Back in the exciting 60's in Laos, most of the foreigners working there wore a lot of 24 carat gold jewelry. The more flamboyant ones preferred the Chinese four seasons bracelet which seemed a bit odd to me for a country that only had three seasons - hot, less hot and wet hot. The concept was, if one's aircraft went down in bad territory, you could buy your way down the mountains with a bit of gold. I never quite understood that concept either as, if the bad guys saw you had some gold, why not just take it all and not bother with the long trek. The more sophisticated Zen guys who meditated before they flew munitions to the Hmongs in the mountains chose Thai Buddhist amulets on a gold necklace.
There are a number of stated guidelines to wear a Buddhist amulet: you never purchase one for yourself as it must be a gift from someone; there must always be an odd number of amulets on a necklace; and the Buddha must be treated with respect in order to provide the protection sought by the wearer. A friend of mine showed up one day with two new amulets on his necklace bringing his total to five. His Thai wife who was back home in Bangkok had given him the two new ones to protect him from the bad guys and to keep the Lao girls away. He said it was working very well so far in all respects.
The author's amulets were given to him by his wife, the friend with the five amulets and another friend who was rescued by Air America in the fall of Phnom Penh.
The image of the silver amulet is from the Ayutthaya period of Thailand dating from the 18th century. Joey gave it to the author who subsequently re-gifted some images that had been previously given to him, kind of like forsake all others.
We have a good friend by the name of Khun Prachuap who is the leader of the mahouts in Moo Baan Chang. Earlier this year, Prachuap had been seriously ill but the cause of his illness was unknown despite extensive medical tests. At the village Buddhist temple, the monk said he was possessed by Black Magic. Prachuap entered the monkhood for a period of time but he failed to return to good health. Khun Suphapong and I went to a famous amulet teacher in Bangkok and purchased the Black Magic special amulet which we gave to Prachuap who now seems to be doing much better.
Also earlier this year, the news media noted that Thai Prime Minister Prayuth was wearing an elephant hair bracelet. When asked why, he stated that it kept the Black Magic away. As The Elephant Story has a number of elephant hair bracelets in The Siam Hotel Curio shop, they began to fly out the door. Moreover, as Khun Prachuap's wife, Khun Da, makes the bracelets, we had added motivation to return her husband to good health. Shown is the bracelet Khun Da made for the author to keep the Black Magic away though it has not done too much for oil prices.
The Buddhist concept of an amulet is based upon consciousness, to remind the wearer of their consciousness and to be aware of their environment. In fact, the superstitious belief that an amulet provides protection is based in Brahmanism and not Buddhism. Nonetheless, in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, there are over 5,000 amulet stalls and shops generating an annual business of over $1 billion. Accordingly, Thailand is a friendly, open, diverse country without any rigidity making it such a wonderful place.