Unveiling the Mysteries of “Kala Jadu” or “Tantrik Vidya”: A Journey into Indian Occult Practices

In the rich tapestry of Indian culture, there exist realms of belief and practice that transcend the mundane and venture into the mystical. Among these, “Kala Jadu” or “Tantrik Vidya” holds a significant place, enveloped in mystery, superstition, and intrigue. These terms evoke images of ancient rituals, spells, and incantations believed to wield supernatural powers. But what exactly is Kala Jadu, and how does it fit into the cultural landscape of India?

Origins and Beliefs

The origins of Kala Jadu can be traced back to ancient Indian scriptures and texts, where references to occult practices abound. Tantrism, a complex system of beliefs and rituals, forms the foundation of Kala Jadu. Tantric philosophy encompasses a wide range of practices aimed at spiritual enlightenment, including rituals, mantra chanting, meditation, and the worship of deities.

However, Kala Jadu diverges from mainstream Tantra by delving into the darker aspects of spiritualism. It is often associated with the invocation of malevolent forces, manipulation of energies, and the casting of spells for personal gain or to harm others. Practitioners of Kala Jadu are believed to harness supernatural powers to influence events, control minds, and even cause harm or death to their adversaries.

Practices and Rituals

The rituals of Kala Jadu are shrouded in secrecy and passed down through generations via oral tradition or esoteric texts. These rituals typically involve the use of various ingredients such as herbs, animal parts, and symbolic objects, along with chants, incantations, and gestures performed during specific planetary alignments or auspicious times.

One of the fundamental beliefs in Kala Jadu is the existence of “taweez” or amulets imbued with magical powers. These amulets are inscribed with mystical symbols and verses from ancient texts and are worn or placed in strategic locations to ward off evil or bring about desired outcomes.

What is Black Magic?

We exist in a world of dualities. By this, I mean that there is always a dual nature to everything we perceive, experience, and do. For example, there is good and evil, happiness and sadness, and, naturally, light and dark. The comprehension of the negative aspects within this duality, and the use of such negativity to potentially harm others through cult-like practices, is what defines black magic.

Black magic harnesses all negative forces, making them easier to manipulate when engaging in these dark arts. Many occult practices that explore black magic involve the worship or belief in the devil and its manifestations, such as demons, evil spirits, and dark entities.

The Practice and Impact of Black Magic in India © Thinkstock The powerful control exercised by this form of magic is said to be extraordinary. If you fall victim to these practices, it is believed that it takes considerable time to undo their effects, which are typically negative. Those who engage in this dark practice often do so to address their own issues and create a smoother path for their future.

Cultural Significance and Controversies

Despite its clandestine nature, Kala Jadu occupies a significant place in Indian culture, particularly in rural communities where belief in the supernatural is deeply ingrained. It is often invoked to explain inexplicable phenomena or to seek solutions to life’s challenges.

However, Kala Jadu also sparks controversies and is viewed with skepticism and fear by many. Allegations of practitioners using black magic to manipulate or exploit vulnerable individuals are not uncommon. Instances of witch hunts and violence against those accused of practicing Kala Jadu still occur in some parts of India, highlighting the deep-seated superstitions and social tensions surrounding occult practices.

Modern Perspectives and Legal Framework

In modern India, Kala Jadu exists in a complex interplay between tradition and modernity. While belief in the occult persists, the practice itself is often relegated to the fringes of society, with mainstream religious institutions denouncing it as superstition.

Moreover, there are legal provisions in place to curb the exploitation and misuse of occult practices. The Indian Penal Code criminalizes acts of witchcraft, black magic, and superstition aimed at causing harm or fear in society. However, enforcing these laws remains a challenge due to the clandestine nature of Kala Jadu and the deep-rooted beliefs surrounding it.

Conclusion

Kala Jadu continues to captivate the imagination and intrigue of people, both within India and beyond. Whether viewed as a relic of ancient wisdom, a dangerous form of manipulation, or simply as folklore, its influence on Indian culture and society cannot be denied.

As we navigate the realms of belief and skepticism, it is essential to approach Kala Jadu with an open mind tempered by critical thinking. While its mysteries may never be fully unraveled, understanding its cultural significance and societal implications sheds light on the complex tapestry of beliefs that define India’s spiritual landscape.


Cambodian culture is a rich tapestry woven from various spiritual and religious traditions. At its core lies animism, the belief in the spiritual essence of all living and non-living things. This foundational belief system has been deeply influenced by the arrival of Brahmanism (Hinduism) and Buddhism, creating a unique blend of practices and beliefs that continue to shape Cambodian society today. Rituals to appease and communicate with spirits are common, especially those involving ancestral spirits and natural deities. Offerings and ceremonies are performed to ensure the spirits’ favor and protection.

