Thai food, music and culture has always been fascinating to me. I used to be a pretty big fan of the show ‘No Reservations‘ with host Anthony Bourdain. One of the things that really stuck with me were his adventures in Thailand. Of all of the Eastern cultures, aside from Indian, Thailand seems to have a spiritual presence about it that is steeped in mystery and obscurity. The fascination with the culture for me extended beyond the perpetual addition of chiles to one’s food and the expressive dancing styles. Since I am a person that is involved in many magickal practices, it was only a matter of time before I stumbled upon the fascinating world of Thai Amulets. Although a controversial subject in Asian spiritual communities, there’s no denying that the belief in these tiny and sometimes very expensive talismans has a hold over the people who carry them.
What is a ‘Thai Amulet’ and what are it’s uses in magick?
A Thai Buddha amulet (Thai: พระเครื่อง), often referred to academically as votive tablet, is a kind of Thai Buddhist blessed item. It is used for raising funds in order to help the temple producing the amulets.
They can be comprised of a variety of materials, including metal, bone, cloth or glass. My personal favorite are the ones made of brass as the metal has a natural connection with the element of earth and makes the energy easy to manifest into the physical. The original idea behind it was that the amulets were a piece of a Buddha or spiritual figure known to bring luck to the owner. Much how the Catholics have holy relics that are said to cause miracles to the faithful upon visiting the reliquary. There’s even a historic reference to unborn fetuses being surgically removed from their mothers and being ritually prepared to serve as a vessel to an intended spirit. Some Thai Amulets are benevolent in nature, others very dark and malicious. As with most things in magick, the belief and intent that a group of strong-willed individuals puts into an object colors its alignment. I find most items such as these to be neutral in nature unless they have been created initially using very Black Magick. For a beginner, it might be wise to steer clear of these types of amulets as the resulting energies could be detrimental to one’s spiritual and physical well-being.
A modest and fairly safe approach to incorporating these amulets into your own magickal practices might be starting with one of the more benign amulets of Buddha. They can be purchased online or otherwise rather inexpensively and quickly shipped to your doorstep. Upon receiving the Buddha statue, do a little homework on the lives of the Bodhisattva and how their perseverance to attain Buddhahood can assist you in your magickal workings. Meditate while holding your amulet and envision that same presence of faith in your own life. Take what you can from it and spit out the rest that you can not readily identify with. Remember to treat your amulet as you would any holy item, with respect and reverence. Give the amulet it’s own special place such as a tabernacle or charging box on your altar. Never casually throw it about as you would a normal, worthless piece of jewelry so as not to offend the spirits, deities and entities that you are invoking through the vessel.
Working with your amulet on a regular basis and understanding the history behind the symbolic nature of the piece helps forge a strong bond with the energies you are attempting to work with. I find it a good practice to give offerings in the form of flowers, herbs and fruits to these energies but be sure to do some research on the origin of whatever your Amulet represents. Some of them are pretty interesting mainstream heros in Thailand or more obscure figures buried in the dogmatic beliefs of isolated monks and holy men. Be sure to anoint your amulets with a personal blend of your own choosing to establish your energy as well as the energy of the creature you are working to build a bond with during ritual. An article on personal anointing oils will be available to view in the future.
Why are people so irritated by the concept of the ‘Thai Amulet’ ?
For a little background in understanding why Thai Amulets are such a hot button topic, understand that the amulet industry grosses from 30 Million dollars a year! There are a lot of people who go to great lengths to obtain these amulets, some of them purported to be thousands of years old with the intent of changing their lives. But at what cost? If the person you are obtaining this item from also going to great lengths to steal a sum of money from the purchaser with false promises of earning a quick buck? It is argued that most of these vendors are dirty, uneducated and particularly poverty-stricken and have no business claiming the validity of these much sought after items. But where did it really start and why is there so much allure involved in the practice of obtaining and owning a Thai Amulet?
The first commonly accepted use of Thai Amulets actually goes back to the early 1800’s under the rule of King Rama V. It’s readily believed by most historians that the practice actually dates back a few more centuries but they may have been under the guise of another moniker. Early amulets have been recovered by archeologists and graverobbers from stupas, sacred religious sites and even from within statues that have cracked open with age. During these encounters, it’s important to note that even though the artifacts in question are of a high cultural value, it has not stopped individuals from desecrating sites from around Asia in order to sell off some of these priceless baubles.
Votive tablets, as they are also called were very popular during the Gupta (4th-7th centuries) and the Pala periods (8th-11th centuries) and most often represented Lord Buddha.
Do they work?
Thai Amulets and the Curio Cabinet
It seems like the Thai Amulet and the Curio Cabinet, in this case a MAGICKAL curio go hand in hand with each other. Curios are generally rare items that exhibit some interest in being unique while also being tangible reminders of lands exotic and unknown. Small items that serve as a reminder of the magickal realm that may have properties that lend to our magickal intent. There may even be spirits residing in this miniature vessels that may chose to act as co-Magicians in our spellwork. It’s fascinating to look at these small wonders and imagine what their fullest potential may be in the right hands with a focused mind.
Materials vary from amulet to amulet and will add a variety of distinction to your curio when collected. It’s also interesting to experiment with different energies from different cultures. I personally seek out such items with the intent of blending the different beliefs of magickal systems together for a more potent effect in my magickal workings. Collecting Thai Amulets for your curio may also be an inexpensive way to obtain vessels that would be ideal for invoking different spirits. With a little research, you could find yourself with a whole armada of nifty little reminders of entities that work behind the scenes even in our modern times. Intrepid astral explores, ready yourself!
Learning more about Thai Amulets
Below I’ve provided a list of links to help you in your journey in learning more about the Thai Amulet. Good Luck in your journey!