice Mother or mae posop. Another offering will have been elevated and placed on a stand from which four differently colored flags will hang to mark the directions of the universe and the four continents of the cosmos. This is for the emphatically masculine spirit Phra Indra, who mythified capacity ... is sought to protect mediums from unwanted spiritual intrusions on the occasions of their tutelary spirits’ descent."

p. 111

"The hosting medium (usually a woman) commences the Praise Ceremony by lighting joss sticks ... . Often, she is surrounded by other, not-yet-possessed mediums, who ... greet each other on arrival. If the Praise Ceremony is to be an occasion at which a new medium receives the dish, then it will begin at dawn and all of the mediums of a lineage will be present. In Chiang Mai, ... the lineage is not one of blood, and ... it is a profession of inspiration to which one is called and which cannot be sought through apprenticeship. This lack of blood relation distinguishes professional mediumship in Chiang Mai ... from the Mon phii meng cults ... which are emphatically associated with matrilineality.

Seen from the bottom, the "lineage" is a tenuous thread of affiliation ... with senior members ... . ... mediums and possessing personae generally refer to each other as ... teachers (khruu), lords or masters (cao naaj), and their devotees (khon nap thyy) or adoptive children (luuk liang). ...

Senior spirits and their mediums can demand of their junior counterparts attendance at Praise Ceremonies and at thord phaa paa rites, where they are required both to donate money and to witness to the generosity of their senior peers. ...


The exclusivity of the senior spirit’s power over others in materialized in the right he has to suu khwan for his "students." Khwan are considered to be distinct essences that together constitute the being of a person. People ... have thirty-two such essences. Other animals and

p. 112

entities, including everything from kitchen implements to water buffalo, are also comprised of khwan, but these are fewer in number. After {During?} an illness or an emotional trauma, one’s khwan are said to be destabilized and occasionally even lost. They must therefore be called back, as suggested by the name of the apotropaic rite, riak khwan ("to call the khwan"). The one who performs the suu khwan or riak khwan rite for another thus has enormous power over that person’s well-being. And if we take seriously the notion of the khwan as dispersed and volatile essences that have to be repeated restabilized in their interrelations, then the one who conducts this rite literally coheres the subject in relation to himself or herself, albeit in a temporary manner. ...

p. 113

At the initiating Praise Ceremony that I attended ..., other mediums professed little interest in the young host and hardly even acknowledged her presence. Yet, ... the medium ..., ... from a sitting position, ... leapt into the air and she flew several feet before landing, again on crossed legs. {levitation?} The newly possessed medium then stood, spinning, ... the faces of other mediums ... were passing rapidly before her. When, finally, a voice emerged in grunting spasms, other mediums began to feel the force of their own possessing spirits ... . The young medium proceeded obliviously nevertheless, dressing from bottom up before reaching down to pick up the khan dish on which flowers and candles had been laid. In a newly male {viz., possessed by a male spirit} body, the possessed medium held the dish to him {viz., the possessing-spirit’s} forehead, and , like the not-yet-possessed vehicle, prayed ... to the tutelary lord ... Caopuu Mokkhalaan, the great teacher of Buddha’s time. ...

Other dishes, which are arrayed on the sides of the room, are associated with other spirits, ... all of whom will receive prayers on this day. For each spirit, there is but one dish, named for the one who will descend there. The possessed medium (now masculine {viz., the possessing-spirit being masculine}) picks up each and hold it to his head. Typically, he {viz., the possessing-spirit, on behalf of the possessed medium} asks ... for magical eyes and ears that will empower him to communicate properly with clients. ... He invokes the spirit of Indra, ... and asks for assistance in thwarting evil. For other, lowlier spirits, he requests graceful manners, knowledge of incantations, and magical power. ...

p. 114

These requests are made before the medium mounts his {a possessing-spirit’s} throne, which sits unoccupied until now. The moment is a strangely doubled one ... . Both the mount{’s dish[es]} and the throne are described as the sites of a birth (keut) and in this doubling the possibility simultaneous origination ... . Indeed, the medium is always vulnerable to a competing possession, and if she has failed in her efforts to learn the forms of her profession, this is precisely what will occur. The result, inevitably, is madness, called phii baa or phii porb. ...


Some spirits ... are actually said to have thousands of faces. Others simply appear differently in different cities. thus, for example, the spirit of Phrom Saeng Atthit claims also to be the exalted being who watches over the supreme teacher and Buddha’s acolyte, Mo[k]khalaan. At the same time, he identifies himself as Phra Phrom Erawan, though he assumes that guise only when he appears in Bangkok ... .