Cambodian sorcery is often perceived as more potent and dangerous compared to Thai magic. This reputation is partly due to the mystique surrounding the rituals and the belief that Cambodian practitioners possess ancient, powerful knowledge that is more intense than local practices​

The creation of potent amulets and the widespread belief in the effectiveness of these practices contribute to the fear and respect they command. This mystique and perceived potency are key reasons why Thai people, and others, may find Cambodian black magic particularly frightening.

  1. Cultural Superiority: Historically, the Khmer Empire was a dominant force in Southeast Asia, with its cultural and religious practices exerting significant influence over the region, including present-day Thailand. The lingering power of these practices, especially those perceived as dark or malevolent, continues to evoke fear and respect.
  2. Effective Narratives: Stories and folklore about the efficacy of Cambodian sorcery are widespread. Tales of potent curses, successful hexes, and the terrifying consequences of offending a Cambodian sorcerer contribute to a collective anxiety about the practice.
  3. Cross-border Influence: The close geographical and cultural proximity means that Thai people are well-aware of the potency attributed to Cambodian magic. This awareness is reinforced through shared folklore, personal anecdotes, and historical accounts.

The belief in the power of Cambodian black magic can have a profound psychological impact. The mere suggestion that someone has been cursed by a Cambodian practitioner can cause significant distress and fear, leading to social and mental health issues. This fear is compounded by tales of severe consequences faced by those who cross paths with Cambodian sorcerers​​

Animism in Cambodia

Animism, the oldest spiritual tradition in Cambodia, involves the worship of spirits, both ancestral and natural. These spirits are believed to inhabit everything from rivers and trees to mountains and homes. Cambodians traditionally make offerings and conduct rituals to appease these spirits, seeking their favor and protection.

Key elements of Cambodian animism include:

Neak Ta: Guardian spirits of specific places, such as villages, forests, and rice fields. Neak Ta are often represented by statues or shrines where locals leave offerings.

Arak: Spirits of deceased ancestors who are believed to influence the health and prosperity of their descendants. Rituals and offerings are made to honor these spirits and seek their guidance.

Kru:  In Cambodia, kru are the primary practitioners of black magic. They are often approached by people seeking protection from curses or desiring to inflict harm on enemies. These practitioners possess extensive knowledge of ancient spells, incantations, and rituals passed down through generations. They play a significant role in the local belief systems, often being involved in diagnosing and treating ailments believed to be caused by black magic Traditional healers and spiritual leaders who perform rituals to communicate with spirits, heal illnesses, and protect against evil forces.

The Role of Buddhism & Brahmanism 

Buddhism and Brahmanism (a form of early Hinduism) have significantly influenced Cambodian magic. Buddhist monks in Cambodia are often seen as powerful figures who can subjugate malevolent spirits through specific mantras and meditative practices. This ability to control spirits and offer protection reinforces their revered status within the community

Brahmanism, which predates Buddhism in Cambodia, contributed rituals and deities that are still respected in Cambodian spiritual practices. The blending of Brahmanic rituals with local animist beliefs has created a unique spiritual landscape where ancient deities are invoked alongside Buddhist teachings to address various needs, from healing to protection.

Sorcery and Magic

Sorcery, or kru khmer, is another crucial aspect of Cambodian spiritual life. Sorcerers are often consulted for various purposes, including healing illnesses, protection against malevolent forces, and bringing good luck. Sorcery can also be feared and stigmatized, especially in rural areas where accusations of black magic can lead to violence and persecution. For instance, individuals accused of causing harm through sorcery can become targets of mob justice​. Black magic, or Sah, is a darker aspect of animistic practices. It involves spells and rituals intended to harm others or control supernatural forces for personal gain. This form of magic is typically viewed with fear and caution

Khmer black magic is diverse, encompassing both harmful and protective practices. Sorcerers, or kru Khmer, are believed to possess the power to inflict suffering or offer protection through various magical means. Some practices involve causing direct harm, such as placing objects inside a victim’s body to cause illness and death. Other methods are more indirect, using symbolic acts to bring about desired outcomes 

w836 396849 3380396068597 1707759858 n

A particularly intriguing aspect of Khmer black magic is the use of amulets. These objects, often imbued with spells and spiritual energy, are believed to offer protection, bring good fortune, or even control others’ actions. One notable example is the noun krak, an amulet made from a dried fetus, which is said to grant the wearer the ability to foresee the future or control spirits​ . The reanimation of souls in animistic practices underscores the belief in a continuous, interconnected spiritual existence. It reflects a worldview where life and death are part of a larger spiritual journey, with spirits playing active roles in the everyday lives of the living. These practices foster a sense of community, continuity, and respect for the natural and spiritual worlds.

