Our Sak Yant Experience in Thailand

My friends and I have been avid spiritualist seeking anomalous and unique spiritual adepts to further our understanding of the spiritual worlds. This time our journey took us to Thailand, a country where magick knowledge has even become an industry all on its own. So the first question arises how do you separate the bona fide from the charlatans. The answer is never easy but we will publish some articles detailing our experiences. We decided to seek out a specific area in Visha (Magick), which is the art of symbology tattooing on the body, otherwise known as Sak Yant. Hence we sought out experts in this particular field. One of our first experiences was with a renown master call Ajahn Lao. But before we proceed about our experience it would be beneficial to understand what Sak Yant is.

Sak literally means to poke and Yant is derived from the Sanskrit word Yantra the root word being Yam which means to contain energy. Usually akin to a spiritual gateway used during meditation it is usually etched on metals or cloth and kept on the body as a talisman or used for meditation or during prayers as a gateway. Yantras in traditional Hinduism and other religions are not usually placed on the body however in Thailand they have a unique tradition of tatooing these yants on the body. Some believe that knowledge of Yantras were brought by the Indian Brahmins mostly Hindu priests to Thailand. These Thai Brahmins as they are today do not resemble hindu priest in India but rather maintain a unique blend of traditional Thai and Indian culture not to be seen anywhere else. These Thai Brahmins are an integral part of major religious ceremonies in Thailand. Usually dressed in all white traditional Thai costumes they start any ceremony. Another possible source are The Reusis of Thailand or Rishis as they are more commonly known in India. The Reusi tradition forest ascetics who have decided to live life away from the masses specialising in the knowledge of the spiritual arts. A very similar tradition is found in Tibet and they are known as Yogis. In Thailand they brought knowledge of herbal medicine, Yantra making and Visha (magick white & black).

The art of tattooing spiritual symbology on the body can be found around the world. The Maori in New Zealand have a very spiritual connection to their tradition, in the Philippines, Malaysia and other parts of South East Asia this also exists. Also in some parts of Southern China, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand tribes people have been known to practice the art of body tattooing. Hence it is believed that the combination of influences has created this unique art of spiritual tattooing in Thailand. A mixture of Hindu, Buddhist, Animist and tribal influences has created this wonderful truly unique tradition that is still practiced in Thailand. However its lineage can be directly traced to Cambodia but it is rarely practiced as it is in Thailand.

Thai Yantras have their own unique symbology some borrowed or incorporated with symbology from other countries some their own. The script used is Khom, which is ancient Cambodian. The sentences that make up the Yant is in Pali Sanskrit, mostly Buddhist verses. Note that this art form has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Now on to one of our first experiences with a spiritual adept in Thailand. We had heard of this powerful Sak Yant master by the name of Ajahn Lao from trusted sources.

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Ajahn Lao is one of Thailand’s most sought after Sak Yant masters by Muay Thai practitioners, local Thais and foreigners alike. He was born in Rayong Province, East Thailand. He was ordained as a novice between 16-19 yerars old as a monk twice between 20-23 years old and 28-37 years old. Whilst he was a monk he studied Pali and graduated a highest level of Pali Sanskrit certification. He had a keen interest for Wicha (Magickal Knowledge) and sought out true masters who were able to guide him in yantra creation and sak yant (spritual tatoos). He studied under many famous masters such as Luang Phor Sawai (Wat Sapansi, Rayong), Luang Phor Tong Dum (Wat Huway Prab, Rayong) and Luang Phor Pon (Wat Bangna Nai, Bangkok). He has practiced in Singapore, Malaysia and has a following in these countries and well as far away as Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The photos I had seen of AJ Lao held no resemblance to him at all, hence when I first saw him at his Samnak, I paused for a moment wondering if whether all my efforts to seek him out were in vain. When I ventured closer to him I realised he just looks really young in his photos I’ve seen of him and indeed I had the right person. He has a firm loud voice but was welcoming. After asking us where we were from and a little chit chat, he recommended us what Sak Yant he thought would best suit each of us after discussing briefly about us our occupations and what we wanted from the Sak Yant. Not all Ajahn’s do this and I was immediately impressed by his professionalism and dedication to do a good job. It made the decision of what Sak Yant to get easy, because he explained what each Yant meant where would be best to place it on the body. Although he doesn’t speak a word of English so your Thai better be pretty good. However he did call for one of his looksit (followers/students) to come and translate for us which made it a lot easier.

