A couple of weeks ago I mentioned some of the more supernatural aspects of Thai culture in my post ‘The Ghosts of Thailand and Why They Should be Respected’. I had some nice feedback so here is another installment dealing with the magic of Thailand.
A Story About Snake Dreams and Broken Eggs
When my wife was pregnant we were both anxious. It was our first child and neither of us knew quite what to expect. We were then living in my wife’s village and most of the neighbors had advice to offer. One day Oa made the mistake of mentioning a recurrent dream she’d been having to one of the older women in the village; within minutes this neighbor had her convinced that she had to go to see a spirit doctor as soon as possible. In my wife’s dream there had been a snake and apparently this is a very bad omen for pregnant women. My father-in-law happens to be a spirit doctor, but unfortunately he was not qualified to treat dreams about snakes. We were sent to see a more senior spirit doctor – a bit of a specialist it turns out.
The consultation with this specialist spirit doctor involved a strange procedure with two eggs. We had been advised before arriving that we had to bring our own. The request seemed a bit odd but I thought that this was some type of payment; after all the locals paid my father-in-law with rice whiskey. My guess about the egg turned out to be completely off the mark and instead the spirit doctor rubbed my pregnant wife’s body with one of them – shell still intact. He then did the same to me. After he had finished he instructed us to leave his house and break the eggs near a tree. He followed us and examined the yolks carefully; he had a worried expression and pointed to some marks in the egg yolk. I can’t say that I noticed anything special but my wife agreed that she too could see something ominous. She looked scared when she asked the spirit doctor about what was to be done. Luckily he had a remedy.
A Day with the Spirit Doctor
The next day the spirit doctor arrived to perform the strangest ceremony I’ve ever witnessed. My in-laws had arrived earlier in the morning to prepare a special altar – everything had to be just right for this esteemed visiting magic man. The ceremony itself took hours to complete and it was extremely complicated; again both my wife and I played our part. The spirit doctor used lots of props including candles, pieces of string, and a wooden knife. Of course there was also lots of magic water been thrown about. I’d taken the prudent step of putting my laptop and other electronic toys out of danger.
It is strange watching a man tie up your wife while you just look on passively, but that’s what happened. Mind you, the string wasn’t very strong and the man doing the tying was quite elderly – it wasn’t exactly x-rated bondage. He followed this by waving a knife at different parts of wife’s body – a more aggressive husband might have taken umbrage at this point but I just watched on uncomfortably. It was then my turn and I had to suffer the same procedure. When it was all over we had another small ceremony where a pig’s head and a couple of bottles of beer were offered to the departing spirits.
As I mentioned in a previous post I’m a little bit skeptical when it comes to sprits and magic (or to be more honest I’ve yet to be convinced) so I took this example of ghostbusting with a pinch of salt. I knew it was important to my wife though so I went along with things – it was all harmless and well worth it because it gave her peace of mind. Who knows, maybe there was something ominous in the eggs – better to be safe than sorry.
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