Sacred Sciences & Amulets

Amulets play a vital role in Cambodian animism and sorcery. These objects are believed to carry protective powers or bring good fortune to their bearers. They are often blessed by monks or sorcerers and can be made from various materials, including metals, wood, and herbs. Common types of amulets include those that offer protection from evil spirits, ensure safe travel, enhance personal charm, or improve health and wealth.

Khmer black magic amulets delve into the darker aspects of spiritualism. It is often associated with the invocation of malevolent forces, manipulation of energies, and the casting of spells for personal gain or to harm others. Practitioners are believed to harness supernatural powers to influence events, control minds, and even cause harm or death to their adversaries.

The rituals are shrouded in secrecy and passed down through generations via oral tradition or esoteric texts. These rituals typically involve the use of various ingredients such as herbs, animal parts, and symbolic objects, along with chants, incantations, and gestures performed during specific planetary alignments or auspicious times.

Khmer sacred sciences combine the  power of animism and Brahmic ritual which results in  the ability to connect individuals with the spiritual and natural worlds, providing both practical and psychological benefits. Essentially Brahmic sorcery draws its power from ancient Vedic texts and the Upanishads, which are considered the oldest and most authoritative spiritual documents in Hinduism. These texts contain a wealth of knowledge on rituals, chants, and spells that are believed to have been revealed by the gods themselves.

Vedic Mantras and Hymns: The mantras from the Vedas are considered potent tools for invoking divine powers. These mantras are meticulously structured to resonate with the cosmic vibrations, making them effective in achieving desired outcomes.

Tantras and Agamas: These are specialized texts focusing on esoteric practices, including rituals, alchemy, and magic. They provide detailed instructions on the use of mantras, yantras (mystical diagrams), and rituals to harness supernatural powers.

The rituals associated with Khmer sorcery and the creation of amulets is deep rooted in  Brahmic sacred sciences and animism and require precise and elaborate execution. These rituals often involve offerings, alignment with cosmic forces, and advanced spiritual practices encompassing the use of sacred symbols and objects. The complexity and precision of these rituals are believed to amplify their effectiveness. In addition Khmer magic includes advanced practices such as meditation, yoga, and breath control (pranayama), which are designed to awaken and control the kundalini energy. This inner spiritual power is said to be capable of granting extraordinary abilities and enlightenment.

Khmer black magic is rooted in the Kala Jadu which can be traced back to ancient Indian scriptures and texts, where references to occult practices abound. Tantrism, a complex system of beliefs and rituals, forms the foundation of Kala Jadu. Tantric philosophy encompasses a wide range of practices aimed at spiritual enlightenment, including rituals, mantra chanting, meditation, and the worship of deities.

Modern-Day Practices

Despite modernization, these traditional beliefs continue to thrive in Cambodia. The syncretism of animism, sorcery, and Buddhism is a testament to the adaptability and resilience of Cambodian spiritual practices. Even in the face of external influences and socio-political changes, these beliefs provide a sense of continuity and identity for the Khmer people.

In summary, Cambodian animism and sorcery are deeply intertwined with the country’s cultural and spiritual identity. These practices highlight the blend of ancient traditions and religious influences that shape Cambodian society today. Whether seeking protection from spirits or using magic amulets, the spiritual life of many Cambodians remains rich and complex, rooted in a profound connection with the supernatural world.

Those accused of sorcery often face social ostracism or exile. In some cases, entire villages are dedicated to housing these outcasts. For example, in Ratanakiri Province, exiled sorcerers from different villages have settled together, creating a community of those banished for their supposed magical practices

Conclusion

The intertwining of animism, Buddhism, and Brahmanism in Cambodia has created a rich and complex tradition of magic and sorcery. This blend of beliefs underscores the enduring influence of ancient spiritual practices in modern Cambodian life, highlighting the profound connection between the spiritual and material worlds in the country’s cultural identity. Whether through protective amulets, healing rituals, or the feared practices of black magic, these traditions continue to shape the spiritual landscape of Cambodia.While efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of these beliefs are ongoing, the enduring faith in the mystical powers of black magic continues to shape the lives of many Cambodians.

 

 


Guman Thong – A Contemporary Perspective
Ajahn Chris

Preface

For further background knowledge we would suggest you read this article in conjunction with our news article on Death Magic & Necromancy

We do intend to follow that discussion up with a second article on the topic. If you wish to receive a copy of that as soon as its published, please sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page

Introduction

Child spirits are called by the generic term Guman Thong or kuman thong, which can be literally translated as ‘golden [thong] boy [kuman]’. The less popular female child ghost is called kumari, or sometimes kuman-kaew. However, the term kumanthong typically is used generically to refer to both male and female child spirits. In general boy kumanthong were preferred because they were understood to be more powerful than female spirits. Yet, it is precisely the ability to control the child spirits and their relatively nonthreatening status as children that makes them sought after.