... the Praise Ceremony comes to a point in the moment of approach to the throne, when the new medium dances with swords as part of his {subordinate spirits’} tribute to the highest of his spirits. ... The dance seems to ... the competing spirits ... to allay the very possibility of competition. ...

p. 115

Bap (demerit) is here transformed into suai ..., if not immediately into merit (bun). {/bun/ is ‘religion’ in Zend} And in the homonymy that makes beauty a mode of tribute (suai means both tribute and beauty), the origin of possession is recuperated".

pp. 121-122 medium as ridden steed

p. 121

"Mediums are called maa khii, "the rider’s horse," in Northern Thai. {cf. Haitian "divine horsemen"} The formal Central Thai word for medium, khon song or raang song

p. 122

(meaning "vehicle," the closest literal translation to medium ...) can be read, very literally, to mean the body of sending ... . Nonetheless, mediums, especially those of low status, speak of possession as a riding, as a being ridden" {which are ‘cavalier’ expressions}.

pp. 123-124 dish at marriage-proposal; lintel & threshhold

p. 123

"Historically, when a man went to a woman’s house to ask for permission to marry her, he offered betel and areca as well as money on a dish (khan) to the spirits of the matriline."


"the doorway of the premodern mu:ang house had above it a lintel called the phor pratuu (father of the door) or ham yom. This usually consisted of a carved slat of wood with the image of a serpent or, more

p. 124

properly, a naga {/naga/ ‘dragon’}. The term ham yom actually means "magical testicles," a term with productive ... connotation.

The threshold at the base of the door was called the mae pratuu, meaning mother of the door but also, in colloquial terms, vagina. ... Being a raised ledge between rooms ..., the mae pratuu is the subject of much ribald humor."

pp. 128-130 origin-myth in the Pathama-mula-muli : the 3 sexes; their cemetery-alphabet

p. 128

"the first being to occupy the universe was a female named Nang Itthang Gaiya Sangkasi. ... this being ... feeds only upon the scent of flowers. However, the fragrant plants ..., ... that she requires to sustain herself, proliferate at such an extraordinary rate that they actually threaten to suffocate her. To save herself, this first "female" being determines to create other beings who can feed upon and thereby control the otherwise nurturing flowers. And so she does. ... The creatures that the Naang fabricates from clay and sweat continue to be reborn after their death into the same realm. As a result, their rapidly multiplying numbers soon consume so much of the flora that Nang Itthang Gaiya Sangkasi is threatened by starvation. ... Unable to solve the problem for herself, she puts it to a male being, a certain Sangaiya Sangkasi, who seems to appear miraculously ... for the purpose of responding and who extracts from her a promise of marriage ... in return for his solution to the riddle. He suggests that what is needed is a being who will not return following death, one whose actions in life can facilitate movement to higher or lower planes. Such a being will be human, one in whom ... an ability ... will ensure movement out of, and beyond, the world that Nang Itthang Gaiya Sangkasi must continue to inhabit. Human life is thereby brought into being. ...

p. 129

In the myth, humanity is composed of three sexes : male, female, and kathoey or "hermaphrodite." ... From the woman’s point of view, the hermaphrodite named Napumsaka, is a husband. From the man’s perspective, Napumsaka is a wife. [The husband and wife are, respectively,] Pullinga, the man, ... and the woman named Itthi ... . ...

In two consecutive and contradictory (or perhaps inverse) passages, the tamnan [‘myth’] narrates both the woman’s loss of her two husbands and the man’s loss of his two wives. In each case, the hermaphrodite dies second, but unlike the woman or the man (depending on the passage), his corpse is left untended, a fact that is remarked with great concern by the children." {/na-PUmSaka/ is especially a Jaina category, apparently etymologically cognate with /PUS.ya/ ‘flower’.}

p. 130

the signification of the ‘alphabet’ is described : its origin "is inspired by a woman "staking out the site of the cemetery of her husband."" (Pathama-mula-muli, 236)

p. 129, fn. 46 the authoress is claiming that mention of grammatical gendre is a proof that this book cannot be "authentically Yuan" {: however, the very tribe-name /A-kha/ is an allusive mention of this same alphabet (p. 130) "(Ackhararupa)"; and any mention of grammatical gendre might well be a textual interpolation.}

pp. 136-140 C^ian-Mai, Laos, and the Meo

p. 136

"at the turn of the century [1899-1900 Ch.E.], most Bangkokians referred to Chiang Mai as a part of Laos, and they associated it with ... the eating of insects".

