Sunday, April 24, 2005

The spirit in the Banyan tree

On the way up to one of the mountain village we always pass this tree. It is such a giant tree. I don't think you can really appreciate how big it is from this picture. All those dark things are giant bee hives. It's a really weird tree.
I was chasing these cows down the road right before I took this picture, fun times.
Thai people worship a number of random things, and trees happen to be one of them. It is generally believed here that most spirits living in trees are good ones. Of course the Bible and Christianity has a name for these spirits too - demons. Anyways, they make offerings to the tree and pray to the spirit they think lives in it. They also tie these huge ribbons of fabric all around the tree at the bottom. And, if one of their spirit houses is ever broken, they will place it at the base of one of these trees because it is "bad luck" to just dispose of one. I'm tellin' you, it is like stepping back in time here. Whenever you visit the mountain villages all the people, even the little babies have "spirit bracelets," but I haven't really understood exactly what their purpose is, something about protection. And all the villages have their own witch doctors. That reminds me of a patient I had my second year of med-school. He was a self-proclaimed witch doctor, but obviously not a very good one because he had sliced his foot open and instead of coming straight to the doctor he had just been dragging his bleeding foot all over his kitchen floor for like 3 days, using his own crazy concoctions. As a thank you once he did finally heal, he brought the doctor I was working with a real shrunken head. It was pretty freaky. I don't want to know where or how he got it - I mean is it even legal to own one of those? That also reminds me that I never finished the head-hunter story. I'll have to get back to that too...
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