 The appeal of kumanthong,  is in the ambiguous power of the child, who often has male power but in a child-like and controllable form. Conceptions of childhood innocence and purity are coupled with supernatural power that can exceed the power of a living adult.

However, one particularly striking feature of the kumanthong is that they are not necessarily children anymore. In fact, the age of the spirits may vary widely, from a foetal stage up until mid-life. The exact age of the spirits is not particularly significant

Child spirits are often linked to particular adult spirits who in a sense parent the child spirit. The best example of this is the linkage of foetal/infant spirits with their mother if the mother dies in childbirth. In fact, the most powerful and threatening spirits are those of women who have died in childbirth or while pregnant, whose spiritual power is in a sense doubled by the presence of the foetal/infant spirit within them. These spirits usually have a grudge against the living; a wrong has been done to them that fuels a supernatural rage. This terrifying spiritual form is the subject of many popular ghost legends and films, including the iconic Nang Nak legend, as well as more contemporary novels and television serials, such as Sap-phu-sa. 5 However, the image of deceased pregnant women as a powerful and threatening spiritual entity finds a masculine counterpart in the iconic origin story of kumanthong found in the epic story Khun Chang Khun Phaen.

This story is widely known in Thailand, having been made into a feature film, and is almost always referenced in public discussions of child spirits or kumanthong. It is important to briefly review this story as it clearly displays the notion of kumanthong, or child spirits more generally, as resources to be exploited by adults.

The character Khun Paen is inextricably linked to myths surrounding kumanthong as he very vividly creates one to aid him in battle. In the most popular version of the story, he cuts the male foetus from his bandit lover, Bua-khli, whom he has just murdered in retribution for her plotting against his life:

“He plunged the knife into her chest, piercing right through. She writhed and died. Red blood spurted out and spread all around like the killing of a buffalo. He cut her belly wide open, and severed the umbilical cord. Examining the baby, he was happy to find it was the male he wanted.

He then transforms the foetus into the magical entity/amulet Guman thong by roasting it over a fire according to ritual:

Guman Thong Categorisation

Sometimes the categorization of Guman Thong can be a little confusing, with numerous names being used.  Hopefully the following explanation will help summarize the various types

Khun Phaen’s image and celebrity as a legendary character worthy of adulation is due to the fact that his act may be best understood as a re-appropriation of female generative powers; rather than an act of killing, his was an act of creation in the transformation of an ordinary foetus into a magical life force for the explicit purpose of aiding Khun Phaen in his adventures.

This legend must have reflected familiar practices during the time of its writing and thus the practice of producing and raising kumanthong must be at least several centuries old.  Traditionally, Guman Thong  were understood to be made by men, specifically adepts in arcane magic and ghost manipulation, or mor-phi, in the fashion that Khun Phaen made his kumanthong; usually a male foetus being grilled and dried out, and then covered in gold leaf [thong], Magical incantations capture the foetal spirit and placed in service of the mor- phi.

In the original story Khun Chang Khun Phaen the act of creating a kumanthong from a foetus through magical powers was not framed in terms of moral judgment. However, in contemporary public discourse a crucial distinction is made between magically-restrained kumanthong versus volunteer kumanthong produced and housed in Buddhist temples, or ‘collected’ by individuals.

The kumanthong that Khun Phaen creates shares the primary characteristic of the helpful kumanthong that contemporary guardians value; their other worldly power can be channelled and directed towards service to their guardian.

However, the ways in which Guman Thong are categorised and defined has shifted over the years  and in particular with regards the associations of the spirit with ghosts (the spectral presence of the dead), that is phi, and to place Guman Thong in more lofty, Buddhist-influenced categories of heavenly creatures. Contemporary devotees divide the Guman Thong spirits into broadly the following main categories

Guman-thep
Guman-phi
Guman-phrai
Also included are other forms of child spirit, namely

Luk Grog
Rak Yom
All of the above categories of child spirits are typically subsumed under the general category of ‘Guman Thong’.

An Important Modern Day Distinction

In the following section, definitions and descriptions of types of child spirits will be discussed, including the literary background of Guman Thong in order to explore how the Guman Thong shifted from being purely a resource to be exploited by a magical practitioner/parent to being a child in need of care taking. We will attempt to explore the Guman Thong as both a collectible and a companion.