One of my friends who came along for this trip was from Hong Kong and has never experienced Thai Buddhist occult practices but he nevertheless was bent on getting a Sak Yant before leaving Thailand. After he tattooed my friend using the Mai Sak he started blessing the yant on his body. Something unexpected happened to my friend and he started to go into khong khuen ‘spiritual trance’ during the blessing process. Mind you he has never seen people go into trance before, hence had no reference to fake it. After he came out of it, he said it just felt natural.

Then my other friend started his tattoo. During the process he started laughing uncontrollably, something we all found very amusing but it wore off towards the end of the Sak Yant process. During the blessing process he too felt intense heat and went into khong khuen. Soon after was my turn. I chanted the Namo Tassa katha 3 times before Ajahn Lao started. I was given a mantra to chant in my mind with every breath in I took. As AJ Lao started the Sak Yant procedure, the first time he placed his index finger in the area of my skin where the Sak Yant was to be placed and started chanting some mantras, I had a strong feeling of heat penetrate my skin in the surrounding area where the Sak Yant was to be tattooed. He then proceeded to tattoo using the Mai Sak (Traditional steel rod used in Sak Yant).

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I then started breathing in and out purposefully chanting the mantra I was given in my mind. As I progressed doing this with my eyes closed, concentrating on the mantra intensely, I gradually felt my head getting a little lighter, it was as if I was in deep meditation and almost falling asleep, the pain from the Mai Sak pricking my skin disappeared and I was in my own transcendent space. The interesting bit came soon after when I felt like naturally nodding my head up and down and so I gave in to the feeling and kept concentrating on the mantra in my mind, then from some unexplainable reason I started to snicker and then it got louder and broke out into a loud low raspy laugh. I felt like stretching out my right hand stretches out in a pointing position and my left hand felt comfortable behind my waist in a fist. Mind you, I knew what was happening but I was so peaceful in my own space that I didn’t really mind what was happening. I knew what was happening but I let it happen naturally and did not fight the feeling.

I like to think that I am a logical person and although I have seen people who go into Khong Khuen, I wasn’t really sure if they were faking it or it was real. I am sure there are people who might not feel this during a Sak Yant and then I’m sure there are those that fake it too but as for me it felt pretty real. Anyway, after that, Ajahn Lao went beyond the usual process just giving us a Sak Yant. He decided to give us each a complimentary wealth enhancing ritual blessing. Even during this process I could feel an energy surge through his hand into my hands. Intense heat on my head was felt when he rubbed the gold foil into my forehead.

The whole experience at AJ Lao’s Samnak was interesting to say the least. However I have to say that he does charge a fixed fee, which is negotiable for his work. Otherwise how else could he survive doing this as a full-time job? The price I would not say is cheap but neither was it exorbitant. One Rahu Sak Yant (approx width 22cm length 15cm) set us back USD100.Mine which was about 8 inches in length and 7 inches in width cost me USD100. AJ Lao’s line quality was good for me however for my having clear connected lines, however for two of my friends AJ Lao used the Ka Pla method, which is the traditional dotted finish.

AJ Lao’s Kho Haam or Rules of conduct for Sak Yant are the following. No sexual misconduct (meaning do not sleep with someone else’s wife). Do not eat and drink foods donated to spirits. Do not steal. Do no insult parents. Do not pass underneath clothing line.

This was our experience when we visited, everyone has his/her own experience and variables might have changed since our visit.

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by Namo Buddhaya