Most visitors depart Thailand with amazing memories and fabulous souvenirs. However some visitors (including LGBT celebrities Angelina Joley and Michelle Rodriguez) leave with their bodies adorned in ancient symbols which bestow magical powers. Sound good? It’s all in the power of the Yant.
Sak Yant is a form of tattooing originating in ancient Cambodia, when warriors would cover their entire bodies in the belief the tattoos would protect them in battle.
Normally tattooed by Buddhist monks and practitioners of magic (called Ajarns) using a long bamboo stick or metal spike, it is believed that they can provide magical good luck and protection.
There are various Yant designs adapted from pre-Buddhist Shamanism and the belief in animal spirits. Each design has a different meaning and purpose and normally incorporates symbols or scripts derived from Pali incantations.
Anyone can get a Yant tattoo although the Ajarn will generally pick the design which they think is best suited to your aura. The Ajarn may even have their own secret blend of magic ink…its rumored some contain snake venom!
But be warned with great power comes great responsibility! In order to invoke the power of your Yant, you must abide by certain rules (which for some of you may prove difficult):
- Do not kill a person with intent.
- Do not steal for own personal gain.
- Do not lie to harm others. We all tell white lies and there is a difference.
- Do not have sexual relations with another’s partner.
- Do not spit in the toilet. The toilet should be a clean place and not to keep it so, shows disrespect to oneself and others.
- Do not swear at or disrespect your parents in any way.
- Do not speak about people behind their back in a manner likely to cause harm.
- Do not over consume alcohol and become troublesome to others. Keep in control.
- Do not walk under female underwear. The reason for this is to avoid temptations and distractions that the opposite sex can bring. Monks themselves are not allowed to touch a woman’s skin for this very reason and when a monk tattoos a female, he will wear surgical gloves.
- Do not partake in evil deeds. Avoid all contact with such happenings whenever possible.
It’s also advisable to ‘recharge’ your Yant on an annual basis by visiting the master tattooist for a blessing. What a good reason for an annual Thai holiday!
There are numerous places around Thailand to have your Yant tattoo however the most well-known temple is Wat Bang Phra, about an hour out of Bangkok and where the famous Ajarn Noo (who tattooed Angelina Jolie) trained.
Too shy for a tattoo but need some magical help? No worries – there’s the option to receive your Yant in invisible palm oil.
I asked a couple of friends who recently had Yant tattoos about the experience. Claire (pictured below) said the tattoo process wasn’t particularly painful and the Ajarn was particularly impressed with her strength and powerful aura, commenting that many men screamed and cried while receiving the same tattoo.
She loves the final look of the Yant however says that she hasn’t yet noticed any additional good luck or magical protection.
Jason, who’s just had his 5th Yant, is convinced of the power of the yant, claiming that since being tattooed he’s never felt better and feels he has improved power in areas which the Yants were specifically meant to target, including leadership and energy.
As for me, I’m yet to take the plunge. Maybe this will be the year…
I’m sure most of you will want to do their own research concerning where and when to get your Yant. Here are additional references and personal stories. Good luck and enjoy another amazing experience in Amazing Thailand.