Nowadays many devotees will insist that their spiritual child companions are not Guman Thong but were thep, implying that Guman Thong referenced phi, or ghosts, rather than the loftier thep. An important distinction  for many ! If you are not familiar with the word “Thep” (เทพ) it originates from Pali/Sanskrit and means ‘deity’ or ‘god’ , essentially a divine being,

Unkown Guman. Assumed to be older than 50 years. Extraordinarily beautiful

In this case, a sharp distinction was made between Guman Thong and Guman Thep, whereas previously they were typically merged. These different categories roughly conform to a Buddhist hierarchy of life forms, which includes spiritual beings both lower and higher than humans. In fact, many of the aspects of the Guman Thong are linked to Buddhist concepts and practices.

For example, on Wan Phra, a day devoted to Buddhist ritual based on a lunar calendar, special offerings are made. The statue or effigy that embodies the Guman Thong itself may be arranged on a series of shelves housing various sacred beings, with the Buddha image raised above all others.

The main distinction being that Guman Thep are not created with spirits or ghosts but with Pong Phutthakun and other auspicious powders and as such are benign.

According to the textbook of Luang Phor Hong Phrompanyo, Thung Mon Cemetery, Surin, he would also summon /  request the souls of the gods dwell within the Guman Thep effigy, thus having your own  personal divine being to protect you and your family. In essence a deity not a soul. Furthermore the constituent powders used to create the Guman Thong Thep are very much different to those used for example by LP Tae Khongthong  who created  his Guman Thong based on the ancient texts of Ajarn Daeng, using materials collected from graveyards and cemeteries etc

The Guman Thong point to a type of meta-discourse on the nature of childhood itself – they serve as a place of reflection on the various ways in which the child may be configured and the purposes for which they may serve. They are a field in which anxieties and complex contradictory attitudes towards the child are made manifest and experienced. Guman Thong are innocent, but also powerful and dangerous. They are commodities but also companions. They become part of the family but can be returned if proved unsatisfactory. They can communicate with this world, but are not of this world. They have a life force animating them, but they are dead.

The child spirits are ideally voluntary companions and as such their relationship to the living is based on mutual needs between the living caretakers and the child spirit. The spirits are believed to be waiting rebirth according to Buddhist conceptions of karma and reincarnation. These spirits build karmic merit by using their supernatural powers to assist the living in their pursuits of wealth, security and companionship. In return, the propitiators provide for the child through offerings of toys and food, and in some cases discussed here, invitations to inclusion into family activities. A relationship of exchange is formed which, according to propitiators, can be ended by either party (a child spirit may leave and a propitiator may return the spirit to a temple or spirit medium). Therefore, the practice of child spirit propitiation may be best described as adopting child spirits within a contractual arrangement.

With the important exception of Guman-thep, the Guman Thong are typically considered to be the spirits of deceased children and to be wandering ghosts, or phi re-ron. These spirits may come to reside in amulets or small statues, or even an ordinary toy figurine will do. The use of statues is probably a modern invention to replace the preserved foetal body of traditional Guman Thoing beliefs (Professor Lom Pengkaeo pers. comm. 5 July 2011). As mentioned above, some Guman Thong have no specific statue or residing places. Many devotees obtain their Guman Thong from temples or spirit mediums who specialise in the investment of power into objects [pluk-sek]. Some guardians describe their relationship with a kumanthong to be arranged directly with a child spirit who comes to them in a dream.

Guman Prai

With the important exception of Guman-thep, the Guman Thong are typically considered to be the spirits of deceased children and to be wandering ghosts, or phi re-ron. These spirits may come to reside in amulets or small statues, or even an ordinary toy figurine will do. The use of statues is probably a modern invention to replace the preserved foetal body of traditional kumanthong beliefs

Guman-thep, or deity-Guman are differentiated from Guman Prai, which refers to the ghosts of foetus or infants and is a subset of the larger category of ghost, or phi. Guman Prai are specifically those foetuses/infants who died from violent deaths or died from abortion. It is believed that Guman-prai have the most power [hian or ithalit], even more so than the lofty kuman-thep. Guman-phrai are potentially dangerous if they are not cared for properly. There are also other cvategories such as  Guman kueng thep/kueng phrai, or Guman Thong in between thep and phrai status. These are ghosts, phi, which are basically well-intentioned and striving to make merit for their propitiators.

The distinction between lofty Guman-thep and lowly Guman-phrai or phi is probably a modern adaptation, and previous categorisation would include all the Guman Thong forms under the category ‘phi’ or ghost, which did not have the negative connotation as it does now Phi are traditionally forces of nature, ancestral spirits, and other non-worldly beings, and not necessarily the monstrous figures that they have come to be in contemporary horror genre of film and fiction.

