Since time immemorial, Thais have believed in omens that foretell of calamity befalling them and their families. It is believed that the eerie screams of the owl in the night, or the clicking of a gecko as they leave their abodes, are a forewarning of bad things to come.
The people of Isan
Superstitions surrounding animals are not unique to Thailand. Cultures around the world have their own beliefs surrounding animals. For example, Europeans believe that Ladybugs are emissaries of good luck, while Chinese people view Crickets as symbols of good fortune.
Across many beliefs, the Earth’s creatures are often seen as a corporeal manifestation, a crystallisation of the Universe’s energies. By harnessing the energies of the natural behaviour of animals and insects, it is believed that these borrowed energies can be coupled with esoteric spells to bring protection and other purposes. The influence of these beliefs, provides the significance for them to be made into amulets.
Mah Leng Pu (Carpenter Bee)
The Mah Leng Pu (Carpenter Bee) is an insect that closely resembles a bee, but is much larger in stature. It belongs the scientific genus Xylocopidae. It has a thick, black body, with a thorax covered in hair ranging from yellow to orange, or even white. Its head is equally thick-set, almost as broad across as its thorax. Females have an entirely black head, while males be crowned with yellow or white markings. Unlike regular bees however, they do not possess glands to store pollen, and often live as isolated individuals instead of in hives. Males are extremely territorial, and will often fly out to engage any potential aggressor head-on.
According to historical records, Mah Leng Pu amulets originated in the kingdom of Lanna
These beliefs are perhaps rooted in the ancient Burmese legend of 5.Phaya Mah Leng Pu Kam
The place the Buddha gained enlightenment, under the Bodhi Tree. Marking the spot is the Diamond Throne (called the Vajrasana), based at the foot of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India.
Phaya Mah Leng Pu Kam amulets bring good fortune, mercies, and promote wealth and honour in the lives of their owners. They also grant journey mercies, and protection from undesirable spells and black magic. They are also known to be exceptional at granting wishes.
They also bestow their owners with supernatural charm, analogous to the Carpenter Bee’s great love of flowers (similar to the sway a man may hold over a woman), and their tenacity at defending them. (Normally, Carpenter Bees like to smell flowers like a man likes a woman and if it sniffed any flowers, upon arrival, other insects must flee.) Mah Leng Pu are capable of penetrating the hard heartwood of the tree, and thus, owners of their amulets will find themselves easily penetrating the hearts of even the most guarded people. Because of their superior standing in the insect kingdom, they are also believed to bestow elevated status to owners of Mah Leng Pu amulets.
Mah Leng Thab Mai Rong : The Silent Beetle (Buprestis beetle)
Buprestidae, are a family of beetles known as Jewel Beetles, or Metallic Wood-Boring beetles, easily recognisable by their glossy, iridescent colours. The larger and more spectacularly coloured jewel beetles are highly prized by insect collectors. The elytra of some Buprestidae species have been traditionally used in beetle-wing jewellery, and as ornaments in countries in Asia, like India, Thailand, and Japan.
Jewel beetles are agile scarabs that are able to fly fast and high. Faced with danger however, they have a peculiar habit of playing dead, by pretending to be dormant, or dropping from the trees they are perched in, in an attempt to put off their aggressors.
It is these distinct characteristics that make the beetle appealing as a motif for esoteric ornaments. Amulets crafted in their likeness are known as “Mah Leng Thab Mai Rong”, and are crafted by combining Kasin That
Mah Leng Thab Mai Rong are known as powerful totems for attraction; specifically for men seeking women. They are able to act as catalysts for destiny, guiding you to and cementing the fates of you and your respective partner. It is also rich in Klaew Klad
In conjunction with unshakable faith in the master who created it, its effects may start to become apparent in as little as 7 days or 15 days, and owners will begin to notice changes such as strangers smiling at them, birdsong, and animals approaching them for pats and cuddles. People will begin to regard them in a much warmer manner, and they will begin to experience more sympathy, mercy, and compassion from others.
Once an owner’s wishes have been fulfilled, the owner should be careful to maintain the four sublime states of mind; loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity; to support the sanctity of the amulet’s powers. The amulet will continue to ensure that the owner’s life remain warm and prosperous.
Cicadas are infected by the fungus during their larval stage, and once infected, undergoes a slow, protracted death with each successive moult. As the cicada weakens, the high humidity of seasonal rains accelerates the growth of the fungus. The fungus penetrates the very fibers of the cicada’s body, consuming it as food. Finally, the cicada succumbs to the fungus, and dies.
When the cicada perishes, the fungus is no longer mobile and able to seek out food sources. It grows out of the cicada, resulting in a reproductive protrusion resembling a plant, leading villagefolk to refer to it as a herb, despite science classifying it as animal matter.
Because this process is so rare and only occurs in a few select areas, these are considered sacred. They are often gathered and consecrated, to aid trade, negotiation, and improving ones odds at games of chance. It is believed to be a rare amulet with the ability to directly improve an owner’s fortunes.
Another characteristic of the cicada makes them desirable as amulets. Adult cicadas that have mated, will survive for no longer than 2 months after, with the male cicada expiring first, and the female joining him after successfully laying the fertilized eggs.
Male cicadas call out to the females using a special vibrating organ embedded in its chest, which emits a shrill sound that carries over long distances, leading the females straight to them like a homing beacon, even amongst a cacophony of other disturbances in the area.
Though noisy by nature, the sound of cicada is actually considered pleasant to people accustomed to it. It is this sound, and the way it brings cicadas together, that is believed to imbue owners of the amulet with powers of mercy and popularity, as if calling out to people and drawing them in.
Amulets involving a wasp motif, come in two forms, 15.Phaya Tor Hua Suea
Phaya Tor Hua Suea, resembles a Paper Wasp. Paper wasps are very aggressive creatures, often attacking in fierce swarms with brutal stings when threatened. Each wasp is capable of delivering multiple deadly stings.
Thai superstition harnesses this characteristic. A hard-to-find wicha
Tor Ngern Tor Thong (silver wasps- gold wasps), on the other hand, are imbued with mystical powers by sheer homophonic association. Tor in Thai may refer to wasps, it also means “to add”. Tor Ngern Tor Thong are believed to “add” money and gold to the lives of their owners, bringing them prosperity.
These sacred amulets are believed to endow wealth upon their owners, and improve their businesses and financial situation. These amulets are well-suited to people involved in face-to-face interactions with potential clients and customers, as well as those with a predisposition to gambling or the lottery. The level of success the bestow however, is directly influenced by the amount of merit an owner makes.
Tor Ngern Tor Thong must be worshiped in pairs, the silver colour representative of money, and the gold, representative of gold.
These amulets are a mere selection of some of the most popular insect-style amulets across Thailand, but there exist far more variations.
Life itself, is nourished by faith and hope. Amulets like these are intended to be a catalyst of sorts, supporting pursuits that are already in motion, and should not be viewed as the be-all-and-end-all of achieving personal wealth. All outcomes are dictated by the universal influence of Karma, and though potent in their application, these amulets should always be accompanied by the pursuit of meaningful betterment of the self.