p. 137

"Meo magic" : "a piece of buffalo hide had purportedly been inserted into the ensorcelled man’s stomach." "Every instance of Meo magic ... involved the appearance of some foreign substance within the body of the victim, generally nails or buffalo hides."

p. 140

"the Meo ... are ... engaging in prostitution".

p. 141, fn. 65 widow-ghosts

"phii mae maaj or "widow ghosts," which are thought to be the rapacious spirits of women who died untimely deaths. These women are hold to be responsible for the sudden death of migrant laborers and are imagined to be in pursuit of a husband. Hence, they are said to lie with men and to drain them not only of semen but of life."

pp. 153-155 sacred caverns for spirits at C^ian Dao

p. 153

"the legendary journeys of Caoluang Kham Daeng, the mythic founder of Chiang Mai."

p. 154

"Caopuu Phrayaphrom describes Chiang Mai as a place of great spiritual power (ittharit) and, according to most possessed mediums, it is also a place where all great northern spirits originate. The caves actually stretch more that a kilometer into the mountain and are divided into chambers. These stalactite formations formations are said to represent various mythic creatures, so that the caves contain a "natural" bestiary. {were the beasts painted on the walls of Palaeolithic Western European caverns likewise intended to repraesent natural mythic residents? the Musquakie believe that the animal-deities, meeting in a council, occupy caverns.} ... Tourists ... are given guided tours into the caves ... . These guides ... provide careful descriptions that transform the rocky outcrops and protrusions into marvelous beasts inhabiting the rock. ... It is also a revered site among mediums, both as a destination of ritual pilgrimage and as a point of origin in their own narratives ... . ... Caopuu Phayaphrom maps his own history onto the trajectory of Cao Luang Kham Daeng’s life, which provides one

p. 155

of the archtypal narratives on northern Thailand’s progress from darkness to Buddhist enlightenment. ... Cao Luang Kham Daeng is said to have been seduced by a golden deer {cf. golden deer Marica hunted by Rama-candra} while out hunting. He chased the deer from Chiang Dao to Chiang Mai and its mountain citadel, Doi Suthep, unable to kill it but entranced by its grace. {"Loth either to kill or wound the hind, Hercules ... hunted her tirelessly for one whole year, his chase taking him as far as Istria" (GM 125.b).} On the way he met a beautiful woman whom he took as his bride, as well as a rysii [r.s.i] (hermit) who informed him that the deer was actually a deity ... . The great man ... resided in Chiang Mai for some time before returning to Chiang Dao, where he died and became a guardian spirit of the mountain there."

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

pp. 164-165 categories of possessing-spirits

p. 164

"After Phayaphrom had vacated her body, the medium’s head fell forward and her friend remarked ... that Caopuu had left (ork pai). Shortly thereafter, [she] began to speak in an astonishingly different voice. She disrobed and drew from the grass cabinet a brilliant cobalt suit, which she put on, like the earlier white suit, over everyday clothes. With the voice of a child now speaking firmly, it became apparent that the medium had been taken over by the rambunctious and petulant spirit of a young boy. ... Kumaannooj’s high and nasal prepubescent pitch is typical of infantile spirits ... . ...

In general, spiritual personae are recognizable through styles of dress, qualities of voice, and specialties of spiritual power. ... Yet another category of possessing spirit, or more recent vintage, includes more anonymous figures of foreign nationality {as are commonplace in the Zar spirit-possession cult of North Africa}, often from India (but also from Iraq and Egypt)."

p. 165

Possessing-"spirits are of three orders :

caopuu, or grandfather spirits at the highest level of the hierarchy;

caophor (sometimes called caophii) or father spirits at the second level;

and child spirits at the bottom. ...