 

An iconic Guman Thong. LP Tae 1st Generation Guman (variant long ears)

 

For contemporary propitiators, Guman-thep are generally described as higher spiritual beings, that is they are child thep in Buddhist cosmology. On the other hand, Guman-phrai are a form of phi, that is the ghosts of dead foetuses, babies, or children. Guman-thep are “invited from the heavens” to accompany and live with the devotee, whereas Guman-phrai/phi are the rather pitiful wandering spirits of the deceased who either find their way to their guardian or are sought after by their guardian. Different offerings are made to each category of Guman Thong, and different rituals bind them to their guardians.

All Guman Thong are propitiated and given offerings, but as higher spiritual beings, thep are not considered to be involved in a direct exchange relationship with their guardians in the same way that Guman-phrai or phi are. When the spirits are bound to their devotees, certain contractual arrangements are made. For phi, this takes the more direct form of kae-bon, or a plea for assistance for some particular project in exchange for a specific offering. All devotees agreed that thep are not propitiated in a direct fashion, and the thep may provide more general aid, such as watching over the household and providing good luck. Propitiators may ask for general blessings in their projects, but not a direct exchange of specific assistance for specific gifts.  Thep, in contrast to phi, as a higher spiritual being cannot be forced into service and are by definition spirits who aid their guardians out of free will.

Referring to a child spirit as a thep (heavenly being) rather than a phi or a phrai (ghost) has the effect of reducing the stigma of death from the spirit. In a sense it cleanses the spirit of macabre associations with corpses and death, and relegates the spirit to a lofty heavenly plane of deities, whom, while are also subject to death, rebirth and the laws of karma, have lifespans so immense that they are, from human perspectives, immortal.

 

Rak Yom

There is considerable difference of opinion among devotees about the definition and characteristics of all of these spiritual beings, but this is particularly true of rak-yom. Contemporary propitiators with whom I spoke claim that rak-yom is a spirit of a deceased child materialised in an amulet composed of two pieces of wood in oil in a small jar.. This contemporary understanding that rak-yom, like other Gumanthong, are spirits [winyan] of children that are lower than thep contrasts with more traditional understandings of rak-yom. The wooden figure in the amulet is in the form of a child, but the actual spirit that inhabited the amulet was believed to be a child or any other spirit, and as such was not necessarily a form of Guman Thong

Many believe that rak-yom as child spirits are also more powerful [raeng kwa] than ordinary Guman Thong. Rak-yom are the product of black magic in which a child spirit is enticed and captured through spells within an amulet. They are forced to serve their guardian and they have a tendency to seek retaliation if they are not propitiated correctly, making them a dangerous type of spirit. They are typically used for malevolent purposes, such as seeking revenge against others. These spirits are not usually forced, and like all ghosts, or phi, they may be forced through black magic to aid their propitiators, or may come of their free will. The voluntary nature of the spirit in aiding their propitiator was of central importance in defining this amulet/spirit.

Luk Krok 

Luk-krok seem to bear the most similarity to the foetal body that comprise the traditional Guman Thong. Luk-krok are amulets that are made from a perfectly formed, preserved foetus. No spells are necessary in the creation of luk krok, according to some, while others insist that luk krok are the product of black magic. The emotional tie of motherhood is enough to bind the child to its devotee, who is usually the mother.

Ending Remarks

As can be seen from this discussion, there is considerable variety in interpretations of these terms. Ghost baby/child, or phi dek, is often used interchangeably with Guman Thong, with the former more specifically referring to the spirit of the child and the later incorporating the actual objects that are believed to house these spirits.

While Khun Phaen is still revered as a cultural icon for his masculine powers, the practice of making Guman thong from foetuses currently is reviled as a form of child exploitation and cruelty.

In fact, stories of individuals arrested for attempts to make or sell these kumanthong periodically appear in the press. For example, on 18 May 2012, the news story broke that the remains of six foetal remains covered in gold leaf were found in the possession of a British man of Taiwanese descent who had planned to smuggle them out of Thailand and back to Taiwan.


The Darkside – Death Magic and the Necromancer

An original article by Yanisar

Necromancy is sometimes referred to as “death magic,” and is usually thought of as dangerous or black magic or sorcery. Despite its reputation, the practice may also be used for positive outcomes.

Communication with the dead requires the necromancer to stand astride the rift between life and death and, in some ways, become the half-dead themselves so that exchange between the realms can take place.

Necromancy can become an extreme and abominable force, in which the tethers of magic are corrupted to inevitably dark ends through the manipulation of forces of death and decay, potent energies culled from the outer realms, channeled by its practitioners to harvest soul energy, bring the dead back from the beyond.

  • The frozen touch of death is a power beyond simple human comprehension
  • So vast that a lifetime of study is barely as significant as dipping one’s finger into the ocean
  • The art can bring knowledge of the nature of the soul, the power to manipulate it, and the ability to cause change in accordance with one’s will through the rending of the spirit.
  • Necromantic power is every bit as potent as the healing arts and every bit as damning to those who would attempt to misuse it.   

