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The Meaning of the Annual "Paying Homage to Teachers" (or Wai Khruu) Rituals of Spirit Mediums in Thailand.

The word medium is a method of communication with the other side. People who use this form of communication are called spiritual mediums or simply called mediums. The mediums go in a deep trance state while doing a ritual with their Spirit Guide. Mediums in their full essence have been receiving help from other entities. The spirit guide will enter into their body and communicate with people directly. We call this phenomena 'deep trance' because it is a total exchange of egos and the medium has no awareness of anything that transpires.

During trance, the spirit guide is speaking and manipulating one’s body. There is no noticeable change in one’s voice, nor does the spirit stand up and walk around. Spirit is simply a person, like us, who resides on the other side. The spirit guide does not claim to be any better than us, she or he just has access to more information because of extensive training and research. The Spirit guide never purports to be a deity of any kind. Spirit guides bring to us great knowledge and offer answers to all of our questions. Spirit is our guide and link to the other side and can access the wisdom of many great minds with the power of love, compassion, wisdom, humility, and patient concern.

Each year from March 10 August is the time for all the Spirit Mediums to show their respect to their spirit guide as their great teacher. All the participants will invite all of their friends and clients to come to their rituals of Wai Khruu. The atmosphere of the ritual is warm, full of love and mutual respect and is very festive with colorful dress and the fragrant smell of flowers enchanting the city. Most of the mediums will dance in their own style and go deep into trance for the entire day as a cleansing process, letting go of blocking energy by dancing with love to their spirit guides. Some of the mediums are channeling before they dance and some start to channel after they dance to let go of their emotions completely and express their joy and gratitude.

The religious beliefs of the Thai people consists of a mixture of Hindu Brahmanism and Buddhism. The spirit-medium cult is one aspect of the general popularity of magic and commercial Buddhism in modern Thailand. In the West, the word cult sometimes has a negative connotation, while in Thailand the spirit-medium cult is positive and is not associated with any type of cult groups that are typically negatively portrayed in the West.

The spirit-medium cult in Thailand is indigenous to Thai culture and has been modified and reinvented to fit in with urban life styles and consumerism. It is underlined by beliefs in animism and supernatural beings. It is based on the belief that spirits' supernatural powers are able to solve all human beings' "this-worldly" sufferings, provided that proper worship and sacrifice are performed. Thus the cult by means of its magical practices provides its members with a perspective about suffering and how to make it tolerable and meaningful. From a sociological perspective, a group of cult leaders and mediums are mostly female and are of working or lower middle class status in an urban population, who rely on the cult’s magical practices and consultations in order to survive through economic hardships as well as moral and psychological confusion. According to “paying homage to teachers" or "WaiKhruu”, most of the mediums are usually women, a small number are men. More importantly, through studying the spirit-medium cult, we learn more about the on going discourses between Buddhism and magic and between state authority and individual religious freedom as well as the co-existence of different religious beliefs and practices in modern Thailand.

When spirits (known as chao) are looking for a body to possess, they will seek someone who can open the connections to their energy and be able to accept and receive their energy completely as their second body on earth. The spirit needs the physical body to show and give clear explanations of their energy’s work as a spiritual healer or a spirit guide. Thus the spirit uses the body to provide the proper perspective about healing and suffering.

For example, if you are on the spiritual path as a clairvoyant or healer, you can easily get in touch with the higher spirit of your great creative teacher and be inspired by the guides who you are connected with in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world the forms of creative energy are more benefical to people and are more beautiful than we are able to manifest on the earth plane.

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