Thus, caopuu have deep but often tremulous voices;

caophor usually speak in powerful masculine voices; and

the words of child spirits are both squeaky and inelegant."

pp. 167, 183 ghost of queen Cama-devi as possessing-spirit

p. 167

"at the annual Praise Ceremony for Queen Camadevi in Haripunchai, when up to twenty mediums gather in one place, her spirit is said to pass from one medium to the other in rapid succession. Mediums go in and out of trance accordingly, attiring themselves and stripping off their costumes as required by her descent and departure."

p. 183

"Recently, ... the mediums of Lamphun received into their midst a television star named Duangchiwan Komonsen. Duangchiwan is now one of the several vehicles of Queen Camadevi and she enjoys widespread renown among mediums in ... Thailand."

pp. 171-172 disembodied voice; haunting spectres

p. 171

"the rumors mediums tell of a spirit in central Thailand who needs no body. This spirit is said to speak miraculously from the middle of a room,

p. 172

audible to all but independent of clothing and material signs. {This is a commonplace in Siberian and in North American Indian shamanic performances.}

... the disembodied voice, being transmitted invisibly from one medium to another in ... miraculous sound ... . ... The legibility of the mysteriously disembodied voice made it capable of eliciting oaths or pledges."


"Spirits who possess are but one form of spirit in a highly differentiated spectrum, ... like other spectral beings who return to haunt the material plane of human existence".

p. 172 fate vs. destiny

"the distinction between kam (destiny) and chataa (fate)" : "Kam is transcendent. ... Chataa, on the other hand, is a function of one’s deeds and, unlike kam, can be changed ... and even extended through ritual action."

pp. 187-194 meditation; spirit-photography; reading-spectacles

p. 187

"Phayaphrom advised me to sit and cultivate closure in a process that would protect me, he said, from being overwhelmed by the spirits of the dead whom I would encounter in my work : "... after a while, you will forget completely. You won’t know your body/self at all. The ants will crawl all over you, into your ears and nostrils. {This emmet-formication is an ordeal in tropical-forest South American Indian initiations into shamanism.} All kinds of insects will crawl all over you, eating you up, and you won’t even notice it."

p. 192

"The photographs of northern Thai spirits are ... as blurring and doubles ... remarked by northern Thai mediums for their uncanniness."

p. 193

"Possessed mediums make ostentatious display out of the donning and shedding of spectacles, whether they are reading spectacles or darkly tinted glasses."

p. 194

"glasses permit the spirits to see."

p. 236, 263-267, 275-276 increase in mediumship; pronouncing a curse upon a reactionary militarist political regime; conservationist necromancy & its result

p. 236

"the growth in mediumship, the rise in public gestures of ensorcellment? ... In the 1990s, mediums can curse politicians in public and leave the bones of the dead on the stairways of government buildings, then offer spiritual protection for those {environmentalist radical adhaerants of theirs} who would be affected {viz., protected from the politicians,} by the power of the spirits who have been summoned from other dimensions. ... The fact of the matter is that the ... national culturalist promotions of an instrumentalized local culture, ... has been associated with the veritable explosion of magical practices, among which mediumship must be counted as the most spectacular resurgent instance.

Twenty years ago, Walter Irvine estimated that there were about three hundred mediums practicing in Chiang Mai, an increase of about 600 per cent over a period of twenty years. ... [As of 1996,] Shigeharu Tanabe’s informants led him to believe that the number is closer to five hundred."

p. 263

By protestors against tyranny, "an altar was set up in front of the media stage. This consisted of a two-tiered able, at the back of which was a head-and-shoulders portrait of General Suchinda framed with dead and withering banyan tree leaves. On the upper level were three monks’ alms bowls was well as a khan dish in which ... coins (one for each year of Suchinda’s life) were placed. A bouquet of jasmine, several bundles of joss sticks, and a plate full of fresh fruit, raw meat, sweets, and flowers wrapped in banana leaves ... completed the display. Around the table were votive candles and in front, a placard reading phithii saab chaeng ("cursing ritual"). ...

A young man and woman ... described the rite as an ancient tradition (prapheenii boraan) of the Lanna people, to be performed only in extreme circumstances. With ... gravity in their voices, they itemized the contents of the khan and introduced a widow and widower who would perform the actual rite, the master and mistress of ceremonies explaining that the words of the widowed would be sacred (saksit) by virtue of their intimacy with death. The widowed twosome took over from there, approaching the altar and planting tiny black flags on either side, then lighting joss sticks and all of the candles surrounding it, so that the altar glowed even under the intense brilliance of the floodlights above. The woman ground dried hot red chili peppers and salt from the bowl atop the altar and then dropped them in each of the three alms bowls. Then she and her male companion {cf. Tezcatli-poca as Huaxtec "chili-seller" (MN, p. 167; SE, p. 60, citing Sahagu`n)} turned the joss sticks upside down and planted them in the alms bowls, sprinkling more salt and more peppers as the smoke {cf. smoke from foot of Tezcatli-poca} clouded Suchinda’s portrait and filled the air with rank, eye-stinking potency." {"Boys ... were held over a fire of chili peppers and made to inhale the bitter smoke." (AN; AAC&C)}

p. 264

"chili and salt are burned to create ... consequences ... much like those of witchcraft (phii ka>) : ... the rice steamers are turned upside down".