Death encompasses so much more than physical death. Death is another side of life

The energy of death, termed spectral energy, is released or created when a cycle of “life” is ended and begun anew in another form and is always co-existent with the force of life that which is living is also dying. Due to this fact Earth is the realm of both the living and the dead though the dead exist out of phase with the living.

The necromancer specializes in ability to manipulate necrotic or spectral energy, a potent arcanist with the ability to harness the undead for personal use.

These spirits wander in their spheres, others trying to incarnate themselves, others, again already incarnated and living on earth; these are often vicious and imperfect men. evoked by necromancy.

Guman Thong created by Luang Phor Tae for example contain the spirits of men, not children as is the common belief.

This type of working in necromancy is referred to as Fetishism in which the spirits or energies of the dead are manipulated by, bound to or contained in objects. This differs from incantation in which the necromancer uses chant or mantra to take control of and shape the ambient energies of his art to produce an occult effect. Necromancy is a universal practice of great antiquity, only the profoundly initiated should attempt as it is without doubt the darkest and most dangerous forms of black magic, something history has taught us numerous times.

Thai Necromancer

Though Buddhism is not often thought of as a religion that practices magic, in such communities as those found in Thailand and Cambodia, there can be no doubt that Buddhism shares common ground with belief systems that are primarily associated with the use of magic. Both countries have a long history of engagement in spiritualist and animistic magical practices. When Buddhism first arrived in these areas it came into contact with pre-existent traditions that believed in spirits, both benevolent and malevollent. The religious traditions of Thailand have always included the belief in spirits and the ability to manipulate them by means of magic Thai belief does not only consist of beneficial Gods and spirits. It also abounds with belief in ferocious spirits of pure malevolence, from who the villagers seek magical protection, and some seek to manipulate for their own purpose.

Before Hinduism and Buddhism were introduced into Thailand there was only one religious belief, that belief was that a spirit world existed, not only did the spirits exist but they were mightily powerful and controlling, this belief is called Animism and it manifests itself in the form of spirit worship. It might not be strictly correct to call Animism a religion, maybe it is better categorized as a spiritual belief (spirit worship), but it is without doubt the oldest form of worship known to mankind, ‘Spirit Worship’ in one form or another was practiced long before all the popular world religions.

The majority religion in Thailand is Buddhism, 95 percent of the population are Buddhist but the percentage of Thais who have animist beliefs is probably slightly higher. Animism is practiced on a daily basis by most Thai people, although their religion is Buddhism they actually devote more of their time to Animist beliefs than they do practicing Buddhism.

Amongst these classes of malevolent spirits are such beings as the preed (a giant, looming shape with a small head that emits a sharp, piercing sound, as a reflection of its past sins), the phii krasy (a type of parasite which inhabits human bodies, feeds on excrement, and is shaped like a human head with entrails protruding from beneath), and the phii baan (the ghosts of ancestors that hover around their previous home and watch their descendants with malignant jealousy).

The Thai Sangha itself traffics heavily in magic The main doctrinal link between Buddhism and the Spirit religions is the use of the occult as a means by which to transfer merit.

Merit-by-association

Meeting an unnatural or violent end on a Saturday, coupled with a Tuesday cremation, is believed to result in an extremely powerful, unendingly restless spirit. Through rituals and incantations, adepts of these dark sciences  channel spirits, and craft powerful amulets and effigies, such as Guman Thong.

These spirits find themselves enslaved or otherwise indentured to the service of their new owners, and in turn, the owners provide them with the opportunity to escape their circumstances through a form of merit-by-association, a symbiotic relationship where the spirit shares its owner’s Buddhist riches as they are gathered through charity, prayer, offerings to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, as well as the peace and liberating powers from meditation.

The practice of reversing the poor tidings of a sordid existence through sorcery in this manner is known as “kae klet”. Ajarn Pleung Boonyuen is a widely-regarded Master of the form, able to effortlessly harness these dangerous forces and put them to work bettering the well-being and overall quality of life of their owners.

Do not be fooled however, into believing that all these macabre pursuits lead down a benevolent path. Many a time, these skills are also put to use sowing sickness and death among an exponent’s enemies, as well as forcing them to bend to the will of the user. The corpse oil of a pregnant woman, for instance, when dabbed lightly on a victim, may be used to inspire deranged sexual devotion, even in the face of totally unwarranted advances.

Nam Man Prai – Corpse Oil

We will discuss Nam Man Prai (Corpse’s Oil) in the 2nd part of this article but briefly there are significant dangers associated with this death magic. To harness Nam Man Prai  the oil would traditionally be sourced from a woman who died during pregnancy. The oil is extracted by gingerly heating the chin of the corpse with candles, while a litany of occult spells and incantation are recited.

