Whether you believe in Ghosts or are a sceptic, there is no denying that the paranormal has a profound effect on the Thai society and everyday lives. It is so ingrained in their culture that what may appear to be strange or bizarre for people from a Western culture is just accepted as normal for the majority of Thai society. The strong belief in Ghosts and Spirits affect every aspect of Thai life, from their religious beliefs, TV programs/ films and can even influence business – most businesses will have a Spirit house installed and provide offerings of food and gifts to placate the Ghosts and Spirits that may dwell in their property and attract good luck. The Thai word for ghost is ‘Phi’, pronounced ‘Pea’ as in peanut.
Here’s a sample of some of these ghostly beliefs!
Phi Nang Tani – A female tree spirit which lives in banana trees and appears on a full moon night. It is regarded as a good ghost and will give bananas as food and occasionally may fill the alms bowls of itinerant monks. Similar to Phi Nang Ta-kean and for same reasons the Thais do not like this type of tree if haunted.
Phi Pa – A spirit that dwells in the forest. Hunters may leave a piece of their catch to appease and show respect to the spirit, normally a bit of the eyelid, lip, tongue or foot of the killed animal.
Phi Pawb – The spirit of someone that has died violently and sits on the shoulders of their victim causing the victim to appear lop sided.
Phi Peta – A hungry ghost. It is said that anyone that is more preoccupied with material attachments and exclude the spiritual will be reborn as a Peta once they die. They have a giant belly and a mouth as small as the eye of a needle with an enormous appetite for almost everything, food, money, power or sex. A Peta ghost can sometimes be heard whistling at night, looking for someone to make merit for them. This ghost is ill tempered and aggressive as they constantly remain unsatisfied.
Phi Phrai – This unfortunate spirit is of a woman who has died during childbirth. If that was not enough of a burden their body has been used in a ceremony to extract Phi Thai Hong lotion – this lotion is said to provide the magical ability to drive men wild and attracted to the woman that administers the concoction. The lotion is obtained by a sorcerer who will extract essential oils from the corpse by putting a lighted candle under the deceased persons chin.
Phi Poang Khang – A spirit in the shape of a black monkey which likes to suck the big toe of people sleeping in the jungle. It is said to live near salt licks.
Phi Pob – A devious ghost which will infest it’s victim and eat away their entrails before leaving their victims body. In public if infested with Phi Pob the victim will pretend to be ill but when given the opportunity it will steal uncooked meat to eat at night.
Phi Tai Ha – The spirit of a woman who has died of malaria, the ghost also has the ability to spread the deadly disease.
Phi Tai Tong Glom – This is a seriously evil ghost. The Phi Tai Tong Glom is a female who died giving birth and her baby died also. This doubles the evil strength of this spirit and is definitely one to avoid. This ghost is actually a variant of Phi Tai Hong and is sometimes referred to as Phi Tai Hong Tong Glom.
Phi Thuk Khun – The lifeforce of a living person which has to leave the physical body and be sent out on astral journey on a weekly basis. If this does not happen then harm will come to its owner.