p. 265

"In the cursing rite, the food that is placed on the khan is actually intended for the spirits who will assist in the cursing ... . ... Spirits who are brought into play through the invocations of the widow and widower are actually said to acquire merit by causing suffering in the cursed person and by aiding his or her victims. ... only those sure of ... the purity of their intentions dare to ask the spirits to intervene."

p. 267

"The cursing itself was orchestrated by a local spirit medium, Saeng Suang, one of the politically most powerful mediums in Chiang Mai. ... Saeng Suang ... is the medium of Phra Cao Saen Mu:angma, a heroic ... prince who ... saved Chiang Mai from assault ... . ... According to the legend ..., King Phayao was transporting the reverend Phra Singh relic to Chiang Rai on the Ping River when a beam of light emerged from the icon and shot toward the shore (a not uncommon event in the life of a Buddha relic). At his moment, "darkness became lightness," and the beam was like a rainbow stretching two hundred yards to the east."

p. 275

"Phu:a Chiang Mai is perhaps the most articulate, politically astute, and creative pressure group in Chiang Mai. A coalition of conservationist intellectuals, including numerous members of the Chiang Mai University faculty, the organization advocates a greening of Chiang Mai, the preservation of local architectural forms, and the cultivation of Lanna traditions. ... Yet, if they are the shrewdest orchestrators of ritual drama and is their interests are emphatically [antiquarian and artistic] (many are avid collectors of antiquities and northern arts), their ... sentiment is widely by ... the community ... . ...


Following the prophesy[ing] of Saeng Suang’s spirit, Phra Cao Saeng Mu:angma, in 1991, the elder ritual specialist oversaw another ensorcelling rite, this time directed at the governor himself. He described the ritual for me in minutest detail, with pride in his devotion to the "traditional way of doing things."

The phithii hae phii shares much with the phithii saab chaeng in that it engages the powers of the dead ... to effect its goals. Officiants go to the cemetery and offer fruit, rice, water, sweets, and whiskey to the spirits, then ask them to come with them. The best spirits for such things are those who have suffered bad deaths because they will earn merit by enforcing retributive justice. The spirits of bad deaths are believed to be present in this world to an unusual degree, ... in ... the limbo that their accidental ends both presaged and induced. Like the phithii saab chaeng, the phithii hae phii requires widows and widowers to utter the words of invitation over incense. Then, the remains of the body (which usually include a few bones even after cremation) are exhumed and placed in a new coffin, and a kind of inverse funeral procession is carried out. In the case of the rite that followed Saeng Suang’s possession, the coffin was marched through the streets and taken to the governor’s mansion, where the governor was publicly threatened with the wrath of the spirits of the sya mu:ang, mediated by those of the bad deaths, if he did not act to prevent the destruction of Chiang Mai’s beauty. ...

p. 276

Shortly after the rite was performed, on 28 May 1991, an Air Lauda plane crashed after taking off from Bangkok. ... Among the dead were the governor and his wife, the last two living caos of the former ruling family in Chiang Mai, and several people at the center of the political elite. ... The final funeral for the caos (which took place one year after the deaths) was attended by the king, the queen, and their daughter".

MN = Carol Greenhouse : A Moment’s Notice. Cornell U Pr, 1996. http://books.google.com/books?id=ott249Z3f6IC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=Tezcatlipoca+chili&source=bl&ots=3XXvrtG0UR&sig=fKEE7oOn5UXsQbpsFmUfIdb88WM&hl=en&ei=osN0S8TNIYy1tge1yrikCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CAYQ6AEwADgK#v=onepage&q=Tezcatlipoca%20chili&f=false

SE = Slippery Earth.