The sorcerer attempting the ritual must seal off the area with all his might, to ensure that he himself does not succumb to the cornucopia of otherworldly, evil, and destructive entities that the ritual attracts. Not only does he need a strong grasp of Wicha, but he must also have an iron will and steely resolve, as grotesque forms from above and beyond the void will manifest, and seek him out like moths to a flame.  They seek to distract him and cause him to lose his concentration, killing or driving him insane in the process. An unspeakable fate awaits him, should his resolve crumble, as he might well be dragged into the dark abyss from whence they came.

Methods used to imbue spiritual powers in amulets

Three main methods are used to imbue spiritual powers in amulets: Through intense meditation. The Visuddhimagga Sutta, explains in explicit detail, how supernatural abilities may be achieved through the attainment of successive states of jhana(mental concentration), and using mental powers to alter reality by affecting the 4 base elements; Earth, Air, Water, and Fire.

Through inscriptions and incantations whose powers have been amplified through long, successive lineages of teachers, students, and their patron deities. Harnessing the energies of spirits; either elementals and intrinsic, such spirits of the Earth, Wind, and Trees, or Human in nature. Such amulets/effigies often rely on the restless nature of wandering spirits to amplify their powers.

Caring for amulets that draw their powers from these human spirits, is no small undertaking. Strict rules have to be followed, to mitigate mishandling and the resulting problems. Before bringing the amulet across the threshold of your home for the first time, prayers must be made to the Buddhas, Deities and Guardians, to allow your new spirits to pass through unscathed. Make a prior offering of 16 incense sticks outside the house for all the deities, or 9 incense sticks in front of the spirit house outside your home. Offer 3 incense sticks for the Buddha, and other deities in the altar of your house, as well.


Request permission to bring the amulets with the human spirits into the house. If this step is not performed, the spirits residing within the amulet will not be able to enter the house. Be careful to segregate your spirit amulets from your Buddhist amulets, and make sure to store them one level below any Buddhist saints and deities at all times. Do not place the spirit amulets in or around your bedroom, or anywhere else you might lay your head. Perform a Khanhaceremony (refer to our article on Khanha ceremony). Offerings of food and drinks must be made to the spirits at least once a month.

In Thailand, sorcerers are known to invoke dark rituals to bind spirits of the dead to an amulet and harness their energies to carry out everything from protection, to sabotage, to mundane tasks like home security. These spirits may even be unleashed in duels against other sorcerers. Most commonly, however, these amulets are used to attract wealth, and ward off danger. Not all the souls of the dead may be used for these purposes. The manner in which they passed, is often a prerequisite, as certain circumstances enhance or even imbue them with supernatural powers. Those who expired under untoward circumstances, such as violence, unjust causes, suicide or stillbirth, are often preferred, as well as those who fulfil the oddly specific circumstance of passing on a Saturday and being cremated on Tuesday. Spirits who have passed away from natural causes, such as old age or sickness, are often passed over from consideration, in the practice of necromancy.

On Buddhist Uposathadays, observation of precepts, meditation, an offering of alms to monks and temples must be made, and the resulting merit should be shared with the spirits residing within your amulets. This will help to prevent them from turning malicious, and enhance their powers. Be disciplined, and remember, spirits have free will too. Testing their limits by breaking their requisite protocol, will likely result in them wreaking havoc upon your life. As spirits are also beings who need sustenance, if they do not get it forms of offerings, havoc may result, as they will seek sustenance by draining your life force. In benign cases, the amulets will turn ineffective. Always deliver on any promises you make to your spirits.

Be mindful that your spirits are merely following your example. Doing good deeds will encourage them to follow you down the path of righteousness. Misdeeds, however… A healthy amount of bravery is a prerequisite. To invite spirits into your life is to accept that paranormal activity will become a normal facet of your everyday existence. These incidents should, in fact, be treated as a means of determining the satisfaction and fulfilment of your spirits’ lives, as a happy, healthy, spirit will bond with its owner and choose to stay by their sides at all times. If your spirits are dead quiet, it’s probably because they are somewhere else causing a ruckus. You should be extremely concerned. It is also a form of communication on their part.

Perhaps you had not been performing merits for them, or if you had forgotten food offerings for some time. If so, gently voice out that you will do it soon and to leave you in peace for the time being. However, do remember to do the offerings as soon as possible. Necromancy amulets are definitely not suitable for everyone, and we would strongly advise against surrounding yourself with too many of them. Bear in mind, that just as with any other form of an amulet, these restless companions are not a cure-all for your misdeeds, merely an enhancement for the good you strive towards. Do good, and you will find much good coming your way in return.