AN = http://www.essays.cc/free_essays/a3/myv12.shtml

AAC&C = http://www.echeat.com/essay.php?t=30836

pp. 277, 280 the sacred pillar; subversive photography; university-students’ protest

p. 277

"Every year toward the end of May ..., the wiharn housing the lak mu:ang is opened and Wat Cheddi Luang becomes the site of pilgrimages ... . Although women are prohibited from looking upon the pillar itself, they join the men in offering food and flowers outside the lak mu:ang’s wiharn and in the wat. ... The pillar was originally kept at Wat Sadue Mu:ang (sadyy mu:ang meaning "navel of the city"), but ... it was moved to the Thammayut wat ... associated with the Chakkri dynasty. ... At about the same time, the well from which lesser caos drew the lustral water to pay tribute to Chiang Mai’s supreme cao was covered. The old palace was converted into a prison."

p. 278

"the photograph of young activists supposedly hanging the Crown Prince in effigy ... gathered its magical, transformative power to itself. People passed this object among themselves as they would an amulet."

p. 281

"At the rally in Chiang Mai, after the last chilies had smoldered on the altar of the phithii saab chaeng, he spoke longingly of having been among the students at Thammasat University".

p. 290 absence of dreaming from T>ai spirit-mediumship

"dreaming ... Buddhism ... attempted to ... prohibit"; and therefore dreaming is not significant for T>ai spirit-mediumship.

{as such, Buddhist spirit-mediumship is qualitatively different from Siberian & Amerindian shamanship, which tend to be heavily dependent on dreamwork}

"Khun Daeng ... does not behold the deity himself but, instead, sees indirect signs, such as snakes, stone linga, and assorted red objects."

[linga-m = "pillar" (as on p. 277)]

pp. 296-297, 301 possession of male medium by goddesses

p. 296

"Often, his body is hurled four or five feet into the air while his legs are still crossed, before being dropped heavily onto the pillow again." {This may well be caused by a the male medium’s being possessed by a female spirit; just as another levitation [on p. 113] was apparently caused by a female medium’s becoming possessed by a male spirit.}

p. 297

"when female spirits possess the medium on Saturdays, speaking an effetely proper Central Thai, the full significance of a mediumship ... becomes apparent. The word for Saturday is homonymous with that for women in Thai ... . ... Saturday possessions by Siwa’s consorts, especially Parvati, always conduct themselves in Central Thai".

p. 301

"the Saturday possessions" : "On these days, as he is possessed by Parvati or Siwa’s other consorts, [the male medium] is surrounded by noisy female assistants who help him dress and apply makeup. They do so with a noisy parody that contrasts starkly with the awed silence that accompanies his possession by Siwa and the rysii. (Male assistants never address him while he is donning the leopard skins or the rysii or the regal dress of the deity.)"

pp. 301-304, 287-294, 310-313 instance of conversion of a wealthy business-entrepreneur to practice of spirit-mediumship; Garden of No Worries; anti-fungal therapy

p. 301

"Khun Daeng ... was an entrepreneur of ... success, owning construction and real estate companies and backing hotel development throughout Thailand. ... He is said to have been worth many millions of baht. ...

p. 302

Attending an annual Buddhist rite at Doi Suthep that enacts an ascent into heaven, Khun Daeng fell unconscious for several hours. He was taken home, where he continued ... catatonia ... . Finally, during one bout, he began to speak, at first unintelligibly and then in direct address. A neighbor familiar with such things informed him that a spirit had taken over his body. ... Through meditation, he ... came to the realization that he no longer had any choice about serving as a medium. At the same time, he began to dream of Siwa {S`iva}, who directed him to begin making certain ritual preparations and to receive those in need of healing. ...

Not only Phuket, which is known for the forms of ritual ecstasy that

p. 303

are now famous ..., but also in ... such cities as ... Chantaburi, Sino-Thai mediums are associated with a kind of possession that enables feats of extraordinary bodily endurance.

... many mediums make reference to ... the Garden of No Worries ... at which the bodies of ... sufferers ...

p. 304

mingle in an orgiastic community of fire walking extremity. ... Khun Daeng describes his final accommodation of the deity’s possession as the gloriously ravishing moment when Siwa "ate" him."

p. 287

"the medium whom I shall call Khun Daeng has established what he calls the Garden of No Worries. It is a complex of buildings ... less than a kilometer from the old village of San Saay. ...

p. 288

The palace ... was the first building of the Garden, financed with ... the contributions of several wealthy benefactors. All of the other buildings, whose value I estimate to be several million baht, have been constructed with funds contributed by disciples. ...

p. 289

The throne in the palace, and the pyramid – where the medium meditates – both open eastward toward the rising sun.

Entrance and exit occurs through an opening at the southwest corner ... .

The hospital ... lies along the southern border of the grounds ... .

The last time we spoke, Khun Daeng was making plans to establish a crematorium to be located to the southwest of the hospital but outside the fence that is protected by the guardian yaksa. This will be used for patients who die while at the Garden ... . ...

The antithesis of the crematorium, the exalted northeast corner, is the site of a pond where Narai [Nara-ayana], standing on a tiny island, presides over an aquatic world in which the first creatures – fish, shellfish, and amphibians – can be seen emerging from the water."

p. 292

the "fenced of pyramid Khun Daeng calls his kaanmiti" : "Its sides are twelve meter high, the number reflecting the moths and the years of the Thai and Chinese cycles. The base is seven meters wide, this number having been chosen to reflect the days of the week. ... the perimeter was ... 972 ... . Of the digit 972, ... 9 is the number of planets ..., and 2 is the principle of opposition, which, according to Khun Daeng, governs all life in this world. ...

p. 293

On the walls [of the residential chambre within the pyramid] are fifty-two images from the life of Siwa, many depicting the deity with a belt and necklace of snakes. ... During the pyramid’s construction stages, Khun Daeng dressed himself only in white. ... Following its completion and on the basis of more dream instructions, Khun Daeng began to dress in red. Everything in his compound is now saturated with this color. Walls and carpets, flowers and pillows, the medium’s clothes (even undergarments), and paraphernalia of domesticity in the old palace and the new church, everything ... is red ... . Indeed, it is for this reason that I call the medium Khun Daeng, daeng meaning red in Thai."

p. 294

"Khun Daeng’s shrine" : "One enters the door to find a large space filled with leatherette sofas and carved Chinese-style tables. This ... parlor is where visiting clients sit and converse with each other or with the medium when he is not yet absorbed by performance. Behind, running the entire length of the east wall (approximately fifteen meters in length) and standing from floor to ceiling, is a display case behind whose glass plates are statues of almost every deity in the Brahmanic pantheon, with human-sized icons of Phrom (Brahma), Siwa (Shiva), and Narai (Vishnu) being most prominent. ... A veritable panorama of the spiritual universe, the display case ... is ... opened, ... icons and images are brought out if a particular healing seems, to the possessing deity to be required, or if, in the course of possession, that deity deems it necessary to consult other spirits or deities for advice."

p. 310

{pertinent to the discussion of khwan [on pp. 111-112] :} "assistants left ... for the local herbal markets in search of the thirty-two ingredients that were to constitute the medical concoction. These matched the number of khwan and were intended to achieve a numerical balance {by suggesting to the 32 internal-bodily deities to accept such ingredients as tribute-gifts, and thereby to be satisfied with such homage and therefore to allow the patient to recover health}. When the assistants returned, they forced the patient ... to brew her own medicine. ... All of the therapeutic activity at the Garden requires the patients to make their own medicines, to physically touch each object that is used in treatment. ... Of course, Siwa does touch people during the possession, but this is an interrogative touch."

p. 312

"Khun Daeng began to make claims about his ability to cure ... after successfully treating a fungal infection ... . This infection, which causes massive black lesions on the skin, ... grows ... rapidly ... . The treatment ... of such lesions, which involves bathing in acid

p. 313

peels and the ingestion of herbal antifungal concoctions, is ... spectacular ... . Several ... patients began to seek the medium’s assistance ... on the basis of ... "before and after" photographs that circulated as evidence of the medium’s powers".

p. 314

"In the [nineteen-]nineties, ... the Thai government finally ... acknowledged the significance of prostitution in the national tourist economy, ...

p. 315

the prostitute is the figure that actually permits ... the ... ideology of a not-yet-alienated sexual labor (the labor of love)." {I.e., "not-yet-alienated" if as yet operating independently, with means-of-production not owned by extraneous exploiters}

p. 322 "In the chapter of Capital titled "The Transformation of Money into Capital," Marx argues that the "first form of appearance of capital is money" and that the difference between money as money and money as capital is the mode of their circulation." {Money is being used directly as "capital" when it is being lent at usury, thus exploiting the borrower – this is forbidden by ecclesiastical law, but permitted by civil law. Karl Marx sided with ecclesiastical law, as against saecular civil law.}

Rosalind C. Morris : In the Place of Origins : Modernity and Its Mediums in Northern Thailand. Duke U Pr, Durham, 2000.